Chattanooga has a pretty large variety of fun and exciting activities to boast of that will keep the whole family entertained for days. Since some of those great attractions can put a dent on the budget, here is a list of free or cheap things the family can do in the Chattanooga area to help extend that budget-friendly vacation.
10. Tennessee Riverwalk
Take walk, jog, or bike ride along the Tennessee Riverwalk. This 13 mile paved trail meanders along the Tennessee River and stretches from downtown all the way to the Chickamauga Dam.
9. Biking around Chattanooga
Don’t have a bike? There are 30 stations in the downtown area where visitors can rent a bicycle through the Bike Chattanooga Transit System. A 24-hour pass is only $6 and allows visitors to rent one of the 300 bikes in the system in 60 minute or less increments of time. The bikes are available for rent 24/7/365.
8. River Gallery Sculpture Garden
Head up to the Bluff View Art District for a look at the free River Gallery Sculpture Garden. The 2-acre haven overlooks the Tennessee River and features a garden, meditation area, nature walk, and sculpture exhibits that change annually, keeping the Garden fresh and appealing to both new and returning visitors. The District is also known for some delicious restaurants, a quaint bed & breakfast, the Hunter Museum of American Art, and the Houston Museum of Decorative Art.
7. Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park
Take an historic tour of the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park. History buffs can immerse themselves in the history of the Battles for Chattanooga, while nature lovers can take a scenic drive through the battlefield.
6. Chattanooga Choo Choo
Explore the grounds, shops, attractions, and trains that make up the Chattanooga Choo Choo complex. Built in the early 1900’s, the train depot that once greeted thousands of train passengers is now the lobby of the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel. A 1924 yellow trolley takes visitors on a ride around the 24-acre property for only $3 per person. Train enthusiasts can also explore one of the world’s largest model railroads ($3 for children, $5 for adults). Visitors can go online to Chattanoogafun.com for some money saving coupons.
5. Coolidge Park
Coolidge Park is a free park situated directly across the water from downtown Chattanooga. With the Tennessee River on one side and Frazier Avenue shops on the other, Coolidge Park also offers a splash pad during the summer months, a rock climbing wall, and a $1-per-ride 1894 restored Dentzel carousel.
4. Walnut Street Bridge
Coolidge Park is accessible from downtown by car, but a great way to get to the park on Chattanooga’s North Shore is to stroll across the Walnut Street Bridge. Erected in 1891, the world’s longest pedestrian bridge offers some of the best views of the downtown and North Shore areas as well as the Tennessee River.
3. Art Walk
Do an Art Walk. Chattanooga boasts incredible array of art museums and galleries. Sculptures in various shapes and sizes (boats, tractors, trains, etc.) can be spotted throughout the city. Music and art events fill the annual calendar, and art galleries feature works by some of the area’s most acclaimed artists. The sculpture in the accompanying photo can be viewed outside the Hunter Museum of American Art.
2. Frazier Avenue Shops
2. Exploring the shops and restaurants along Fraizer Avenue can eat up a good part of one’s day. The fun thing about this area is that there are no chain stores. Local, unique items, from jewelry to candles to specialty pet supplies, can all be found along this eclectic strip.
1. Chattanooga Market
The Chattanooga Market is one of the top 10 public markets in the country, according to Frommers. On Sundays from late April through the end of November, over 130 vendor booths featuring local artisans, crafters, entertainers, and products from over 50 area farms are on display at the First Tennessee Pavilion. A more intimate market takes place on Wednesdays from May through October at the Pavilion, and the Chattanooga River Market takes place on Saturdays at the Tennessee Aquarium Plaza. A favorite of many locals and visitors alike, the Holiday Market takes place every Saturday and Sunday in December at the Chattanooga Convention Center. All market events are free and open to the public.