Spring time in Chattanooga is known for more than it’s bipolar weather and allergies from all the blooming things. Our family loves to get outside all year round, but that warm sunshine intensifies cabin fever!
Free is our jam. So usually anything we do with the kiddos has no cost. My tip for enjoying your surroundings is to work with what you have. What’s most popular in your city? Here, everyone hikes. Some might go once a year, some every other day. Tennessee River activities: fishing, boating, swimming, and tire swinging are favorite past times as well. Downtown Chattanooga boasts Coolidge Park with an antique carousel, river walks, plethora of bike riding opportunities, and the best local food spots + local art spots.
Whether you’re a local or visiting, there is plenty to do in Chattanooga!
Here’s a roundup/day in the life of a Chattanooga local turned tourist:
•Breakfast at Maple Street Biscuit Company
•Go down to the River Front behind the Aquarium (Check out ChattanoogaFun to see what local events are happening in the square!)
•Find the Beginning of the Trail of Tears and follow history. You can walk/wade in this area. I wouldn’t recommend getting fully soaked when the afternoons can still have a cool wind. But do take your shoes off and enjoy the river view.
•Bluff View Art District is a drive away, but has a beautiful sculpture garden to go through! It’s rarely crowded, and a magical little fairly land for kids. This Mom loves it too!
•Pop into Rembrandts for a sweet treat and coffee refill. Their outdoor seating is gated. (Moms of toddlers, you know the magical gift of enclosed seating.)
•Walk/Bike across the Walnut Street Bridge to Coolidge Park.
•Bring a ball and kick around! Blankets to lounge in the sun.
•Hungry for lunch? Be adventurous with OPA! It’s a white building with blue roof. Authentic Greek!
•Shop around for local art on River Street.
•Parents and children can ride the antique carousel for just $1 a ride!
•Lions and tigers and bears shoot water from their mouths at the Coolidge Park Fountains. These are turned on when the weather warms up. Meanwhile, enjoy climbing and dancing around! Bring a bluetooth speaker and entertain the crowd. Be THAT FAMILY!
•Walk back across the bridge and to Community Pie. Chattanooga has many pizza places: Crust, Lupi’s, Pizza Bros, SO MANY! Just currently on a CP kick, because the kids can order their own custom large slice, plus they have a small selection of Milk and Honey ice cream.
•Night Fall is a recent fun discovery for our family. Honestly, I thought it used to just be for bikers and those that wanted to enjoy a music show. But food trucks, community, kid fun, and plenty of room to roam brought us back many times last year! Look for this event in the summer, beginning of May.
•High Point Climbing- amazing spot for kids! Can be pricey, but it’s well worth it with climbs for all ages + trained guides eager to help kids have the best time.
•Creative Discovery Museum- We love this spot! It’s not a place kids can just run around and enjoy all willy nilly (except for the two story enclosed playground!). Guide your kids to the art, music, dinosaur digging, and creation activities. Plenty of helpers close by to get your kiddos involved. It’s just overwhelming, I think, if you let the kids loose. Parents, get in there and play/create with them!
Shameless plus for Mr. Guess who helped to create the EPB power game in the Create Station and a Stop Motion interaction in the Art area. We love the CDM! A yearly membership will cover two visits, so it’s worth it if you’re coming back. A membership helps take the weight off of us thinking we need to do it all in one sitting.
•Tennessee Aquarium- Get the season pass and come back time and again! Workers love answering questions here. It’s interesting to note that the aquarium does a lot of conservation work for our rivers close by. Kids will see sharks, turtles, alligators, butterflies and penguins up close! Local? Have your kids pick one or a few spots to visit in a day. This way you aren’t taking an entire day to visit it from beginning to end. Most always, our kiddos choose to go see the sting rays, “MR. BIG Shark!”, and the butterflies.
•Pumpkin Patch Playground (pictured)- This is literally a kid’s dream playground. I’ll let you discover it without giving away all the surprises!
If you really want to see Chattanooga like a local, go for a day hike. Take snacks, water, and wear comfy walking shoes. No equipment needed! Just a happy attitude and willingness to break a sweat while seeing nature.
There are many you can do, but these are my family friendly, all ages suggestions:
• Glen Falls Trail- parking is tricky with this spot on the mountain. But it’s one of the most unique hikes closest to downtown. Tall rock formations that the kids can crawl all over. A vast wooded area for kids to go off trail and feel some independence while still being within view of parents. Cute little passages through rocks to see a waterfall. (keep going on this trail! Just when you think it’s over, there’s more!). I suggest going to the second fall and then turning back around the way you came.
•Cloudland Canyon- Technically in Georgia, this hike is on Lookout Mountain. It will have a heavy flow of people on the weekends, so we like to go on a school off day, early morning, or week night before sunset. There are lots of stairs, so beware if you have weak knees. Pace yourself. No one is trying to be a hero to get up/down to the falls the quickest. Even if you just want some good canyon views, you barely have to leave the parking lot!
•Chickamauga Battlefield- Staying in Georgia, this flat park is great for bike riding and walking for all ages. Stop at the Visitor Center first and take a look into history. There’s a ton of guns in the back that my son gawks at. They’ll help point you to trails, but honestly, we just park, walk down a trail until we are half tired then walk back to the car. No bears here, but there are deer! Drive slowly, don’t litter, and have fun!
•Reflection Riding- This is a member only location. $70 is the family price and well worth it in my opinion. Theres miles of walking trails, community events, animal education, and a Bamboo Forest that is a slice of magic.
•Natural Bridge- Located on Lookout Mountain, but quite a drive, this is an unusual spot that doesn’t get much foot traffic. It’s literally a rock bridge. I flipped out when I first saw it! Maybe not the best place for toddlers, because it’s very much a primitive location. It is a great spot for little rock climbers and explorers.
•Lula Lake Land and Trust- You’ll have to plan your visit here in advance by securing a spot. They are not open all spring season. The views, falls, and friends you’ll meet on the way make this a family friendly day hike. Definitely pack a lunch and let the kiddos wear a a swim suit to wade at the bottom of the falls.
•Foster Falls- Recently discovered, and about an hour drive out. I am itching to get back here! We wore layers on a spring morning in March and shed half of them by the end. It’ s moderate at a steady pace, but doable for all ages/health conditions. Lots of rocks on the way down, so Momma’s bring a helper if you have more than one toddler. There are climbing spots hooked in and ready to go. Caves for kids to stick their heads in. Linked is directions to the Small Loop. I suggest the Fiery Gizzard Trail head as a start. Good parking, and you’re going down then around, instead of up and down. You’ll see when you get there.
I left off a LOT of favorite food spots! Mainly, I want you to know that Chattanooga/North Georgia is a great place to get your kiddos outdoors. It expands their minds and helps them to imagine. What’s your favorite Chattanooga spring spot or activity?
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