We love visiting Chattanooga every year around Thanksgiving to spend time with family and eat delicious food, but also to experience all that the town and region has to offer.

Here are some of our favourite things to do when we visit Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Ruby Falls

One of the attractions we visited on my very first visit to Chattanooga was Ruby Falls. Ruby Falls is an underground waterfall – basically a waterfall in a cave. You can visit the falls on a guided tour, where they’ll take you down into the mountain on a lift, then you’ll wind your way through the caverns to reach the waterfall.

Ruby Falls
Ruby Falls

We visited on the long weekend in November, so there were pretty long lines and lots of your groups which meant it was really busy. We had to pull to the side and wait while other groups passed us on their way out of the cave. It was a beautiful way to see the falls, though I’d recommend going at a quieter time of year.

Ride the Incline Railway

This is one of my favourites and is touted as the steepest incline railway in the world (though I’m pretty sure I have seen that on one in Australia too). You can board the incline railway at the base of Lookout Mountain then ride it to the top. The Incline Railway is a really interesting way to see an incredible piece of machinery at work, with the massive cable and pulley system bringing one carriage to the top of the mountain while lowering the other. At the top you will get a gorgeous view of Chattanooga and several states. It is a great place to enjoy the sunset though it can be pretty cold in November. 

Cruise on the River

When my parents were in town we went on a cruise aboard the Southern Belle River Boat. Onboard we enjoyed a delicious lunch and got a great view of Chattanooga from the water. The magnificent river plays such a significant role in the life of this city so it was great to be able to take a ride along it. The meals that time of year were Christmas themed and we got to meet Santa!

Southern Belle
The Southern Belle, Chattanooga

Walk over the bridge and eat ice cream

While down by the river it’s worth taking a walk across the Walnut Street Bridge and take in more of the gorgeous views from around town. Conveniently placed near the end of the bridge you’ll also find The Ice Cream Show which is a great place to enjoy a sweet treat after or during your walk.

Sip A Hot Chocolate from the Hot Chocolatier 

Speaking of sweet treats, another favourite tradition when we visit Chattanooga is to indulge on a creamy hot chocolate at the Hot Chocolatier. You can choose from a range of delicious chocolate beverages perfect for warning you up on a cool afternoon. They also have plenty of assorted chocolates to enjoy with your drink. This is simply a delicious place to visit, just lookout for the chocolate hangover the next day!

The Hot Chocolatier in Chattanooga
The Hot Chocolatier in Chattanooga

Take a Strole Through The Chattanooga Choo Choo & Ice Skating

The Chattanooga Choo Choo is the train station turned hotel. Some of the rooms are carriages. As it is the holidays when we visit and the weather is getting colder, they have the Chattanooga Choo Choo adorned with Christmas decorations as well as ice skating outdoors. Visiting the Choo Choo has definitely become a yearly tradition for us.

Ride the Shuttle

Across the road from the Chattanooga Choo Choo is the transit centre where you can catch Carta’s downtown electric shuttle. This is a free service that provides a great way to explore some of downtown Chattanooga.

Still on my Bucket List

That is a quick taste of what we have experienced in Chattanooga, but there is plenty more we would like to go back and see.

These include:

Civil War Battlefield – the Chattanooga region is rich in history including plenty of Civil War sites. Next time we are back in the area, I hope to visit some of these sites.

Rock City on Lookout Mountain – while we have been on the incline railway and visited Ruby Falls, Rock City has always been too busy when we have visited. I’m not really sure what is there (assuming some rocks and great views) but I am intrigued to see what all the fuss is about.

Have you visited any of the Civil War sites, or Rock City? Let us know in the comments what it was like.