Family Adventures in Chattanooga Area

I confess. The word ‘vacation’ strikes terror in my heart.  It conjures memories of scary airports, sketchy countries, hours of driving and the inevitable pretzel formation that was the ride home. Our family vacations always ended with my brother and I making room for the rocking chair or brass milk jugs that had to come home with us.  As an Army family, we got to live in lots of states and travel to some really neat countries and my parents were really eager to make sure that we got to experiences the culture of the places we were and the countries or states around it.

As a mom I want those same things for my sons, expanding horizons, finding recreation in our region and exploring our geographic boundaries.  We try to make sure that we have adventures and experiences, avoiding grueling drives, lines, and things that take the fun out of the recreation!

The southeast Tennessee region has been a hub since prehistoric days, many of our well-worn paths and highways originally traversed by ancient herds and people.  Our central location allows the opportunity to plan a vacation, whether it’s a week or a weekend, that doesn’t break the bank and doesn’t take a whole day to get to.  The combination of places to stay, things to do and experiences to have together can fill a scrapbook, of Facebook page, with fun memories.

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Surfing, Sun and Wilderness Fun in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Hang 10 and surf’s up were the most-heard phrases when we traveled to Pigeon’s Forge and visited the indoor waterpark at Wilderness at the Smokies.  The combination of convenience, fun and a great facility made this an amazing adventure for our family.  Wilderness at the Smokies ( has everything to keep a family happy, without even leaving the property!

The Adventure Forest indoor dry park features a 3-story ropes course, a 25-foot spring ride, a laser maze, interactive playhouse, birthday party rooms, blacklight mini-golf, mini bowling and an arcade room.  This new area will have special rooms for birthday parties and special bundles and packages make more fun affordable.

The indoor waterpark is just amazing!  As a parent, it was an absolute joy to watch my boys have so much fun.  I love taking my sons to the beach but the open water always makes me a little nervous and that heightened state of alert doesn’t make for a relaxing time for me.  The indoor waterpark at Wilderness at the Smokies had lifeguards, restaurants and a professional staff that made my experience as a parent enjoyable.  The boys got to surf, loved the wave pool and were absolutely wild over the waterslide rides.

Needless to say, they all slept very well and the rooms accommodated our group comfortably.  It was the first time my sons had seen a “Murphy Bed” and it and the couches that turned into beds made sleeping an adventure too.  The kitchen had everything that I needed so that we could have snacks and simple meals in between other activities.  We enjoyed the terrific restaurants on-site and I loved that they had so many “kids eat free” deals.  The wireless internet worked throughout the facility and the fitness center was well appointed and very clean.

Between the free kid’s meal, the arcades and the indoor and outdoor waterparks it was hard to get my children to go home!  The combination of family accommodations, convenience and flat out fun make Wilderness in the Smokies a terrific family adventure.  Be sure to bring your sunscreen (even in the indoor park on an overcast winter day!), pack snacks (see our trail mix recipes in this issue) and be prepared to leave happy, smiling and tired.

Lost Sea

The Lost Sea, its lessons and legends

The Lost Sea ( is a terrific adventure for families.  The caves, history, nature, and science of the experience are a perfect example of learning cloaked in entertainment.  Proud children will regale you with facts about stalagmites, stalactites, columns, bats, mold and other exciting science after this tour.

The guides are great, very knowledgable and happy to answer questions.  Children learning about physical sciences and geology will find that the tour is the real-life of what they learned and students who are about to learn those lessons will carry them confidently to share with their teachers and peer students.  The lessons of time, erosion, tectonic plates, the Civil War gunpowder production are tangible experiences in these caves.

The underwater lake and its inhabitants are an exciting mystery in nature that illustrates things children have (or will have) learned in class.  The albino trout represent an animal changing because of its environmental influences, growing larger because of a lack of predators and losing pigment because of a lack of sunlight.  Learning together is fun and providing a real-life experience that illustrates a school lesson reinforces learning while building family memories.

The Lost Sea is easily accessible from the highway.  There is ample parking and lots of picnic benches so that you can bring lunch to have after your tour.  Their gift shop is terrific and several art vendors are usually on site.

Ghosts, underwater adventure and absolute luxury in Chattanooga, Tennessee

It’s hard to go wrong in Chattanooga because there is always something to do and something new to experience.  Do you remember the old adage “when Mother is happy everyone is happy”?  Choosing the Chattanoogan Hotel as your base of operations is going to make everyone happy, especially Mom.

When the Chattanoogan says that they are an AAA Four Diamond-rated property they really mean it.  The beds are luxurious, the property is pristine and the restaurants on site are tasty treats. The Sunday brunch was so amazing I watched in delight as my boys put away plate after plate of healthy and delicious food.  They were so excited by the beautiful presentation and savory smells they were adventurous in their selections and discovered that they liked foods I have been trying to get them to eat for years!  Whether they were staff or visitors everyone there smiled and when a mom is traveling with three boys smiles are important!

Chattanoogan Hotel

The Chattanoogan Hotel ( has Spring Break special offers that include family passes to the Tennessee Aquarium and the location is so central that there is always something fun to do in walking distance or with a fun, free electric CARTA shuttle bus ride.  The art tour on the property was fascinating and the historic forges provided interesting glimpses into what was happening on the same site over a hundred years ago.  The pool was warm, inviting and relaxing with an amazing view of Lookout Mountain and was a perfect way to end a fun day of exploring.

Visiting the River Journey and Ocean Journey at the Tennessee Aquarium ( is a wonderful way to explore with children.  Tickets allow entrance over a 2-day period so that families can enjoy both sites and the electric CARTA buses provide for easy access to other adventures that will build memories.

River Gorge Explorer

The River Gorge Explorer ( is a breathtaking adventure on a revolutionary wakeless watercraft.  Traveling through the Grand Canyon of the South you and your family will see birds of prey, magnificent mountains and a series of vistas that have drawn travelers and pioneers for hundreds of years.  The IMAX experience beginning March is The Last Reef 3-D and is sure to be an inspiration to budding naturalists and future adventurers.

Tennessee Aquarium

The Tennessee Aquarium’s spring break program, Keeper’s Kids, is a really neat way for children to experience the behind-the-scenes action, interacting with the staff and the wildlife while Mom and Dad explore other Chattanooga attractions.  Restaurants abound in walking distance of the Chattanoogan Hotel and the electric CARTA buses are an adventure for everyone.

The Vaudeville Cafe ( combines dinner with entertainment and is a neat opportunity to laugh with your kids as you join in the story with a delicious dinner.

Chattanooga Ghost Tours

Ghosts are hard for anyone to resist and when we scanned the opportunities for a vacation evening activity the Chattanooga Ghost Tours ( was an instant must-see.  Chattanooga’s downtown is a great place for walking and the Chattanooga Ghost Tour was a huge success.  Our guide was a wonderfully engaging storyteller, Hope Holloway, and she led us on an adventure through the ghosts, mysteries, and history that make Chattanooga such an engaging city to visit.  From the Hunter Museum to the Sheraton Read House we were led on an exciting tour of Chattanooga’s past and present.

Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

Hop a Chattanooga Choo-Choo for the afternoon at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum is a must-see trip for families.  The TVRM ( is an important part of Chattanooga and its history.  Chattanooga and Knoxville were strategic points on the railroad system during the Civil War and this museum preserves some of those lines and has an amazing stable of historic trains to ride on and explore.

There are a variety of seasonal specials, promotions, and events, please visit them at for schedules and pricing.   The experience of riding the train, watching the engine spin around for the return journey and seeing the historic collection of cars and engines is thrilling for even the biggest kid!

Traveling with children can be daunting, exhausting and frustrating.  It can also be relaxing, enjoyable and create lasting memories of bonding moments.  We always recommend that you talk to your children about some of the options for your family adventures.  Consider that sometimes a few days in town doing things that you wouldn’t ordinarily do together combined with an overnight or weekend adventure can make for a very affordable experience.

History of Chattanooga Natural Bridge

Extending 60 feet long and hovering 15 feet above the ground, the Natural Bridge on Lookout Mountain might have seemed to early settlers and ancient Indian tribes like a toy left by a giant or god. It is a mystery of Mother Nature.

The bridge’s geological neighbor, Telephone Rock, is also a marvel, a mammoth boulder with a hole that conveys sound from one side to another, like a telephone. Two other formations, known as “The Old Man of the Mountain” and the “Chinese Grin,” sit atop Lookout Mountain, their comical countenances etched by millions of years of weather, wind, and rain.

In a time when children have remarkable technology at their fingertips, the geological absurdity of these strangely shaped boulders offers a lesson in the effects of time and weather that pairs nicely with a family outing and a Frisbee.

The Natural Bridge area, especially, is both geographically fascinating and rich in history. The land around it, a plot now divided by Bragg Avenue at the corner of Scenic Highway, was the site of salubrious springs, state-of-the-art schools, spiritualist camps and even séances.

Healing waters

In 1878, the rusty chalybeate springs that ran under the Natural Bridge brought desperate Chattanoogans up the mountain, racing to escape a yellow fever epidemic that was consuming downtown. The people climbed toward the healing mineral waters to camp among the boulders at what is now a park maintained by the City of Lookout Mountain.

An early developer of the area was Major McCullough, known for his yearly caravan of oxcarts, animals, people and a piano as he led his family up Lookout Mountain to the cooler climate of his home by the Natural Bridge. He later established the McCullough Hotel, which would eventually become the Natural Bridge Hotel.

McCullough’s 10 children—eight of them daughters—would help build a silk mill and the Flintstone United Methodist Church, a unique stone building once commemorated for its ironic history in Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

Higher education

The education of their children was important to those early Chattanoogans, many of whom employed schoolmasters, hosting private schools in their homes. The Prussian-born Professor H.W. Von Alderhoff, the leading schoolmaster of the mid-19th century, was courted by leading citizens to come to Chattanooga to teach in 1850.

Established in 1859 on Lookout Mountain, his Alderhoff Institute for Boys was considered one of the finest educational institutions in the South before the Civil War began in 1861. Renowned for speaking nine languages, the schoolmaster was entrusted with the children of some of the city’s most notable families, including the Cravens, the Whitesides and the Keys. When word came that war had begun at Fort Sumter, the children lit two barrels of coal tar on fire, danced and gave patriotic secessionist speeches. After many of his students went off to fight, Alderhoff closed the school, moving his own family from the mountain back down to Chattanooga for their safety.

In 1866, a year after the war ended, The Lookout Mountain Educational Institute was opened near the Natural Bridge in response to the absence of a public school system.

New York business mogul Christopher R. Robert, founder of Robert College in Constantinople, was devoted to the furtherance of education in the post-war era; his stewardship of the institute allowed him to spread his educational mission. The Lookout Mountain Educational Institute operated until the Tennessee legislature mandated local management of schools in 1872.

Spiritualists and Oddfellows

The Natural Bridge area also became a haunt for those interested in the netherworld. In 1883, the Southern Spiritualists Association was organized in Chattanooga at a meeting of more than 100 leaders in the national sect. They leased the Lookout Mountain Hotel, purchased the Natural Bridge Hotel, and, as their ranks grew, built larger meeting facilities to accommodate growing numbers at séances, lectures, spirit contacts, feats of extrasensory perception and eerie moonlit meetings featuring war dances among the sandstone sentries.

One spiritualist, a Mrs. Cora Glading, spent hours writing, the lines of channeled text moving up from the bottom of the page and readable only with a mirror.

Many of Chattanooga’s citizens shared the spiritualists’ credo of the “promulgation of the fundamental doctrines of eternal existence and the inter-relation of the Material and Spiritual places of life.”* Possibly responding to the massive death and loss wrought by the Civil War, believers came from all over the country to hear renowned mediums in a setting steeped in ancient auras.

The decision to purchase a Lookout Mountain site for this strange religious sect was made at the Odd Fellows Hall, the home of a benevolent social society from whom the spiritualists drew many of their leaders. The moniker “Odd Fellows” was reputed to have been earned in the 1780s, when working-class men, working together for social good, was considered peculiar, or odd. Such was the benevolent and social spirit of Chattanooga’s Odd Fellows, who manifested the generous principles and practices of the fraternity in their relationships with each other and with their city.

The Hill City and Hamilton Chapters of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows still exist today, one an innocuous door on Frazier Avenue, its windows offering a view of the mountain that has loomed large in its city’s history.

Melungeons of East Tennessee

The mystery, myth, and marvel of the Melungeons of East Tennessee

Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492.  Even the youngest of us know that rhyme but there is more to the story of the conquest of the New World and it was a man’s search for clues to his mysterious illness that may have answered centuries-old questions.   Answering those riddles about people and places make history and its mysteries so exciting.

Elvis Presley, Pocahontas, Abe Lincoln, and Sequoyah may share a bloodline that still exists with many Melungeon brothers who don’t even know it.  As early as 1673 English explorer James Needham wrote about people who lived with Native American tribes, Mediterranean-looking people speaking a broken 16th century Elizabethan English in the forests of the New World.

Dedicated research, advanced genetic typing, testing, and a disease or two combined in one man as he battled a mysterious ailment.  Brent Kennedy had always been told that his family was of Irish, Scottish and German heritage.  Imagine his surprise when the source of his pain was diagnosed as Erythema nodosum sarcoidosis, a disease that only strikes Mediterranean men?

That diagnosis would lead him to trace his roots and weave together strange strands of history that tell a tale of “cursed souls” stranded on foreign land, sailors, explorers and people escaping the Inquisition.  They touched the future of the New World beginning as early as the 1500s with their language, musical instruments, metallurgical talents, genetics and cultural complexities as they became “absorbed into Indian tribes”.

In the book, Spanish Frontier in North America, author Weber describes the explorer Juan Pardo and his planted settlements in North Carolina and East Tennessee where hundreds of Spanish, Iberian and Portuguese men disappeared, possibly absorbing into the neighboring tribes and adding their Western European, Turkish, Moorish and Portuguese characteristics and customs to the Appalachian valley with hills and mountains that resemble the terrain of Turkey and the Croatian lands of Western Europe.

The legendary Sir Frances Drake is documented as having had a shipload of over 500 captured Iberian, South American Indian, Berbers, Moors, Turks and Muslims who he planned to use as a collective weapon against his Spanish rivals.  His plans to leave the captured warriors in the Caribbean were thwarted by a storm that blew him off course, headed to the New World and the Roanoke colony where members of the English explorer Ralph Lane begged him to allow them passage to their homeland.

Documents report that only 100 of the captured soldiers were returned to the Moors, leaving hundreds who must have fled inland to the safety of friendly tribes and native wives.  The Native American word that became Tennessee bears a striking resemblance to the Turkish word for ‘place where souls move about’ pronounced “tenasuh”.

The names Kentucky and Alabama also seem to mirror Turkish and Croatian words as do many given and family names that would grace generations of Melungeon families.  The dark hair, easily tanned olive skin, and strong features add to the strong work ethic, artistic silversmith abilities and communal/clannish family living that are reflected in Appalachian forests and their Croatian cousins a world away.

Men in these same villages carry diseases and genetic markers for Sarcoidosis, Thalassemia, Behcet’s syndrome and Azorean (Machado-Joseph) disease, physical links between the Melungeons of East Tennessee and the Mediterranean/Middle European ancestors who settled into the New World well before the 1607 Jamestown colony.

Those hidden similarities are contrasted to the vibrant and beautiful designs in art, fabric and dancing that appear in quilts, art and celebrations in both the Ottoman Empire and the Appalachian mountain communities.  The dulcimer is an Appalachian instrument whose soulful sounds are the same as in its brother, the fretted zither of Croatia, alpine Europe and east Asia.  Sequoyah, the noted Cherokee scholar, wore a costume in the 1800’s that was just like that of the Ottoman Levant, a 16th-century Turkish seaman.

The census of 1790 showed a substantial regional population with self-identifications of Portuguese, Portuguese-Indian, Black Dutch, French, and Spanish.  The Virginia Racial Integrity Act of 1924 spawned antimiscegenation laws and many families lost property to encroaching pioneers when race classifications prompted legal disenfranchisement.

The tri-racial isolate that likely began with a few thousand strong men being “absorbed into tribes” became a thing to hide instead of heritage to celebrate.  Now, in a more accepting world, maybe the descendants of the Roanoke colony, the red-haired Barbarossa brothers and their Berber pirates and the Moors, Croatians, Sephardic Jews, Iberians and Portuguese may find the truth in family pride, physical traits, and the mirrored beauty of the hills and valleys of Middle Europe and the Appalachian valley in East Tennessee.

Chattanooga Music

Chattanooga has long been known for its deep musical roots. The Empress of the Blues Bessie Smith, legendary James Brown drummer Clyde Stubblefield, and Grammy-winning superstar Usher all hail from here. There’s also that Glenn Miller tune – perhaps you’ve heard it.

Despite those roots, the link between music and Chattanooga has never been quite as strong as those of Nashville (country music USA) or Memphis (home of the blues and the birthplace of rock and roll). And while Chattanooga may be better known for its mountains and rivers, it has more recently managed to become a destination for music lovers and performing artists alike.

Of course, the city has had long-standing and notable musical highlights. The Riverbend Festival has been a summertime fixture for over thirty years. The Nightfall Concert Series is a reliable and often inspiring Friday destination and   Riverfront Nights Summer Music Series draws thousands of concertgoers to the riverfront Saturdays during its run.  The Memorial Auditorium and  Tivoli Theater are perennial choices for touring acts. Not to mention a long line of coffee houses, bars, and smaller venues that feature live music. If you’ve noticed a steady increase in the number—and the quality—of artists performing in town, there are good reasons for that. New venues are opening up continuing refinements that have given a boost to long-established ones. The result has been a jackpot for local music lovers.

Tivoli Theater

Two of the largest and most historic venues in town are owned by the City of Chattanooga. The Tivoli Theater, the ornate Beaux-Arts opera house and home to Chattanooga Symphony and Opera is known as the Jewel of the South. The larger Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium was conceived as a municipal auditorium and exhibit hall. Both have hosted live performances since the 1920s, but in the past few years have come into their own. In 2015, management of The Tivoli and Memorial were contracted to Bonnaroo Music Festival founders AC Entertainment, and both venues have since churned out one great concert after another.

Ted Heinig, Vice President of Concerts for AC Entertainment says, “It’s a great fit. The Tivoli is just so far ahead of where we thought it would be two and a half years into the project. We are huge advocates of historic theaters and The Tivoli is just one of those gems that are rare these days.” “That last year when the city was managing The Tivoli I think they had what we would consider nine or ten national touring artists come through. This year we have 38 (national acts) confirmed at The Tivoli. We felt like the Tivoli could handle that volume,” says Heinig.

Memorial Auditorium

Performances are also on the upswing at Memorial Auditorium. Its 3800 seat capacity is a natural fit for larger crowds. The recent sold-out Steve Martin and Martin Short performance set records as the highest-grossing show at the Memorial to date. Upstairs from the Memorial, the recently renovated Robert Kirk Walker Theater provides a more intimate space for artists on the rise. “The goal at The Walker,” says Heinig “is to go out and get a lot of the new touring artists who prefer playing theaters who are going to be in that 500-800 capacity range that isn’t ready for The Tivoli. Because if they come in and play The Walker, and they build their audience, then they can grow into The Tivoli down the road.”

Songbirds Guitar Museum

Songbirds Guitar Museum has hosted a steady stream of guitar-centric artists since the museum’s opening in early 2017. Songbirds, which will continue to schedule more intimate performances in the museum space upstairs, recently took over operation of downstairs neighbor The Revelry Room and will soon be hosting larger shows there under the Songbird name. “The Songbirds Museum itself is constantly a work in progress. You have a vision when you open a business, but you don’t know exactly how it will go. We started with Vince Gill. Then I brought in Tommy Emmanuel, one of the top 10 guitarists in the world. While we were setting up some of our gear, I saw a Dick Dale guitar, and I thought I could probably get him in here too,” says Dougher, who lured Dale, the legendary surf rock guitarist, to town last year.

“All of the shows were really successful. We thought well if it worked once it will work twice. Let’s try it again. It’s sort of grown to the point that we’re now doing two, three, sometimes four shows a week. I know how blessed I am to have the opportunity to come in and help the guys here at Songbirds. When I have a 15-time Grammy winner turn around as he’s leaving say ‘Please call my agent tomorrow and put another show on the books. I can’t wait to come back and play.’ You know you’re doing something good. It feels so good.”

The Signal

The Signal is Chattanooga’s newest venue. Recently opened in the former Jump Park space on Chestnut Street, it is poised to extend the entertainment district even deeper into the Southside. With a strong initial opening and an eclectic list of acts booked, the 1300 guest capacity of The Signal fills the void, left when Track 29 ceased booking concerts when its location at The Chattanooga Choo Choo was slated for redevelopment into apartments.

Managing The Signal is JR Facility Management, which operates the Marathon Music Works and Exit/In venues in Nashville and The Truman in Kansas City. JR brings considerable expertise to the Chattanooga music market. “We try not to have any limitations as far as genre goes. We’re pretty proud of how eclectic and how diverse our lineups are and we think there’s a certain type of person for a certain type of artist in every city. We’ve got EDM and country and some tribute acts, some hip-hop and heavier stuff. All sorts of stuff. We’re proud to offer that diversity in our lineups and our bookings,” says The Signal’s Marketing Manager Jeremy Hicks.

The Caverns

Another new venue, The Caverns, is an hour’s drive from downtown Chattanooga in Pelham, Tennessee at the foot of Monteagle Mountain. As its name suggests, the performance hall is in an underground cavern. While the subterranean nature of the venue might be problematic for the claustrophobic, those who make that journey into the earth will be rewarded with a world-class lineup of bluegrass, country, and Americana artists. The Caverns is the new permanent home to the award-winning PBS television program Bluegrass Underground which recently moved from The Volcano Room at Cumberland Caverns in nearby McMinnville.

Barking Legs Theater

While it remains to be seen whether this recent live music renaissance will result in even more new venues coming online in Chattanooga, all the pieces—and the people—are in place for a sustained and vibrant live music landscape. From small grassroots rock clubs like JJ’s Bohemia and eclectic listing room Barking Legs Theater to the largest halls in town, Chattanooga has a stage for artists of every imaginable genre and an enthusiastic audience that is ready to listen.

Best Restaurants in The West Village

Chattanooga’s West Village is the newest dining destination in town. In comparison to other neighborhoods in the Scenic City known for their food offerings, such as the Northshore and Main Street/Southside, West Village is small—about one city block. But from a taste of Italy and south-of-the-border fare to flavors that are all-American, the one block making up West Village is packed with flavor. Unlike other food areas in the city, you won’t have to walk far to find what you’re hungry for, making West Village a pedestrian-friendly place where food and hospitality are the primary focus. Here’s a look at the smorgasbord of culinary offerings you’ll find contained in the area between M.L. King Boulevard and Eighth, Chestnut and Pine streets.

Alimentari Cucina e Bar

At the intersection of Chestnut and Eighth streets, Alimentari is a cornerstone of culinary happenings in West Village.

Javier Peralta-Ramos hails from Argentina, but with the help of an Italian stepfather, he learned the intricacies of Italian cooking at a young age by creating the handmade pasta and learning just the right amount of seasoning needed to bring tomatoes and capers to a mouth-watering crescendo for his Tagliatelle Puttanesca. The eatery has quickly become a place for everything from business lunches, to after-work cocktails, to ladies-night-out on Thursday evenings.

The offerings—starting with mouth-watering antipasti such as Cozza al Vapore (mussels with fennel and white wine) and crispy calamari—through the Secondi (main course) and on to Dolci (dessert), are all made from scratch. And the restaurant has recently added weekend brunch to its repertoire. The menu is an Italian version of what Chattanoogans expect for brunch, says Peralta-Ramos. “It’s food designed to go to your pleasure senses.”

An architect by training, he took care in selecting the restaurant’s décor, wanting it to, in part, mirror that of other buildings in downtown Chattanooga. Windows surround the dining and bar areas, bringing in natural light, while a ceiling with exposed beams and piping add a rustic, modern touch. The colors and textures of wood, with gray tables and blue upholstery on chairs and banquette seating, are meant to represent the Earth’s natural elements—forest, river and stone, Peralta-Ramos says. “We want to connect with everything around us.”

Citron et Sel

Take the freshest of ingredients and pair them with the best tequilas—some you may have heard of and others you most likely have not—and you have the makings of West Village’s newest eatery, Citron et Sel.

The menu focuses mostly on made-to-order tacos, specialty sauces, freshly made salsas and guacamole, and one-of-a-kind dishes. It’s simple and straightforward which makes it a great midday spot for those looking for a quick in-and-out during their lunch hour, or a fast-casual place to sip on high-end tequilas after work.

In comparison to other West Village restaurants, Citron et Sel is on the small side. It seats around 70 people, but it helps fulfill the mission of developers/brothers Byron DeFoor and Ken DeFoor in creating a cosmopolitan atmosphere with flavors from around the world.

Dining at The Westin

When The Westin hotel opened at the corner of M.L. King Boulevard and Pine Street in late 2017, an emphasis was placed on food, not just for the tourist trade, but for the local population, as well.


As the primary restaurant in the hotel, Durato caters to hotel guests, serving meals breakfast through dinner. It’s an interior eatery—no windows and the lighting is bright. But what it lacks in ambiance, it more than makes up for with a bill of fare created by executive chef Brian Ward who takes your palate on a road trip around the South and across America. Diners will find an interesting mix on the menu that evidences this juxtaposition of cuisines—a fried green tomato BLT next to a mahi-mahi sandwich; or cast-iron fried chicken on the same menu with chicken piccata. “We’re trying to feel out the locals, too, to see what they want,” Ward says.

The menu at Dorato carries over into the Dorato bar where local beers are served as well as top-shelf liquors and wines. The bar is positioned to take in the activity of the Westin lobby in addition to the outdoor areas. Floor-to-ceiling windows and a lack of walls create an open and airy feel. Seating is at the bar or at small tables where meals can be served in a casual setting.

Dining al fresco

When the weather is right, the patio off the bar and lobby area which faces Pine Street is open for cocktails and dining, making guests feel a part of the West Village vibe where laser shows and live music happen every Saturday night. Again, the Dorato menu is offered for this outdoor dining experience including sandwiches, salads (such as chicken Caesar or the Wedge), small plates and shareable. Entrees like the Farm Chop, a beautiful frenched pork chop laced with a brandied apple demi-glace and served with grilled yams and sauteed spinach, are also featured.

Alchemy Bar

The view is dynamic, the food delicious and the drinks daring. Alchemy is located on the top floor of The Westin and with massive windows that surround both the bar area and its “outdoor” seating arena, the mountains of the Tennessee Valley make for a stunning backdrop. The Alchemy bar has become a favorite place for locals to come “get their game on”—as there are a number of televisions for sports fans—or to venture in for a post-work cocktail. The menu is scaled down, limited mostly to appetizers, but there are some sandwiches and two entrees—Scottish salmon and a grilled filet with Yukon potatoes and asparagus for heartier appetites.

Weekends get crazy here, with the street fairs, laser shows and other happenings in West Village. Though the bar seats up to 90 people inside and out, there’s standing room for around 300. And there have been occasions when there’s no standing room remaining. It gets that busy.

Alchemy has a nice wine list and offers beer by the bottle and on tap, many of them local, and has a nice selection of the finer spirits such as Angel’s Envy bourbon and MaCallen 18-year Scotch. The bar also has a creative mix of specialty cocktails, such as the Smoked Manhattan—one of several smoked in a small smoker tableside.

Innside Restaurant

An oldie gets new life
Innside Restaurant has been a fixture for the downtown breakfast and lunch scene for decades. Now, though, with increased activity in what was once an area of town that died after 5 p.m., Innside is open till 7 p.m. so folks can eat dinner in or take out its famous meat-and-three dinners, burgers, sandwiches, and salads for which it has become known. Inside is located inside the Pinnacle Building at the corner of Eighth and Chestnut streets.

Best Family-Friendly Hikes in Chattanooga

Chattanooga is a mecca for climbers, bikers, and backpackers alike, but the city also offers an array of scenic hikes for beginners and families. Whether you’re visiting for a week or just a weekend, there are plenty of pristine hiking trails close to town worth checking out. No trip to the Scenic City would be complete without soaking up some of the city’s breathtaking views. You have hundreds of options to choose from when it comes to hiking in the city, but here are five family-friendly trails close to town that everyone will enjoy.

Reflection Riding

Reflection Riding is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. With more than 300 acres of unspoiled natural areas, families can explore mountain slopes, wildflower paths, or the creek on the property. The Indian Profile Trail provides an easy-to-navigate portrait of the park. The 2.7-mile loop trail offers families the opportunity to indulge in panoramic views of the park. Keep your eyes open and you may spot some of the local wildlife. Take a stroll through the Wildlife Wonderland or Snake Tail Alley to meet some of the more than 40 species that call the nature center home. Animals living in the Wildlife Wonderland are either threatened or endangered, and the center works to rehabilitate and release injured wildlife as well as taking part in breeding programs to help restore threatened populations. Some of the most popular residents are the highly endangered Red Wolves. These animals serve as ambassadors to help kids and families learn more about Tennessee’s natural environment and the important role animals play in it.

Glen Falls Trail

Just minutes from downtown Chattanooga, Glen Falls Trail is an excellent choice for an afternoon outing as a family. This short trail is chock-full of unique features. Beautiful rock formations guide hikers through the forest and over a bridge. A stone stairway leads through a unique rock doorway. A creek leads you past cascades and to the falls where you can dip your toes in the water. It’s as close to a fairy tale as you can get. Keep your eyes open because there is always something new just around the corner, which makes this trail especially fun for kids.

Greenway Farm

Greenway Farm is a beloved local spot for biking, hiking, running, canoeing, and more. The park features a variety of trails and differing landscapes. Visitors will enjoy a peaceful walk along North Chickamauga Creek, which winds throughout the property for more than two miles. This quiet waterway zigzags beneath a beautiful and vibrant canopy of trees, and the flat trail is ideal for families looking for a slow-paced yet scenic outdoor adventure. You may even consider packing a lunch because this is a wonderfully serene spot for a picnic.

Another attraction worth visiting along the Greenway Trail is the quarry, which was originally excavated by the Tennessee Valley Authority as a source of limestone for the Chickamauga Dam. Gently sloping paved trails lead the way to the beautiful limestone spectacle. Once at the top, massive sheer cliffs give way to a pool of pristine blue water below. Swimming and diving are not allowed but the view is worth the walk regardless. A short hike beneath deciduous forest leads to this unique and awe-inspiring view. It’s a picturesque location for families to reflect and enjoy Chattanooga’s natural surroundings.

Blue Blazes Trail

Located across from downtown on the banks of the Tennessee River, the Blue Blazes Trail offers scenic views of Lookout Mountain. The thick forest and overhead canopy make this trail ideal if you want to get lost in the woods without actually getting lost. Halfway through the 2-mile loop, the dense vegetation opens up to reveal a breathtaking view of the Tennessee River set against the backdrop of Lookout Mountain. The flat and easy trail makes this a brief but great excursion for kids and families.

Cravens House

History and the great outdoors are blended at Cravens House, a fantastic trail for families who want to enjoy time together while learning more about our nation’s history. High atop Lookout Mountain, the trail winds downhill, offering panoramic views of the city. This short stroll leads to Cravens House, the only remaining Civil War era structure on the mountain. Once on-site there are plenty of opportunities to learn more about the historic home that served as headquarters for both the Confederate and Union armies during the Civil War. If the refreshing mountain air leaves you wanting more, visit nearby ℹ️ Point Park for picturesque views of the city and an opportunity to learn more about Chattanooga’s Civil War history.

Chattanooga Outdoor Activities

Chattanooga is a top destination in the Southeast for outdoor activities. It’s easy to see why-this thriving river city set against a backdrop of mountains and ridges is perfect for outdoor adventure-seekers.

Getting active outdoors has multiple benefits for the body and the mind, but the idea of “getting outdoors” can seem a little intimidating to beginners, who may not know where to start. How does one begin training for a marathon? Where are the best hiking and camping locations? Is there anyone who can help me become a better cyclist? Even veteran athletes that are new to the area, or who would like to get to know other like-minded athletes, benefit from a community of enthusiasts.

That community can be found in Chattanooga’s outdoor sports clubs. Groups of people already practicing a sport provide support, encouragement, knowledge, and friendship for both beginners and veterans. Chattanooga has a number of active clubs, so if you’re looking to get outdoors with others, look no further.

Lookout Rowing Club

The Lookout Rowing Club is certainly one of Chattanooga’s oldest clubs. Founded in 1876, it was disbanded shortly after, but some local rowing enthusiasts- mostly UTC students-started it up again in 1974. Last year, the club had 69 members. Henry Magnuson, president of the club, joined in 2003 when his son, who had learned rowing at McCallie School, taught him over the course of summer before going to college.

“It was initially a frightening experience,” he says. “I had rowed before in wide boats but never anything sleek and narrow, and prone to capsizing, like a racing shell.”

To help beginners get used to that new experience, the Rowing Club offers sculling classes throughout the summer. All new club members must take a rowing and flip test before they are accepted. Beginners take the test after their classes, and more experienced scullers can take it right away. Members then have access to the club’s nearly 30 boats to practice on their own schedules. Magnuson says it didn’t take him long to start enjoying the sport.

“The beauty of the river and the experience of doing what many people cannot do was enough to keep me coming back,” he says. “Now it is something I love to do.”

The rowing club conducts a number of events each year, including the scenic 23-mile Tennessee Gorge Row in the summer and two 5,000 meter races in the fall: the Chattanooga Head Race and the Head of the Hooch Regatta. The Head of the Hooch, hosted in partnership with the Atlanta Rowing Club, is the second-largest regatta in the country, and it has the greatest economic impact of all sporting events held in Chattanooga.

Chattanooga Track Club

The Chattanooga Track Club began in the 1970s when people decided to get together and run, and make it official. It now has nearly 400 members, many of whom who participate in the club’s annual races, which include the BlueCross Chattanooga Chase, the Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon, the Scenic City Half Marathon and the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon.

CTC’s races raise support and awareness for various local and national charities. February’s Scenic City Half Marathon raised $17,000 for eight area charities. The races also bring tourism and business, particularly the Waterfront Triathlon, which nets an average $1 million for the city. Runners come from states across the southeast to participate, as it is the regional championship and qualifier for the USAT National Triathlon Championship. The Waterfront Triathlon was also voted 2009’s Best Triathlon by Competitor Magazine.

Sherilyn Johnson, president of the club, says participating in races has many benefits for those who enjoy running.

“Most races you do for fun, you just get up there and run with your friends,” she says. “And you can see how well your training is going.”

Besides races, the club also hosts a number of weekly runs for all skill levels, from beginners and those recovering from injuries to expert runners who want to push themselves.

Chattanooga Outdoor Adventure Club South

Trey Baldwin, an organizer for the Chattanooga branch of Outdoor Adventure Club South, says his club does everything. Activities include hiking, backpacking, camping, kayaking, rock climbing, sky diving, hang gliding, rafting, caving, and any other outdoor activity members can come up with.

The club began in Atlanta and spread to Greenville, Asheville, and Chattanooga. The club in Chattanooga was dormant for about a year until Baldwin, who was a part of the Atlanta club, gave it a new life last fall. Now the club boasts 375 members and an active schedule.

“I just really felt like Chattanooga needed something like that [the active club in Atlanta],” he says. “There was really nothing for people who want to try out everything.”

All of the club’s operations are conducted online. Members suggest ideas for activities and post them to the site, where other members can sign up. With so many members, there’s always someone willing to join an activity.

Member Kim O’Leary just tried rock climbing for the first time a couple months ago. She says it’s not something she would have done on her own, but when she saw someone online organizing a rock-climbing trip, it gave her confidence. “I thought, ‘Oh, I can do that,” she says.

To continue member education, the club will soon feature beginner classes in kayaking, backpacking, and fly-fishing.

Chattanooga Bicycling Club

The Chattanooga Bicycle Club was formed in the late 1960s, and with 250 active memberships, including family memberships, the Bike Club is still thriving. The club hosts rides nearly every night of the week, and longer ones on weekends. Ride leaders take advantage of the hundreds of different routes the Chattanooga area has to offer, with popular routes in places like Chickamauga Battlefield, Redbank and Ooltewah. The rides range in skill level, and club president Troy Ivey says the club makes sure to have opportunities for beginners to learn about cycling.

“We have beginner rides for people that are interested in biking but may feel intimidated by big groups of people that show up in Spandex,” he says.

Ivey encourages beginners to take the road biking classes offered by Bike Chattanooga, many of which are taught by club members.

The club sponsors two big rides each year. In the spring, the 3-State 3-Mountain Challenge attracts about 2,000 riders. The ride is 100 miles through Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia, over a mountain in each state. The Sequatchie Valley Century ride is in the fall, and it drew about 600 riders last year.

Sydney Roberts has been a club member since 2007 when she started riding her bike to work. After a 31-mile ride to Chester Frost Park, she was exhausted but hooked on cycling.

“I have been all over Chattanooga on my bike and been to places I didn’t even know existed,” Roberts says. “The weekend rides in the country are a great way to chill out and I always feel good about having spent time outdoors in a healthy activity.”

Chattanooga Hiking Club

Before John Rowland joined the hiking club, he spent many years hiking the Great Smoky Mountains alone. As many solo hikers can attest, hiking alone can be refreshing, but so can hiking with others. Rowland says he has enjoyed the support and friendship of other hikers since joining in 2003.

“It’s nice to have other people to go with,” Rowland says. “The camaraderie of it is really nice.”

The Chattanooga Hiking Club just celebrated its 20th anniversary. Two decades ago, a group of people who loved to get together and hike the area’s mountains decided to make their informal group an official club. Now, the club has about 170 members and conducts hikes nearly every Saturday. Those hikes might include a short, easy trip up Lookout Mountain or a strenuous 11-mile trek in the Chattahoochee National Forest. The club also goes on some weekend backpacking or camping trips throughout the year, as well as weekly informal Wednesday evening hikes. Hiking Club members also try to give back to the hiking community by participating in trail clean-up and maintenance.

To sign up for a hike, members contact the designated hike leaders, who lead each hike and make sure the members are up for it, especially the strenuous hikes.

“The hike leaders are the backbone of the organization,” Rowland says. “If people don’t step up and lead hikes, we don’t have anything.”

The Hiking Club puts out a newsletter to inform members of upcoming hikes, and hike information is available in each Thursday’s Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Chattanooga Art Tour

Whether you are a resident of Chattanooga or are just visiting, there is a strong chance that you have picked up on the incredible energy that exists all around us. It’s in the air, in the buildings, in the mountains, in the water, and without a doubt, in the people.

Chattanooga has become a magnet to the creative, energetic and passionate and serves as a platform for a variety of art forms. All the traditional genres are represented but there is also the bizarre and fantastic, which are just as prevalent and give credence to a popular local sticker “Keep Chattanooga Weird.”

Chattanooga Public Art Sculptures

For example, there are 125 public art sculptures in the area from North Chattanooga to the Sculpture Gardens. Many buildings are wrapped in colorful and intelligent murals thoughtfully crafted to bring joy and contemplation to passers-by. Even four downtown alleyways have been transformed into “public works of architecture.” You could be taking a stroll on Main or Frazier and literally bump into an extraordinary work of art whilst grabbing an artisan roasted coffee, served by an art student in a coffee shop displaying a variety of quality local art. It is a beautiful thing.

In addition to the many public space displays,, there are approximately 15 art galleries and more than 50 local artist studios housing everything from whimsical paper-mache constructions to traditional fine art paintings. This paired with the spectacular natural beauty of the area attracts visitors from all over the world, it is not surprising that Libby Santin, a local entrepreneur, was inspired to create the New South Tour Company to offer Art Tours for visitors and residents who want to take a closer look at what Chattanooga has to offer.

Chattanooga Museums

“When I visit other cities I love visiting museums and galleries and I also like getting a ‘behind the scenes’ view of things. I felt like Chattanooga was a perfect place to offer art tours because there is so much public art; a good number of working artists; and real support for the arts, of all types, across the city,” says Santin. Santin presently offers 2 tours a month on the 1st and 3rd Saturday. Tours generally last 2 1⁄2 – 3 hours with art stops lasting about 10 or 15 minutes. This allows for a variety of experiences within the tour that will give you a taste without overwhelming you with one particular type of art or artist. Each tour is meticulously prepped with bottled water and cookies at various locations for tour guests, as well as Uber drivers booked and ready to transport the group across town at no extra cost. You can expect a fair amount of walking but no more than 10 minutes at a time. Comfortable shoes are suggested. A typical tour will begin outside at the ℹ️ Hunter Museum of American Art in the ℹ️ Bluff View Art District of Chattanooga. Santin says she gives an introduction to the Museum but invites tour guests to take a dedicated afternoon to explore the exhibitions inside. She instead leads the tour to explore the beautiful and often surprising details of the sculptures on the bluff including a pregnant whale that may not at first be apparent!

The tour numbers are kept small so you can expect a feeling of camaraderie as the group continues on its art adventure by foot to the next stop. Currently, this is an eclectic local gallery that often has a visiting artist on hand to answer questions about his or her specific work. Outside your Uber awaits and you may then be chauffeured to the Cress Gallery, a lesser-known public gallery housed at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga Fine Arts Center. This is an academic gallery which means exhibitions are selected to demonstrate formal theory and concept, contemporary artistic practice and materials and excellence in craft and technique.

With 8-14 exhibitions a year, it is a great way to stretch your artistic boundaries and experience modern and creative innovation in a very tactile environment. These exhibitions include work by contemporary professional working artists and designers of regional, national, and international reputation. Annual UTC Department of Art Student BFA Thesis exhibitions, a yearly Juried Student exhibition and Feinstein Scholarship recipient’s exhibition, a biennial Art Faculty exhibition, and periodic exhibitions of work from the UTC Permanent Collection of Art are also included on the tour when visiting UTC. These are free to the public but visitors may leave a donation in support of the Fine Arts Center.

Southside Chattanooga

Typically you will then be taken to the newly renovated area of Southside. Everywhere you look, there is something to catch your eye. There is a palpable buzz of “cool” that permeates everything from the walkway up. There are a number of private artist studios in this area that Santin has made available to her guests, including those belonging to popular local artists Brett Weaver, Timur Akhriev and Brent Sanders.

If you are lucky enough to be on one of these tours you will be treated to a first-hand glimpse of what incredible artistic talent looks like through the process of creation. Santin chooses artists who have a diverse range of styles, which is designed not only to keep the tour interesting but also to increase the chance of you interacting with a style of art that is really meaningful to you. The studio spaces and personal stories are just as diverse and will offer you several perspectives on the journey to becoming a successful artist.

And for those who appreciate the esthetics of a well-curated gallery,  Gallery 1401 may be just the way to end the day. Opened in 1998, it is one of Chattanooga’s older galleries, specializing in the exhibition and sale of fine art. With over 40 nationally and internationally acclaimed artists who represent styles encompassing contemporary realism, impressionism, and classical styles of works on paper, canvas, board, sculpture, and glass, it is a feast for the eyes.

Guests may then decide to continue the adventure by themselves or hop on one of the downtown free electric shuttle buses to their hotel or car. It is a great investment of an afternoon and is guaranteed to leave you inspired and creatively refreshed! Tours will change periodically to incorporate current exhibitions and allow for seasonal changes, but each excursion will bring you a bit closer to what makes Chattanooga such an extraordinary city.

Although this is a new venture, Santin says that spaces fill up fast. She encourages anyone who may be interested in booking to do so early by visiting her website Tickets are $45 and available for those 14 years and older.

Academic Summer Camps in Chattanooga

Today’s parents face the challenge of preparing their children for a rewarding and fulfilling future while working hard to support the present.  Summer can present schedules challenges that frazzle hard-working parents.  The answers to both questions can lie in the academic and enrichment summer programs available in our region.

Like a perfect Chinese dinner you can choose between categories of camps to provide your children with a well-rounded schedule of day or overnight camps that can inspire, educate and entertain.  One mother who shared an experience with us, said “My son came out of Philanthropy Camp with a new view of things. For the first time, he really saw himself as someone who could—and should—make a difference in the world.”

The National Assessment of Educational Progress reports that less than one third of eighth-graders in the United States show proficiency in science and math. A report from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) notes ”many American students conclude early in their education that STEM subjects are boring, too difficult, or unwelcoming, leaving them ill-prepared to meet the challenges that will face their generation.”

According the U.S. Department of Education, only one in six college students in Tennessee and Georgia enroll in science, technology, engineering, or math degree programs and experts warn that the United States’ workforce is facing a looming shortage of talent in STEM fields. The PCAST report concludes “in order to improve STEM education, we must focus on both preparation and inspiration”.

STEM initiatives improve standardized test scores and promote college readiness. Project-based STEM learning engages students, teaches towards a higher level of thinking, improves problem-solving skills, and builds learners for life.  Created as a living memorial to the seven astronauts of the 1986 Challenger 51-L crew, the Challenger Center at UTC uses students’ natural enthusiasm for space to create innovative learning experiences for imaginative young minds.

Building good citizens, broadening young horizons and expanding the future can define your child’s summer and between vacations and school physicals you will be rewarded with the changes you see.  Enrichment comes in all forms and a well-balanced camp schedule can prepare a child for the new grade and expectations ahead.

Academic/Enrichment Camp Listings

Avondale Seventh Day Adventist
Enrichment program, reading and math skills camps
1201 N. Orchard Knob Ave.
Chattanooga, TN 37406
Baylor School
Summer Enrichment Programs
171 Baylor School Rd.
Chattanooga, TN 37405

Summer is a great time to try something new, and Baylor School offers several enrichment programs throughout the summer for children of all ages. Our highly individualized programs provide a fantastic camper-to-staff ratio, ensuring that each child is able to benefit from their summer experience. Programs include fly-fishing, sailing, art, dance, and more. Go to for camp sessions and details. Easy online registration makes it convenient to sign up for a summer’s worth of fun.

Berean Baptist Daycare
441 Berean Lane
Hixson, TN 37343

Boyd-Buchanan School Summer Academic & Sports Camps
4626 Bonnieway Drive
Chattanooga, TN 37411
423-624-9064 x248

Brainerd Baptist Summer Camp
300 Brookfield Avenue
Chattanooga, TN 37411

Brainy Camp @ LearningRx of Chattanooga
A FUN summer camp program that will help prepare your child for the next school year. Brain games to build Learning Skills with Certified Brain Trainers Martial Arts for the Brain – Attack Learning Struggles by strengthening cognitive skills Train the Brain to Work Smarter Not Harder
Bright School Bright Summer Funstitute Day camp, specialty camps, pre-k camp SAACS accredited
1950 Hixson Pk.
Chattanooga, TN 37405

Bridgemont Ministries
3620 Katy Hollar Road
Sevierville, TN 37862
Camp Big Fish

Camp Big Fish is a 10 week Christian Summer Day Camp that focuses on kids having a fun and exciting summer. Our camp includes sports, swimming, guest speakers, art, music, bible and devotion time, and clubs (slip and slide, cooking, golf, computers, foosball, dance, soccer, water balloons, gymnastics, etc). We go on weekly field trips to I-Max, Lookouts, J103, Aquarium, Bowling and other fun places. We pray that children will experience being loved and cared for and that all will grow in their relationship with Christ. Campers entering kindergarten through eighth grade are accepted.

Camp Invention
Led by local educators, the weeklong Camp Invention program immerses children entering grades one to six in exciting, hands-on learning disguised as summer fun. Children will construct life-sized clubhouses in which to crack puzzling codes and solve a mystery, investigate polymer science to create bouncy balls, explore innovative survival traits of the planet’s WILDest animals, and upcycle parts from discarded household appliances to create new machines! Ooltewah Elementary June 6-10, Gann’s Middle Valley Elementary June 13-17 and Normal Park Upper Magnet School June 20-24. Discounts available – register today! Call 800.968.4332 or visit
Camp New Dawn
New Dawn International Ministries
Day & Sleepaway
Address: 226 S. Cedar Lane, Chickamauga, GA 30707
Phone/fax: 706-539-2235/ 706-539-2324*
Web address:

Mini Camp-June 15-17, grades 2-3, is an opportunity to learn what camp is all about.
Kid’s Camp I & II-June 19-24 & June 26-July 1, grades 4-8, is a fun week of traditional camp activities and includes a camp out.
Cove Adventure camp-July 3-8, grades 9-12. This week will include off-site camping and adventure activities.
Soccer Camp-July 10-15, featuring professional trainers for boys and girls entering grades 1-12.
Civil War Camp-July 17-22, grades 4-12, see history come alive through trips to battlefields and Civil War sites combined with interaction with Civil War re-enactors.
All camps include worship and Bible lessons.

Camp Webb
Specialty Camps
9800 Webb School Drive
Knoxville, TN 37923

Camp Zoo-Ability
Chattanooga Zoo @ Warner Park
City’s Therapeutic Recreation Program week-long day camp for individuals with cognitive or physical disabilities.
3 One-week Sessions
Call Elaine Adams @ 697-1345

Chattanooga Arboretum and Nature Center
400 Garden Road
Chattanooga, TN 37419

Chattanooga School of Language
Language camps for children and families.

Chattanooga Theatre Center Academic Summer Camps
400 River Street
Chattanooga, TN 37405

Swimming, the Spray & Play at Warner Park, Special Events, Sports, Art, Wellness, Outdoor recreation, field trips and more. Register your child for the entire summer and save money! 4 two-week sessions. Call Kim Battle at 643-6052

City of Knoxville Parks and Recreation Division
Summer Playground Program
All City Recreation Centers

UTC Challenger Learning Center
Cosmic Space Quest
Space/STEM (science, technology, engineering, math)
855 E. 5th St.
Chattanooga, TN 37403

The Challenger Learning Center on the campus of UTC offers space-themed, science and technology camps. Our Cosmic Space Quests are available for potty-trained pre-schoolers through rising 8th graders, and range from $35 to $275. 1/2 Day Mini Quest: 4 & 5 year old astronauts, 1 Day Planet Exploration: Rising 1st–3rd-grade astronauts, 2 Day Mars Quest: Rising 4th-5th grade astronauts, 5 Day Universe Exploration: 5th-8th-grade astronauts. Your campers will participate in fun and exciting activities while learning about the Universe, aviation, space missions, and much more! Come experience our Cosmic Space Camps that are out of
this world!!

Creative Discovery Museum Spring Break & Summer Camps
321 Chestnut Street
Chattanooga, TN 37405

Creative Discovery Museum Science Theatre
Multi-disciplinary science camp
255 Northgate Mall
Chattanooga, TN 37415
423-875-8522 or 423-875-0818

Creative Discovery Museum summer camps provide wonderful opportunities for children to explore the Museum in a unique way. Our experienced staff provides a safe, fun camp filled with Museum play, crafts, games, time in Culinary Corner, outdoor field trips and much, much more. Each weekly adventure is focused on a theme. This year’s themes range from Bob the Builder and Campers in the Kitchen to Fairy Tales and Camp X: Explosions, Experiments and other Exciting Explorations. Camps are geared for children ages 4 -10. For more information, visit our website at or call camp reservations at 423-648-6045 or 648-6040.

Folk School Music Camp
The Folk School of Chattanooga (formerly the Mountain Music Folk School)
Music Day Camp
250 Forest Ave.
Chattanooga, TN 37405

Girls Incorporated of Chattanooga
Teen Career Academies
Journalism, law, entrepreneurship and health
SciGirls Summer Camp
Summer day camp focusing on science
Girls aged 13–18
Various locations, downtown Chattanooga

Girls Preparatory School
GPS Summer Programs
205 Island Ave.
Chattanooga, TN 37405
Camp Kaleidoscope introduces elementary school age campers to a different story world each day. Creative adventures in art, science and athletics create sparkling minds and sound bodies. Bruiser Camp participants in grades 4-7 experience exciting activities on and off campus from art and adventure to science and sports. Academic courses are offered for students who need review or who want to get ahead of the game with a full credit course.
Athletic camps are offered in over 11 sports and are staffed by GPS coaches and athletes.

Hickory Valley Christian School Summer Camp
6605 Shallowford Road
Chattanooga, TN 37421

Knoxville Computer and Film Camp
First Cumberland Presbyterian Church
Knoxville TN, 37919 United States

Arnstein Jewish Community Center
Knoxville Jewish Alliance Summer Camps
6800 Deane Hill Drive Knoxville, TN 37919
(865) 690-6343

McCallie School Summer Camps
McCallie School
500 Dodds Avenue
Chattanooga, TN 37404

The Montessori School
Montessori Day Camp and Schools Out Special
Educational and specialty camp
300 Montessori Way
Chattanooga, TN 37404

Notre Dame Summer Camp
2701 Vermont Avenue
Chattanooga, TN 37404
ACT/SAT Prep, Dance, Drama, Sports, Microsoft IT Academy Camp, Cooking, Art, Spiritual enrichment

Philanthropy Camp
One-week day camp providing elementary-age children with opportunities to give back to their community and to understand the positive differences they can make in this world. Through hands-on activities, games, field trips, speakers, and much more, campers will explore the concepts of
philanthropy, faith, family and community. Philanthropy camp is a joint program of the First Church of the Nazarene and the Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga
5461 North Terrace Rd. Chattanooga, TN 37411
Phone: (423) 493-0270

Primrose Schools of East Brainerd and Hixson K–5th day camp
CITA/CASI accredited
1619 Gunbarrel Rd.
Chattanooga, TN 37421
1985 Northpoint Blvd.
Hixson, TN 37343

Scenic Land School
Day camp
1200 Mountain Creek Rd., Ste. 300
Chattanooga, TN 37405

St. Andrews
Campo Coneccion de Puntos
Education camp for Spanish-speaking children
1918 Union Ave.
Chattanooga, TN 37404

St. Jude School Summer Camp
930 Ashland Terrace
Chattanooga, TN 37415

St. Nicholas School Summer Camp
7525 Min Tom Drive
Chattanooga, TN 37421

Stellar Therapy Services
Occupational Therapy & Speech Therapy
Handwriting, Socialization, Speech, Sensory, Fine Motor and Reading
6172 Airways Blvd, Suite 131
Chattanooga, TN 37421

Sylvan Learning Center of Chattanooga
4295 Cromwell Road, Suite 309
Two-week camps are offered for students K-12 to provide supplemental and enrichment skill development in reading, writing, and math. Instruction is available year-round for other programs.
Chattanooga, TN 37421

La Petite Academy Summer Camp
Knoxville, TN 37931

Sacred Heart
Cathedral School
711 Northshore Drive
Knoxville, TN 37919
Phone: 865.588.0415

St. Andrews–Sewanee School
SAS Summer arts and sports camps
290 Quintard Rd.
Sewanee, TN 37375

Tate’s Day Camp
1031 North Cedar Bluff Road
Knoxville, TN 37923

Tennessee Aquarium Keeper’s Kids Spring Break & Summer Camps

West Side YMCA Summer Day Camp
400 North Winston Road, Knoxville, TN 37909
(865) 690-9622

Chattanooga Music and Dance Summer Camps

It is easy to understand that the activities children and teens are involved in shape their lives and choosing the programs that will most significantly impact their overall development is daunting. Since there is a national focus on the importance of children leading a healthy and active life, there is an emphasis on sports and outdoor activities in today’s curriculum plans.

What is publicized less in our society is how programs like choir, dance programs, music camps or theatre can be educational while also promoting physical health.  Families should consider summer programs that focus on both the mind and the body.

In the past decade, there have been many studies, research, and articles dedicated to the impact of music education on children. The research agrees that music education, especially during the developmental years, nurtures a life long appreciation of music and helps develop self-esteem, teamwork, community building, cultural understanding and overall enhancement of academic skills in general.

Studies across the globe are now proving a connection between singing in a group setting, enhanced health and positive emotional benefits. Researchers in Germany and California are making connections between performing and an increase in a singer’s level of immunity building proteins. In the UK’s Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health, there was a report about improved lung capacity, high energy, relieved asthma, better posture, and enhanced feelings of relaxation, mood, and confidence in singers.

Even with proven benefits, music education as part of the school curricula has been on the decline. Faced with strict core class goals and budget cuts, more and more schools are scaling back or eliminating music programs from elementary and middle school curriculum.

As cuts like this take place, the importance of educational activities outside of school programming is increasing. A well-organized program allows students to be actively and creatively engaged in learning in a group setting. The activities not only increase knowledge and understanding of the subject, they also promote an appreciation of the art form and build community within its participants. Summer arts programs are time well-spent for participants

Music & Dance Camp Listings

Ballet Tennessee and VanCura Ballet Conservatory
Summer dance camps
3202 Kelly’s Ferry Rd.
Chattanooga, TN 37419

June Dance Camps, June Evening Classes, June and July Summer Intensives: The world of dance opens up to all when you enroll at VanCura Ballet Conservatory or Ballet Tennessee Summer Dance Sampler at MACC. Discover creative movement through music,stories, and games. Aspiring ballerinas and premier danseurs will learn in beautifully crafted ballet classes. Explore modern dance, improvisations and how to make your own dances. Learn choreography from the esteemed Ballet Tennessee faculty. Meet guest artists and be inspired!

Enrollment is open until classes and intensives are full. The intensives require an audition, call and ask for Mrs. VanCura to set up an audition. For registration information: or call (423) 821-2055.

Barking Legs Theatre
Brain Dance & Circus camp
1307 Dodds Ave.
Chattanooga, TN 37404

Cadek Conservatory of Music
Suzuki Strings and Piano Summer Camp
Cadek Hall, UTC
725 Oak St.
Chattanooga, TN 37403

Chattanooga Boys Choir

Chattanooga Folk School
Summer camp programs with instruction in a variety of musical instruments.
250 Forest Avenue
Chattanooga, TN 37405

Creating A Musical Summer Workshop
Chattanooga Girls Choir and the Chattanooga Theatre Centre
Gender: Boys and Girls
400 River Street
Chattanooga, TN 37405
Ages: 9 to 12 years old
Time: 9am – 4pm
Cost: $350 for 2 week camp

Chattanooga Theatre Centre Summer Academy
400 River Street
Chattanooga, TN 37405
Summer Academy 2012
Registration @

Hamilton Academy of Dance
Classical Ballet, Tap Dance, Jazz Dance, Modern & Ballroom
Boy’s exercise & Tap,
8509A Hixson Pike
Chattanooga, TN 37343

Kindermusik at First Baptist Church of Fine Arts
Adventures Camp
401 Gateway Ave.
Chattanooga, TN 37402

La Petite Academy Summer Camp
Knoxville, TN 37931

Mountain Arts Community Center
Summer Fun Camps of MACC
Theater, art, music, ballet
809 Kentucky Ave.
Signal Mountain, TN 37377