Top Ten Chattanooga Family Attractions

Chattanooga is one of the countries best sites to plan a family trip. In addition to popular downtown attractions such as the Tennessee Aquarium, Children’s Discovery Museum, and Imax Theater, Lookout Mountain offers hands-on access to some of the world’s most ancient and astounding rock formations.

Chattanooga travel offers the Tennessee Aquarium, Discovery Museum, and Imax Theater. These, with the great hotels in Chattanooga, can make for a fun family vacation.

Chattanooga travel is a favorite option for family getaways. In addition to historic Lookout Mountain’s hands-on access to some of the world’s most ancient and astounding rock formations, popular downtown attractions such as the Tennessee Aquarium, Children’s Discovery Museum, and IMAX Theater provide almost too much to see in one visit.

Tennessee Aquarium, & Imax Theater

If kids like getting wet, they’re guaranteed to have fun in the enormous model of the Tennessee River and Reelfoot lake that winds its way around the Tennessee Aquarium’s plaza. The flowing channel is complete with bubbling fountains and gurgling waterfalls. Families can pack their suits or roll up their pants for a fun-filled session of splashing and wading.

Inside the aquarium, sharks, guitarfish, stingrays, and sturgeon await kids in the Aquarium’s two touch tanks. Twenty-four species of songbirds fly overhead as parents and kids walk through a living forest complete with roaring waterfall, snakes in hollow tree terrariums, and river otters. Ten-foot sand tiger sharks, a giant sea turtle, and over 3,000 tropical fish surround families on their way through an undersea cavern. And hundreds of bright butterflies flit through the Aquarium’s walk through a butterfly garden.

Families encounter a six-foot alligator and 150-pound snapping turtle in the Delta swamp exhibit. Besides the astounding variety of fresh and saltwater fish, families get an up-close look at frogs, octopi, penguins, jellyfish, seahorses, 80-pound catfish, and more turtles on exhibit than in any other public facility in the world.

To see all of the 12,000 species displayed in the Tennessee Aquarium’s two four-story buildings, families should allow at least four to five hours. Since tickets are good for the day, parents are free to break for lunch after one building. Any number of kid-friendly restaurants serving pizza, hamburgers, gourmet hotdogs, and ice-cream are within a short walk from the Aquarium plaza.

Families can purchase a combination ticket for the Aquarium and Imax. This 3-D theater with a ten-story screen is just across the street.

Chattanooga Travel and the Children’s Discovery Museum

Also within a block of the Tennessee Aquarium is the Children’s Discovery Museum. Kids dress up like archeologists and dig for buried dinosaur bones, experiment with rooms full of musical instruments, and soak up knowledge like sponges in the wet and wild River Play exhibit.

Guests can purchase triple value tickets for savings at the Aquarium, Imax, and Discovery Museum. Visitors coming from the Aquarium will receive a discount on showing their Aquarium ticket stub while purchasing Discovery passes.

Walnut Street Bridge &  Coolidge Park

For a picnic lunch, families may want to take a scenic stroll over the Tennessee River. At 2,376 feet long, the Walnut Street Bridge is one of the world’s longest pedestrian bridges. This wrought-iron truss bridge built in 1890 is within easy walking distance of the Aquarium, Imax, and Children’s Discovery Museum.

Families who cross the Walnut Street Bridge find themselves in the North Shore’s seven-acre, Coolidge Park, where manicured lawns and pleasant walking paths are full of fun activities for kids of all ages.

Kids go round and round to the sound of laughter and organ music on a hand-crafted carousel. During summer months, stone animals on the perimeter of an interactive fountain squirt children who shriek with delight. Hands-on sculptures invite children and parents to pick up a stick and play a song on old brake drums and welding gas cylinders,

Additionally, Chattanooga’s free electric shuttle service stops by the Tennessee Aquarium every ten minutes to offer lifts to other popular attractions, the waterfront, restaurants, shopping, and the Chattanooga Choo Choo’s Holiday Inn where families can spend the night in a refurbished railway car. Also, only six miles from downtown are the famous Lookout Mountain attractions including Rock City, Ruby Falls, and the Incline Railway.

Rock City

Just six miles from downtown Chattanooga, atop historic Lookout Mountain, are the enchanted gardens of Rock City. Stone pathways lead visitors alongside ancient rock formations and through gardens overflowing with 400 native wildflowers and plants. Visitors wind their way along the 4,100 feet of pathways through vast caverns, a 100-foot waterfall, stone bridges spanning immense crevasses, and close-enough-to-touch awe-inspiring geological wonders.

Kids and parents wriggle and giggle their way between the tight rock walls of the aptly named Fat Man’s Squeeze. Brave visitors bounce across the 180-foot long swinging bridge and laugh at the treetops hundreds of feet below. Family members pose for a picture supporting the massive 1,000 ton balancing Rock. And at the mountain’s summit, families enjoy a breathtaking view encompassing seven states 1,700 feet above sea level.

A fairy-tale theme pervades these enchanted gardens. Rocky the elf greets guests at the door, kids tug at massive crystals embedded in the rock walls of “The Hall of the Mountain King,” and a grand finale of storybook scenes await visitors in Fairyland Caverns.

Since Rock City’s narrow passages and steep walkways are inaccessible to strollers, backpacks are the way to travel with babies in these mountain trails. Rock City does allow pets, so families can bring along the four-legged members for a little exercise.

Ruby Falls  & Lookout Mountain

Chattanooga’s Lookout Mountain is home to numerous geological marvels. Perhaps the most astounding is actually located 1,120 feet below ground. An elevator drops families hundreds of feet beneath the mountain to glimpse Ruby Falls, a 145-foot underground waterfall.

On the way to the Falls, guides point out the cave’s ancient subterranean rock formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, drapes, columns, flowstone, and sparkling onyx. Families who tour Ruby Falls can boast of visiting the country’s largest and deepest underground cascade. They’ve also toured one of the world’s deepest caverns open to the commercial public.

Families can conclude their visit to Lookout Mountain with a ride on the Incline Railroad. With its white-knuckle 72.7% grade, the Incline owns the distinction of being the world’s steepest passenger railway.

Tour guides recount fascinating facts from Lookout’s Civil War history while the Incline ascends the mountain. At the midway point, a switch on the railway’s single track allows a second car to pass right alongside on its way down the mountain. On disembarking the train, families enjoy a view from Lookout’s highest observation deck.

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