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Nestled in the Appalachian foothills of southeastern Tennessee, Chattanooga is a scenic destination with plenty of Country Inns & Suites hotels to choose from. The Tennessee River winds through its downtown and its most famous attraction, Lookout Mountain, affords sweeping views over the city. An ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts, the city is popular for hiking and biking year round. And while being outside in Chattanooga is a must, its indoor attractions are worth a visit. While you’re here, don’t miss the Tennessee Aquarium and Creative Discovery Museum, great for families with kids. For high culture, check out and Hunter Museum of American Art. Once you’ve worked up an appetite hiking Missionary Ridge or the Tennessee Riverwalk, get a taste of the city’s indie sensibility at favorite local restaurants like Clumpies Ice Cream and Aretha Frankensteins.
Top Experiences in Chattanooga
The Living River: The Tennessee River is Chattanooga’s major vein, the center of activity. Hike up and down the 13-mile Tennessee Riverwalk, or take a more leisurely stroll over the Walnut Street Bridge. Want to know more about the river itself? Hop on the the aquarium’s River Gorge Explorer and cruise with an aquarium naturalist narrating the journey.
Thrills in the Foothills: Known for its vistas and history, Lookout Mountain straddles the Tennessee and Georgia state line. Venture below ground to Ruby Falls, a subterranean waterfall within a mountain cavern. Take in the view from Lover’s Leap at Rock City where you can see seven states on a clear day. Those who aren’t afraid of heights will enjoy a ride on the Incline Railway as it climbs a near-vertical slope up the side of Lookout Mountain.
Over the River: For a more urbane experience, venture over the Walnut Street Bridge from downtown to the restaurant and retail hub, North Shore. The Hunter Museum of American Art beckons with its striking modern profile, while Coolidge Park’s splashpad and carousel make an atmospheric stop for family fun or a romantic stroll.
Eureka!: The Tennessee Aquarium boasts not only the country’s most diverse collection of freshwater animals, but it has ventured into ocean life as well. Get a full itinerary of educational fun as you explore physics, chemistry, and biology at the hands-on Creative Discovery Museum, or zoology and ecology at the Chattanooga Zoo.
With its mountains and valleys, Chattanooga’s outdoor attractions seem endless. Land, sky, and river present ample opportunities to get your adrenaline pumping, or just take a deep breath of fresh air.
Hiking: The outskirts of Chattanooga offer a variety of terrains and more than 50 trailheads to choose from. Check out the Tennessee Riverwalk, Cumberland Trail, the Bluff Trail, the Big Daddy Loop, and the Lula Lake Trails to get a sample of what awaits.
White water rafting: The Ocoee River’s class III and IV rapids make an excellent excursion for families with older kids (minimum ages vary for each outfitter) and rafters of varied experience levels. Families with younger children (6 and up) might opt for the class I & II rapids of the Hiwassee River.
Mountain biking: Chattanooga’s immediate surrounds offer off-road biking passages for every skill level. Over 100 miles of highly technical single track takes advanced riders into the encompassing mountains. Meanwhile cruisers, road bikes and kids’ bikes can take advantage of plentiful greenways and park trails.
Rock climbing: The mountainous area is peppered with bluffs and boulders, with a range of spots to scramble and challenging faces that require full equipment and sufficient experience. Check out Stone Fort and Rocktown for bouldering, Sunset Rock on Lookout Mountain and Deep Creek on the Cumberland Trail for traditional climbs, and Foster Falls in nearby Jasper, Tennessee for sport climbing.
When to Visit Chattanooga
Chattanooga’s four seasons are gentle and outdoor-friendly. Expect spring to be wet and mild, summer to be warm (but never too hot to hike), fall to be crisp, and winter to be cold with occasional chances for snow on the mountain.
October and November are the best months to see the autumn leaves on Lookout Mountain and throughout the Tennessee River Valley. Some may prefer scenic drives, river cruises and train rides, but hiking is still an option for an up-close view of the leaves.
Chattanooga Travel Tip
Chattanooga is a college town, so be aware of move-in days and graduation weekends, when restaurants and attractions will be busier and Chatanooga Country Inns & Suites hotels might be fully booked.