Here is a little run down of what we did and tips to share.
First: Go to Chattanooga Fun to get coupons for local attractions and restaurants. We got coupons here for the Aquarium, Moonpie General Store, and Sticky Fingers.
I love this aquarium, and if I lived locally it is where I’d spend all my time. You have two buildings to explore from top to bottom. One is the Ocean Building with your sharks, jellyfish, sting rays, butterflies, etc. The other is the River Journey building with alligators, sea horses, Sturgeon, etc. The flow in the buildings is wonderful! You aren’t being “herded” from one exhibit to another. The main tank being in the center, and you walking around it as you descend gives you great views on every level!
We went to the aquarium in 2012, and I couldn’t wait to go back. We bought a membership this year, so we wouldn’t have to cram it all in one day. Downtown Chattanooga has a bunch of shops, restaurants, and a fabulous walking bridge. A one day visit would be $97.80 for our family of four. We instead paid $145 for a year, and went two days during our stay. Paid for itself right off the bat!
We also booked a Backstage Pass for $14 per member (savings of $3 each being a member). Plus we get 10% off in the gift shop. Be sure to check the Chattanooga Fun site for a $5 off $20 Tennessee Aquarium gift shop purchase as well.
The Backstage Pass we did the Backstage Pass Tour: River Journey Building. It was pretty cool seeing the back rooms where they are hatching jelly fish and sharks.
Next visit we are staying downtown! It is fantastic, with lots of shops, restaurants, a movie theater, and places to roam. There is the Hunter Art Museum we want to check out, and all the shops across the walking bridge. We did manage to try Chattz on the Market (freshly roasted coffee beans)Sticky Fingers (Great ribs and peach cobbler), Cheeburger Cheeburger (Cool atmosphere), and The Moonpie General Store (they make them in Chattanooga) while down there visiting the aquarium. You can also walk across the Tennessee River on the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridgeto Coolidge Park where there are animal fountains and an antique carousel. Our next visit we will check out the shops and restaurants over there. This is the alley to the park, and we spent a lot of time looking at the interesting graffiti.
I recommend following Chattanooga Fun on Instagram. I keep finding new things to check out next time! There is also a Downtown Chattanooga site with information about downtown activities and businesses plus the free electric shuttle they have!
What’s great is your at most 20 minutes from these all these other wonderful attractions:
This is a must go place, and even with little ones it is fine. Our first visit our daughter was 3, and she loved all the paths and walking under rocks etc. plus the whole building that was a black light Mother Goose village. It is the perfect place to be on a hot day. It is so nice and cool up there. Be prepared on a cooler day for jackets. There are trails for the braver (suspended bridge) or us less daring folks. You have great views and plenty of photo ops.
They also had a bird show called the Rock City Raptors. It was very interesting to learn how the birds hunt, and my Hubs got involved in the demonstration as a cow for the vulture!
This was our first visit to Ruby Falls. You go down an elevator to the falls. I thought you ride down step out and there it is…nope. You are down there about an hour. You have some narrow paths that are two-way traffic. Sometimes that is tight squeezing up against the wall while another group goes through. Be aware if you have trouble with walking or have little ones who tire easily..lots of steps and walking. It is very beautiful. You will get a few minutes in the dark to take photos, so be prepared with the right camera or phone for this. Then you can go outside on top of the building for quite a view of Chattanooga.
My daughter has loved trains for years, but hasn’t gotten to ride a real one. We had on and off rain our whole stay, but that was fine for a little train ride. It is only about an hour ride. You get to see how they turn the big steam engines around, and can explore the cars in the train yard.
This is a very small zoo. There isn’t even a stroller rental available. The zoo is clean, easy to walk, and new looking. It is part of our AZA reciprocal program so it is a free one for us. It is a nice way to spend an hour or two, and little ones can walk it okay too. They even have my favorite animal, Red Pandas. After we went they started offering animal encounters with them!! If only that was available when we were there. We only got a few minutes to explore the day we went, so I am sharing pictures from our previous trip in 2012.
This is on Lookout Mountain by the entrance to Point Park, and at the top of the Incline Railway, which I’m still not brave enough to do. It isn’t a fast ride, but steep. Heights are not a favorite thing of mine. We do like a little something educational on vacations. The Hubs likes history, so this was a winner. It is a full model of Chattanooga. The story is told in the darkened room with the lights on the model showing what happened. It was pretty cool.
Chattanooga is one of those spots I would live, if not for the winters they get (we hate ice). I will have to settle for visiting as often as I can!