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Chattanooga Vacation

A Chattanooga vacation takes visitors to the heart of Tennessee.

Outdoor activities in Chattanooga include hang-gliding. [©Jupiter Images, 2009
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Outdoor activities in Chattanooga include hang-gliding.

Chattanooga Vacation

A Chattanooga vacation will land travelers in the southeast corner of Tennessee. The fourth-largest city in the state, Chattanooga is known for its rich art and music scenes, festivals and Civil War history. As the host of the national softball championships and the NCAA Division I-AA national football championships, the city is a popular destination for sports enthusiasts.

Chattanooga Art and Music Scene

From art districts to art museums, Chattanooga has a large collection of local, national and international art. The Bluff View Art District combines art, fine dining, architecture, natural scenic views and landscaping in an effort to artistically appeal to all five senses. The district's River Gallery features fine art from local, national and international artists. The gallery is located in a converted turn-of-the-century house and includes a garden filled with more than 30 original sculptures. The Hunter Museum of American Art showcases American art dating from the Colonial period through the present day. The museum's collection, which is housed in a 1904 revival mansion and a neighboring contemporary building, includes sculptures, paintings, works on paper, contemporary studio glass art and furniture.

The Back Row Film Series is an opportunity for locals and vacationers to view award-winning independent films at participating Chattanooga venues. The films are presented in conjunction with relevant guest speakers, musical performances, culinary presentations, visual art exhibits and activities.

Live music is also prevalent in Chattanooga, particularly during the summer months. The Chattanooga Market hosts local and national musicians every weekend from late-April through early-December. In additional to live music, vacationers can find community events, such as the Fun in the Sun Boat Show, and local vendors selling produce, art and handmade crafts at the market. Downtown Chattanooga features lives music from local and regional artists every Friday from May through August as part of the areas Rhythm & Noon Series.

Chattanooga Festivals and Events

Chattanooga's Riverbend Festival is arguably one of the nation's best music fests. The festival features nine nights of more than 100 performers on six stages. The Bessie Smith Strut is a popular event within the Riverbend Festival featuring Blues bands and a variety of barbeque stands. The Riverbend Festival was started in 1981 in an effort to develop downtown Chattanooga. Thanks to revenue brought in by the festival, the downtown area has seen the additions of an aquarium, an IMAX theater, a children's museum, riverboat tours and a minor league baseball stadium.

Additional downtown festivals and events include:

  • The TaleSpin Festival, which showcases storytellers for all ages
  • The Three Sisters Music Festival, which features bluegrass performers
  • Winter Days and Lights, which involves three weeks of family activities and extravagantly decorated downtown buildings
  • The Chattanooga Dulcimer Festival, which is a three-day festival for those interested in developing their dulcimer skills        

Chattanooga Civil War Battle Sites

The Civil War battlefields in the Chattanooga area have been well-preserved by the National Park Service. During the war, Chattanooga was considered the gateway to the Deep South, and the Union and Confederate forces battled fiercely for its control. The Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park was created in 1890 to commemorate and preserve the battles for control of Chattanooga. The Chickamauga battlefield features a seven-mile auto tour that takes visitors to various points of interest, including monuments, trails, historical tablets and wayside exhibits. The Lookout Mountain Battlefield also contains various monuments, trails and historical markers. Point Park was built on top of the mountain in 1905.

Chattanooga Outdoor Opportunities

Surrounded by mountains and with easy access to the Tennessee River, Chattanooga has a wide variety of land and water activities available to vacationers. The city is also well-known for its exceptional hang-gliding opportunities. Nearby Lookout Mountain Flight Park is the largest hang-gliding school in the United States. Vacationers can spend an hour flying tandem with an instructor or take a day-long lesson. Mountain biking, hiking, white water rafting, kayaking, scuba diving and camping are also popular outdoor activities.

Chattanooga Nightlife

Live music and good food are typically the highlights of Chattanooga's nightlife. Rand McNally recommends exploring the bars and restaurants in downtown Chattanooga or across the river in North Chattanooga. Live rock music can be found several nights a week at Rhythm & Brews. Comedians on the national circuit often perform at The Comedy Catch, Chattanooga's first full-time comedy club. For family entertainment, the Chattanooga Downtown Partnership hosts Nightfall, a showcase of world-class musicians every Friday night from May 22 through September 25.

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