So you’re traveling for spring break, but don’t want to go too far. Or maybe you’re road-tripping and looking for fun cities to visit along the way. Or maybe long distances don’t bother you and you’re looking to explore a city you’ve never visited before. Have you considered Chattanooga, Tennessee? It’s one of the fastest-growing cities below the Mason-Dixon Line, and it’s absolutely worth a visit. Consider this your official guide to spring break in Chattanooga, Tenn.
I’ve lived in Chattanooga—affectionately called the Scenic City, and you’ll understand why once you see it—for almost five years. Even in that time, the city has grown and changed a ton, and it’s been incredible to see for myself. I wouldn’t call Chattanooga a sleepy little city by any stretch, but it definitely wakes up when spring rolls in. The weather improves (well, sometimes) and people are eager to get back outside and enjoy everything our city has to offer.
There’s a world of fun things to see and do for spring break in Chattanooga.
One of the best things about Chattanooga is how convenient it is to other Southern cities. We’re two hours from Atlanta, Nashville, Knoxville, Huntsville, and Birmingham; three (ish) hours from Asheville and Greenville; four hours from Lexington; and six hours from Charlotte, Savannah, and Memphis. You can really get to Chattanooga from just about anywhere in the Southeast. It’s a wonderful city to stop on a Southern road trip, or as your final destination.
Here’s my definitive guide for what to see, do, eat and drink when you spend your spring break in Chattanooga!
What to see
The touristy stuff: Ruby Falls, Rock City, Incline Railway, Tennessee Aquarium (okay not gonna lie, I love the aquarium). Those are some Chattanooga “musts” that are usually top spots for tourists, especially families with kids. They’re almost like rites of passages for frequent visitors and locals alike. I actually haven’t been up the Incline since I moved here in 2015, but I went several times when we visited in my childhood.
Visit Lula Lake Land Trust. This one might be tricky, since they only host “open gate days” certain dates of the month. But if you plan accordingly, you can hike down to one of the prettiest waterfalls in the state of Tennessee. Make reservations in advance!
Chickamauga Military Park and Battlefield. History buffs, this one’s for you. Chattanooga is steeped in Civil War history, and Chickamauga is a favorite spot to immerse yourself in that part of our nation’s history.
Bluff View art district. It’s up on the bluff, as the name suggests, so it overlooks the Tennessee River. Up there, you’ll find a few cute restaurants, art galleries and shops, and the Hunter Museum of American Art. From there, you can stroll across the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge to Frazier Avenue on the Northshore for dining, shopping, and more exploring.
Songbirds Guitar Museum. That’s right, there’s a world-class guitar museum right downtown. They also have a couple really nice stages and host great concerts every week. Songbirds is also a great idea for a rainy day in Chattanooga.
What to do
Go hiking! If you’re a nature lover, spend some time outside. There are some really incredible hikes within a mere 10-15 minutes of downtown Chattanooga, and even more further out if you’re willing to drive. If you aren’t up for a hike, you can rent paddle boards and kayaks and spend some time on the Tennessee River.
Creative Discovery Museum. This is a great idea for families with young kids! The non-profit Creative Discovery Museum aims to inspire children’s passions for creativity and learning through interactive, hands-on exhibits and experiences.
Chattanooga Zoo. We may not be a huge Southern city, but Chattanooga has a pretty sweet zoo. We’ve got some big cats (and adorably small cats), birds of prey, camels, reptiles, red pandas, and more. Plus, adult admission is only $10, so it’s definitely not a bad way to spend an afternoon.
Go on a brewery tour. With more than 10 craft breweries in town, there’s plenty to keep any beer aficionado and their friends occupied. Some are within walking distance of one another, but the rest are very Uberable (or drivable if you have a designated driver).
Walk around and take some fun pictures! There are lots of really cool spots for photos in Chattanooga. You could easily take enough photos for a scrapbook in one afternoon, especially if the weather is nice.
Catch a show or concert. With a variety of venues across town, there’s almost always some kind of show or concert to see. Check out The Signal, Tivoli Theater, or Songbirds for music, the Comedy Catch for laughs, or browse Facebook events for any number of open-mics or local shows.
Depending on when your travels fall, you can catch a Chattanooga FC soccer match or Chattanooga Lookouts baseball game. They’re both incredibly fun and are two well-loved events in the Scenic City. I’m particularly partial to CFC myself. Last year, CFC even got to play an international friendly against Real Betis from Spain!
If you’re traveling later in the spring or summer, don’t miss our Sunday farmer’s market at First Tennessee Pavilion. There’s tons of locally grown produce, locally made food and snacks, artists, crafts, and so much more. It’s one of my favorite things to do when it’s in season (late April through November).
Check out my Weekend Guide to Chattanooga for more ideas.
Where to eat (and drink)
By now, you should know that I have a thousand and one suggestions for places to eat and drink in Chattanooga. I’ll try to keep this short, sweet, and helpful.
Breakfast or brunch: Frothy Monkey, Milk & Honey, Bluegrass Grill, Mean Mug, Kenny’s, Niedlov’s Breadworks.
Lunch: Bleu Fox Cheese Shop, Community Pie, Taqueria Jalisco, Pizza Bros, Champy’s Famous Chicken.
Dinner: STIR, Feed Co. Table & Tavern, Easy Bistro, Alleia, Il Primo, Main Street Meats, Market South, Public House.
Drinks: Unknown Caller (formerly London Calling), Chattanooga Whiskey, Gate 11 Distillery, Flying Squirrel.
More food and drink options can be found in the following posts: Best Pizza / Coffee Shops / Best Burgers / Dessert Spots / Favorite Brunch Places / Best Happy Hours / Breakfast Spots / Foodie’s Guide to Chattanooga
If you decide to spend your spring break in Chattanooga, there’s something to entertain and satisfy all ages. The Chattanooga Visitor’s Bureau has a whole calendar with specific events month by month so you can better plan your trip.
If you’re planning a trip to Chattanooga, I’d love to answer any questions or provide more recommendations! Please feel free to message me on Instagram and we can chat!