But what’s wrong with being a tourist in your own town? Here is a selection of options that every kind of tourist - or new or established local - will enjoy in and around our beautiful city. No googling “what is there to do in Chattanooga” required!
Like a little kitsch? Don’t miss the Rock City Fairyland Caverns. Round out your day with a photo-op at the brand-new Little Debbie Park in Collegedale. (Yes, that Little Debbie. What child or adult doesn’t want their picture taken with a person-sized Cosmic Brownie?)
For the Adventurer/Nature-lover
Raccoon Mountain Caverns: Take a 45-minute guided walking tour through the caverns (wear good shoes for traction), or belly-crawl through openings the size of a microwave on one of the multi-hour expeditions.
Enterprise South: Visit this free park with miles of shady trails. If you’re lucky, one or more of the old ammunition bunkers will be open when you go (check out the echo!).
Chattanooga Classics: The icons of Chattanooga to tourists, like Ruby Falls and the Aquarium, are well known for a reason. Have you seen them all?
Check out the River Gallery Sculpture Garden in the Bluff View Art District, along with the outdoor sculptures at the Hunter Museum. (Kids love the one that looks like French fries!)
Beat the heat at the Coolidge Park splash pad.
U-Pick Farms are popular in the summertime. Check out Creekside Flower Farm in Chickamauga if picking a mason jar full of hyper-fresh blooms is your idea of a good time.
Watersports rentals are extra appealing on hot days. Why not rent a paddleboard and check out McClellan Island?
The North Shore has a diverse collection of shops catering to art-lovers, fashionistas, and everyone in-between. It is a good place to grab CHA (or ’Nooga, if you prefer) gear, too.
If your tastes skew vintage, check out Dirty Janes, The Refindery, and Local Dive Retail.
Clumpies is a classic for ice cream and milkshakes. Flavors vary, but don’t miss the key lime pie ice cream if you see it.
Pie R Square, a little off the tourist’s beaten path, is worth it for the best pie around. Caution: This little bakery’s treats may become an addiction.
No tourist likes a rainy day, but luckily Chattanooga provides options for those, as well. For the feline fans, Naughty Cat Café is a must-do (reservations required).
High Point Climbing gym on Broad Street is especially popular with families, as they offer day passes and have a massive KidZone.
Now, get ready to have all the fun of a tourist, then go home to sleep in your own bed. It turns out that living in a tourist town can be the best of both worlds! Which activity will you try first?
by Ginger Gibson