Chattanooga with Kids: A Perfect Family Day

Chattanooga with Kids: A Family Vacation


Chattanooga, TN is nestled between the Tennessee River and the Great Smoky Mountains. While it's famous for the Chattanooga Choo Choo, there is so much more to Chattanooga, and this vibrant city is the perfect place for a family vacation. Here's a list of the best things to do in Chattanooga with kids.

Pardon me boy, but are you staying at the Choo Choo? Yes, the day can start and end at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. Listed on the Register of Historic Places, the building once known as the Terminal Station is now a luxury hotel. But that's not all. Perfect for the train enthusiast, young or old, the Chattanooga Choo Choo has 48 Victorian train cars that have been converted into luxury hotel rooms. The accommodations include a queen-size bed, some with an additional daybed and pull-out trundle. While they look like vintage rooms, they all have Wi-Fi and the latest modern conveniences. It's a unique and perfect place for kids of all ages! Reservations are needed to ensure a train car room, and prices run between $139-$180/night.

Chattanooga Choo Choo Historic Hotel
1400 Market Street
Chattanooga, TN 37402
(800) TRACK-29 (872-2529)


The last thing any family with young children wants to do on vacation is rush. So why rush to a restaurant just to make their breakfast hours? At The Bluegrass Grill, families don't have to be in a hurry. They serve breakfast into the afternoon, and they have something for everyone. Selections include cereal, omelets, pancakes, pastries, and even fresh, homemade hashes. Meals start around $3, with the most expensive menu item coming in at $8.25. You will want to arrive early if you can. The restaurant is small, and there is often a wait for a table.

The Bluegrass Grill
55 E. Main Street
Chattanooga, TN 37408
(423) 752-4020
Hours: Tue-Fri 6:30AM-2PM, Sat 6:30AM-1AM

Just six miles from downtown Chattanooga, you'll find Rock City. Garnet Carter began developing this spot near the top of Lookout Mountain as early as 1924, and it was dubbed Rock City. By 1932, the entire complex was open for business. Since it wasn't in an ideal location, the business didn't start with a bang. So, Carter came up with a great idea. He sent a painter all over the country offering farmers a free paint job on their barn if they would allow him to paint "See Rock City" on the roof. These distinctive signs sprouted up all over the country, and by 1940, thousands of visitors found their way to the attraction. Today, more than half a million people from all over the world see Rock City. If this is on your list of things to do in Chattanooga with your kids, it is best to visit early in the morning to enjoy the outdoor attractions while the day is still cool. Take a tour of the outdoor gardens, which include a visit to Fairyland Caverns, Mother Goose Village, and an overlook where visitors can see seven states. This tour will take about two hours when walking with young children. There are additional cave experiences and an incline railroad. Some youngsters find these experiences exciting, while others find them unnerving. It is best to wander through the gardens and take a peek at the more intense experiences before purchasing tickets. Hours vary by season, so be sure to confirm before visiting. Tickets are $17.95 for adults and $9.95 for children 3-12.

Rock City
1400 Patten Road
Lookout Mountain, GA 30750
(800) 854-0675


For lunch, head back downtown to Aretha Frankensteins. This quirky, local restaurant offers something for everyone in the family with its eclectic menu featuring everything from BLTs to burritos. There's even an all-day breakfast menu. Whether you're eating at an outside table on their veranda or enjoying a meal at one of their Ms. Pacman tables, you will find plenty of things to keep your kids occupied as their fresh food is made to order. Meals run between $3.50 and $8.95. There is no specific children's menu, but the a la carte features provide kid-friendly choices.

Aretha Frankensteins
518 Tremont Street
Chattanooga, TN 37405
(423) 265-SOUL (7685)
Hours: Daily 7AM-midnight

The Tennessee Aquarium
is a must-see when on a family vacation with kids in Chattanooga. Located just across the river at One Broad Street, it is the highest rated aquarium in the country and offers tours through two buildings-the River Journey and Ocean Journey. The River Journey focuses on freshwater animals, many of whom call Tennessee home. The Ocean Journey focuses on some of the more exotic creatures of the deep, including sharks and penguins. There are even scuba divers that interact with guests. The aquarium also boasts a 3D theater, and tickets for the theater can be purchased with the aquarium ticket for a discounted price. Check the website for additional details. Tickets for the aquarium alone are $24.95 for adults and $14.95 for children.

The Tennessee Aquarium
One Broad Street
Chattanooga, TN 37402
(800) 262-0695
Hours: Daily 10AM-6PM (last admittance), aquarium closes at 8PM

A perfect family vacation in Chattanooga with kids would not be complete without a visit to the Creative Discovery Museum, which is located on the corner of Chestnut and 4th. This hands-on museum is designed for little ones up to 10 years old. Here, children can dig for dinosaur bones, mold clay, climb a tower, explore the inner workings of their bodies and just have a good time. The museum offers family activities including an arts alley and the Little Yellow House, a space designed for the youngest visitors. Tickets are $10.95 per person for both adults and children. If you show a ticket stub from the aquarium, you'll get a $2 discount per ticket.

The Creative Discovery Museum
321 Chestnut Street
Chattanooga, TN 37402
(423) 756-2738
Hours: Mon-Sat 10AM-5PM, Sun noon-5PM


End the day with a trip back to the Chattanooga Choo Choo and eat dinner in one of the hotel's several dining cars. The Silver Diner Restaurant offers fresh pizza, and kids eat free. Plus, after a long day of sampling just some of what Chattanooga has to offer, it feels good to be mere steps from your room.

Silver Diner Restaurant at the Chattanooga Choo Choo
1400 Market Street
Chattanooga, TN 37402
(800) TRACK-29 (872-2529)
Hours: Fri-Sat 5PM-10PM, closed Sun-Thu
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