There is plenty of fun things to see and do in Chattanooga Tennessee for a weekend trip.
We made the drive from our home in late Fall and spent a fabulous weekend in Chattanooga.
Our adventurous weekend included Rock City, Ruby Falls, The Incline at Lookout Mountain, and also the Chattanooga Zoo.
We visited downtown Chattanooga and visited some local favorite restaurant places as well.
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Number one on our list of things to see and do in Chattanooga Tennessee is Ruby Falls.
A favorite family destination for generations, Ruby Falls is home to the tallest and deepest underground waterfall open to the public in the United States.
Anna Ruby Falls Castle
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the majestic Ruby Falls Cavern Castle was designed to resemble a 15th-century Irish castle. It was built in 1929 with limestone excavated from the Ruby Falls elevator shaft which I find fascinating.
Ruby Falls Cave
The Ruby Falls tour takes you on an almost one-mile hike through a cavern after descending a 26-story elevator ride. The year-round temp is a comfy 60 degrees. You may need a light jacket.
Many of the passages along the hike are very narrow requiring a single file line as seen above. My hubby is rather tall at 6′ 5″ and often needed to duck his head while walking through these passages.
Along the hike, you will see lots of stalagmites and stalactites making Ruby Falls a good field trip for students.
Many of these have been named including one that looks like strips of bacon which is really cool. Your tour guide will share lots of information about the history of Ruby Falls and the caverns along the hike to get there.
The Light Show at the Waterfall
The cavern hike is halfway over when you reach Ruby Falls which is a natural underground waterfall. The light show synced with music beautifully illuminates the waterfall. Snap pictures quickly because you won’t be there too long. There are so many visitors, you have to hike back out to make room for more.
The entire tour only took us about 2 hours which was great. It leaves plenty of time to visit other sites on Lookout Mountain.
Rock City Fairyland
Number two on our list of things to see and do in Chattanooga Tennessee is Ruby Falls.
Just six miles from downtown Chattanooga, Rock City is one of the South’s most popular natural attractions. Rock City Gardens has over 400 species of plants and flowers, plus a 140-foot waterfall. Brave visitors can also walk across the Swing-A-Long Bridge along the journey! I am not that brave so I took the easier option.
Rock City is a wonderful outdoor hike experience on top of Lookout Mountain. It is right down the road from Ruby Falls so if you are up for a full day of walking, you can easily do both on the same day. The hike takes you through and around natural rock formations and passed wildflowers, shrubs, plants, and trees.
The See Rock City birdhouses are iconic of a historic advertising campaign between 1936 and 1969. Read more about the barn painting ad campaign and see my DIY See Rock City Barn Birdhouse project here.
Lovers Leap is a highlight of the hike with breathtaking views above the waterfall.
There are plenty of snapshot places along the hike at Rock City. This spot with the Lovers Leap Waterfall in the background is a popular photo location.
See 7 States
You will have the unique experience of being able to see seven states across the horizon from atop the mountain. Views include the Chattanooga Valley and Missionary Ridge Civil War battlefields.
We plan to go back during the holiday season when they are doing the Rock City Christmas Lights.
Lookout Mountain Incline Railway
Number three on our list of things to see and do in Chattanooga Tennessee is Ruby Falls.
In operation since 1895, the Incline is a National Historic site and Mechanical Engineering Landmark. It is the world’s steepest passenger railway.
You can begin your ride at the top or bottom of Lookout Mountain and make a one-way trip or you can go round trip. Expect to wait in line. There are two railway cars moving most of the time because they have a split track at one point, so the line moves fairly quickly.
Riding the Incline was our last stop for the day so we were on top of Lookout Mountain. We left Ruby Falls where I had conquered my fear of being in enclosed places and was about to face my fear of heights. I am not going to lie, I nearly chickened out when I snapped the above picture.
Standing here looking at the railway car at the bottom of the mountain, it doesn’t look too steep at all. Because there is always a line, you have to exit the car and get back in line to go round trip. It doesn’t take long. I have waited much longer at theme parks.
Incline Railway Views
The views are amazing for sure. We were here as the leaf-peeping season was winding down but we still saw some of the amber colors of fall on our journey down the mountain.
Number four on our list of things to see and do in Chattanooga Tennessee is Ruby Falls.
The Chattanooga Zoo was really close to our B&B and admission is very affordable. It is always fun to visit a zoo!
You can tour the zoo and fit in another event on the same day. While there are plenty of things to see and do at the zoo, it won’t take up more than a couple of hours of your day.
This adorable little fella is a Tamarin. Chattanooga Zoo offers some behind-the-scenes opportunities for guests to interact with some of the animals. The Tamarin is included in those opportunities!
Book the experience in advance, you can reserve online. Isn’t that especially cool? I think so.
Gorillas have always been a favorite at the Zoo.
The Chattanooga Zoo does offer a full event-filled day for families. There is a train ride, carousel, camel rides, animal shows, keeper chats, and of course the Wild Burger restaurant.
Weekend in Chattanooga
We visited Chattanooga because it was a short drive from our home, only about 3 hours.
There are plenty of adventures for two people or a family to experience on a weekend getaway. None of the venues take a particularly long time to visit so we were back at the B&B at a reasonable time to be able to sit on the front porch and sip cocoa on those fall evenings.
Combo Tickets are the way to go if you plan to visit more than one of the sites. We purchased combo tickets which included Rock City, Ruby Falls, and the Incline for a $10 savings over buying each one individually.
Plan your trip to Chattanooga as a nice weekend getaway with just the two of your or bring the whole family. There is plenty of family-friendly activities to keep you busy. There is also lots of shopping, good restaurants, and a vibrant downtown.