Family-friendly itinerary for 24 hours in Chattanooga
While researching stops for our vacation in Florida, I decided that Chattanooga, TN held all the elements of a trip that we enjoy – outdoor pursuits, history, and city life. Making the best of our stopover (and the reality of traveling with a toddler), here’s what we did during our one day in Chattanooga.
One thing to note: We decided to save money on this trip by not eating out in Chattanooga. So you won’t see advice on restaurants (just ice cream)! We tend to think that eating out with 4 kids is a bit like lighting $100 on fire, so we try to only eat out when we are really interested in a restaurant.
Things to do in Chattanooga
Take the incline up Lookout Mountain
The first incline railway up Lookout Mountain opened in 1887. Thankfully, the Lookout Mountain Incline of 2022 is much more modern and has numerous safety features to ensure an easy ride. It takes about 15 minutes to take the 1-mile incline to the top of the mountain, and the cars leave approximately every 20 minutes. The Lookout Mountain Incline Railway is considered to be one of the world’s steepest passenger inclines with a maximum grade of 72.7%.
At the top of Lookout Mountain are restrooms, a gift shop, and a fudge/refreshment stand. Make sure you check out the photos near the restroom that show that Incline over time. Our kids found these really fascinating!
Parking at the station is $2 for the day. The incline was $51 for our family of 6.
Admire the view (and learn something new) from Point Park
Just a 3-block walk from the incline is Point Park. This was probably our favorite stop in Chattanooga!
Point Park is part of the Chattanooga and Chickamauga Battlefields, however, most of the Civil War battlefield at Chattanooga isn’t accessible because it consisted of Union troops scaling Lookout Mountain (Can you imagine trying to scale a mountain while being fired upon?! Crazy! I digress). Visitors come to Point Park to enjoy the view over the Tennessee River and to see the New York Peace Monument.
The Peace Monument was erected in 1910 to symbolize reunification and reconciliation between the North and the South. The touching 95-foot monument shows a Union and Confederate Soldier shaking hands.
After exploring Point Park, visit the National Park Service office across the street to view the exhibits and learn more about the “Battle Above the Clouds.”
Point Park charges a $10 admission fee for anyone over 16.
Drive to Chickamauga Battlefield and take the driving tour
The Chickamauga Battlefield is connected with Chattanooga, because the September 1863 battle in the farmland of Chickamauga continued in November 1863 at Lookout Mountain.
We spent about 40 minutes in the Visitor Center. First we viewed the introduction video that describes the Battle for Chickamauga, then we explored the Fuller Gun Collection and the other exhibits. To read a full report of things to do at Chickamauga Battlefield, check out this post: A visit to the Chickamauga Battlefield.
Our kid’s favorite part of the driving tour was climbing the 85-foot tall, Wilder Brigade Monument.
The Chattanooga Choo Choo
The Chattanooga Choo-Choo was propelled to fame after the 1941 song by the Glenn Miller orchestra. However, the name came from the first train that traveled on the southern line from Cincinnati to Chattanooga in 1880. This was a major development in rail travel, connecting the northern and the southern United States.
Our family is too big to stay in the hotel now, so we just wanted to stop and have a look at the historic hotel and property. There are restaurants and bars attached to the hotel, which makes this a great place to spend an evening.
The Glenn Miller Gardens create a bit of an oasis on the repurposed train tracks. The hubs and I enjoyed a quiet moment while the kids played cornhole and bocce ball.
Interested in staying at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo and don’t have a gaggle of kids? Check rates now.
Clumpie’s ice cream
Clumpie’s Ice Cream has been handcrafted in Chattanooga since 1999. We stopped in at their Southside location because of its close proximity to the Choo-Choo. We tried a lot of the flavors, but all agreed that the lemon icebox was tops! And how cute is this mural (and toddler)?
Things we skipped during our one day in Chattanooga, but I would have liked to do:
Ruby Falls– The underground waterfall looked swoon-worthy, but the admission price was going to be over $90 for our family of 6.
Racoon Mountain Caverns– The minimum age to visit is 4. (Insert sad face). In the words of my mom, “Either we all go, or we don’t go at all.”
Tennessee Aquarium– It really looks amazing, but not really our cup of tea when we only have one day of sightseeing.
Where we stayed in Chattanooga
Wauhatchie Woodlands is a unique property of multiple cabins close to many of Chattanooga’s main attractions. We slept in a cabin for 6 that included a queen bedroom, one set of bunks, and a sleeping loft. Our favorite amenities were the full kitchen, covered porch, and hot tub! I found this to be an affordable option compared to staying downtown because parking was included and for under $200/night, we could cook and enjoy a hot tub! That’s rare in 2022.
Here’s a video tour that the kids made of our stay. One thing to note: Yes, the property is really close to the train tracks. It was loud when we were on the deck! However, inside the cabin, we didn’t notice it more than once, and the owners provided white noise machines. If you’re considering an overnight in Chattanooga, I’d recommend the Eden Cabin at Wauhatchie Woodlands.
Have you been to Chattanooga? What sites would you recommend?