Travel Spotlight on Chattanooga and Its 20 Best Attractions

Hopper's travel guide to Chattanooga features its top 20 attractions, hotels and restaurants, and has travel tips and photos from local bloggers.

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Joe Richard Francis
Hopper Author

Hailed as the “River City,” “Chattown,” “Gig City” and the “Scenic City,” it’s clear to see that the character of Chattanooga is one that’s kept people guessing. Since the ‘60s the touristic rise of this small city has been unstoppable, and from a dark relic of America’s Civil War, Chattanooga has become one of the best loved and most visited cities in the South, famed for its pristine downtown, cultivated promenades, rugged Appalachian backcountry and formidable offering of cultural hotspots. Today visitors enjoy sites like the iconic Walnut Street Bridge, the longest of its kind in the world, while others come in search of the adrenaline-pumping and adventure-oriented pursuits that abound just outside of town. Whatever your reason for staying here, Chattanooga’s ease of access and strong air links with the rest of the country make it a perfect stopover choice on the way through Dixie.

Tennessee Aquarium: "The Best Aquarium in America" for three years running

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Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga – photo by The Aquarium Blogger

One thing’s for sure, the awards and accolades this one’s enjoyed are well-deserved. Complete with more than 10,000 thought-provoking, exotic and truly stunning marine creatures, and home to a fully-fledged 3D IMAX cinema, it’s not hard to see why the aquarium is Chattanooga’s premier attraction and an absolute can’t-miss for any tourist.

See what visitors have to say about the Tennessee Aquarium:

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Tennessee Aquarium
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"This aquarium has a wonderful layout that’s easy to follow and helps naturally control congestion." - Larry Oldfield
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Tennessee Aquarium
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"One of the best attractions we have visited so far is the Tennessee Aquarium." - Jo and Dave
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Tennessee Aquarium
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"The Aquarium is continually rated one of the top Aquariums in the country" - Michael

Making the most of the Tennessee River:

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Ruby Falls
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"The 145-foot underground waterfall is as impressive today as I imagine it was in the 30′s." - The Exhibition List
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Outdoor Adventure Rafting
Eastern Tennessee, Tennessee
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"We used OAR Rafting. They were a great company and the guides were amazing!!!" - Marketing
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Southern Belle Riverboat
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"if you enjoy wildlife – keep your eyes peeled!" - Andrea

Masterpieces on a cliff edge at the Hunter Museum of American Art

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Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga – photo by goodhealthdiva

Take a moment to gawk at the magnificent exterior of the Hunter Museum before delving into its sprawling collections. From the get-go this will be a journey through time, where old artifacts of America’s bygone colonialism rub shoulders with the truly contemporary and cutting edge. Even if you aren’t an art lover, the astounding architecture of the building alone makes this one worth the trip.

See what visitors have to say about the Hunter Museum of American Art:

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Hunter Museum of American Art
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"the warm wood color contrasts the cool grays" - Monica Cota
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Hunter Museum of American Art
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"From the bridge you can view the Hunter Museum of Art" - Jessica
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Hunter Museum of American Art
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"scenically perched on a rock cliff 80 ft. above the Tennessee River." - Charles Keiger

Pay homage to the railroad and American military history in Chattanooga:

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Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park
Catoosa County , Northwest High Country
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"There were monuments put up by the states that were involved," - Margaret Perrottet
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Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum" - Signal Light Productions
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International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"houses restored antique wreckers, towing-themed toys, sculpture, artwork" - Gunnar and Sherry

Discover Chattanooga's iconic heart, the Walnut Street Bridge

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Walnut Street Bridge, Chattanooga – photo by PammyMcB

Heavily restored in the late 1980s after being recognized as one of the iconic mega-structures of the American south, the Walnut Street Bridge is now one of the defining sites of downtown Chattanooga. Famed as the longest pedestrian bridge crossing in the world, its appearance retains an authentic railroad charm and a majestic southern industrialism that shouldn’t be missed.

See what visitors have to say about the Walnut Street Bridge:

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Walnut Street Bridge
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"  Facing the walnut street bridge, the longest pedestrian bridge in the world." - goodhealthdiva
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Walnut Street Bridge
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"The weekend that we came they had just opened the Walnut Street Bridge, to our four legged friends." - hanschenklein
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Walnut Street Bridge
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"I wanted to show off my favorite bridge, Walnut Street Bridge" - Andrea J.

The best walking spots in the Scenic City:

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Bluff View Art District
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"bluff view art district, still one of my favorite routes to stroll." - Brooklyn
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Rock City Park
Eastern Tennessee, Tennessee
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"We loved touring the gardens, going to the observation point" - blondemomblog
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Chattanooga Zoo at Warner Park
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"They've added exhibits, remodeled buildings, and have a bunch of new animals." - Amanda Glouner

Terminal Brewhouse is Chattanooga's beer-making laboratory

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Terminal Brew House, Chattanooga – photo by Southern Girl

Open every day until midnight, this hearty brewpub is a local favorite. Patrons are treated to expertly crafted beers and ales, which range from thick stouts to light lagers. The art of brewing is a nearly academic endeavor to the establishment’s chefs, who often make small scientific tweaks on a seasonal basis to create unique bespoke ales every month of the year.

See what visitors have to say about Terminal Brew House:

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Terminal Brew House
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"The design of the building alone is cool enough to go." - Corey
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Terminal Brew House
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"The Terminal Brewhouse is the total package. These guys get it." - Seasonally Southern
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Terminal Brew House
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"We go expecting pub food and get a pleasant surprise." - Christina

All-American dishes with some old Italian styles mixed in:

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Sugar's Ribs
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"Sugar's sends the meat out 'naked' and offers several varieties of sauces to choose" - ShellRaisinHell
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Tony's Pasta Shop & Trattoria
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"full of all ages including families with small children (it has a nice kid’s menu)." - John Tatum
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Good Dog Restaurant
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"the Dutch Frites Dog and the Pimento Cheese Dog" - Southern Girl

All aboard the Chattanooga Choo Choo!

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Chattanooga Choo Choo, Chattanooga – photo by David

Once the grand and bustling rail transport hub of downtown Chattanooga, the converted Terminal Station Choo Choo Hotel oozes with luxurious amenities. Guests come to enjoy indoor and outdoor pools, well-cultivated gardens and a myriad of high-class eateries, from the Cafe Espresso coffee room to the locally loved music venue at the Station House.

See what visitors of the Chattanooga Choo Choo:

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Chattanooga Choo Choo
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"did I mention we were getting to sleep in a TRAIN CAR????" - Just in Case the Rockstar Thing Doesn't Work Out
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Chattanooga Choo Choo
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"The room consists of half of a converted passenger rail car and had a ton of room." - Rob and Ashlee
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Chattanooga Choo Choo
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"It Came to Chattanooga when the Choo Choo opened as a hotel in 1973." - BrentKMoore

From the historical to the award-winning, there's an accommodation for everyone in Chattanooga:

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Delta Queen Hotel
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"The Delta Queen’s appointments were noticeably more detailed and expensive than the Delta King’s" - oceanlinerblog
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The Sheraton Read House Hotel Chattanooga
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"a splendid historic hotel." - godsonsafari
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The Chattanoogan
Chattanooga, Eastern Tennessee
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"This lovely hotel is located just about one mile from the busy riverfront area" - blondemomblog

See Chattanooga on the map:

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