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Looking for fun inexpensive things to do in Chattanooga TN? We’ve got you covered with our guide!

the author's youngest son on Lookout Mountain
Our youngest son at Point Park. Check out that view!

As a mom who frequently visits Chattanooga, TN with my husband and our four boys, I can assure you that there are plenty of fun and inexpensive activities for the whole family.

Chattanooga is an amazing city that offers diverse entertainment options without breaking the bank. From exploring beautiful city parks to engaging in thrilling outdoor adventures, this charming Southern city has something for everyone.

You’ll be delighted to know that Chattanooga is not only budget-friendly, but also brimming with history, arts, and natural beauty.

Whether you’re visiting with your family for the first time or you’re a seasoned Chattanooga traveler, you’re guaranteed to create lasting memories as you experience the exciting activities this city has to offer.

In this article, we’ll share a selection of our favorite affordable and enjoyable things to do in Chattanooga that both you and your kids will love.

So, pack your bags, gather your family, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in one of Tennessee’s most captivating cities.

Our eldest at the overlook of Cloudland Canyon State Park, not too far from Chattanooga

Outdoor Adventures

As a mom with four boys, I am always on the lookout for fun and affordable outdoor activities in Chattanooga, TN. Here are some of our favorite places to visit in and around the city!

Lookout Mountain

Lookout Mountain offers many different activities for you and your family to enjoy. From hiking trails to breathtaking views, this spot will keep your kids entertained while you take in the beautiful scenery. A must-visit is Point Park, where you can witness history and admire the stunning vistas of Chattanooga and the surrounding area.

We really enjoyed our visit to Point Park and enjoyed learning about the history of the area, checking out the civil war cannons and, of course, taking in these views:

Chattanooga Riverwalk

The Chattanooga Riverwalk is a perfect place for a leisurely stroll, a bike ride, or even a picnic with your family. Spanning along the Tennessee River, this 16-mile paved pathway offers gorgeous views, public art displays, and various parks for your little ones to explore. You can even take a detour and visit the nearby Tennessee Aquarium (a favorite spot for the boys!).

The River Walk

Tennessee Riverpark

Tennessee Riverpark is another excellent spot for outdoor adventure. With multiple playgrounds, fishing piers, and wide-open spaces, your kids are sure to have a fantastic time in this sprawling park. Enjoy the scenic views of the Tennessee River, and keep an eye out for the wildlife that inhabits the area.

Renaissance Park

Last but not least, Renaissance Park is a gem of a location for families to enjoy in the great outdoors. Situated on Chattanooga’s North Shore, this popular park features a wetland area where you can spot native plants and animals, as well as plenty of picnic spots for a relaxing family lunch.

So, grab your sunscreen and venture out into Chattanooga’s great outdoors for unforgettable adventures with your family!

Hunter Museum of American Art

Historic Sites and Museums

Chattanooga is filled with rich history and family-friendly museums that won’t break the bank. As a mom, I highly recommend the following attractions for a fun and educational experience.

Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

exterior of the tennessee valley railroad museum

At the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, you and your family can take a step back in time and explore the golden age of railroading in the United States. The museum offers interactive exhibits, historic railroad cars, and even train rides.

From steam engines to diesel locomotives, there’s something fascinating for everyone. My boys especially enjoy hopping aboard the restored train cars and imagining themselves as conductors or engineers.

We have also taken one of the train rides with two of our boys. One was four and the other one, and it was fun, but it was kind of a long ride for a one year old.

We had to take a school bus to get from the parking lot to the train, and our four-year-old was just as excited about that as he was the train ride! Haha!

Here are a couple of pictures of our trip:

Dad with two of our boys on one of the cars
Me and our second son on the train ride. Snacks kept him busy and happy!

Hunter Museum of American Art

If you’re seeking a perfect blend of history and art, the Hunter Museum of American Art should be on your itinerary. Perched on a high bluff overlooking the Tennessee River, the museum is housed in a striking building that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

As you explore the exhibits, you’ll encounter a wide variety of American artwork, from colonial times to contemporary pieces. My husband and I love introducing our boys to different artistic styles and mediums, and the museum’s kid-friendly activities ensure that they stay engaged.

This place is simply amazing. Even just admiring the outside of the building is cool, and once you’re inside it’s even better.

sign and building of chickamauga and chattanooga national military park

Chattanooga National Military Park

For those interested in Civil War history, the Chattanooga National Military Park is a must-visit site. Spanning across multiple locations, this park provides an immersive experience of the 1863 Battles for Chattanooga.

You can walk through preserved battlefields, monuments, and historic markers, learning about the events that occurred there.

As we mentioned before, one of our boys’ favorite spots is the Point Park overlook, which offers stunning views of the surrounding valleys and mountains.

While the park is free to explore, donations are always appreciated to help maintain this important piece of history. Remember to wear comfortable shoes, as there are plenty of walking trails to explore.

By visiting these historic sites and museums, you and your family can create lasting memories while learning about the fascinating history of Chattanooga.

boy working on a hands-on exhibit at the Creative Discovery Museum in Chattanooga, TN
Our third son learning about electricity at the Creative Discovery Museum

Family-Friendly Activities

Creative Discovery Museum

If you’re looking for a fantastic way to spend the day with your children, the Creative Discovery Museum should be at the top of your list. This hands-on, interactive museum offers something for kids of all ages (my four boys love it).

Some of our favorite exhibits include the water play area, the art studio, and the hands-on science exhibits. The museum is very affordable and offers plenty of opportunities for your children to learn while having fun.

We spent a wonderful day at the museum with our boys. The STEM area was the biggest hit for them, as they could create projects out of wood and nails, which they were absolutely fascinated with. This started a whole building phase at home, and we were all for it. Definitely a fun family vacation!

Chattanooga Zoo

Another great option for an inexpensive family outing is the Chattanooga Zoo. My boys love getting up close and personal with the animals and learning about their habitats. The zoo also offers behind-the-scenes experiences, where you can even feed some of the animals. This activity is reasonably priced, making it a fun and educational experience for the whole family.

While visiting the Creative Discovery Museum and Chattanooga Zoo are our top recommendations, there are plenty more family-friendly activities in Chattanooga.

Here are a few bonus options that we love:

  • High Point Climbing: Get your adrenaline pumping by taking your family to the indoor climbing facility, High Point Climbing. It’s a challenging and exciting activity for both kids and adults, and it’s a great way to spend some quality time together as a family.
  • Lawn Chair Cinema: If you’re looking for a more relaxed activity, consider checking out Chattanooga’s outdoor movie nights during the summer months. Grab some lawn chairs and blankets, and enjoy watching a family-friendly film in a beautiful park setting.

Whether you choose to visit the Creative Discovery Museum or Chattanooga Zoo or try something different, Chattanooga has plenty of affordable family-friendly activities to offer. Have a fantastic time exploring with your family!

Rock City Gardens in Chattanooga
Rock City Gardens in Chattanooga

Beautiful Scenery

Chattanooga, Tennessee is a gem filled with beautiful scenery and fun, inexpensive things to do for the whole family. As a mom who visits the area regularly with my husband and four boys, I’m here to share some of our favorite spots!

Ruby Falls

One must-see attraction is the gorgeous Ruby Falls, an underground waterfall located within Lookout Mountain. The breathtaking views and unique experience of exploring the cave make it perfect for a family outing. While it might not be free, the experience and memories you make there will be worth every penny!

We had never taken our boys to a cave before this, and they were absolutely amazed. I remember my parents taking me when I was a kid, and the falls was still as amazing as I remembered. This is one of the more expensive things on our list, but definitely worth it if you enjoy nature. Plus, it’s a great rainy day activity as the cavern is the same temperature and weather year-round.

Here we are on our trip to the falls:

the author and her family at Ruby Falls
Yes, we purchased the picture at the end of the tour lol

Bluff View Art District

Take a stroll through the Bluff View Art District, where you and your family can enjoy outdoor sculptures, exquisite gardens, and scenic views overlooking the Tennessee River. Many parts of the art district are free to explore, making it an ideal spot to spend a leisurely afternoon.

  • Tip: Don’t forget to grab a snack or coffee from one of the local cafes to enjoy while you take in the stunning surroundings.

Rock City

For a truly memorable adventure, be sure to visit Rock City, located just a short drive from Chattanooga on Lookout Mountain. With winding trails, unique rock formations, and panoramic views of the Tennessee Valley, it is a fantastic spot for a family hike.

Remember to take your time enjoying the picturesque scenery, and maybe even pack a picnic lunch to savor at one of the many scenic overlooks throughout the park.

The Market Street Bridge and Coolidge Park
The Market Street Bridge and Coolidge Park

Parks and Nature

Chattanooga offers various beautiful parks and natural areas where you can spend quality family time. As a mom to four boys, I understand the need for inexpensive and engaging activities to keep them entertained. Here are my top recommendations for Parks and Nature in Chattanooga.

Coolidge Park

Coolidge Park is a must-visit when you’re in Chattanooga. This riverside park is not just beautiful but also offers various free activities for your family. You can take a leisurely stroll with your spouse while your kids run around the vast green spaces, playground, or even the interactive water fountain. The park also exhibits some fascinating public art, capturing your children’s imagination.

North Shore

The North Shore area embraces several parks, local shops, and eateries, where you’ll find numerous cost-effective ways to entertain your family. One of my favorite activities is walking along the Walnut Street Bridge with my boys. The pedestrian bridge offers stunning views of the river, and my kids love to wave to the boats passing underneath.

Reflection Riding Arboretum

Your family will feel at one with nature when visiting the Reflection Riding Arboretum. As a mom, I appreciate that there is an educational component to our visit while keeping it entertaining for my boys.

The nature center offers interactive exhibits, and the butterfly garden captivates my kids with its beauty. The arboretum offers picturesque trails for hiking or cycling, which is a great way to burn off your boys’ energy.

Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA during fall season at Walnut Street Bridge.
Walnut Street Bridge in the fall

Free and Inexpensive Attractions

Walnut Street Bridge

One of my family’s favorite places to visit in Chattanooga is the Walnut Street Bridge. This longest pedestrian bridge in the Scenic City provides a perfect opportunity for you and your family to enjoy a leisurely walk, take in the beautiful views, and snap some memorable photos. Since it’s free, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon without breaking the bank.

The historic Carousel located near the bridge is another inexpensive option for your little ones. My four boys love taking a ride on it, and it has become a family tradition during our visits to the area.

busy chattanooga market

Chattanooga Market

When you’re looking for a fun and budget-friendly activity, the Chattanooga Market is a must-visit destination. This vibrant market is like a treasure trove of local goodies, where you can find:

  • Fresh, locally grown produce
  • Handmade arts and crafts
  • Delicious food options

Your family will love exploring the market together, and it’s a great way to support local artisans and farmers while finding unique and affordable souvenirs.

Don’t forget to catch the various live music performances and special events that frequently occur at the market. The atmosphere is always lively and friendly, making it a fantastic place to spend a Sunday afternoon with your family.

By exploring the Walnut Street Bridge and the Chattanooga Market, you and your family will be able to experience the charm and beauty of the Scenic City without spending a fortune.

Entertainment and Nightlife

Live Music and Festivals

One of the best parts of visiting Chattanooga with your family is the wide array of live music and festivals that are available, often for free or minimal cost. As a mom of four boys and a frequent visitor to the area, I can tell you that there’s nothing quite like spending a lovely Friday night swaying to the tunes of local bands.

Chattanooga’s music and nightlife scene is always bustling and offers something for everyone. Whether you are into rock, jazz, or country, the city has a venue for your taste.

Some places to check out for live music include the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel, which we found to be a perfect spot to experience history, arts, nightlife, and more.

They often host free concerts and events in their beautifully restored historic train station.

For a more local, low-key vibe, the streets of Chattanooga are also filled with talented street performers who will keep you entertained during your night out.

Chattanooga Lookouts Baseball Games

If sports are more your family’s style, then you can’t miss seeing the local minor league team, the Chattanooga Lookouts. Tickets to these games are usually inexpensive, allowing for a budget-friendly night of entertainment and family bonding.

My boys absolutely love the excitement of the game, cheering on the Lookouts alongside local fans. You’ll find that munching on classic ballpark hot dogs and cozying up together in the stands is a great time for everyone.

In addition to the thrill of the game, attending a Chattanooga Lookouts game often includes extra entertainment such as fireworks, giveaways, and special themed nights. We’ve made lasting memories and even started family traditions by joining in on these festivities.

So when you find yourself in Chattanooga, TN, don’t miss out on the fantastic entertainment options that are waiting for you and your family. From live music and festivals to exciting baseball games, there’s always something to experience that will leave you with smiles and cherished memories.

Drone Aerial View of Downtown Chattanooga Tennessee TN Skyline and Tennessee River

Around Town

Downtown Chattanooga

As a mom who visits the area regularly with her husband and four boys, I can’t recommend enough exploring the downtown Chattanooga area. You’re sure to find a wide range of affordable activities and attractions that will keep the whole family entertained.

Take a leisurely stroll down Market Street, where you’ll discover a colorful array of food trucks offering delicious and budget-friendly meals. Don’t forget to check out local farmers’ markets for some fresh produce to snack on throughout the day.

Chickamauga Dam

Another favorite spot of mine is the Chickamauga Dam. This beautiful area offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities that won’t break the bank.

Pack a picnic and enjoy lunch with a view, or take advantage of the scenic hiking and biking trails available. Your family will also love the fishing opportunities, which make for a memorable and relaxing day outdoors.

Station Street

When you visit Chattanooga, don’t miss out on Station Street – a vibrant area filled with music, art, and culture. It’s the perfect place to explore on a budget, as many of the attractions and events are either free or reasonably priced.

The lively atmosphere will keep your family entertained, and it’s a great location to window-shop or simply enjoy people-watching. Remember to bring a camera to capture all the fun memories you’ll create during your visits to these fantastic spots around town.

Final Thoughts on Fun Inexpensive Things to do in Chattanooga

Chattanooga is a popular destination for family fun, and it’s easy to see why! I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of some of our favorite things to do in the area that don’t cost an arm and a leg.

With our four boys we are always on the lookout for cheap things to do, and we love places with free admission, picnic areas, art galleries, and exploring the downtown area. So, take in a baseball game, set out on a river journey or climb to the top of the mountain at Lookout Mountain – there is so much to see and do in the Scenic City.

You’ll see why it’s one of our favorite spots to visit.

Hope to see you there!

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