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If you’re looking for a way to enjoy Thanksgiving that’s a little bit different, Chattanooga is the place to be! With a vibrant downtown and plenty of activities to keep you busy for the holiday season, check out our Guide to Thanksgiving in Chattanooga and plan your special day.

So whether you are looking for somewhere to eat, something to do or just tips for enjoying Thanksgiving in Chattanooga, we’ve got you covered in this guide.

Thanksgiving dinner. Roasted turkey on holiday table with pumpkins, flowers and wine

Restaurants open on Thanksgiving Day in Chattanooga

I’ll admit, my family has skipped cooking Thanksgiving at home and has gone out to a restaurant more than once. It’s kinda nice having someone else do the cooking and cleaning while you still get to enjoy the delicious food for holiday meals. I’m a huge fan of turkey with cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, cranberry relish, delicious pie and all the things that make up a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Lucky for me, there are plenty of restaurants that are open and serving these foods!

I’m not the only one who feels that way, either, as the restaurants that are open are often very busy, so be prepared to have to wait for your meal. (Aka – don’t come starving!)

Cracker Barrel

If we eat out for Thanksgiving, this is often where we will go. All Cracker Barrel locations are open for Thanksgiving Day, and we often do a lunch there. If you haven’t had a Southern Thanksgiving meal before, then give Cracker Barrel a try.

Serving: Typical Thanksgiving fare of turkey, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, green beans and more along with pumpkin pie for dessert. My boys particularly love their cranberry sauce, and we will often get their Thanksgiving feast to go when we aren’t eating in the restaurant. If you don’t want traditional fare, you can order off their regular menu. (They also have a wonderful pecan pie!)

Locations: There are many locations in the Chattanooga area, so visit the website to find one near you.

Visit Cracker Barrel’s website to find the closest location


City Cafe Diner

This diner’s downtown Chattanooga location is open 24/7 and 365 days a year, so you can always find delicious fare here, even when it’s not a holiday.

Serving: On Thanksgiving they offer a special plate, but you can also order their regular menu items with tons of choices.

Downtown Location: 901 Carter St

Check out their website here


Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant

If you’ve never been to a Puckett’s location before, you are missing out! They have several in Tennessee and they are amazing.

Serving: A Thanksgiving buffet that includes ham and fried chicken, along with traditional sides like green beans, stuffing, corn pudding and more. Desserts are available on the buffet, too!

Location: 2 W. Aquarium Way

View the Puckett’s website here


Other Restuarants in the Area Open for Thanksgiving:

Food Works

The Chattanoogan Hotel

The Read House

Whitebird Chattanooga

Rodizio Grill Brazilian Steakhouse

Ruth’s Chris

Golden Corral

Waffle House

Sticky Fingers

Many fast food restaurants are also open on Thanksgiving, so check their websites if you want a burger and fries or maybe some tacos!

Southern Belle Riverboat at night
Take a Thanksgiving Day Cruise on the Southern Belle

Things to do on Thanksgiving in Chattanooga

See Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights

One of our family’s favorite traditions is going to see the Enchanted Garden of Lights at Rock City. It’s so pretty and festive, and it gets you into the Christmas spirit.

The Enchanted Garden of Lights is open every day from mid-November until New Year’s, with the exception of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

This is a great thing to do after your Thanksgiving dinner.

Location: 1400 Patten Road, Lookout Mountain

Visit the Rock City website here


Go Ice Skating

Chattanooga has a beautiful ice skating rink at the Chattanooga Choo Choo in the Glenn Miller Gardens. In mid-November the area is turned into a winter wonderland.

This is a great activity for families and couples and will help you get into the holiday spirit. This activity is typically open from 2-11pm on Thanksgiving, so you could do it before or after your meal. Be sure to check their schedule before heading out.

Location: 1400 Market Street

Visit the Ice on the Landing website here


Catch a Movie

Movie theaters are one of the few businesses that has always been open on Thanksgiving, at least as long as I can remember! My brother worked for a movie theater in high school and I remember him having to work after our lunch.

So, if you’re in the mood to catch a flick, you can definitely do that on Thanksgiving.

Locations: There are many theaters in the Chattanooga area, so check the link below to find out what’s playing in the area.

Click here to find local showtimes in Chattanooga


Take a Dinner Cruise on the Southern Belle Riverboat

Thanksgiving day cruises have been a tradition for the Southern Belle since the boat was christened in 1985, and they are very popular. There are usually three sailings at 11am, 2pm and 5pm.

Tickets sell out fast, but this is a great activity because you get a traditional Thanksgiving meal and a sightseeing cruise of the Tennessee River.

Location: 151 Riverfront Parkway

Click here to learn more about the Southern Belle Riverboat


Visit Ruby Falls

Ruby Falls is a breathtaking underground waterfall located minutes from Chattanooga. It’s definitely worth the short drive.

They have daytime hours during the holiday and give daytime tours of the falls. The weather inside the cavern is the same year-round and it’s a wonderful experience.

Location: 1720 South Scenic Highway

Click here to learn more about Ruby Falls

Here we are at Ruby Falls:


Shopping and other activities available in Chattanooga on Thanksgiving

Forgot an ingredient and need to grab something before family arrives? Or maybe you just want to do some relaxing shopping before the Black Friday craziness?

These retailers are open on Thanksgiving, but many have reduced hours due to the holiday, so be sure to check their hours before leaving your house (and their hours are also subject to change).

Grocery Stores Open on Thanksgiving

Food City

The Fresh Market

Whole Foods

Other Stores Open on Thanksgiving



Big Lots

Dollar General

Bass Pro

Family Dollar

What to Bring With You When You Come to Chattanooga for a Thanksgiving Holiday

Chattanooga is a great city, but there are a few things you should remember to bring with you if you’re coming for a visit.

The weather can be chilly this time of year, so be sure to pack a jacket or sweater. It also rains a bit at this time of year, so bring a light rain jacket or umbrella just in case.

If you’re planning on doing any hiking or outdoor activities, be sure to pack comfortable shoes and appropriate clothing.

And finally, don’t forget your camera! Chattanooga is a beautiful city and there are many scenic spots to take pictures.

Tips for Enjoying Your Time in Chattanooga Over the Holiday

Chattanooga is a great city to visit any time of year, but there are a few things you should keep in mind if you’re coming for Thanksgiving.

First, be sure to make reservations if you’re planning on eating out, if you are going to a restaurant that accepts reservations, that is. Restaurants tend to be very busy on holidays and it can be hard to get a table without a reservation.

Second, traffic can be a bit heavier than usual due to all the holiday visitors, so plan your route accordingly and give yourself extra time to get where you’re going.

And finally, enjoy your time in Chattanooga! There are many great things to see and do in this city and Thanksgiving is a great time to visit.

Final Thoughts on Thanksgiving in Chattanooga

Thanksgiving is a great time to visit Chattanooga and there are plenty of things to do in this vibrant city.

Today we’ve looked at where to eat, what to do and where to shop in this great city over the holiday.

I hope you enjoy your stay in Chattanooga for Thanksgiving!

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