I don’t know about you, but when we go out of town for a weekend, we usually end up spending way more than we would at home. We eat out every meal and hit up every child-friendly attraction even if it costs $20+ per person, and many times, it ends up being a bust with the kids.
These are my kiddos’ favorite things to do in Chattanooga, and they are entirely free. So, if you’re in town for a weekend and have paid for Rock City, the Tennessee Aquarium, and Creative Discovery Museum and need a break from hemorrhaging money, here are some excellent options that are all in walking proximity minus the Sculpture Fields and market. You could walk to Stringers Ridge–but it would be a hike to get there 🙂
- Go sledding any time of year and slide down “Cardboard Hill” in Renaissance Park. This hill is littered with boxes most of the year. When I first saw it, I thought it was trash, but I quickly learned many hours pass sliding down the hill on these boxes.
- Play in the fountains at Coolidge Park and then play music on the steel drum art exhibit. The vintage carousel is wonderful and only $1. I like to keep a few quarters in my stroller when we are heading downtown, just in case we end up on the carousel.
- Take a walk across the Walnut Street Bridge—it connects North Chattanooga to downtown. Often there are musicians playing, plus there’s always great people watching.
- Once downtown, have more water fun in the water and fountains in front of the Tennessee Aquarium. (I hope you see a pattern for the spring and summer months–bring clothes your kids can get wet in!)
- Take a bike ride or stroll along the Chattanooga Riverfront. If you didn’t bring bikes, you could rent bikes at one of the more than 40 stations around Chattanooga. A day pass to ride with Bike Chattanooga is $8.
- Visit the Sculpture Fields at Montague Park. There are more than 40 sculptures in this park from artists all around the world. Every time I’m here I feel like I’ve left Chattanooga–but I haven’t. This is such a unique and peaceful place to bring a picnic lunch or fly a kite. The 33-acre park was once a construction landfill, then abandoned until sculpture John Henry brought the Sculpture Fields to life. You can see his large-scale steel pieces all over Chattanooga. Learn more about him here.
- Hike Stringers Ridge or try one of these local trails that are easy with kids.
- Visit the Chattanooga Market. It is open Sundays from 11 am-4 pm at the First Horizon Pavilion. Each week has a different theme—like the Strawberry Festival or Red, White, and Blueberries.
- Explore the alleyways–including Food Truck Alley where there’s a constant rotation of six food truck vendors.
There are a few books about Tennessee to prepare your little ones for a visit to Chattanooga!
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