Museums don't always have the reputation of being the most fun places in the world, especially for families. Many museums are big and cold, and the rule is look, but don't touch. Not so in the Chattanooga area. Interactive museums, such as the Creative Discovery downtown or the Museum Center at 5ive Points (yes, that's the numeral 5) in Cleveland, Tenn., boast interactive exhibitions to amuse and educate even the youngest museum-goer. For the modern traditionalist, Hunter Museum of American Art overlooks the Tennessee River just below the Bluff View Art district.
CREATIVE DISCOVERY MUSEUM
A museum especially for kids, the Creative Discovery Museum features educational exhibits to promote fun and pique curiosity. Permanent exhibits include Corner Clinic to help children become more comfortable at the doctor's office and Excavation Station, where curious young minds can discover what can be found in dirt. With traveling exhibitions and annual activities, kids can learn about the body, beekeeping, building and more.
Address: 321 Chestnut Ave.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on Sundays, when it's open noon to 5 p.m. Closed Wednesdays in the fall and winter. Museum is open 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day of the week during extended summer hours, from mid-June through mid-August.
Admission: $10.95 adults and kids, discounts for military and bundles with the Tennessee Aquarium.
Information: www.cdmfun.org, 423-756-2738.
TENNESSEE VALLEY RAILROAD MUSEUM
Chattanooga might be best known for its Choo Choo, now permanently in station, but residents and visitors alike can still travel the rails from the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. Founded in 1961, the TVRM celebrates the history of trains in the South. Trips range from 55 minutes to six hours, with holiday journeys that include special menus.
Address: 4119 Cromwell Road
Hours: Vary by season and rides, call ahead for details.
Admission: Tickets vary based on distance, $19 to $55.
Information: www.tvrail.com, 423-894-8028.
HUNTER MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART
Boasting an impressive permanent collection of American Art, the Hunter also welcomes traveling and exclusive exhibitions of varying media from photographer Dorothea Lange to painter Norman Rockwell. The Hunter is also host to String Theory, an annual chamber music series founded by Lee University assistant professor of music Gloria Chien.
Address: 10 Bluff View
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; except on Thursday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Wednesday, Sunday: Noon to 5 p.m.
Admission: $9 adults, $4.95 for children 3 to 17 years old; free on first Sunday of the month.
Information: www.huntermuseum.org, 423-267-0968.
SISKIN MUSEUM OF RELIGIOUS ARTIFACTS
Commissioned by Mose and Garrison Siskin, the Siskin Museum of Religious Artifacts reflects the brothers' belief that understanding a person's religious views meant better understanding the person. Ranging from the 16th to 20th century, the artifacts are largely Judaic, reflecting the Siskin family's faith, but also include a sizable collection of Christian relics, as well as Islamic, Buddist, Hindu and others.
Address: 1101 Carter St.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday, and by appointment.
DRAGON DREAMS MUSEUM
Dragon lovers, look no further. Featuring a collection accumulated over 35 years, the collection includes all things dragon, from modern fantasy to intricate Eastern design. Dragons in materials including wood, silver, jade, ivory and fabric.
Address: 6724A East Brainerd Road
Hours: Wednesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission: Children: $4.50; Adults: $10.
Information: www.dragonvet.com, 423-892-2384.
MEDAL OF HONOR MUSEUM
Created to honor those who fought to preserve freedom and to educate future generations about their sacrifices, the National Medal of Honor Museum of Military History has featured exhibits on Vietnam and the Revolutionary War. Each year, they hold a fundraiser to remember national heroes.
Address: Northgate Mall, Hixson
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday; 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Information: 423-267-1737 or www.mohm.org
INTERNATIONAL TOWING AND RECOVERY HALL OF FAME
The towing industry traces its history back to the earliest days of the automobile, and since the first wrecker was built in Chattanooga, the museum's location is fitting. The museum has many exhibits and a hall to honor those killed while on the job.
Address: 3315 Broad St.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Admission: $8 adults; $4 children 6 to 8
Information: 423-267-3132 or www.internationaltowingmuseum.org
MUSEUM CENTER AT 5IVE POINTS
The museum houses a permanent collection of artifacts that illustrate the history of the Ocoee region, from industry to education to agriculture to quilting.
Address: 200 Inman St. East, Cleveland, TN
Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; closed Sundays, Mondays and holidays
Admission: Adults: $5; Students and seniors: $4; Children under 5: free; Free the first Saturday of every month.