Chattanooga spring break staycation guide 2023

Chattanooga spring break staycation guide 2023 / Getty Images/Photo illustration by Matt McClane

When you live in what Forbes magazine recently named one of the best travel destinations in the world, there's no reason to spend your time packing a suitcase or your money on expensive plane flights and hotel rooms.

Instead, spend your spring break checking out new Chattanooga businesses that you haven't had time to visit yet, or take the opportunity to experience area attractions in new ways or partake in local traditions such as the Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg.

Here is our guide to re-experiencing the Scenic City.

  photo  Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Karen Taber rides a Zen bike outside Chattanooga Electric Bike Co.
  photo  Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Chattanooga Electric Bike Co. showroom

New family-friendly businesses

Jump on the e-bike trend at Chattanooga Electric Bike Co., which offers e-bike rentals and several tours in the Chattanooga area that include the Tennessee Riverwalk to the Georgia border, the Riverwalk to the Chickamauga Dam, and the Riverwalk and South Chickamauga Greenway. Rentals are $25-$32 per hour or $75-$85 per day.

1404 McCallie Ave. | 423.309.7440 | 

Urban Air is an indoor trampoline and adventure park featuring a suspended ropes course, boxing, climbing walls, go-karts, a ninja course, dodge ball and other activities for kids and pre-teens. The park also offers parent-friendly amenities such as TVs and beer to enjoy while the kiddos play. Cost ranges from $16.99 for basic trampolines to $38.99 for access to all activities, including ropes course and unlimited go-kart rides. Tickets are half-price for parents and $11.99 kids age 5 and younger.

2020 Gunbarrel Road, Suite 182 | 423.680.7044 |

  photo  Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Karen Taber rides a Zen bike outside Chattanooga Electric Bike Co.

Experience familiar places in new ways

Explore the city's public art by electric scooter or e-bike on Adventure Sports Innovation's ChattaScooter Art Tour, which focuses on hidden and hard-to-find art displays. The 90-minute tour includes more than a dozen stops on the North Shore, Southside and city center, including murals on Martin Luther King Boulevard and Frazier Avenue and sculptures on the Riverfront. Cost is $64.46 per person.

191 River St. | 423.591.5654 |

Chattanooga Tourism Co.'s Spring Break Safari scavenger hunts bring new elements of interest to the city's top attractions -- Chattanooga Zoo, Creative Discovery Museum, Hunter Museum of American Art, Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center, Rock City, Ruby Falls, Tennessee Aquarium and Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum -- and make learning about history and culture feel like game. Hunts are organized by themes based on kids' interests, such as "Artisinal Adventurer," "Junior Naturalist" or "Hero." All hunt activities are located outside the attractions, so there's no need to pay admission fees. For maps and activities see

You can now experience full high tea at Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum with the attraction's new Homefront Tea Room experience, featuring a 75-minute tea seating in Grand Junction Depot complete with sweet and savory menu items such as mini sandwiches, scones and macaroons, followed by a 65-minute train ride on Missionary Ridge. Cost is $55 per person.

4119 Cromwell Road | 423-894-8028 |

  photo  Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Turner Ellis decorates a noise maker at the Creative Discovery Museum.

Families who haven't been to the Creative Discovery Museum in the last year will find plenty of new activities and exhibits to explore. Children age 5 and younger and their caregivers can pretend-play and explore life on the farm through a variety of sensory experiences in the newly renovated and expanded Little FarmHouse exhibit that opened in February. The temporary Doc McStuffins exhibit, the first museum exhibit based on the Peabody Award-winning Disney Junior series, runs through May 7. TreeHouse Adventure will open mid-March on the museum's rooftop, where kids can venture to new heights in the multi-pod treehouse and enjoy the view. The museum is celebrating National Robotics Week with activities on Saturday, April 8, from noon to 4 p.m., when special guests will bring robotics interactives to inspire learners in robotics and STEM-related fields.

321 Chestnut St. | 423.756.2738 |

  photo  Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Barnett Spotts, 4, and Gloria Spotts, 2, watch a penguin at the Tennessee Aquarium on Friday, July 1, 2022.
 Matt Hamilton 

See what the Tennessee Aquarium's animal keepers do behind the scenes with one of the aquarium's Deeper Dives tours. The guided Feeding Frenzy tour, offered Wednesdays and Fridays from 1:30-2 p.m., allows guests to feed animals in the Secret Reef exhibit, including sharks, rays, reef fishes and a green sea turtle. Limited to six guests age 8 and older, the tours cost $30 for members and $75 for nonmembers, including the cost of aquarium admission, and must be booked online beforehand. The aquarium also recently opened its new Ridges to Rivers gallery, which focuses on the "underwater rainforest" of the Southeast. During spring break, younger visitors will receive a Ridges to Rivers activity book.

1 Broad St. | 800.262.0695 |

  photo  Staff file photo / Lookout Mountain attraction Ruby Falls

See Ruby Falls in a new light by taking the attraction's popular Lantern Tour, held after-hours. The tour is lit by hand-held lanterns and features smaller groups, more content, a slower pace and more time at the falls than a typical tour. Available for guests 5 and older on select Fridays for $39.95 per person. Or, spend a night at Treetop Hideaways at Ruby Falls, a new luxury treehouse lodging experience overlooking Chattanooga, which starts booking this month. Cost is $625 per night during peak season.

1720 S. Scenic Highway | 423.821.2544 |

(READ MORE: Via lantern tours, even lifelong Chattanoogans can see Ruby Falls in a new light)

  photo  Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Taylor Berry, director of avian conservation at Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center

Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center offers a variety of programs and experiences that let you get to know the property better as well as the animals who call it home. From March 3 through April 29, learn about the nature center's animal ambassadors and what you can do to preserve their species through the native animals program at 1:30 p.m. on Fridays or get up close and personal with the center's birds of prey on Saturdays at 9 a.m. Director of Avian Conservation Taylor Berry leads a Vulture Adventure program Saturdays at 11 a.m. with vulture ambassador Vlad, who accompanies participants on a half-mile walk around the nature center's ponds. Reflection Riding members can sign up for a private camping experience on the property with Outshine Adventures March 3-4, 10-11 or 17-18.

400 Garden Road | 423.821.1160 |

Deals, discounts and freebies

Chattanooga Public Library has passes to several local attractions that can be checked out with a library card for free. Passes are available on a first-come, first-served basis for Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga Zoo and Creative Discovery Museum at all library locations, and for Audubon Acres and Reflection Riding at the downtown location.

The Hunter also offers free admission for all children and teens younger than 18, discounted rates for EBT cardholders and free admission with a library card once a month during the museum's Sunday Studios.

Creative Discovery Museum offers free family nights the second Thursday of every month from 5:30-8 p.m. A limited number of guests are admitted, with required online registration opening the first day of the month at

The city of Chattanooga's Chris Ramsey Center indoor pool, 1010 North Moore Road, and South Chattanooga indoor pool, 1151 W. 40th St., now offer free open and lap swimming to city residents. The city also allows residents free use of its 26 hard courts at Champions Club Tennis Complex, 3400 Lupton Drive.

  photo  Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Melissa Cain holds a Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy Cookies & Cream milkshake at the Ooltewah Whistle Stop.

Fun restaurants for families

Ooltewah Whistle Stop is a vintage-inspired restaurant known for its larger-than-life milkshakes, such as the Great Balls of Fire frozen hot chocolate milkshake made with chocolate and vanilla hot cocoa mix, oodles of dehydrated mini marshmallows, chocolate drizzle and multiple s'mores piled on top. Watch the trains pass as you eat and enjoy the arcade games or a round of corn hole. Make reservations online to avoid a wait.

5503 Main St., Collegedale | 423.280.1500 |

Kids will be amazed by the selection of massive cakes displayed at City Cafe Diner downtown, which also offers just about every dish imaginable in its novel-length menu. Even the pickiest of eaters will find something they like among the more than 400 options, and it's open 24/7.

901 Carter St. | 423.634.9191 |

3rd Deck Burger Bar is a fun family outing located on the dock of the Southern Belle. Enjoy cookout-style burgers with a great view of the river and play a game of ping pong or giant Jenga after. Combine it with a trip to other kid-friendly spots nearby like the Tennessee Aquarium, High Point Climbing and Fitness or the (free!) playground on Ross's Landing.

201 Riverfront Parkway | 423.648.9108 |

Spring festival guide

March 11-12: Chattanooga River Market opens at Tennessee Aquarium plaza

March 11-12 and 18-19: Shamrock City at Rock City

March 17-April 16: Rock the Riverfront with interactive art installation Los Trompos

March 18: National Black Market with music and food trucks at First Horizon Pavilion

March 19: Cleveland Bradley County Public Library centennial event: tours with guides in historic costumes; must register (also April 20, May 20, June 25, July 20, Sept. 24, Oct. 22, Nov. 16)

March 25: Tennessee Valley Chapter of Wild Ones Native Plant Sale & Expo at First Horizon Pavilion

April 1: SipTN Wine Festival at First Horizon Pavilion

April 1: Archaeology Day at Chief Vann House Historical Site in Chatsworth, Georgia

April 1-2: Magnolia Market Days at Bradley Square Mall, Cleveland

April 2: McCoy Egg Roll at McCoy Farm and Gardens, Walden

April 8: The Great Adult Egg Hunt & Hoppy Hour at Sculpture Fields at Montague Park by The Chattery

April 13-16: Flame Festival featuring fire performers at Cherokee Farms in LaFayette, Georgia

April 14-16: Master Your Garden show at Camp Jordan

April 15-16 and 22-23: Earth Dayz at Rock City

April 20: CauldronFest 2023: A Magickal Weekend at Hogwarts at Fall Creek Falls State Park

April 21-22: Ramp Tramp Festival in Polk County

April 22: Kid Quest family fun expo at Camp Jordan

April 22: Sweet Tea & Sunshine Family Festival at Greenway Park, Cleveland

April 22-23: 4 Bridges Arts Festival at First Horizon Pavilion

April 29-30: Chattanooga Market's opening weekend at First Horizon Pavilion

April 29-30: National Cornbread Festival, South Pittsburg

April 29-30: United Cherokee 24th American Indian Powwow in Guntersville, Alabama

May 6-7: Chattanooga Bacon Festival at Camp Jordan

May 9-13: Tennessee Strawberry Festival in Dayton

May 11-21: Scenic City Fair at Camp Jordan

May 13: Walk Run Pedal Jamz Festival at Coolidge Park

May 13-14 and 20-21: Southern Blooms Festival at Rock City

May 19-21: Battle of Resaca reenactment

May 20: Jfest, with Crowder, Cain, Mac Powell and several others, at Tennessee Riverpark

May 20: Down Home Days in Chickamauga, Georgia

May 26-29: Jurassic Quest, a dinosaur adventure, at Chattanooga Convention Center