photo credit: Robin Dance
Whether you are planning a staycation or coming from another place, Chattanooga is a fantastic place to visit for Spring Break. Often by late March to April, it’s warm enough for just a jacket (and occasionally short sleeves!). Our downtown is chock full of interesting places to explore. We have the river, the mountains, caves, fountains, carousels, and more! Even if you think you know the area, maybe there are a few places you’ve yet to explore.
(I have lived here for six years and never been to Ruby Falls. Is that a sin?)
Check Out the Spring Break Safari
For the last several years, several attractions have come together to provide a great adventure in the “Spring Break Safari.” This year, you can participate in the Safari anytime between March 14 and April 19. You can either download a guide or pick one up at any of the participating locations; then, use the guide to explore new places, find the answers to questions, and snap some pictures of your family at the locations. Share these pictures with an attendant and get a prize at each location!
The participating places are:
- Bluff View Art District
- Chattanooga Choo-Choo
- Chattanooga Zoo
- Creative Discovery Museum
- Hunter Museum
- North Shore
- Rock City
- Ruby Falls
- Southern Belle Riverboat
- Tennessee Aquarium
- Tennessee Valley Railroad
Where to Stay?
Downtown has tons of hotels, including the historic Chattanooga Choo-Choo, which is very near to the Main Street area. Within easy walking distance from there, you can visit Niedlov’s for pastries and coffee, Bluegrass Grill for a breakfast to die for, or Alleia for a knock-your-socks-off Italian dinner (if your kids are older/teens).
I love the location of the Courtyard by Marriott, which is next door to the Creative Discovery Museum and down the street from the Aquarium, with AT&T Field, where Chattanooga’s minor-league baseball team plays, in its backyard. For lunch, walk toward the river and you will find The Blue Plate, a kid-friendly diner-type restaurant with excellent burgers, chips, and fried green tomatoes, as well as other Southern favorites. It’s not far to Big River Grille, either, a local favorite with American favorites with a twist — like my favorite Hazelnut-Crusted Chicken with sun-dried cherry sauce.
Some other great downtown hotels include:
Exploring the Great Outdoors
Weather permitting, the months of March and April are usually the best time to find an outdoor spot to enjoy in Chattanooga. Here are some ideas for getting fresh air while taking it what the Scenic City has to offer.
- Stroll or bike along the Riverwalk. The ten-mile long concrete path goes all the way from the Chickamauga Dam to downtown Chattanooga, near Ross’s Landing. Pick a stretch and take a walk. The section at 4301 Amnicola Highway also has a big playground, picnic shelters with grills, and plenty of greenspace for running around. (Just a note that if you brought your family pet along with you, no dogs are allowed on most parts of the Riverwalk.)
- Take in a Lookouts game. The minor-league baseball team will play home games April 12-16. Tickets are $3-9 and can be purchased online or at the field.
- Check out a local playground. Chattanooga is filled with wonderful play structures, including many at Vandergriff Park in Hixson, the Pumpkin Patch on Signal Mountain, and Riverview Park near downtown. A listing of all local park facilities can be seen on the Chattanooga government site.
- Of course, many of the attractions on the Spring Break Safari are outdoors as well: exploring neighborhoods, Rock City, the zoo, and more.
And if the weather is bad?
- Catch a movie at the Majestic 12 on Broad Street or the IMAX on Chestnut Street; or see who’s coming to the Tivoli Theatre or Soldies & Sailors Auditorium.
- Eat waffles of insane greatness at Aretha Frankenstein’s, a well-known Chattanooga establishment.
- Run around the Creative Discovery Museum or Tennessee Aquarium; or take a more polite walk inside the Hunter Museum or the International Towing & Recovery Museum.
- Stretch some muscles by climbing at High Point or bouncing at The Jump Park.
Chattanooga Events from March 14 to April 19
- Chattanooga Youth Symphony Orchestra Winter Concert, March 14, 7:30 p.m. at Brainerd Baptist Church.
- The Heart & Seoul: Growing Up in Korea exhibit continues until May 15 at the Creative Discovery Museum.
- Rock City’s Shamrock City Irish festival is included with regular admission March 19 and 20.
- On March 20, the Midsouth Symphonic Band will celebrate the first day of Spring with a free concert at the Volkswagen Conference Center at 3 p.m.
- The Easter Bunny Breakfast cruise on the Southern Belle Riverboat is March 26 at 9:30 a.m. Tickets include breakfast, a visit with the Easter bunny, a magic show, and more.
- March 26 is the zoo’s Hug-a-Bunny Day, included in admission, where participants can do crafts, meet characters, and pet lots of sweet bunnies!
- On April 9, the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra presents “Play Ball,” a night of sports-inspired music, starting at 7:30 at the Tivoli Theatre.
- The infamous 4 Bridges Arts Festival is April 16-17.