If your family is looking for family fun for all ages and willing to drive just a little bit north of Atlanta, Chattanooga, TN is a 7 hour drive from Jacksonville and has so much to offer! Our family has gone here many years over Spring Break and enjoyed it each and every time. There is so much to do here, but let me share our top 5 things to do in Chattanooga.
The Tennessee Aquarium in downtown Chattanooga is one of those attractions that has my kids begging to go back year after year. The aquarium is split into two separate buildings, Ocean Journey and River Journey. The center piece in both are massive tanks filled with a variety of fish. You begin at the top of the Ocean Journey building, in the rainforest. With a touch tank, beautiful parrots and a butterfly exhibit, it’s a great place to begin exploring.
As you move down, you see rooms of jellyfish, sharks galore (with plenty of pop up windows for your kiddos to climb in and get an even better view) and reefs everywhere. They even have a wonderful penguin exhibit with trainer talks throughout the day. Do your little one likes talking to the professionals? They have the opportunity to talk to the divers as they swim in the large tank to ask questions about the sharks, turtles and fish swimming around them.
After you finish up your Ocean Journey, head to River Journey and back to the top to watch playful otters. Then as you walk back down, you see alligators, large river fish and more. You can also add an IMAX ticket for even more fun.
High Point Climbing Gym is always a must do for our family. Even for the littlest climbers this place is well worth the price. Your kids can scale the walls in a special kids room and even jump from “building to building” all with the safety of the harness system and plenty of workers on hand. For the more adventurous climbers, you can even give a try climbing the outside walls and embrace their inner Spiderman as they scale the walls.
If you’ve driven north on I-75 you have probably seen the signs, “See Rock City”. If you’re like me, you probably thought it was some cheesy tourist trap, and boy would you be wrong. Wandering through the rocks on the trail, squeezing in tight places, ducking low, checking out the amazing views and even a waterfall makes this a great stop. During warmer months, there is a restaurant with a view of multiple states and even a wine bar for the parents. My girls’ favorite part was the glow in the dark scenes from various fairy tales, but as an adult, I truly enjoyed the whole thing.
If you have never been down deep in a cave with stalactites and stalagmites or you just have a little one who loves this kind of thing, the cave tour is a must. Large and small rooms and lots of history along the way. There’s always a possible bat sighting to keep it interesting. Word to the wise, the bathroom is upstairs, so, go before you head down the elevator.
Any parent with a Thomas the Train fan will know the appeal of this place, but a yard of old train cars to explore or picnic by and a ride on an old steam engine makes this stop totally worth it. They have dinner train rides and even themed tours as well (Polar Express and Easter Bunny to name a few). Pack a lunch and have a picnic beside the railcars to make a day of it all.
Worth putting on the list for those with little kids. The Creative Discovery Museum offers loads of hands-on activities that kids will love!
Melody is a graduate of Jacksonville University, married a Jax Beach resident, moved away for 12 years, then returned to the area in 2016. Together they have two girls ages 9 & 10.5. Melody works as owner/photographer of Melody Coarsey Photography, she loves yoga, family, traveling, dining with a view and the ocean. Melody blogs about her family’s adventures at Faking Perfection The Motherhood.