Chattanooga is no stranger to world-class attractions. This seemingly small city has plenty to do for visitors, making it a great spot for a fun-filled day trip or weekend getaway from other cities in the Southeast. With everything from sweeping valley views to cuddly creatures and abstract art, some time spent in the Scenic City is just what the doctor ordered and is sure to leave your Instagram followers asking for more.
Rock City Gardens
A fixture in the community since the 1930s, Rock City has been gracing the grids of visitors and locals alike for a while now. A favorite photo is that of Lover’s Leap, which features a booming waterfall and panoramic views of the valley below. The attraction also boasts a scenic lookout where you can see seven states at once, and the Fairyland Caverns – which displays dioramas of classic fairy tales – is another one-of-a-kind experience.
Chattanooga Choo Choo
In the heart of the Southside district, the Chattanooga Choo Choo is always buzzing with activity. Although they are currently under renovation, guests can normally reserve a night’s stay in a restored sleeper car. But visitors not staying the night aren’t necessarily out of luck. This hub of entertainment features the Glenn Miller Gardens, complete with fountains, gazebos, and several train cars, some of which have been turned into a bar on wheels and an escape room experience. Also an Instagram favorite is the Chattanooga marquee sign located at the garden’s entrance.
Another beloved year-round attraction is Ruby Falls. Located on Lookout Mountain, this destination boasts the largest underground waterfall open to the public in the entire nation. The many one-of-a-kind cave formations make for a great photo, but the real crown jewel is the main falls, which is accentuated by dramatic and colorful uplighting. In addition to the happenings underground, the facility also has an observation tower where guests can get a 360-degree view of the valley and Cumberland Plateau.
Hunter Museum of American Art
If you ask Chattanoogans what the most recognizable building in the city is, the Hunter Museum is sure to make the list. Resting at the top of a bluff on the Tennessee River, this museum makes an impression with its striking, angular exterior. Not only is the building itself extremely photogenic, but all of the art inside will also be vying for a spot on your carousel. Just outside, locals love taking photos on the sloping bridge that connects the Hunter Museum and the neighboring Bluff View Arts District with downtown Chattanooga.
If you’re anything like us, there’s no such thing as too many animal photos. That’s why the Tennessee Aquarium deserves a spot on any visitors’ Instagram tour around the city. Two buildings – which are also iconic in their own right – house the River Journey exhibit and the Ocean Journey exhibit. Between the two exhibits, guests can expect to see everything from lemurs, butterflies, and penguins to alligators, jellyfish, and sharks.
One of Chattanooga’s oldest claims to fame is the Incline Railway, which, after more than a hundred years of operation, remains one of the steepest passenger railways in the world thanks to its 72.7% grade. The train cars themselves have a nostalgic nature about them with their vibrant red and yellow exterior, and once the car treks to the top of Lookout Mountain, there are plenty of breathtaking views to be had.
Walnut Street Bridge
Perhaps one of the most photographed spots in all of Chattanooga is the Walnut Street Bridge. This pedestrian-friendly bridge sits roughly half-a-mile long and connects downtown to the popular Northshore neighborhood. Best of all, the bridge’s trusses are painted a vibrant shade of blue that’s sure to make an impression.