While the temperature doesn’t detract from the natural beauty, winter in Chattanooga can be cool and damp. If you have weekend house guests heading in between now and the month of March, you’ll want some indoor entertainment. Here’s where to go, depending on the age of your crew.
For Adult Friends:
The Coker Museum
Located in a 13,000-square-foot building in Chattanooga’s Southside, inside Honest Charley Speed Shop, The Coker Museum is the personal collection of Chattanooga’s Corky Coker. Some fully restored, others in their original form, the collection includes more than 150 vintage cars, trucks, motorcycles, and buses, plus a few airplanes. At The Coker Museum, the oldest auto in the room dates back 115 years. Framed by vintage signs and gas pumps and a peek into the four-bay mechanic shop, here are a few favorites to watch out for: the 1911 Marmon Wasp, 1914 American Underslung, and 1969 Camaro.
The Comedy Catch
On deck for the second half of the month is Jason Cheny (Feb. 17-19), a regular at The Laugh Factory in Los Angeles and The Comedy Cellar in New York. Cheny won The World Series of Comedy in Las Vegas and is best known for the digs he takes at what he’s observed as someone “born and raised in Taiwan, re-raised in America.” Katie K (Feb. 24-25) is best known for her work on the weekly podcast Mostly True Opinions. Both shows are rated for ages 18+. In March, The Comedy Catch stage belongs to Kristin Lindner, columnist Steve Hofstetter, Landry, Jen Kober, Ron Feingold, and SEC Sports fanatic FunnyMaine.
Chattanooga Pinball Museum
For friends with nostalgia for pinball, check out the Hercules. Prototyped by Bally Manufacturing Corporation in the 1970s, this jumbo machine, originally called Bigfoot, was so powerful that its vibrations nearly ruined its rise to fame. Enter Atari, who carried the idea into the future with a model that measured 8 feet long and 7 feet tall. Not many were made, and today a Hercules lives on at the Classic Arcade Pinball Museum downtown. For $20, you get a wristband that allows you all-day “come and go” access to classic arcade games like Galaga, Frogger, Street Fighter, Centipede, and Joust, plus 40 vintage pinball machines.
Yellow Racket Records
Located in a brick building on East Main Street, this new and “pre-loved” vinyl shop has been open in Chattanooga since August 2020. And the staff at Yellow Racket Records know their stuff. Last year’s Best of 2022 staff recommendations included Be Well’s “Hello Sun,” Matt Bohannon’s “Please Hold for No One,” Dashboard Confessional’s “All the Truth That I Can Tell,” and Morgan Wade’s double vinyl LP “Reckless.”
For Guests with Kids:
Creative Discovery Museum
Located in the heart of downtown just steps away from the Tennessee Aquarium, Creative Discovery Museum is Chattanooga’s hands-on museum for kids. Exhibits include a STEM Zone with robotics and energy galleries, a Make It station, a water exhibit that invites guests to get their hands wet investigating a lock and dam, and a three-story climbing structure.
A locally owned comic book store founded in 2014, this shop specializes in new and used comics, vintage action figures, posters, trading cards, retro video games, and tabletop games. Located on Hixson Pike just minutes from the Northshore, Infinity Flux is home to hundreds of comic books organized by character: GhostRider, Batman, X-Men, Wolverine, Swamp Thing, The New Mutants, Avatar, Star Wars, Transformers, and more. You’ll also find towers of FunkoPop!, Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, and perhaps a He-Man or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle straight from the 1980s.
High Point Climbing and Fitness
For kids with an affinity for heights, the Kid Zone at High Point Climbing offers colorful, themed indoor rock climbing with a bouldering wall and auto belays. With two Chattanooga locations, Downtown and Riverside, High Point-themed challenges for kids include a giant spider web, letters from the alphabet, a brick building, and a long giraffe’s neck. At the downtown location, the room is anchored at its center with a collection of black skyscrapers with bright yellow windows. Here, kids set their sights on stepping from building to building, then taking a leap off the top.
Board & Brush Creative Studio
Kids love to craft, but parents know that when it comes to paint, it’s preferable to make a mess on someone else’s watch. Enter Board & Brush, a DIY workshop that will pre-cut the wood and stencils for your kids’ project before you even walk in the door. Located in Ooltewah, about 25 minutes east of downtown Chattanooga, the shop’s instructions for registration are simple: Find a Pick Your Project Workshop on the website and indicate which craft the kids would like to complete. They can stain and stencil a custom piece of art, a trivet, a flower box, a tic tac toe board, or a sign for your home. The day of the activity, the station will be ready with materials and an instructor to walk them through the process. And since they’re using stencils, the chance they’ll get upset with their own work is slim-to-none.
For an Older Crowd:
Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum
The only regularly scheduled, full-size train rides in Tennessee, Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum preserves and displays railroad artifacts and takes passenger trains along historic routes in the area. New to 2023, the museum combines the luxury of teatime with the nostalgia of the train. The Homefront Tea Room experience is a 75-minute high tea and a 65-minute ride on the Missionary Ridge Local. The train ride begins at Grand Junction Station, crosses four bridges, and travels through the pre-Civil War Missionary Ridge Tunnel. The tour includes a turntable demonstration and a brief stop inside a train restoration shop.
Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery.
In the 1860s, Chattanooga made a move to become one of North America’s “hubs” for distilling. It was home to more than 30 distilleries before Prohibition brought whiskey production to a halt in 1909. In 2015, Chattanooga Whiskey released “100,” the first whiskey made in town in 100 years. Today you can stop by the Experimental Distillery for a tasting and a guided tour of the more than 100 barrels aging in the cellar.
Hunter Museum of American Art
Located on the south end of the pedestrian-friendly Walnut Street Bridge, the Hunter Museum of American Art’s permanent collection includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, decorative arts, mixed media, and new media that represent the 1700s to the present day. You’ll find work by photographer Ansel Adams, landscape artist Charles Burchfield, Harlem Renaissance painter Joseph Delaney, collagist/printmaker Edith Bry, painter Mary Cassatt, and more. A temporary exhibition until May 1, Beauford Delaney’s Metamorphosis into Freedom explores the modern painter’s influence from his homes in New York, Knoxville, and Paris as well as his friendship with writer James Baldwin.
Chattanooga Symphony & Opera
Taking a temporary respite from its home at the Tivoli Theatre due to renovations, this winter the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera will perform at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Auditorium. On February 23, pianist Ning An will perform Quinn Mason’s Toast of the Town Overture, Avner Dorman’s After Brahms, and Johannes Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2. Before the concert, stop by the backstage red door entrance (at the corner of Oak and Lindsay Streets) for a Spotlight Talk discussion on topics related to the evening’s performance. On March 5, Ismael Sandoval will conduct Sense of Scale, written by Chattanooga’s Ben Van Winkle, as well as Lars-Erik Larsson’s Pastoral Suite, Op. 19 and Jean Sibelius’ Palléas et Mélisande, a story of “forbidden love.” On March 18, Metropolitan Opera’s Pierre Vallet will conduct pieces from Berlioz, Bizet, and Rodgers and Hammerstein.