This Tennessee City Is Naturally Entertaining
A thriving city along the Tennessee River, Chattanooga, TN, overflows with a variety of attractions like the Tennessee Aquarium, arts and cultural interests and sporting events like Chattanooga Lookouts games. While these are great for families, parents sometimes want to keep kids entertained in more budget-friendly ways. Chattanooga provides those as well, with a number of free activities and entertainment suited for all ages.
Go Outside and Play
Located on Chattanooga’s North Shore, Coolidge Park (150 River St., Chattanooga, TN) welcomes visitors to spend the day outdoors. Kids will love splashing around in the interactive water fountain or throwing a Frisbee on the grassy field. Take a walk across the river on the Walnut Street Bridge, or share a picnic lunch. Or, maybe just relax and take in the view. With so much to choose from, every visit to Coolidge Park can be a brand-new experience.
Hit the Trails
Spanning the 10-mile distance between Chickamauga Dam and downtown Chattanooga along the Tennessee River, the Tennessee Riverpark (4301 Amnicola Highway, Chattanooga, TN) features a paved, lighted trail for bikers and walkers. Along the route, guests can relax in one of the many green spaces, the kids can play on the playground and families can have a picnic. In addition, visitors can enjoy the many pieces of public art displayed. Water fountains and restrooms are available at seven locations in the park.
Have an Artful Experience
At Montague Park's Sculpture Fields (1800 Polk St., Chattanooga, TN), take time to see the 32 sculptures placed throughout the 33-acre property. Made using various metals, these works by numerous artists provide a wonderful opportunity to enjoy beautiful art and to expose children to the creations of skilled artisans. A sprawling path meanders through the park, taking visitors by all of the sculptural installations. Open from dawn to dusk each day, the park provides free parking and restroom facilities.
Take a Hike
Atop Signal Mountain, Signal Point (116 Signal Point Road, Signal Mountain, TN) served as a lookout point for Union troops reporting the movements of Confederate troops in 1863. Today, visitors come to enjoy the views, see the waterfalls and take in the fresh air. Hikers can follow the 13-mile trail along the mountainside, or expand their journey to include the Cumberland Trail, which traverses the Cumberland Plateau. Keep the kids engaged by searching for geocaches along the trail, or by completing a scavenger hunt for different elements of nature, such as types of birds and flowers. Some areas of the trail are strenuous and may be difficult for small children.
Listen to the Music
Throughout most of the year, venues around Chattanooga host free, live music series where families can come, relax and just spend time with one another. The Nightfall Concert Series runs every Friday night from May through August in Miller Plaza (850 Market St., Chattanooga, TN). And each Saturday night from mid-July to mid-September, the Riverfront Nights Music Series (100 Riverfront Parkway, Chattanooga, TN ) invites everyone to come hear live performers. There are several others as well, so check out the Chattanooga Fun website for times, days and locations.
Making Plans to Visit
For most of the year, enjoying Chattanooga’s outdoor entertainment is a breeze. Everything is blooming in the spring, green and gorgeous in the summer and surrounded by colorful foliage in the fall. It can get hot during the summer, but usually not too unpleasant. Chattanooga winters can be cold with periods of snow. So, to comfortably take advantage of the city's outdoor recreation, plan accordingly and dress the family appropriately.
Karon Warren has covered travel for nearly 20 years with numerous print and online publications. Her byline has appeared in USA Today, USA Today’s 10 Best, WorkingMother.com, FamilyVacationCritic.com. and many others. She is a member of both the Society of American Travel Writers and the American Society of Journalists and Authors. In addition to her freelance work for other clients, she also writes for her own travel site, ThisGirlTravels.com