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Most people wouldn’t guess that Chattanooga, Tennessee was the only city ever named “Best Town,” twice by Outside Magazine. That’s because Nashville gets all the press for its music scene. And while we’ve got nothing against Music City U.S.A., the ‘Nooga’s got it beat on all things outdoors. (That’s why we chose it for our next Adventure Fest.)
Chattanooga boasts adventures including the largest hang gliding school in the country, white-water rafting, zip lining, underwater lakes, and hiking trails with waterfalls.
But if you’re coming to Chattanooga with a family that isn’t quite ready for the class three and four rapids on the Ocoee Rivers, relax, you’re still covered. ‘Nooga is chock full of outdoor adventures that are always thrilling—and sometimes educational—for families of all ages.
Chattanooga Hang Gliding School
Photo: Thomas Wolff
We know, we promised family appropriate adventures. Soaring hundreds of feet in the air suspended by nothing but a triangle of polyester might sound a little intense, but hang on (pun intended).
Chattanooga boasts the largest hang gliding school in the country at Lookout Mountain Flight Park. They take kids as young as 4-years old on tandem flights. And if you’re looking for the full experience, you can take hang gliding lessons too.
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park
Head over to Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park to see the sites of two historic battles in the American Civil War: Battle of Chickamauga and the Chattanooga Campaign. The park is also rich in Cherokee history with the still-developing Moccasin Bend Park, a newer area of the park dedicated to preserving 12,000 years of human history. Ranger-guided tours are a great way to learn about Native American history while you enjoy the sights in Moccasin Bend, just across the river from downtown Chattanooga.
The Lost Sea
If you’re willing to go off the beaten path and take a drive outside of Chattanooga, you’ll be rewarded with what the Guinness Book of World Records named “America’s Largest Underground Lake.”
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This unique formation of water was used by the Cherokees and Confederate soldiers. Today you can explore it in a glass-bottomed boat, while kids—no matter their age—are stunned to silence. Tour guides on the boat will teach you about the human history of The Lost Sea, and stalactites, stalagmites, and anthodites lining the cave walls.
Glen Falls Trail
After the mind-blowing tour of The Lost Sea, your family will probably need a nice, easy walk to rave about all the amazing sights they just saw. The Glen Falls Trail, about 10 minutes from downtown Chattanooga is an easy out and back hike that’s only about two miles roundtrip. While on the trail, you will cross a creek, hike through a rock tunnel, and enjoy magnificent views of waterfalls and large pools.
Trail of Tears—The Passage
The Cherokee Nation has a deep rooted history in Chattanooga. The monument at Ross’s Landing Riverfront Park was designed by Cherokee artists and represents several aspects of Cherokee history. Water flows down the steps leading to Ross’s Landing to designate one of the starting points of the infamous “Trail of Tears.” It’s a great place for the family to wind down and learn of the city history from the stone monuments overlooking the Tennessee River.
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We think Chattanooga is the perfect vacation destination for both adventure-loving and relaxation-seeking families. Take a long weekend to explore ‘Nooga at some of our favorite places above, and swing by Adventure Fest Chattanooga to keep the fun going!