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Free Things To Do in Chattanooga

Looking for free things to do? Here's our ranking of the best free activities in Chattanooga. Popular attractions include Bluff View Art Districtand Chattanooga Choo Choo.
  • #3
    View all Photos
    #3 in Chattanooga
    0.7 miles to city center
    Free, Cafes, Parks and Gardens, Neighborhood/Area, Recreation, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    0.7 miles to city center
    Free, Cafes, Parks and Gardens, Neighborhood/Area, Recreation, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Those who find themselves beat after traversing the city's many natural attractions should consider taking a stroll through the charming Bluff View Art District. Situated atop a bluff overlooking the Tennessee River and downtown Chattanooga, this district is barely a neighborhood: it stretches across just 1½ blocks. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in character. Lush vines hug buildings, public works of art are carefully strewn along the waterfront and some of Chattanooga's most popular eateries, including Rembrandt's Coffee House and Tony's Pasta Shop & Trattoria, call this area home.

    The small district also boasts three art institutions: The Houston Museum of Decorative Arts, The River Gallery and the Hunter Museum of American Art. The Houston Museum of Decorative Arts features a collection of Victorian art glass and antiques, while the River Gallery focuses on visual art, showcasing many different mediums from paintings to ceramics from local to national artists. The River Gallery also has a stunning sculpture garden, which is currently listed in the Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Gardens. The Hunter Museum of American Art is the biggest of the family, featuring everything from paintings to sculpture to photography in its permanent collection. The collection includes works by photographer Ansel Adams, Black sculptor Elizabeth Catlett and Andy Warhol.

    Those who find themselves beat after traversing the city's many natural attractions should consider taking a stroll through the charming Bluff View Art District. Situated atop a bluff overlooking the Tennessee River and downtown Chattanooga, this district is barely a neighborhood: it stretches across just 1½ blocks. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in character. Lush vines hug buildings, public works of art are carefully strewn along the waterfront and some of Chattanooga's most popular eateries, including Rembrandt's Coffee House and Tony's Pasta Shop & Trattoria, call this area home.

    The small district also boasts three art institutions: The Houston Museum of Decorative Arts, The River Gallery and the Hunter Museum of American Art. The Houston Museum of Decorative Arts features a collection of Victorian art glass and antiques, while the River Gallery focuses on visual art, showcasing many different mediums from paintings to ceramics from local to national artists. The River Gallery also has a stunning sculpture garden, which is currently listed in the Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Gardens. The Hunter Museum of American Art is the biggest of the family, featuring everything from paintings to sculpture to photography in its permanent collection. The collection includes works by photographer Ansel Adams, Black sculptor Elizabeth Catlett and Andy Warhol.

  • #4
    View all Photos
    #4 in Chattanooga
    0.6 miles to city center
    Free, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    0.6 miles to city center
    Free, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    After hearing this building's name and seeing its architecture, you may be wondering whether you're visiting a train station or a hotel. Well, it's both. This building was originally a hotel before the Southern Railway acquired it in 1905. Four years later, it opened as Terminal Station and eventually became a major hub, transporting more than 50 passenger trains a day. From the time it opened to its closure in 1970, all trains traveling south passed through Chattanooga. Although well-known in the railroad industry, the Chattanooga Choo Choo didn't became a household name until the Glenn Miller Orchestra created a song of the same name, which was featured in the 1941 movie "Sun Valley Serenade."

    By 1973, the train station was turned back into a hotel thanks to the efforts of four local businessmen who were fans of the song and wanted to spare the building from demolition. Today, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is among the Historic Hotels of America. Some of the original station tracks still run through the property, and sleeper cars have been restored and converted into hotel accommodations. Visitors not staying at the hotel can marvel at the antique train and ornate hotel lobby. You can also peruse the surrounding entertainment complex, which boasts shops and gardens.

    After hearing this building's name and seeing its architecture, you may be wondering whether you're visiting a train station or a hotel. Well, it's both. This building was originally a hotel before the Southern Railway acquired it in 1905. Four years later, it opened as Terminal Station and eventually became a major hub, transporting more than 50 passenger trains a day. From the time it opened to its closure in 1970, all trains traveling south passed through Chattanooga. Although well-known in the railroad industry, the Chattanooga Choo Choo didn't became a household name until the Glenn Miller Orchestra created a song of the same name, which was featured in the 1941 movie "Sun Valley Serenade."

    By 1973, the train station was turned back into a hotel thanks to the efforts of four local businessmen who were fans of the song and wanted to spare the building from demolition. Today, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is among the Historic Hotels of America. Some of the original station tracks still run through the property, and sleeper cars have been restored and converted into hotel accommodations. Visitors not staying at the hotel can marvel at the antique train and ornate hotel lobby. You can also peruse the surrounding entertainment complex, which boasts shops and gardens.

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