There may be flannel sheets on my bed, heavy coats in my hall closet, and my son may want to change the hat he is wearing three times a day, but spring break is just around the corner. Before we all know it, the flip-flops will be coming out of hiding and our kids will have spring break.

I would love to say we will be beach bound for the break, but the budget is just not there for this year. So, I thought I would share one of my favorite within-driving-distance getaways with all of you. We spent part of fall break there this fall and we have been in the summer as well. We just love Chattanooga, and I will tell you why!

First, it is so close. We normally wake around the normal school day time, load up and hit the road. We can be in Chattanooga by lunch. We always have lunch at Cheeburger Cheeburger downtown (yummiest burgers and shakes around).

The drive is not long enough for the kids to get to cranky and grumpy. We normally pack a coloring book or two, and an audiobook to entertain the kiddos.

Second, there are a lot of options for families. There are tons of outdoor adventures you can do from Rock City to beautiful spots to hike and explore. The Tennessee Aquarium is fun and you can spend hours exploring all the fish. Our kids love the Ocean Building, and honestly would rather play in the fountains out front than go to the River Building.

The Creative Discovery Museum is my kids’ favorite place to visit. I agree, especially if you have younger children. There are tons of hands-on exhibits for the kids to explore. It is more a playground than a museum, in the sense that you can play and touch almost everything in and out of the building. The first visit we spent only a few hours and regretted it. I say allow as much of the day as you can.

Coolidge Park has an amazing carousel to ride for a small fee. It also has great places to bring a meal and spread out a blanket to enjoy. It is on the river and you can watch the rowers practice or fishing boats go by. We found a neat little instrument part that had all these drums and bells to play on our last visit. We all had fun making a joyful noise. Make sure to look for the blue ox for a fun picture and, if it is warm, bring a change of clothes — the fountains and stone animals are a great place to play and cool off. My son talks about them a year later.

The Chattanooga Zoo is smaller than Nashville’s, but it does have some cool animals. We also love that it is small enough to have fun, but not so large my daughter can’t walk it before she is exhausted. The Zoo Choo train ride is also a huge hit with my train-loving son. Normally, we can find a coupon on the tourism website for Chattanooga.

On our last trip, we drove a little outside downtown Chattanooga and rode a train at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. We took the 45-minute ride and really had fun. You get to get off the train and see where they restore the trains and how they turn the engine for the return trip to the station. I think I enjoyed it as much as the kids.

One of our last favorite spots to visit is High Point Climbing Gym. It is located downtown and has an amazing outdoor rock climbing wall that overlooks the downtown streets. It was a little scary for me to climb over a road, but my husband went to the top and loved it. They have opened a special kids climbing area, but we have not yet seen that. They are super nice and helpful, and it is a great workout to tire everyone out for the ride home.

Afterward, I suggest crossing the street and getting amazing calzones and pizzas at Lupi’s Pizza Pies. The food is amazing!

Third, I love how accessible everything is for walking. Our first visit we stayed downtown and never used our car after we went to the zoo. We used a stroller and walked the sidewalks. Even when we went to eat, they would put our stroller to the side of the hostesses stand and seat us. It was fun and much less stressful to not have to load the kids into car seats to go everywhere. The second trip we stayed in Hixson right outside of downtown and then just parked in a public lot and walked downtown.

We have great memories of both of our trips to Chattanooga and plan to go back sometime soon. It is a real treasure to have so close to home. One tip to remember is to visit the tourism website before you go and get some coupons. They change what they offer, but we have gotten ticket discounts, hotel discounts and food discounts before. Just print the ones you like and have some fun!

Written by: Rachel Zook
Published on: March 8, 2016

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