For a day filled with food, fresh air, and family fun, few places can offer more than Chattanooga’s beautiful and diverse Riverwalk. Stretching about 13 miles along the southern banks of the Tennessee River, the paved path lets you immerse yourself in nature, culture, and cuisine all in one family-friendly adventure. With a variety of restaurants and activities dotted along its length, you can spend a fabulous day exploring the Riverwalk no matter the season of your visit.
Activities and Attractions
Visitors can rent bikes from one of the Chattanooga bikeshare program’s several convenient docking stations to ride alongside the river. The Riverwalk also has two boat ramps for launching onto the Tennessee River. Bring your own watercraft or rent them from L2 Outside near the Tennessee Aquarium.
It’s here at the aquarium in downtown that many people choose to begin their Riverwalk adventure. From it’s location on Broad Street, you can make a pitstop to splash around in the fountain at Ross’s Landing Park before heading uphill toward the Bluff View Art District and the main part of the Riverwalk.
Don’t miss the historic Walnut Street Bridge that spans the Tennessee River and connects downtown to the funky Northshore neighborhood. It’s one of the world’s longest pedestrian bridges and its eye-catching blue trusses make for great photo opportunities. You’ll emerge from the bridge amidst the lively goings-on at Coolidge Park on the riverfront. (There are plenty of pay-to-park lots at Coolidge, so you can use it as your Riverwalk home base if you choose.)
Back on the southern bank, you can cross the modern glass bridge or switchback your way up the zig-zag sidewalk to the front steps of the Hunter Museum of American Art. If you don’t have time for a full tour of the museum, you can satisfy yourself by ooh-ing and ahh-ing over its outdoor artwork or by taking a stroll through the Bluff View Sculpture Garden.
Continuing on the Riverwalk beyond the art district, you’ll pass through the historic Battery Place neighborhood, lined with beautiful old trees and waterfront homes, before dropping down to the riverside. Because of the Riverwalk’s many access points, including several parking lots along Amnicola Highway, you can make your time on the Riverwalk as long or short as you want. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can follow its entire length to the terminus at the Chickamauga Dam. Along the way, you’ll pass the Fishing Park and the Amnicola Marsh, and chances are you’ll encounter a variety of birds and other wildlife along the way.
Food and Drinks
A latte from Rembrandt’s Coffee House is a great way to get in gear for your grand day on the Riverwalk. The quaint Euro-style coffee shop is at the heart of the art district, which is also home to Tony’s Pasta Shop and Trattoria, where you can indulge in some authentic Italian cuisine. While you’re there, you’re likely to follow your nose into the Bluff View Bakery for a loaf (or two!) of freshly made artisan bread. After winding your way north along the Riverwalk for about a mile, you’ll encounter the famed Boathouse Rotisserie and Raw Bar, Chattanooga’s iconic riverfront seafood restaurant. If you head South, check out Scottie's on the River for great food and drinks with a spectacular riverfront view.
If instead you wander over to Northshore, you’ll find beer at Brewhaus, cocktails at Beast and Barrel Gastro Smokehouse, ice cream at Clumpies Ice Cream Co., and options for many other unique dining experiences.
Another of the Riverwalk’s shining offerings is the array of amenities found along its many miles. It’s paved surface makes it accessible for anyone, old or young, while its great length makes challenges available for those who seek them. Seven handicap-accessible restrooms are along the path and they’re all equipped with water fountains and flush-toilets. The entire path is lighted and patrolled by security 24 hours a day. Every half-mile is marked, so it’s easy to know where you are and how far you’ve come. You’ll also find picnic tables, shelters, playgrounds and no fewer than six fishing piers, three of which are handicap accessible. If the natural scenery and landscaping isn’t enough, you can admire the sculptures and public artwork that have recently been installed at Blue Goose Hollow along the Riverwalk.
No matter what time of year you choose to visit the Scenic City, Chattanooga’s Riverwalk park is here to guide you on the perfect walking or biking tour of the many attractions that make the city great. Whether you choose a quick picnic by the river or a full-length tour of the path’s abundant appeals, the Riverwalk is an unbeatable way to explore the ins and outs of Chattanooga.