The fall season is one of the best times of year to visit Chattanooga. Offering fun activities for everyone from sightseeing to fall festivals, Chattanooga is a great place to be as temperatures begin to cool down. If you’re in town looking for things to do this season, we’ve put together a guide to all the best fall activities in Chattanooga so you don’t have to miss out on any of the fun.
Best Ways to See the Fall Colors
Once the leaves begin to change in the Chattanooga area, people come from all over to catch the city’s beautiful display of fall colors. If you are looking for a way to see the fall foliage, Chattanooga has it all from casual boat tours to adventurous hiking and hang gliding opportunities.
Hike to a Beautiful Overlook
With more than 50 scenic trails in the Chattanooga area, the city is nowhere short of great places to hike for spectacular views of the fall foliage. Here are a few of our favorite overlooks in the area.
- Lovers Leap at Rock City – If you’re looking for a more leisurely stroll to a beautiful overlook, Rock City’s Lovers Leap is a wonderful place to go for stunning fall colors and smooth walking paths.
- Sunset Rock – This is one of the more popular overlooks in the Chattanooga area, offering views from the western side of Lookout Mountain and the valley below. The hike to the Sunset Rock overlook has the option of starting from multiple different locations of varying lengths and difficulties, so be sure to keep this in mind before heading out for the day — especially if you’re planning to do this hike for sunset.
- Signal Point and Julia Falls Overlook – Take in the fall colors and views of the river gorge from the Signal Point Overlook area. Discover a breathtaking overlook that is only a short walk (approximately 100 yards) from the National Park Service parking lot. For those looking for a longer hike, you can start your hike to the Julia Falls Overlook from this area. The hike to the overlook is only about a mile out, and offers gorgeous mountain, waterfall, and river views.
- Snoopers Rock – Take in a different angle of the Tennessee River Gorge from within Prentice Cooper State Park at Snooper’s Rock. This is another overlook that can either be reached on a longer trek or shorter trek, depending on what you’re looking for. For those looking for a shorter hike, you can reach Snooper’s Rock after a quarter-mile walk from the parking lot.
- Cloudland Canyon Overlook – Head about 45 minutes outside of Chattanooga to Cloudland Canyon State Park for epic views of the canyon’s rim and fall foliage. Make your hike as long or short as you want, since there are multiple overlook spots you can reach on hikes throughout the park. Some of the best views of the park, however, can be reached from the main parking lot.
- Stringer’s Ridge – Catch gorgeous views of the fall leaves from within the city limits at Stringer’s Ridge. The park has several miles of wooded trails for both hikers and bikers, including a lovely overlook of Chattanooga about a mile from the Spears Avenue parking area.
Take a Cruise on the Riverboat
Hop on the Southern Belle Riverboat for a leisurely ride along the Tennessee River. This is a great way to mix fall sightseeing with a little history. The riverboat offers two types of cruises: the Sights Cruise and the Sunset Cruise. The sights cruise is a great daytime activity to catch views of Chattanooga with some live narration along the way. The sunset cruise offers live music and wine to its visitors as it floats down the Tennessee River.
Book a Room with a View
Staying in Chattanooga for the weekend this fall? Book a room on Lookout Mountain at RiverView Inn to see the fall colors in all their glory. Perched on the mountainside, this quaint hotel offers both river and mountain views from the hotel room balconies. If you’re wanting to catch an autumn sunrise, this is the ideal spot to stay.
Thinking about visiting Rock City and staying overnight in the Chattanooga area? The Chanticleer Inn Bed & Breakfast is another great place to stay atop Lookout Mountain — and it’s within walking distance of Rock City!
Hang Glide Over the Trees
See Chattanooga’s fall colors from the sky, and fly tandem above Lookout Valley from a hang glider. Experience the beauty of what it’s like to be a bird during Chattanooga’s most scenic times of the year.
Rock Climb for Beautiful Views
Chattanooga is a popular rock climbing destination, attracting people from all over the country each year. If you’re looking to climb outdoors, but you’re not yet ready to do it alone, High Point Climbing & Fitness offers an outdoor climbing guide service to get you outside and on the rocks.
Best Fall Festivals & Activities
Enjoy the beautiful weather fall has to offer at Chattanooga’s most-loved fall events. We’ve put together a few of our favorite outdoor activities that take place every fall.
Celebrate German culture at Rock City’s Rocktoberfest throughout October. Enjoy live German music, German food, specialty beer, costumed characters, and so much more. This joyous celebration is in honor of Rock City’s German heritage and the founder, Frieda Utermoehlen Carter. Reserve a ticket to the annual fall festival on any weekend throughout October.
Chattanooga Farmers Market
Enjoy the beautiful, crisp fall weather and head down to the Chattanooga Market on Sundays for fresh farm produce, live music, arts & crafts, and some of the city’s most delicious food trucks. You can find the Chattanooga Market every Sunday at First Horizon Pavilion. Looking for some spooky fun that is kid friendly? During the last Sunday in October, Chattanooga Market hosts the Haunted Market. Get in the Halloween spirit with the annual Trick or Treat costume parade. Kids and adults are welcome to dress up to join in on the fun!
Pick the perfect carving pumpkin this year with the whole family. There are several pumpkin patches outside of the city that offer endless pumpkin choices. Some pumpkin patches offer fall festival activities such as corn mazes, hay rides, and even fun games for the kids — like Mayfield Farm Park in Athens, Tennessee. For more pumpkin patches in the area, check out the pumpkin patch roundup.
Grateful Gobbler 5K
Taking place on Thanksgiving morning, the Grateful Gobbler 5K is an annual walk/run that starts at Coolidge Park. All of the proceeds from the event go towards the Maclellan Shelter for Families. This is an emergency homeless shelter located at the Community Kitchen in Chattanooga.
Best Spooky Activities to Get in the Halloween Spirit
Halloween lovers can celebrate the start of the spooky season with fun activities of all levels of fright. Chattanooga has a lot to offer, from mildly spooky experiences for the whole family to more thrilling experiences in some of the city’s most haunted places. Check out some of our favorite Halloween activities you can find every fall season in Chattanooga.
Chattanooga Ghost Tours
Get a little bit spooked while also getting a history lesson with Chattanooga Ghost Tours. Offering award-winning ghost tours and hunts, Chattanooga Ghost Tours will walk you through some of the city’s most haunting tales. Named one of the top ten ghost tours in the country by both TripAdvisor and USA Today, Chattanooga Ghost Tours is a must-do activity for anyone interested in the paranormal.
Tennessee Aquarium’s ODDtober
Take a walk through the Tennessee Aquarium during the month of October for a month-long celebration of strange creatures from around the world. Every year during ODDtober, the aquarium decorates for fall and highlights odd facts about some of their “scary” species that are not-so-scary after all. For a fun Halloween event at the aquarium, register for the AquaScarium — a family-friendly celebration with themed decorations, costume divers, candy, and more.
Creative Discovery Museum’s Drink and Discover: Witch’s Brew
Grab your ticket to the Creative Discovery Museum for an adult-only evening of Halloween-themed fun at the museum. Wear your costume while you explore the museum’s exhibits with a drink in hand. Guests can also enter a costume contest, create a witch wand, and even join in on a broom relay race. Admission includes a souvenir cup and 1 drink ticket.
Boo in the Zoo
Take the kids to a family-friendly Halloween celebration at the Chattanooga Zoo. The annual Boo in the Zoo offers trick-or-treat stations, scavenger hunts, costume costumes and more. This event only takes place for a few weekends in October, so be sure to book your tickets in advance.
Visit Rock City for Fall Colors & Festivals
Don’t miss the fall colors from the view at Rock City Gardens this autumn. Located on top of Lookout Mountain, Rock City offers legendary views, magical rock formations, and fun fall festivals — like Rocktober. Buy a ticket today for a quintessential Chattanooga experience.