Located at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, along the beautiful Tennessee River, Chattanooga is one of America's most spectacular cities. The so-called "Scenic City" offers stunning natural landscapes, including Ruby Falls, the largest underground waterfall in the US, and Rock City, a mountaintop vista dotted with massive, ancient rock formations and over 400 native plant species.
With four distinct seasons, each bringing a unique charm, there's always something going on in Scenic City. From dousing the summer heat with a paddle down the Tennessee River Gorge to getting festive at winter holiday celebrations, these are the best times to visit Chattanoooga.
High season: June to August
Best time to visit for outdoor adventures and baseball
Summer is Chattanooga’s peak tourism season, so expect higher hotel prices as well as higher temps: Tennessee tends to be hot and humid during the summer, with temps reaching into above 90°F (32°C). One of the best ways to embrace the summer in Chattanooga is to paddle the Tennessee River Gorge in a canoe or kayak. At Lula Lake Land Trust, located on Lookout Mountain, you can set off on a hike where you’ll encounter refreshing and scenic waterfalls. Summer is also prime baseball season – the city’s beloved Chattanooga Lookouts have been playing ball since 1885!
Shoulder season: September to November
Best time for stunning fall foliage and great leaf peeping
The best time to visit Chattanooga is in the fall, from September to November, when the summer crowds clear, cooler temperatures make it easier to enjoy the great outdoors, and when the changing fall foliage creates a stunning, natural backdrop. Fall is the top time to explore Chattanooga's natural wonders: Set off on the 4100ft-long walking trail that leads up Lookout Mountain, the mountain ridge located along the southeastern Tennessee state line, where fantastic views of the entire city and its surrounding area dressed in its autumnal best await. Stroll the Tennessee Riverpark, which spans 150 acres along the Tennessee River, or cross the longest pedestrian bridge in the world, the Walnut Street Bridge, which connects the southern and northern sides of the city. Fall is also a prime time to shop the Chattanooga Market, an open-air pavilion where over 300 vendors sell fruits and veggies of the harvest, and locally made arts and crafts.
Low season: December to May
Best for seasonal, outdoor events and museum visits
The winter weather calls for chilly temperatures and rain in Chattanooga, though the temps rarely reach below zero and the city averages a mere two inches of snow per year. Annual holiday events, such as the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum's North Pole Limited and the Holiday Trail Of Lights, when Chattanooga drapes its boats, bridges, cliffs and more in millions of twinkling lights, celebrate the spirit of the season. Warm up with locally-distilled whiskey at the Chattanooga Whiskey Co., a micro-distillery and tasting room.
Spring is another attractive season, with temperatures becoming more moderate and wildflowers bursting into bloom. Explore five miles of walking and hiking trails nestled along both sides of the South Chickamauga Creek at the Audubon Acres Nature Sanctuary, one of the best places to find colorful wildflowers and song birds, or explore both 10,000 acres of preserved and uninhabited landscape and Civil War-era history at the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park.
January in Chattanooga can be brisk. Low temperatures are around 30°F (1°C) with highs barely reaching the 55°F (12°C).
Key events: Ice on the Landing (Gardens at the Chattanooga Choo Choo).
February in Chattanooga is winter’s last hurrah. The weather tends to be rainy, with an average high temperature of 51°F (11°C).
Key events: Romance at Ruby Falls.
During March, average daily temperatures in Chattanooga can range from 59°F to 68°F (15°C to 20°C), and you should expect cloudy skies. That doesn’t stop the St. Patrick’s Day fun, especially at Rock City’s Shamrock City, an event that highlights Irish food served with specialty beer from Chattanooga Brewing Company. There are also Irish dancing performances and other family-friendly entertainment.
Key events: Rock City’s Shamrock City.
Spring arrives, bringing warmer weather, and the launch of the 4 Bridges Art Festival (4BAF) and the Chattanooga Market, the region’s best artists’ and farmers’ market, hosted each Sunday, April through to December, from 11am to 4pm in downtown Chattanooga.
Key events: 4 Bridges Arts Festival, launch of Chattanooga Market (April–December).
May ushers in summer, minus the upcoming swelter. It’s one of the best times of year to enjoy outdoor sports and water activities.
Key events: Chattanooga Beer Fest, JFest, Ironman 70.3.
Summer is in full swing in June in Chattanooga, with festivals and free concerts galore, including the Nightfall Concert Series, a free live music concert series that attracts 2500 people every Friday, from June through August, and features international, national and regional talent.
Key events: Riverbend Festival, Riverfront Nights (June–August), Nightfall Concert Series (June–August).
July is the hottest month for Chattanooga, with an average high temperature of 89°F (32°C).
Key events: Independence Day: Riverfront Nights, Nightfall Concert Series.
August is one of Chattanooga’s sunnier months, but temps can also be sweltering.
Key events: Chattanooga Bluegrass, Riverfront Nights, Nightfall Concert Series.
September kicks off autumn in Chattanooga, when the crowds clear and the temps dip. The Moon River Music Festival, celebrating music, food and local traditions, brings people from all over the world to the Riverfront of Chattanooga.
Key events: Moon River Music Festival, Founder’s Day, Chattanooga Pride.
October is peak leaf peeping season. Fall colors and mild temps make this one of the best times of the year to visit Chattanooga. Chattanooga’s Oktoberfest is the oldest and largest celebration in the city and features 99 local and seasonal craft brews.
Key events: Tennessee Whiskey Festival, Dread Hollow: Extreme Haunt and Escape Rooms, 3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival, Oktoberfest.
Moderate temps, fewer tourists and lingering fall colors make November an excellent time of year to visit Chattanooga.
Key events: Hike Bike Brew: Beer Festival at Lula Lake, Head of the Hooch regatta, Erlanger Chattanooga Marathon Weekend,
Chattanooga shines bright in December thanks to holiday lights and heartwarming seasonal events.
Key events: North Pole Limited Christmas train, Chattanooga Zoo Holiday Lights, Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights, Ruby Falls’ Christmas Underground.
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