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8 Best Museums in Chattanooga to Visit – 🖼️🎸 Choose & Plan Your Chattanooga Museum Adventure

Whether you’re just visiting or planning to settle down in the area, you’ll undoubtedly want to visit some of the fun Chattanooga TN museums to explore local Civil War history, take a vintage train ride, or learn more about the history of jazz and blues at the heart of Chattanooga’s culture.

Here are the eight top museums in Chattanooga you’ll want to see for yourself!

Creative Discovery Museum – Award-Winning Chattanooga Children’s Museum

The Creative Discovery Museum is one of the best things to do in Chattanooga with kids. Designed primarily for toddlers through elementary school, the discovery center is packed with hands-on exhibits and educational programs.

Kids can create their own clay sculptures in the Visual Arts Gallery, learn sewing and woodworking in the Make It area, put on a show in the Back Alley Theatre, and step into the shoes of a paleontologist in the Excavation Station. The latest addition is the STEM Zone, still under construction but with many exhibits now open like the robotics table.

Discovery Museum Chattanooga Location & Hours

The Creative Discovery Museum is in Downtown Chattanooga blocks from the Tennessee River and the Tennessee Aquarium and adjacent to AT&T Field.

Creative Discovery Museum Tickets

The Creative Discovery Museum price depends on whether you are a member or qualify for one of many discounts. The current general admission cost is $13.95 which is discounted due to renovations of the first floor. Admission is always free for CDM members, local firefighters and police, and foster parents and children. Discounts are offered to Aquarium members ($11.95), seniors ($12.95), law enforcement outside the county ($9.95), military members ($9.95) and EBT recipients ($3).

You can buy timed entry tickets online here.

Creative Discovery Museum membership starts at $85 per year.

Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum – Chattanooga Train Museum with Vintage Railroad Rides

Ride restored vintage trains and step back in time at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum! TVRM offers train excursions from Chattanooga and Etowah stations through the Missionary Ridge Tunnel and, more recently, on the Hiwassee River Rail Adventures between Copperhill and Etowah.

Take a one-hour round-trip train ride or a half-day excursion to the Hiwassee Loop. A train ride includes admission to the train exhibits including scale trains and historic artifacts. Admission without a train ride is just $10 for adults and $6 for kids 2 to 12.

Be sure to take one of the special excursions like the famous Tennessee Valley Railroad Christmas train:

  • North Pole Limited is a popular annual event with cookies, hot chocolate, and the chance for kids to write letters to Santa who comes aboard.
  • Halloween Eerie Express with an Eerie Fun House, games, and bag of treats
  • Holiday Lights Train past light displays and Christmas trees with music and hot chocolate
  • Christmas Tea with savory and sweet treats and a train ride
  • Christmas Dinner Train with meals prepared and served in historic dining cars
  • Wine Train which includes a three-course dinner and carefully chosen wines
  • Homefront Tea Room with a full high tea and a ride on the Missionary Ridge Local

Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum Location & Hours

Hunter Museum of American Art – Iconic Chattanooga Art Museum

The Hunter art museum is one of the most visited museums in Chattanooga and the city’s most iconic museum building. The facility represents three stages of architectural design: the original 1904 classical revival mansion, a 1975 expansion in the brutalist style, and a recent 2005 addition that has become the new addition.

This Chattanooga art museum is home to the Southeast’s largest collection of American art. The collection covers many styles including American Impressionism, Hudson River School, regionalism, genre painting of the 19th century, and contemporary art. It also hosts regular traveling exhibitions.

Hunter Museum membership starts at $50 per year for individuals and grants free admission. General admission is $20, $18 for seniors (65+) and free for children (17 and under). You can reserve a time and buy tickets online.

Hunter Art Museum Location & Hours

The Hunter Museum is part of the Chattanooga Bluff View Art District on the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga.

International Towing & Recovery Museum – Chattanooga Museum with Antique Wreckers and Towing Equipment

The International Towing & Recovery Museum was founded over 20 years ago by the Friends of Towing, a group of towing professionals, who wanted to document the history of the industry, collect artifacts, and recognize individuals in the industry. Visitors get to interact with tow trucks and antique wreckers in a fun environment.

The museum has a number of historic exhibits including a restored 1950 Chevrolet wrecker and a 1937 “Tugboat Annie” Miller Motors tow truck.

Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors (55+), $8.50 for AAA and military members, and $6 for children 6-14.

International Towing Museum Location & Hours

Bessie Smith Cultural Center – Chattanooga Museum of African American Heritage

The Bessie Smith Cultural Center is dedicated to celebrating and preserving African American culture and history. The museum has an emphasis on Bessie Smith, the Empress of the Blues, with musical and educational programs and exhibits on the history of American jazz and blues. The center also hosts the annual Bessie Smith Heritage Festival. Be sure to check their events calendar!

Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for students and seniors, and free for members and children 5 and under. BSCC membership starts at $50 for individuals.

Bessie Smith Cultural Center Hours & Location

Battles for Chattanooga Museum – Immersive Chattanooga History Museum

The Battles for Chattanooga museum is located at the top of Lookout Mountain about five miles outside the city and explores the Civil War history of Chattanooga, TN. An immersive digital projection on a 3D diorama makes it easy to visualize and better understand the battles fought in the area. While hearing the story of the Battle Above the Clouds on Lookout Mountain and Sherman’s assault on Missionary Ridge before his March to the Sea, you’ll listen to the sounds of battle from theater seating. Browse Civil War weapons, clothing, and other artifacts on display in the museum.

Admission is $7.95 for adults and $4.95 for children 6-12. You can buy tickets online in advance.

Battles for Chattanooga Museum Hours & Location

The Battles for Chattanooga Museum is located at the entrance of Point Park on Lookout Mountain.

 

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Classic Arcade Pinball Museum – Fun Museum in Chattanooga for Kids & Adults

The Pinball Museum is one of the most fun things to do with kids in Chattanooga! Enjoy unlimited play of classic arcade games and pinball machines for just $20 for adults and $16 for kids (10 and under). You’ll get a wristband so you’re free to explore surrounding downtown businesses or enjoy a meal and return for more classic games throughout the day.

You can also buy a membership and save: $35 for a 30-day pass, $275 for an annual membership, and $350 for an annual pass plus a guest. The first 30 people to arrive within the first 30 minutes of opening on Tuesday to Friday enjoy reduced $10 admission!

The Classic Arcade Pinball Museum keeps an updated list of games it has available. Classics include KISS (1979), Joust (1983), Knockout (1975), Space Invaders (1980), Frogger (1981), and Street Fighter II (1991).

Classic Arcade Pinball Museum Hours & Location

Songbirds Guitar & Pop Culture Museum – Hundreds of Vintage & Celebrity Guitars Plus a Music Venue

The Songbirds Guitar & Pop Culture Museum one of the newest and most unique museums in Chattanooga! Originally opened in 2018, the museum was closed in 2020 due to the pandemic and reopened as a nonprofit in 2021. This Chattanooga museum relocated from the Southside to the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo in downtown.

The museum features over 550 rare, celebrity, and vintage guitars. You’ll see Loretta Lynn’s 1968 Gibson ES-175D and guitars owned by Duane Allman, Hank Garland, and more. The Player Experience lets you try amazing guitars for yourself for an additional fee.

Songbirds isn’t just a guitar museum: it’s also a live music venue with regular performances. You can grab a bite to eat, have a drink, and learn about the history of electric guitars.

Songbirds Guitar and Pop Culture Museum admission is $15 for adults and $12 for kids 5-12.

Songbirds Museum Location & Hours

Map of Museums in Chattanooga

With so many fun museums in Chattanooga, where will you start? If you’re looking for fun things to do in the Scenic City and thinking about making Chattanooga your new home, All Out Moving & Storage is here to help. Give us a call today for a free moving quote from our trusted movers who will ensure a smooth, worry-free experience.

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