Take a train ride in Chattanooga, TN

The S. Chickamauga Creek to 5th Ave. railroad map | Screenshot from TN Comptroller’s Office

All aboard! 🚂 We’re going on a train journey today, so buckle in, get cozy, and imagine the rumbling “chugga chugga chugga chugga” of the tracks beneath you.

🧐 Chattanooga + the railroad

It’s no secret that Chattanooga has somewhat of a love affair with trains — from the hit song “Chattanooga Choo Choo” to all the tracks that weave through the city + the outskirts, it’s obvious we have some locomotive history.

During the late 1880s through the early 1900s, Chattanooga was an industrial + passenger railway hub. In fact, it was one of the major connectors to large cities in the South. Because of the strain this put on the city, the Southern Railway Station built a passenger terminal station in 1906. The 24-acre station now holds the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel, multiple restaurants, retail shops + experiences, Glen Miller Gardens, and much more, like the seasonal ice-skating rink. Even if the hustle and bustle of trains arriving and departing is no longer the draw, this area is still a social hub and popular tourist destination.

Want to dive into the history of the terminal station? Check this out.

📣 All aboard

All this train talk has got us wanting to buy a ticket at the nearest station and get away for a few hours. You too? Follow us.

Tennessee Valley Railroad

4119 Cromwell Rd.

This railroad is your one-stop-shop for whatever kind of train ride you desire. The railroad offers anywhere from 55 minute to 5 hour rides. We recommend these Chattanooga departures:

🚂 Missionary Ridge Train Trip

🗓️ All year, Thursday – Saturday

⏱️ 55 mins.

🎟️ Tickets, $13–$19 (Children under 2 are free)

  • Six miles round trip 
  • A local history + railroad operations tour guide
  • You’ll cross the Chickamauga Creek bridge + through a pre-Civil War tunnel
  • A demonstration of the turntable, which turns the locomotive around for the return trip
  • Tour the restoration facility

🚂 North Pole Limited

🗓️ Nov. 21–Dec. 27, various dates + times

⏱️ 60 mins.

🎟️ Tickets, $35

  • An imaginary journey to the North Pole 
  • Refreshments and storytelling along the way 
  • Write a personal letter to Santa 
  • View lighted displays from the window
  • Santa will greet the train at the “North Pole” and the car hosts will deliver the letters
  • Elves will deliver hot chocolate for your journey back

🚂 Christmas Special Dinner Train

🗓️ Nov. 20–Dec. 28, various dates at 7 p.m.

⏱️ 2 hours

🎟️ Tickets, $90+

  • Four-course fine dining experience on board a restored 1924 dining car (choose an entrée upon booking reservation)
  • Travels at a leisurely pace through portions of East Chattanooga and back to Grand Junction
  • Choose from vintage dining in the Dining Car (four to a table) or Pullman Car Clover Colony (two per table for a slight premium charge)
  • There is not a dress code for the dinner train, but passengers seem to enjoy dressing up

Bonus: The rides listed here are just what’s offered this season departing from Chattanooga. There are also departures from Etowah, and summer + fall rides too. See them all here.

The Lookout Mountain Incline Railway

3917 St Elmo Ave.

🚞 Incline Railway

🗓️ All year, Monday–Sunday from 9 a.m.-6:20 p.m.

⏱️ 15 mins each direction

🎟️ Tickets, $7–$15

  • One of the steepest passenger railways in the world
  • Known as “America’s Most Amazing Mile”
  • Climb through the natural beauty surrounding historic Lookout Mountain
  • It’s a 72.7% grade 
  • Enjoy the panoramic views from the observation tower at the top station