If heading east of the Mississippi River for the holidays brings to mind the crooning voices of Alabama singing of a "Tender Tennessee Christmas," it may be time to update your playlist. A quick trip to this cozy city comes with all the Southern comforts you'd expect, but with lots of exciting festivities to make the season bright.

So if you find yourself itching for a change of scenery, Chattanooga will greet you with open arms and a cup of cocoa.

Lace Up

Located on the property of the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo Gardens, Ice on the Landing is an open-air ice skating rink that welcomes thousands of visitors every holiday season. It's open to rookies and experienced skaters alike every day through Jan. 21, complete with themed events and plenty of family-friendly fun.

Set Sail

Does it get more Southern than this? We think not. The Southern Belle Riverboat carries more than 100,000 passengers per year with daily sightseeing, lunch and dinner cruises and private charters, but everything gets the holiday treatment this time of year. Guests can choose to have breakfast with Santa, take an extended lunch break or partake in jolly caroling, all while enjoying views of the Tennessee River.

Take a Hike

The foothills of the Appalachian Mountains are calling your name. No matter the season, they're a sight to behold, and with views like Edwards Point and the Julia Falls Overlook on the Cumberland Trail, you won't regret taking a break from the gingerbread for these all-expertise treks.

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All Aboard

Hit the tracks, tinsel-style with this picturesque trip. The Tennessee Valley Railroad gives you your pick of a restored 1924 dining car (for the four-course holiday meal), a first-class observation train (for better views of the North Pole) and more festive fun than you can jingle a bell at.

A Merry Market

Live music, caroling, festivities and shopping — there's no better way to get a taste of a new place than by exploring the local vendor scene. More than 200 booths line the Chattanooga Holiday Market at this free fest offering a variety of handmade items, holiday decor and foods.


The fun doesn't leave with Santa's sleigh. Chattanooga is full of New Year's Eve celebrations for everybody. Hop back on the Southern Belle Riverboat or dance the night away at the Moxy Chattanooga hotel. If taking it slow is more your style, opt for New Year’s Eve Dinner on the Bluff, an intimate meal in a cozy 1920s colonial revival mansion overlooking the Tennessee River, or New Year's Eve in West Village, a free, family-friendly street festival with a "not-so-late ball drop" to make sure your whole crew is well-rested for the new year.

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Chattanooga Holiday Trail of Lights

Frosty festivals, merry music, seasonal spices and even Santa himself await among the millions of twinkling lights at the 12 stops on Chattanooga’s new Holiday Trail of Lights.

Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights
Through Dec. 31

Ruby Falls Christmas Underground, A Journey to the North Pole
Dec. 1-2, 6-9, 13-23

Tennessee Aquarium’s Holidays Under the Peaks
Through Dec. 31

Ice on the Landing at the Chattanooga Choo Choo
Through Jan. 21

Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum’s Holiday Train Excursions
Through Dec. 31

Twinkling Snowflakes along the Scenic Walnut Street Bridge
Through February

Chattanooga Riverboat Company’s Holiday Season of Cheer
Through Dec. 31

Holiday Lights at the Chattanooga Zoo
Dec. 7-8, 14-15, 21-22

Wonder Wall at High Point Climbing & Fitness Downtown
Through Dec. 31

Holiday Magic at the Chattanooga Choo Choo
Through Jan. 21

Christmas Experience on the Bluff in the Bluff View Art District
Through Jan. 2

Create Your Own Lights at the Creative Discovery Museum
Through Dec. 31

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Find more seasonal activities at ChattanoogaFun.com/Winter.