rosewood_fort_oglethorpe-discovery-museumHamilton County schools are about to wrap up the year and students will be on summer vacation. Lucky them! Chattanooga has a reputation as a family-friendly city, and for good reason. So many institutions in town are designed with children in mind and encourage making new discoveries and creativity. It’s easy to find things to do that let you spend time with your favorite young people sharing stories and memories and learning more about the interesting little people they’re becoming. There’s no shortage of adventures to have in Chattanooga, so we limited our list to four favorites:

The Creative Discovery Museum is an obvious choice, but it’s one of the primary reasons Chattanooga is such a fantastic city for families. There are a variety of hands-on exhibits that let children interact with the world around them, learn something new, and burn off some energy. From the water works on the main floor to the exciting activities in the tower (with views that impress all ages) the museum provides plenty of entertainment. They also host regular events and special programs that make repeat visits well worth it. If the grandkids get a kick out of the hands-on aspect, they might also enjoy an outting to The Fourth Floor at the Chattanooga Library, which has a 3D printer that let kids design and print small objects from special plastic.

The Tennessee Aquarium and the Chattanooga Zoo are two amazing resources for teaching children about nature, animals, and local ecosystems, but they aren’t the only options. Take the little ones to the Chattanooga Nature Center or on the Aquarium’s River Gorge Explorer cruise to experience the region’s incredible biodiversity up close and in context. You might learn something new yourself about the area’s history, and the youngsters will enjoy getting to explore and make their own discoveries.

The Dragon Dreams Museum is a fun, one-of-a-kind destination that is exactly what it sounds like— a museum entirely dedicated to dragons. It’s full of every kind of dragon art, kitsch, toy, household tool, or decorative piece you can imagine. Kids love it for the sheer variety of exciting mythic beasts, from Chinese dragons to their European counterparts. You’ll enjoy the variety and the novelty. Afterwards grab a milkshake at Chee Burger Chee Burger and compare notes on which dragons were the most exciting!

The Nightfall Concert Series occurs every Friday night all summer long, and it’s got something for everyone. Each week a different band plays from a diverse roster of national acts. There’s plenty of food options, slushies and lemonade for the kids, and beer for the adults. There’s plenty of seating, and room for the kids to run around and explore. Grab a kids meal at the nearby Subway or for older or more adventurous kids, get tacos or quesadillas from Mexiville or Taco Jaliso, both of which are nearby. Of course, kids always love pizza, and Community Pie is another great dinner option right by the park. You can talk, enjoy the music, and spend some real quality time together— then rinse and repeat the following week!