If you’re looking for a true family-friendly destination that will please kids of all ages, look no further than Rock City Gardens. Located on Lookout Mountain (near Chattanooga, Tennessee) they’ve been serving family fun since the 1930’s. Our recent Rock City adventure included all three of our kids – ages seven, four and infant – and the whole family had a blast. Here’s your must-do guide to Rock City Gardens With Kids, with helpful tips to make it a grand memory for everyone.
For us, Rock City Gardens is an easy choice to plan a family vacation around. I love that’s only a few hours north of Atlanta and about fifteen minutes from downtown Chattanooga. Lookout Mountain is also home to the Incline Railway and Ruby Falls. The RiverView Inn, which is next to all of the Lookout Mountain attractions, offers a comfortable retreat after a long day of exploring. I recommend a whole weekend to explore all of the things to do!
Tips For Exploring Rock City Gardens With Kids
Accomplishing less screen time for our older kids and connecting as a family, is always our big goal when we’re traveling. When you step into Rock City Gardens for the first time, you experience a bit of magic. The combination of beautiful scenery and quirky little sights, like looking for Rock City gnomes, always impresses the kids.
While our first visit to Rock City was as a couple, we knew we’d have to bring our kids eventually. It’s such a great multi-generational attraction. There’s something extra special about seeing it through a child’s perspective though – they think it’s simply magical.
What To Bring For A Full Day At Rock City Gardens With Kids
It takes us a few hours to explore Rock City Gardens when they don’t have a special event happening. However, if you’re planning to attend an event weekend, block out extra time. Each family can go at their own pace.
Some families quickly walk through the gardens, but we prefer to stop for fun photo opportunities (check out my article about the best Rock City Gardens Instagram Photo Locations) and grab a bite to eat at the top of the mountain.
What To Pack For A Rock City Gardens Family Visit:
- Wear comfortable shoes since you’ll be doing a lot of walking
- Dress in layers since it can be cold at the top of the mountain
- Bring a baby carrier for an infant – it’s much easier than pushing a stroller through the gardens
- Binoculars – totally optional but so much fun for designated bird watching areas
- Camera Smart Phone
- Budget extra spending money for souvenirs
Strollers are allowed in Rock City Gardens, but the easiest way to explore as a family is to bring a carrier for infants and toddlers. You can stick together as a family, and not have to veer off the main path to accommodate a stroller. If you look at the park map, you can see cut off trails to bypass areas that are not as accessible.
Kids Educational Learning Opportunities At Rock City Gardens
If you homeschool or you’re looking for an educational family vacation, Rock City Gardens is a great spot. You can easily turn it into an educational experience for kids of all ages. From local history to art appreciation, there are some great learning opportunities. You can turn any virtual learning day into a fun field trip!
My Favorite Homeschooling Lessons At Rock City Gardens
- Rock City Raptors: Offered seasonally, this show and animal encounter experience allows kids to learn about birds of prey and conservation efforts.
- Art In The Gardens: Scattered throughout the park, kids can create their own “scavenger hunt” to find all of the art installations. Study the aesthetics and style of each piece.
- History of Rock City Gardens: Study the local southern history of Rock City Gardens that dates back to the Great Depression.
- Botany Lessons: Teens can use the gardens as an opportunity to learn about plants – including their structures and properties. Rock City Garden plant types are labeled as well as their classification.
Kid-Friendly Dining Options At Rock City
All of the dining options at Rock City Gardens are family-friendly and casual. They’re all reasonably priced too, which isn’t typical for a tourist destination. There are walk-up spots for quick bites and sit-down options, with indoor and outdoor tables.
Hands down, our favorite spot is Cafe 7. It’s an outdoor dining location that’s located on top of Lover’s Leap waterfall. It happens to be in the middle of the main garden trail and it’s the perfect resting point for kiddos. You can take in the beautiful views of all seven states and enjoy southern cuisine favorites. I promise the kids won’t need your phone to stay entertained, while waiting for the food, with the amazing views to take in.
Another spot that your kids are going to love is the Fudge Kitchen. Grab some fresh homemade fudge, caramel apples and candy. It’s a sweet finishing touch to enjoy after your walk through the gardens.
Special Events At Rock City Gardens For The Whole Family
Throughout the year, Rock City Gardens has special events that offer additional fun for the whole family. There’s special holiday themed events, like Shamrock City and the famous Enchanted Garden of Lights during the Christmas season.
Check out the special events calendar to plan your visit. I love the idea of visiting the Southern Blooms Festival or EarthDayz if you’re planning an educational trip with the kids. If you’re a music fan, the Summer Music Weekends should be on your radar.
No matter how you see Rock City Gardens with kids, you’re sure to have a memorable experience that they’ll love. It’s already a favorite spot for our kids and we plan to make it an annual trip. They truly offer something for everyone and it’s a must-do family destination.
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