Must Visit Botanical Gardens Near Chattanooga, TN

Relaxing in nature is one of America’s favorite pastimes. If you live in Chattanooga, you’re in luck - there are plenty of places to enjoy the natural beauty of the city and to get back to the earth. These botanical gardens and public spaces offer visitors a break from the bustling city life, and the opportunity to reconvene in a quiet, serene atmosphere.

1. Rock City Gardens

Our first must-visit attraction is a unique kind of garden and one that may not be on every garden-enthusiasts list. This center is a major tourist attraction located atop Lookout Mountain and hosts daily events and attractions but also has a lesser-known garden at the base of High Falls and a man-made waterfall. This 140-foot waterfall empties into a small pool, surrounding which are convoluted rock trails and gardens containing hundreds of labeled plants and trees.

2. Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center

This nonprofit arboretum and botanical garden offer visitors a spectacular view at local flora and fauna. Spanning 317 acres and including over fifteen miles of trails, this center is also home to live animals, both indoor and outdoor, and a treehouse.

The center, designated in the 1950s, is dedicated entirely to the conservation and research of native plants. It is home to well over 1,000 species of plants and includes a driving loop as well as multiple walking trails.

3. Tennessee River Gardens

The Tennessee River Gardens and Nature Preserve is a gated wildflower garden and wildlife preserve smack dab in the middle of the Tennessee River Gorge. This center is designated specifically toward preservation and education, and houses over 100 species of wildflowers alone. This center is home to an expansive butterfly pavilion, a wildflower trail, and even a duck habitat, which features more than twenty duck species.

4. Chattanooga Nature Center

This nature center is a great place to take the whole family, offering an environmental education facility along with an extensive nature preserve. With multiple themed areas, like the Blue Heron Boardwalk, the DIscovery Forest Treehouse, and the Wildlife Wanderland, this is a spot that you will want to return to time and time again–perhaps make it a weekend fixture?

5. Chattanooga Choo Choo Gardens

Formally known as the Glenn Miller Formal Gardens, this oasis is home to two acres of gorgeous gardens atop fourteen former train tracks and seven platforms. These tracks served millions of train passengers for over sixty years and was named after the world-famous musician who recorded the Chattanooga Choo Choo song in 1941. The garden is a great place to smell the roses, relax next to a fish pond, or enjoy one of the park’s many board games.

6. Bonny Oaks Arboretum

This arboretum, located in Adamson Circle, is open daily and is free to the public. It hosts an extensive agriculture center and historical buildings. Some gardens and buildings date as far back as the mid-19th century. There are over 50 types of trees and shrubs, including a centuries-old willow oak, all identified by both scientific and common names.

7. Cherokee Arboretum at Audubon Acres

This 130-acre arboretum and natural space is located in the East Brainerd neighborhood of Chattanooga and opened only in 2003. Protected by the Chattanooga Audubon Society, this arboretum is home to a one-mile walking trail and interpretive forest. This forest’s many woodland labels are designed in the context of Native American culture and include Cherokee interpretations and language.

8. Cherokee Trail Arboretum

This relatively new arboretum was certified in 2000, and though small, gives visitors a breathtaking opportunity to experience local plants. It contains a small natural area and rests in the North Chickamauga Greenway on the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Chickamauga Reservation.

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