Somewhere in the mountains of Chattanooga in 1928, Garnet Carter patented the first miniature golf course, inciting a nationwide pastime that brought families and friends together around pintsized putting surfaces.
Inspired by the local history and an indoor golf course visited while on vacation, Nathan Brown and his friends began fantasizing about their own miniature golf course, either building one in their hometown or patenting the first ever zero-gravity moon course. After tireless efforts and multiple failed rocket launches later, Scenic City Mini Golf opened its indoor greens in November 2010.
Dimpled balls roll along verdant turf that simulates real grass, while beige and blue turf mimic sand and water traps, adding strokes to scorecards for errant shots. Hole 14 requires golfers to double back and hit golf balls around, then beneath the hole's rough and toll troll, while hole 17's two-tier design draws shots into one of two preliminary holes before they can approach the green below. Pre- or postrounds, golfers can cool off with Blue Bell ice cream from the snack area, enjoying their frozen treats in a cone or as a milkshake, malt, or float.
The Chattanooga Zoo opened its doors in 1937 with an exhibit containing two rhesus monkeys. Pretty soon, it had expanded to include bobcats, lions, and gators, until eventually becoming the venerable non-profit institution it is today, supporting conservation efforts for rare and endangered species around the world.
In the zoo's forest area, chimps, wildcats, and tortoises roam their habitats to the sound of churning water beneath two waterfalls. Red pandas scurry around a Himalayan habitat, and spider monkeys spin gossamer webs in the jungle area. Kids can play with goats and sheep at the petting zoo, or take a few revolutions on the carousel. With a refurbished frame from 1927, it spins guests on the backs of hand-carved seats fashioned after endangered animals such as snow leopards and low lying gorillas.
Behind the scenes, the zoo's caretakers work to rehabilitate hundreds of animals each year so that they can return to the wild. They also lead conservation efforts for rare species—including snow leopards, fennec foxes, and cotton-top tamarins—and educate thousands of students annually with interactive events catered to school curricula.
At Spare Time, balls hurtle down smooth, polished lanes as LCD screens keep track of scores and shimmering party lights illuminate the faces of determined bowlers. After lacing up some slide-enabling shoes and clearing the gutters of deciduous pins, bowlers set their sights on toppling 10-pin clusters. Carpets bedecked with psychedelic swirls lead to shelves stocked with neon-colored balls, which proffer their pin-busting talents to bowlers of various sizes. Fingers can warm up by mashing buttons in an arcade full of entrancing video games or bench-pressing french fries at the onsite grill and pub.
Thousands of dragons glitter and glimmer within the Dragon Dreams Museum. So many, in fact, that the museum owner is working on her entry in the Guinness Word Records book for—you guessed it—the biggest collection of dragons on earth. One-of-a-kind antiques and handcrafted figurines made from silver, jade, and ivory highlight the expansive collection. The on-site gift shop can help you start your own collection as well as purchase other items such as jewelry, magnets, ornaments, and posters.
Since opening Nutrition World in 1979, founder Ed Jones has fostered healthy mastication with an expansive inventory of natural, organic, and gluten-free foodstuffs. As shoppers peruse the aisles, nutrition-savvy store clerks stand by to answer inquiries and suggest healthy alternatives to junk food such as chips or notoriously indulgent Cracker Jack prizes. Shelves sport boxes of DeBoles gluten-free pasta ($3.89), and refrigerators eschew lactose with cartons of sunflower, coconut, hemp, and almond milk ($2.99+). Shoppers can scarf down the protein of an OhYeah! chocolate-caramel bar ($2.49) or work on their Popeye impressions by downing Amy's spinach pizza ($7.99).
Chattanooga Billiard Club is a place for purists and billiards aficionados, however, that shouldn’t scare away newbies who want to learn or practice on some of the best equipment available. The billiards room protects an arsenal of 18 Brunswick Gold Crown IV 8- and 9-foot tables, as well as two championship-tournament 9-foot Diamond tables, all of which are equipped with high-quality Simonis felt. Players can arm themselves with Aramith balls and Nick Varner cues to experience tournament-caliber game play.
Chattanooga Billiard Club also features a dart league, a cigar room that sells rare and hard-to-find cigars, and a plush Havana Room lounge equipped with overstuffed leather furniture and flat-screen TVs that broadcast sports. A full bar and restaurant also serve up tasty fare such as USDA Choice ground-chuck burgers, flagship cuban sandwiches, and pub-style fish 'n' chips.
It's not every 5K run in which participants look like they've been tie-dyed by the end of it. But most runs are not this much fun either. As runners put one foot in front of the other during Color My Run, volunteers cover them with colorful dust, adding extra joy and a bit of silliness to an event where your finishing time isn't everything. That sense of joy also extends to the charitable recipient of each event as well, which is often a children's hospital.