The Creative Discovery Museum is Chattanooga's hands-on children's discovery museum.
My kids are preschool ages, and we recently got a membership here. The exhibits on the first floor are divided into sections for art and theater (including an art lab and an auditorium), music, archaeology/outdoor science, science/technology with a workshop, and a couple of smaller areas for the littlest children to play. In addition, there are activities going on in the main lobby area, and a water play room with a playground up above. The second floor is where they have traveling exhibits for several months. There's also an exhibit about bees, a cooking demo room, a reading room, an outdoor play area, and a tower that involves a lot of stairs to climb! My kids were only able to handle about two hours there until recently, but now three to four hours is about limit. We don't plan to do everything every single time, but there are enough activities to keep them busy. The cafe is located on the first floor and has a good variety of snacks and meals. It's also within easy walking distance of lots of great restaurants downtown, and you can come and go with your wristband. Outside food is not allowed. Parking is the only headache, but there's a lot directly behind the building that is $7 for all day.
If you are anywhere near Chattanooga, Get Here! We live in Atlanta and decided to try Chattanooga for a long weekend with our three kids (ages 10, 8 and 4) with grammy along too. We arrived at the Discovery Museum around 2 PM and only had til 5 PM to explore. I say we Only had til 5 because we just weren't ready to go when it was closing. This place is Awesome!!!
When you first walk in, there's a huge water station that explores the ideas of levys, dams, water pressure and more. Built all around that is a climbing station. Although the climbing structure is contained in this one room, there are exits near the doors to the other areas of the museum, so keep an eye out. The climbing structure is sturdy however and adults are welcome (and in fact required for little ones) to climb in! We even sent grammy through - which was hilarious to watch her get out!
The displays in the museum are completely hands on! There's an entire art section with easels, chalk rubbings, stamping, wax carving, graphic design art and more! We found a music wing with a recording studio and multiple rooms of instruments to make "beautiful" noise. We encountered an archeologist wing to dig and find bones! On the third floor, the exhibitions were seasonal - snow ball fights, a skating rink and a campfire with animals.
We almost missed the outdoor exhibitions because it was so cold, but I'm glad we didn't. The kids were able to pull themselves up in a swing via a levy system to ring a bell, or shoot a ball out of tube by way of air pressure.
I could truly go on and on. You just need to see it for yourself - Get Here!!
This children's museum was amazing! We loved the elaborate water exhibit, my kids would have spent all day there alone. Then what they have dedicated to interactive music exhibits, drama, art, archaeology, science. Even an area upstairs with bubbles on the roof. It's just so interactive and perfect for kids. Food in the cafe area is affordable and good healthy options. We could spend 3 days exploring this museum!
This children’s museum is amass with unique activities for kids in a wide age range. My 1 yo had a blast, and my 12 yo cousin enjoys it here as well. The centers are unique, and the place is packed with hours of fun! I recently visited with my 1 yo and 5 yo (along with Dad and the Grandparents.) Here were some of the highlights from our trip.
We went on a Saturday, and the place was packed. Luckily, there is so much to do and so much room that we didn’t feel crowded at all.
The centers here are unique – many things I have never seen at a kiddo museum before (and we have been to at least 10 or 12.) I’ll point out some of my favorites (and the kid’s faves.)
The first center is a combo water-play area and climbing structure. If this was the only thing in the whole place, it would have been worth the price of admission! We stayed in this area almost an hour, and I still had to drag the boys out. The floor is covered with water-play tables at varying heights. There was a place for the 14 mo to play, an intermediate table for the 5 yo, and even a more intricate “contraption” oriented water-table at a height for older kids (and hubby!) There were plenty of waterproof clothing covers, in varying sizes, to keep the kids dry.
Above all the tables was a climbing structure. Kids could climb steps, go through tunnels, maneuver netting, and more. It was relatively easy to keep an eye on your climber. Kids under 5 must be accompanied by an adult while inside this structure. Climb, water-play, climb, water-play. My kindergartener thought this was heaven!
We enjoyed the room dedicated to an over-sized racetrack. Kids can arrange and rearrange the track pieces to learn about motion and momentum. Well, they don’t know that’s what it’s called – they just know they are having fun!
Another hit was the dinosaur area. The entrance is marked with a large dinosaur skeleton. Inside kids can play dress up, excavate bones from the sand pit, check out several hands-on natural science displays, and more. My older kiddo liked seeing the live animals in the back section of this area. There was also a large microscope here to discover textures and such. Aside from the large sand pit, there was a smaller sand table that captured the younger boy’s attention for quite a while.
The art section is HUGE! There are tons of different stations in this center like screen printing, drawing, painting, and more. We did not have time to explore this area like I would like to have done, but we will be back!
There is a section for younger kiddos, and inside there, a section further demarcated for babies (I think it was 18 mo and younger.) My baby liked climbing the soft mats and playing with the see-through blocks in this area. He also LOVED the red car. He could climb inside and pretend to drive it, and he did not want to leave it!
Upstairs we climbed the tower ( a little scary with the baby, but doable.) The oldest enjoyed the bee center – seeing bees, dressing up like a bee, and doing the honey bee dance.
The Winter Wonderland exhibit took most of the floor for the season. We decorated frames with felt cutouts, ran through an icicle maze, and ice skated (in socks) on the “rink.” The boys played hockey in the makeshift “rink” and had a blast, and then were into a “snowball” fight with balled-up white socks. A place we returned again and again was a room with a snowman “creator” projected on the wall. Kids can stand still in the projection to create a snowman from their showdown. Honestly, this is very difficult to explain in writing, but when you go – don’t skip it!
As we were leaving, people lined up for the apple pie making class. It was for kids 5 and older, and limited to 16 people. A peek inside seemed like it would be lots of fun, but you’ll want to line up well before it opens to ensure a spot.
Finally, while we did not eat there, I want to note that the cafeteria area looked clean and had an abundance of offerings for the family.
LOW LIGHTS (but not too low – just for balance):
I could not have managed a little one and a kindergartener by myself in the front section (water and climbing area.) If you have a child too young to climb *and* an older one you need to keep an eye on then skip this (for your sanity) or come with help from another adult or teen.
The equipment in some of the rooms seemed old. The microscope and stop-motion animation machine were very outdated. Older kids might not find it valuable. It is probably very expensive to update and keep working. Not a deal killer, in the least, though.
This is a wonderful museum! If you live in the area (even in Atlanta,) consider getting a membership. There is so much to enjoy here, you’ll want to take the kids again and again!
Disclosure: Creative Discovery Museum and the Chattanooga CVB allowed my family to try out the museum for free in order to give you the scoop. We give it two thumbs up, and they didn’t pay me to say that!
Our family absolutely LOVES the Children’s Discovery Museum! We live near Atlanta, but drive up here several times a year to visit this museum and the Tennessee Aquarium.
First off let me tell you that the staff here is amazing! They a super friendly, very knowledgeable and love to jump in and help the kids learn new things at exhibits.
The museum is very clean and well maintained. I have been to some children’s museums and have been very disappointed in the way that they were taken care of. This museum never looks neglected and is always clean and tidy.
We love each of the exhibits here, from the music rooms, to the art studio, to the dino dig. There is something here for everyone. Even my older kids enjoy exploring the museum.
They have a water play area that is so much fun for the kids, thankfully waterproof aprons are provided to keep the kids from getting totally drenched. Above the water area is a 2 story play area that the kids can run around in and explore. Once you walk past the water play area, you are in a large room with different hallways that lead to the engineering room, art studio, dino dig, music room and the 4 and under room.
I love the layout of the downstairs, especially if you have multiple children that want to do multiple things, you can stand in the middle and still be able to know where your kids are at all times because there is no way for them to go anywhere without going past you first.
The upstairs is usually where their traveling exhibit is. Last time we went it was The Magic Treehouse and it was phenomenal! You can check their website to find out what the current exhibit is.
The best part is the roof top; it is open only during good weather for safety reasons, so try to go on a nice day so you don’t miss this gem. On the roof top they have bubbles, pulleys, a giant chessboard, a bee garden and the amazing lookout tower where you can get a bird’s eye view of Chattanooga.
They have a small cafeteria for lunch or snacks but since you are in downtown Chattanooga, I would just walk to one of the amazing restaurants in the area.
The price for admission is very reasonable. Only $11.95 per person. They have discounts for the Military and local police and firefighters. If you visit the aquarium before, you can get a discount by showing your aquarium ticket. There are also family memberships available starting at $75.
They are closed on Wednesdays throughout the fall and winter, so plan accordingly. The rest of the week they are open from 10-5, except on Sunday they are open from noon-5.
This is one of the best children’s museums we have been to. I would highly recommend it for any family.
This is such a fun place to take your kids. The classes are so much fun and the teachers are warm and sweet to the kids. Each week the kids get exciting opportunities to learn and explore. There's a good balance of things we do in class that I am able to recreate at home and things that are really special and "only at the museum" kind of activities.
This is an amazing hands-on museum. There is way more to do here than you can do in a day. And there is plenty - both for little kids and bigger kids alike. And there really is so much to learn - music play, water, science, the list goes on and on!
Admit it- a lot of teenagers today are too busy with technology that they don't see all the fun in supposedly "stupid" things. This museum may seem to be aimed at children under 12 years old, but it isn't. It is one of the most fun places that engages all ages. I went there as a teenager and I thought that it was great. It has an excavation sight and a bee garden, a lookout tower, and so much more. Your younger kids will love it, and so will your teenagers. Another nice thing about this museum is that it is pretty affordable and makes a great destination for parties for the younger ones. So if you're ever in Chattanooga, TN, stop by so you can entertain everybody!
We absolutely love visiting this museum. One of the grandparents has a family membership, so we try to go to this museum as often as possible. It is probably the best children's museum if you are looking for a "hands-on" experience. Every one of their exhibits has something for the children to do: the dinosaur excavation sandpit, the water fountains with boats for the children to steer, the craft section with several different age-appropriate options and the science exhibits, such as searching for beetles and earthworms in a tub full of forest/earth material. We can spend hours in this museum and not get bored. Well worth a trip for all ages!
This wonderful museum is great for kids of all ages. They change the theme every few months, so there is always something new going on at the Creative Discovery Museum. Located in Down Town Chattanooga, it is walking distance from the Aquarium and many places to eat. There are lots of free admision with the purchase of a paid admission coupons out there if you know where to look. When you first walk in there is water things for your child to play with and a huge indoor jungle gym. They have a neat area just for little ones, a dinosaur fossil dig, an electricity building area, and it's great to go on the roof and play with the bubbles! There is definitely something for everyone!
We LOVE this place!! I have taken my son here several times and it NEVER gets old. There are soooo many things to look at and do here, we could go once a month and still have tons of fun. I am a teacher and they also offer a teacher discount so that is great!! Not only is it fun, it is very educational. They have dinosaur digs, all kinds of animals, instruments, you can put on a play, make crafts. The fun really never ends! It is located in the downtown area around many great places to eat as well!
We've been to several childrens' museums over the East coast of the states, and this was on the better ones I've been too. I like how this one incorporated the water element of the city in with the museum. It has plenty of things to do to keep the kids busy for hours! The only downside I can think of, is that there isn't really too many workers keeping it clean.
This Children's Museum is huge! It is the best Children's Museum I have every been to. There is so much to do that any kid will have fun. They have arts, music, pretend play, science, water play etc... I could stay at this place all day with my kid and they'd never be ready to leave.
I was hesitant to visit "another" children's museum to only be disappointed by lack of cleanliness or crowded spaces. This museum rocks! Plenty of exhibits/activities to freely explore even when school groups are in house. The museum does a great job of keeping things clean and in working order. We particularly loved the dinosaur dig. Your kids can don safari hats and vest to become a real live paleontologist! Grab the provided brushes, shovels and pails and enter the sandy desert to dig for your fossils.The museum does a wonderful job of providing one of kind experiences for kids with differing interests. A huge stage with lights, music, sound, and costumes will excite a budding thespian in the family. Artists will enjoy the creative corner with computer animation, painting easels, or magnetic pictures. Upstairs they can burn off some energy with an indoor basketball hoop, climbing the observation tower to over look the city, or one of the many the outdoor exhibits.There were many rooms of instruments for the kids to try out their skills. In addition, they offer an area that is only for newborns to four year olds called the Little Yellow House. Little ones can play in a replicated kitchen, climb up in a tree house, or even drive a car. There are so many learning opportunities here! Definitely worth the admission price!
So hands-on and awesome! Water play, digging for dinosaurs, art activities, lots of musical instruments to try, puppet theater, stage with lights and sound, electricity and math and science, special features. My preschoolers love it. There's a Little Yellow House for babies- age 4 that is fantastic--great safe place for imaginative play. We go all the time and my kids never tire of it!
Chattanooga is a pretty small city so I was expecting a small-scale museum, but this place is very thoughtfully put together. It has many interactive exhibits and is very spacious (doesn't feel crowded).
When we went there they had a special exhibit upstairs about what a school child's life is like in Japan. They had set up a full size bedroom the way it would be furnished in Japan, then it had things you could read and watch to learn more about it. THey also had a Japanese school room, and realistic examples of foods...totally cool, even I learned something.
If you have kids and are in chattanooga go here!! Its soo much fun!One of my favorite parts was the musical exhibit. My son loved banging on all the instruments and making noise! I look forward to returning soon(hope to this fall!!!)Its hard to leave at the end of the day and it takes a day to enjoy everything!!!!
This is a wonderful children's museum. There are lots of different exhibits. The museum is spaced very well. Even when it is crowded, you don't feel overwhelmed.
They have a wonderful area for toddlers that is self-contained. When my daughter was a toddler, we spent a lot of time here.
So much fun. This is a must stop for anyone traveling through TN with kids. You spend all day here and never get bored. It is big with lots of different room and activities. Make sure not to forget your camera cuz there is so much to see. There is music, coloring, discovery, and dress up for all ages.
My children loved CBM. They were able to interact with arts, science, and music and different cultures. It's a great way to spend a summer afternon. Hours could be spent and never notice. The cafe offers all sorts of food from sandwichesand salads to fruit and ice cream at a reasonable price.