How Sweet it is: a Trip to the Little Debbie Park in Collegedale, Tennessee

Oatmeal Crème Pies, Nutty Buddy Bars and Cosmic Brownies! Get in my lunchbox or get on my weekend itinerary. Those were my thoughts when I first read about the Little Debbie Park, dedicated to the iconic individually wrapped snack cakes, we all have loved and adored for ages.

The Little Debbie Park, located in Collegedale, Tennessee is a quick and easy twenty-minute drive from nearby Chattanooga and is totally worth it. The park has something to offer everyone with its array of play structures, outdoor museum, tranquil rest stations and beautiful hardscaped areas.

The pristine paved walking trail provides a brief yet vibrant history of the renowned company. As you meander through the park, take notice of the placards that mark the different eras and the highlights of the original family bakery dating back to the 1930s when founders, O.D. and Ruth McKee began experimenting with adding crème filling between two soft oatmeal cookies.

Voila! the birth of what we now know as the Oatmeal Crème Pie. The informational stations are chock full of interesting tidbits that chronologically date each of the sweet treats that have become synonymous with the school aged lunchbox. Even if the kids can’t appreciate the nearly 100-year-old history in the “baking”, they can surely recognize fun while climbing on overly life-sized structures of different dessert bars. Other popular spots for kids include the zip line, climbing spaces and places to run galore.

The 10-acre property was given to the city of Collegedale by the McKee family with the stipulation that it be used for greenspace for the community and a place for families to slow down and enjoy life. Opened to the public in 2023, the area has seen a boom of new visitors and welcomes curious snack eaters from all around.

No trip is complete without stopping at the bakery and gift shop. Make sure to take home some of the tasty snack boxes, a gift mug, or even my favorite the “Official Christmas Tree Cake Taste Tester” holiday shirt. It is important to note that this building is not on the same grounds as the park but less than a mile away.

The old company jingle “Little Debbie…. Has a snack for you!” is no truer than today. Even though Mommas say not to play with your food, this one time I promise, it is ok.

Things to do in the Area:

It is easy to pass the entire day in the serenity of the park, but on the same hand, if time is a crunch, then at least give yourself a couple of hours to enjoy the novelty of this new attraction.

Downtown Chattanooga (20 minutes away) hosts buckets full of family adventures naturalistic to adrenaline pumped. There are countless numbers of hikes, waterfalls, and scenic routes within a small radius if that is your thing. On the flip side, families can also enjoy the Duck rides, Chattanooga Aquarium, Creative Discovery Museum, or the Swincars Adventure tour.  Of course, a trip to Chattanooga is not complete without the quintessential visit to Ruby Falls and Rock City. We drove from Collegedale to downtown and had a fabulous lunch at a little outside restaurant called State of Confusion. While we savored the unique concoctions (including deviled egg charcuterie) we watched the adorable neighboring dog park and families enjoying their 4-legged pets.

Where to Stay:

There are limitless places to stay including hotels as well as rental spots.

About the Author:

Carol Thompson is a retired educator. She is the author of the Mr. Wiggle series books for children. When she is not traveling or writing, she enjoys time with her family and animals (including 4 mini-Mediterranean donkeys) on her farmette in Georgia.