Tag Archives: adventure

Chattanooga: Much More than a Choo-Choo

Scenic Chattanooga

If you are looking for an exciting adventure, a family friendly escape or a romantic getaway, set your sites on Chattanooga, Tennessee.  The city once known for its choo-choo, now volunteers a bounty of activities.

Scenic views and nostalgic barn signs lead visitors to “See Rock City.” The Rock City Gardens opened in 1932 at the top of Lookout Mountain. You can walk among natural stone formations, across swinging bridges, and revel in the panoramic view of “7 States.” The fairyland gnomes entice adults who visited as children to return with their own. I was truly surprised and delighted with the updated venue.

Rock City’s Lookout

Ruby Falls endures as another vintage roadside attraction. While the caverns themselves are not the most spectacular, the lighted 145-foot waterfall is worth the underground journey. Every October the staff turn the caverns into a haunted cave.  This event rates are one of the top 10 haunted Halloween houses in the country.  Screams and spine tingling fear guaranteed. Naturally, teens love it!

Ruby Falls

Those that seek sheer exhilaration head to Lookout Mountain Flight Park,  the nation’s premier hang gliding school. No prior experience is necessary. Participants and their instructor hook into a glider that’s tethered to an ultralite plane. The plane pulls them to an altitude of 2,000 feet, then releases the daring duo. Take my word on this –you’ll feel like a bird and gain a never to be forgotten perspective on the glorious mountains and valley below. Read about my fantastic aerial expereince here.


World-class whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River offers Olympic-caliber thrills and spills just 45-minutes from Chattanooga. Outfitters supply a professional guide to accompany and assist rafters as they traverse class 3 and 4 rapids. Whoo-eee! What a blast. Should you be looking for tamer exercise, think kayaking on the Tennessee River or bicycling a 10-mile pathway through city parks.

The Tennessee Aquarium is Chattanooga’s jewel, the world’s largest freshwater aquarium. The facility expanded to a second building: one featuring river ecology and creatures while the other explores the ocean habitat. Your ticket entitles you to come and go at this awe-inspiring aqua world, so visitors can break up the day with dining or other activities. An educational  treat for all ages.

Many adults desire a more relaxing vacation and should consider riding in air-conditioned comfort on the Aquarium’s high-speed catamaran. Guests are transported into the Tennessee River Gorge surrounded by a colorful seasonal landscape. While the boat is speedy, the ride is not at all dangerous or scary. Tourists and locals also find dinner cruises aboard the Southern Belle Riverboat  to be laid back escapes.

Romantic couples head for the charming Bluff View Art District and find elegant lodging plus refined dining, bakeries, coffee shops and art galleries. The Hunter Museum of American Art along with a hilltop sculpture garden are mere steps away.  The Back Inn Cafe features exceptional cuisine.


Don’t leave the diverse city without a peek into the historic Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel, or better yet, stay overnight in one of their railroad cars. The former terminal was converted into a grand lobby with fine lodging–a train buff’s heaven.

Chattanooga is quite the opposite of a sleepy Southern city. Her mindset is fun, the streets buzz,  restaurants are hopping and scenic beauty surrounds.  You honestly need more than a weekend to uncover all of the diverse treasures.


For further information: www.chattanoogafun.com.

Enter a Photo Contest to Win a Trip to St Lucia

Gazebo on the Beach at Coconut Bay Resort
Gazebo on the Beach at Coconut Bay Resort

I traveled to St Lucia about a year ago and believe me, this island offers more than you can imagine- read my article St. Lucia: Small Island, Big Adventure or about my zipline adventure at Zip Therapy.

All you have to do to win a family vacation at Coconut Bay Resort is send a photo to Caribbean Travel and Life magazine. To entice you I’ve included a few of my own photos taken during my wonderful stay at Coconut Bay.

Palm by the beach
Palm on the beach at Coconut Bay Resort, St Lucia

Just follow all the links below.

Win a 5-day/4-night all-inclusive stay at St. Lucia‘s Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa!

Think you have a winning Caribbean vacation photo? Send it to us and you just might find yourself on another Caribbean getaway courtesy of St. Lucia‘s Coconut Bay Beach Resort. The family-friendly resort is putting a 4-night stay on the line–including all of your meals, snacks, drinks and even resort taxes + gratuities for one lucky family of four–and all you have to do is share your favorite Caribbean snapshot!

It’s easy to enter in two simple steps: Just become a fan of Caribbean Travel + Life’s Facebook page–where you’ll enjoy daily Caribbean updates like travel news, hotel and airfare deals, contest announcements and more–then submit your favorite Caribbean travel photo to winatrip@caribbeantravelmag.com.

Official Rules


Step 1: Click the link below to become a fan of our Facebook page…

Caribbean Travel + Life’s Facebook Page

Step 2: Email us your favorite Caribbean vacation photo at winatrip@caribbeantravelmag.com!

** Bonus: Become a fan of Coconut Bay Beach Resort’s Facebook page too–Then if you win, you’ll also get the VIP treatment with round trip airport transfers, a bottle of champagne and a fruit platter in your room!

The entry period for this contest is October 12th through November 8th, 2009, and winners will be announced by November 20th, 2009.

Official Rules

Your stay includes: four nights of all-inclusive accommodations at Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa in St. Lucia for two adults and up to two children (in same room); all meals, snacks and drinks at the resort; fully supervised children’s center; use of the resort’s water park attraction and other amenities; and all hotel taxes and gratuities.

** If you’re a fan of Coconut Bay Beach Resort’s Facebook page, your stay will also include round trip airport transfers from Hewanorra International Airport; a welcome bottle of champagne; and a VIP fruit platter on arrival.

Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa, located in St. Lucia’s exotic southern coast, is a 254-room, all-inclusive casual Caribbean resort that caters to couples and families alike. Mirrored after the island’s most famous landmarks, the twin Piton Mountains, Coconut Bay has its own set of twins, Harmony and Splash. “Harmony” is a tranquil adult-only oasis offering the perfect setting for a romantic escape with a palm-fringed pool, braided hammocks, intimate cabana beds and the oceanfront Kai Mer Spa, while “Splash” offers families a tropical playground featuring CocoLand Kidz Klub, a paintball facility, a watersports complex offering kitesurfing and the island’s largest water park.

View of the famous Gros Piton on St Lucia
View of the famous Gros Piton on St Lucia

Official Rules

Kayaking in St Lucia
Kayaking in St Lucia

View while hiking in St Lucia
View while hiking in St Lucia

St. Lucia: Small Island, Big Adventure

How many activities can one stuff into 5 days on an island only 3.5 times the size of Washington, DC? Well, I found enough on St Lucia to fill my plate, in fact there’s plenty more for super-sized appetites.

From Miami, connect directly to the Caribbean isle. All-inclusive resorts abound; my choice was Coconut Bay. You’ll arrive in time for a drink and a walk along the beach before dinner.

For starters, I decided to explore the island on an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV). Within a few minutes, I mastered the four-wheeled bike. I zoomed through grassy fields and up rocky ledges, peering at the Atlantic pounding the shore. I scooted onto sandy beaches where wild horses were grazing and then over to a banana plantation. Row after row of trees hung with bunches of green bananas. Having satisfied my taste buds, I returned my big-wheeled bouncing cycle.

For my entree, I spent the afternoon in one of the most glorious sites I’ve ever visited– Jalousie Beach. I snorkeled under the shadow of the pyramid-like Petite Piton, gazing up at its nearby twin, the Gros Piton. These famous mountains are St Lucia’s landmarks, rising like textbook drawings of volcanoes out of the sea. They blossom in lush foliage and are often shrouded in mist.

Scuba diving was an option, and St Lucia ranks with some of the world’s best. But the Caribbean shines so clear; you can see to great depths without the hassle of air tanks.

The next day I took the ultimate island challenge: a hike to the summit of Gros Piton, almost 3,000 feet. The trail of treacherous loose and moss covered rocks rises near vertical in places.  The UNESCO World Heritage site requires guides to safely lead groups through the climb.

View from hiking - half way up the Gros Piton
View from my hike - halfway up the Gros Piton

Stop at the halfway point. The view is as gorgeous as I imagine the Garden of Eden. Light crystals bounce off the water like shards of glass. The Pitons, in sharp contrast to the turquoise water, shine in ebony beauty. The arduous hike took five to six hours roundtrip. I returned to my hotel exhausted and aching, but wearing an “I Conquered” tee shirt.

On day four, I chose to kayak. Aah, tranquility is silently gliding by the mangroves in a sleek shell. The sapphire lake permitted clear visibility of the colorful tropical fish. My group stopped at Scorpion Island, and fortunately, we didn’t encounter any venomous arachnids. I did find a spectacular conch shell with a radiating fuchsia interior.

Returning once more to Coconut Bay, I rocketed down the water slides in their CocoLand Water Park, coming up with a big grin. To completely relax, I floated twice around the man-made Lazy River until massage time. Indulgence? You bet, but necessary! The Kai Mer Spa enveloped me in jasmine scents as my body soaked in the therapeutically applied oil.

On the last day I squeezed in my dessert: a morning excursion to the Tree Tops Zipline. Letting loose my inner child, I gleefully traversed the rainforest canopy over majestic rivers and plunging ravines. To soar like a parrot was an exhilarating way to end my island extravaganza.

Ziplining through the rainforest
Ziplining through the rainforest

By afternoon I boarded a plane and returned to Jacksonville at nightfall.

Some travelers vacation to escape life; others seek to engage the physical, mental or spiritual challenges. The tiny island of St Lucia offers a lavish banquet to satisfy both hungers. Her natural wonders are a menu in themselves. And, for those who want soup to nuts adventure, she offers a bountiful buffet of eco-friendly options. Fly away and feast on St Lucia.

Beach Resort & Spa: www.coconutbayresortandspa.com
Tree Top Adventures: www.adventuretourstlucia.com
ATV & kayaking: www.islandatvtours.com
Coconut Bay Resort BeachFull Moon over Coconut Bay