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.
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!
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.