My family takes many road trips. One thing that we like to do to break up the drive, is try to stop somewhere new along the way and spend a few hours. On a recent trip from Florida to Nashville, my daughter and I stopped in Chattanooga and spent the day exploring their city. Chattanooga is a cool place to visit, easily accessible, and has lots of things to do. Here are some things that I recommend doing while visiting Chattanooga, Tennessee.
#1 Visit the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel
The historic Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel dates back nearly 50 years. In 1970, it became a luxury hotel after replacing the the Southern Railway line which had been in operation since 1909. You are immediately Restaurants (one has singing waiters) and shops dot the landscape.
The famous Chattanooga Choo-Choo locomotive can be found in the back of the hotel. The locomotive is complete with 48 Victorian sleeper cars that you can rent for an overnight and further celebrate the train theme. The hotel also has life size checkers, chess, and other lawn games. The Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel is included as one of the Historic Hotels of America.
#2 Indulge in a Proper English Tea Room
For $16.95, you can transport yourself to a proper English tearoom at the English Rose. Victorian charms and treasures fill the tearoom. Afternoon Tea is my favorite choice. It includes six assorted finger sandwiches, pastries, biscuits (cookies), fruit, and a scone with classic jam and clotted cream. I opted for English Breakfast tea, my go-to choice. It was served in an adorable fabric covered pot on beautiful china. All of the sweets were delicious and served by a friendly wait staff. The English Rose is open Tuesday-Saturday from 11Am to 5PM.
#3 See Rock City
Stop at “See Rock City” which used to be painted on barns in many surrounding states advertising family fun. The attraction is so old that my in-laws actually honeymooned there. Rock City is a series of ancient rock formations and gardens at the top of Lookout Mountain. From this vantage point, you can see seven states (Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia) via panoramic view. My favorite part is Fairyland Caverns, where you wander through caves to see scenes from beloved fairytales. The gift shop and restaurant are pretty impressive, too. Make sure to visit the 180 foot suspension bridge.
#4 Familiarize Yourself with Downtown Chattanooga
Chattanooga’s downtown is full of cool things to see. Big parts of the downtown are pedestrian friendly or you can take an electric bike across town, which are all the rage. The 15 mile paved Riverwalk is a great place to get outside and see the sights, including restaurants, riverboat attractions, shopping venues, and parks. Be sure to admire the architecture along the way. If you have time, stop by the Tennessee Aquarium, the biggest freshwater aquarium in the world (allow at least 2 hours to tour). The aquarium also has an IMAX 3D Theater with a state of the art laser projection system.
#5 Explore Nature at Ruby Falls
Ruby Falls is the nation’s largest and deepest underground waterfall, 1120 feet into Lookout Mountain. An elevator ride takes you deep inside of the limestone cave where a guide will lead and show you interesting geological formations along the way, like stalactites and stalagmites taking on fun shapes. Ruby Falls is estimated to be 30 million years old. Guided regular tours run 8Am-8PM. Buy combination tickets for both Ruby Falls and Rocky City to save money.
It was fun exploring Chattanooga and the easy hop on, hop off access from main roads make it advantageous for day or road trips. I also find the food in Chattanooga to be impressive; but there are so many choices that I had difficulty narrowing them down. This has to be one of the most scenic cities in the South and if you spend a few minutes driving around, you will see why.
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