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Chattanooga Tennessee; The Vacation with WOW Appeal!

Updated on August 29, 2013
The Delta Queen Riverboat...Now a Docked Hotel!
The Delta Queen Riverboat...Now a Docked Hotel!
Bessie Smith Strut, Deacon Blues & Holy Smoke
Bessie Smith Strut, Deacon Blues & Holy Smoke

The Scenic City!

Chattanooga, Tennessee sparkles like a diamond set on the banks of the Tennessee River, and is appropriately nicknamed "The Scenic City."

Take two rolling mountain ranges, one winding river, a taste of the Blues and barbeque, THE Famous Chattanooga Choo Choo, two riverboats, a vibrant downtown social scene, a large salt water, and a fresh water aquarium, a visual, horticultural and culinary art district, one gorgeous revitalized cityscape, unlimited natural attractions, and you've got a recipe for one of the most diverse cities in the world!

I know! My head is spinning! What should we do first? Can we pack it all in on one visit? Well NO! You can't pack it all in on one visit! But that's okay! Let's pick a few things and get started on what will surely become a long, and reoccurring relationship with this beguiling city.

The Market Street Bridge

Chattanooga Claims Both Banks of The Tennessee River
Chattanooga Claims Both Banks of The Tennessee River

The Walnut Street Bridge

The Walnut Street Bridge and Fountain at Coolidge Park
The Walnut Street Bridge and Fountain at Coolidge Park
The Tennessee Aquarium; America's Top Ranked Aquarium
The Tennessee Aquarium; America's Top Ranked Aquarium
Tennessee Salt Water and Fresh Water Aquarium seen from the River Walk
Tennessee Salt Water and Fresh Water Aquarium seen from the River Walk

3-D IMAX Theater

Adjacent to the Tennessee Aquarium
Adjacent to the Tennessee Aquarium

The Creative Discovery Meseum

Fantastic Family Fun
Fantastic Family Fun
The Passage at Ross's Landing
The Passage at Ross's Landing

A River Runs Through It

The Tennessee River provides a sprawling center stage for this historically rich waterfront city to entertain its guests and residents alike. Chattanooga lies on both sides of the Tennessee River, and is accessible from four historic and iconic bridges: The Olgiati Bridge, Veterans Bridge, The Market Street Bridge, and The Walnut Street Bridge.

The Walnut Street Bridge, has been connecting the north and south shores of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga since 1891. Closed to traffic since 1978, the wrought-iron and steel truss bridge almost became a footnote in the city's history. The exhausted, decaying bridge was set for demolition until visionary activists, historic preservationists and city leaders rallied together to restore the bridge as a pedestrian walkway. Now a brilliant centerpiece in the renaissance of downtown Chattanooga, The Walnut Street Bridge is a gateway to many of the city's top attractions, it's a "linear" park complete with a climbing wall, on the US National Register of Historic Places, and the theatre for several annual festivals in Chattanooga including Riverbend (held every June), Wine Over Water (held every September), and Octoberfest (held in October of course!).

  • "The bridge has become one of the city's centerpieces, is a vital connector of Chattanooga’s riverfront renaissance, linking the city’s vibrant North Shore with the Bluff View Arts District, the Hunter Museum of American Art, the Tennessee Riverwalk, and the Tennessee Aquarium." (Tennessee River Valley Geotourism)

The Tennessee Aquarium with its striking architecture and towering glass pyramids, is the most prominent icon in the downtown cityscape. It has achieved the title of America's Top Rated Aquarium, and offers both The River Journey and The Ocean Journey experiences. The aquarium is home to more than 12,000 animals including: otters, alligators, penguins, sharks, stingrays, birds, butterflies, and hundreds more.

  • The Aquarium is just minutes away (walking minutes) from two of Chattanooga's most popular attractions; The Creative Discovery Museum, and a 3-D IMAX Theater.
  • The Aquarium is located parallel with the bank of the Tennessee River, and is adjacent to the Riverwalk, which includes miles of walking trails around the city and features The Passage.

The Passage at Ross's Landing commemorates and honors the launching point of the forced removal of the Cherokee Nation, known as the Trail of Tears. Over 4000 Cherokee peoples died along the Trail of Tears, as its known, while being forced from their native land at gunpoint, enduring brutal treatment, and driven through the harsh winter weather on foot to Oklahoma reservations. Cherokee inspired art, sculptures, and a unique walk-through water way symbolize, and honor their horrifying journey, their culture, and the traditions of the Cherokee.


The Glass Bridge to Somewhere Very Special
The Glass Bridge to Somewhere Very Special
The Bluff View Art District
The Bluff View Art District

The Bluff View Art District

Chattanooga has a very vibrant art community. Adjacent to the Walnut Street Bridge, you will find a captivating glass bridge which leads to the Bluff View Art District. From the moment you step onto this unique glass passageway, with its breathtaking views of the river and the city, you know you are about to have an enchanting experience.

The art neighborhood is located on a high bluff overlooking the Tennessee River and encompasses 1.5 city blocks. The neighborhood has a "European" feel, and is rich with "old world" charm. There you will find The Hunter Art Museum, The River Gallery, the Houston Museum of Decorative Arts, an award winning sculpture garden tended by master gardeners, restaurants, a coffee house, a historic Bed & Breakfast, and a plethora of gardens, plazas and courtyards where you can linger and enjoy your time in this enchanted setting.

The Chattanooga Choo Choo
The Chattanooga Choo Choo
The Historical Chattanooga Choo Choo Terminal Station and Gardens
The Historical Chattanooga Choo Choo Terminal Station and Gardens
Terminal Station Gardens
Terminal Station Gardens

Don't Miss the Historic Chattanooga Choo Choo

Pardon me, is that really the famous Chattanooga Choo Choo? Yes it is!

  • Glenn Miller and His Orchestra made the Choo Choo famous in 1941 when the song Chattanooga Choo Choo, written by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon, was featured in the movie Sun Valle Serenade.

The Chattanooga Choo Choo may be enormous when it comes to charm and fame, but, its stature is relatively small.

  • "The first Chattanooga Choo Choo Train was Cincinnati Southern Railroad's small wood burning steam locomotive that started its journey through history from Cincinnati, Ohio on March 5, 1880. Nearly all trains traveling to the South passed through Chattanooga. The wood-burning "Choo Choo" was the first to provide non-stop service."

Terminal Station is now home to the retired choo choo, and is an epicenter to downtown Chattanooga's tourism. Once doomed to the wrecking ball, the historic terminal was saved by a group of local investors and is now a vacation complex.

  • "The terminal's dome room was converted into a magnificent dining hall. The area that once housed the baggage room became the "Station House," a restaurant with singing waiters and waitresses. A trolley car travels the tracks behind the station, and retail shops have opened along formal gardens in the former rail concourse. Authentic sleeper cars, once a refuge for wealthy travelers, were lavishly furnished as unique sleeping quarters. A hotel and convention center completed the complex." (choochoo.com)
  • Christmas at Terminal Station is brilliant fun with holiday lighting displays throughout the gardens and the complex, and Santa makes appearances in the dome room for photos and visits with the children.
  • Horse and carriage rides, and old fashioned trolleys, are available for tours of the city, and depart from Terminal Station daily.



Friday Night Nightfall

Nightfall is a Free Concert Series Happening Downtown Chattanooga Every Friday May through September
Nightfall is a Free Concert Series Happening Downtown Chattanooga Every Friday May through September

The Chattanooga Lookouts

The Chattanooga Lookouts is Great, Affordable Family Fun
The Chattanooga Lookouts is Great, Affordable Family Fun

UTC FOOTBALL

Chattanooga Mocs Football Halftime Show
Chattanooga Mocs Football Halftime Show

The Big River Grille and Brewing Works

Houses Its Own Brewery
Houses Its Own Brewery

The Pickle Barrel Fried Pickles

Famous Fried Pickles at The Pickle Barrel
Famous Fried Pickles at The Pickle Barrel

BBQ Restaurants Galore

Smell the Barbeque!
Smell the Barbeque!

We Love the Nightlife in Chattanooga!

There is no shortage of music, sports, or fine dining available in Chattanooga!

Music, Music, Everywhere!

  • With venues such as Nightfall, Riverbend, The Tivoli Theater, The UTC Roundhouse, The Memorial Auditorium, Rhythm and Brews, The Bessie Smith Cultural Center, and Barking Legs Theater, live music, in a wide spectrum of genres, is an audible heartbeat in this town.
  • Strong influences from the Blues with The Bessie Smith Cultural Center, Country, Rock and Roll, Jazz, and Classical with The Chattanooga Symphony, have a long and rich history associated with this city and its diverse culture. Chattanooga has many year round opportunities to enjoy live music by top name acts.

Sports is an important part of Chattanooga's community.

  • The Chattanooga Lookouts is a Minor League Baseball Team with a major league stadium. The lookouts belong to the Southern league and are affiliated with the Los Angeles Dodgers major-league club. Home games always end with a dazzling fireworks show! Minor-league games offer an affordable vacation option with major-league fun!
  • The Lookout Rowing Club is based in Chattanooga, and prior to the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, the United States Women’s Rowing Team used the facility as the base of their operations. Now the Rowing Center is the home of the Lookout Rowing Club and the Chattanooga Junior Rowing Program. The Walnut Street bridge is the perfect stadium for watching the rowing club practice, and it's free!
  • Chattanooga is a college town. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is very proud of their baseball, football, and basketball teams, and the modern venues for these sporting events make going to a game a comfortable and family affordable. These games are great for family vacation agendas.

A Restaurant for Every Taste Bud

Downtown restaurants exemplify the diversity of what Chattanooga has to offer its visitors and residents alike.

Chattanooga restaurants range in tastes from the humble, but unique flavor of the Krystal Burger, to the elegant and refined tastes at the 212 Market Restaurant. Whether you are looking for some quick street vendor food, a kid friendly restaurant, a romantic dinner for two, casual dining, or a business lunch, Downtown Chattanooga restaurants can satisfy any appetite. Some of my personal favorite foodie finds are:

  • The Big River Grille and Brewing Works "Located in downtown Chattanooga, across from the Tennessee Aquarium, IMAX Theatre, and a short walk from the Children's Creative Discovery Museum, Big River Grille & Brewing Works features innovative cuisine, award-winning ales and lagers and a spacious outdoor patio. Enjoy championship billiards. The restaurant also features a working brewery" (chattanoogafun.com).
  • The Pickle Barrel "Located near Warehouse Row, which makes this restaurant a great stop for busy shoppers or hungry downtown workers. The evenings find a range of patrons, from college co-eds to bikers. The first thing to try is the Fried Pickle, the namesake of this cafe. It's absolutely enormous. Juicy burgers and huge sandwiches are the standard fare. Domestic and imported bottled beer and wine is also served."(goodfoodchattanooga.com).
  • Hillbilly Willy's Barbeque "Hillbilly's has been compared to Memphis Bar-B-Q. Folks from Memphis have said that it's the only Bar-B-Q in Chattanooga that reminds them of Bar-B-Q back home" (hillbillywillys.com).



Lover's Leap Lookout Mt.

See Seven States from Lovers Leap at Rock City
See Seven States from Lovers Leap at Rock City

See Rock City

A Familiar Scene Along Southern Highways
A Familiar Scene Along Southern Highways

A View From the Top

High Atop Lookout Mountain
High Atop Lookout Mountain

Ruby Falls

145 Foot Underground Waterfall
145 Foot Underground Waterfall

Ride the Incline

Historic Incline Railway
Historic Incline Railway

The Great Outdoors!

"Chattanooga is located at the juncture of Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia, in a valley in southeastern Tennessee between the Appalachian and the Cumberland mountain ranges. The city lies on both banks of the Tennessee River at Moccasin Bend and is bordered by Signal Mountain on the north and Lookout Mountain to the south, with Missionary Ridge running through the eastern section of the city. The mountains shelter the city from major weather systems."(City-Data.com)

With the amazing natural landscape and riverscape in and around this city, the scenic opportunities are infinite.

Lookout Mountain boasts three of Tennessee's top attractions.

  • Rock City is located atop Lookout Mountain, just 6 miles from downtown Chattanooga, and if you've ever driven along southern highways, then you're already familiar with the "SEE ROCK CITY" painted signs adorning barn roofs all over the South. Rock City has something for everyone with these breathtaking features:
  • 60 to 90-minute, self-guided walking tour along The Enchanted Trail that gently meanders through the 14-acre property.
  • Massive rock formations estimated to be 200 million years old
  • Gardens featuring more than 400 different species of native wildflowers, plants, shrubs and trees.
  • Panoramic views of seven states from 1,700 feet above sea level
  • View of the Chattanooga Valley and Missionary Ridge-Civil War battlefields
  • Some points of interest along The Enchanted Trail include:
    • 100-foot waterfall
    • 1,000-ton balanced rock
    • Swing-A-Long Bridge (ideal for pictures)
    • Legendary view of seven states from Lover's Leap
    • Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Villagge
  • Open year round, except December 24 and for the daytime tour on December 25.
  • If you like Christmas Lights, then you will fall in love with Rock City's Enchanted Garden of Lights, an award-winning, light extravaganza featuring more than 30 holiday scenes and open Nov. 22 – Jan. 4, 2014.

Ruby Falls also located atop Lookout Mountain, is an awe inspiring 145 foot waterfall located deep inside the mountain itself. A guided tour begins with an elevator ride deep into the mountain. From there, you will meander along a level, well lit path and have an opportunity to marvel at natural rock formations, stalactites, and stalagmites, before coming into the "cathedral" where you will experience the magnificent spectacle of Ruby Falls.

The Incline Railway known as “America’s Most Amazing Mile,” is the world's steepest passenger railway. First opened in 1895, the train travels on a 72.2 % grade for an exhilarating ride a mile up historic Lookout Mountain.

  • The trolley style passenger train has observation windows on the top and sides of the train car, offering passengers a breathtaking and unique view of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and the city below. Upon entering the station at the mountain top, you will discover other attractions; such as Civil War points of interests Battles for Chattanooga Electric Map & Museum and Point Park.
  • There is no other view like the one you'll find at the station on the observation decks, so enjoy while you're here.
  • The Incline is open year round, is a family affordable attraction, and gives children and senior discounts.

A Chattanooga Native!

Get 'em by the Case at the Moon Pie General Store!
Get 'em by the Case at the Moon Pie General Store!

What Else is Chattanooga Famous For?

Here's a hint: They're round, yummy, and are named for a "Heavenly" body.

MOON PIES...Yep, Moon Pies have been manufactured in Chattanooga since 1917, and still are today. While visiting Chattanooga, visit the Moon Pie General Store and stock up. They make great souvenirs!

Chattanooga Has Something for Everyone

I could go on and on and on about all the opportunities for fun, excitement, and entertainment in Chattanooga, Tennessee. There is still so much more this city, and its surrounding area, has to offer than what I've highlighted here.

While vacationing in Chattanooga, Tennessee, you can drive a half hour south and go hiking at Cloudland Canyon State Park in North Georgia, drive an hour south and you can be camping at the Little River Canyon National Preserve in Alabama, and only a half hour north can have you rafting the rapids on the Ocoee River.The possibilities for a vacation filled with adventure are endless in this diverse and beautiful area.

I hope you will visit Chattanooga Soon!

Getting There

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Chattanooga, TN, USA
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Chattanooga is a hub in Southeastern Tennessee.

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    • Pamela Mae Oliver profile image
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      Pamela Mae Oliver 3 years ago from Georgia

      Chattanooga, Tennessee has my heart because I have seen it grow from being ranked "The Most Polluted City in the U.S." in 1972, to the magnificent and diverse city it is today!

    • Jeff Porter profile image

      Jeff Porter 3 years ago from Georgia

      I grew up just the other side of Chattanooga's border with Georgia. I'm very familiar with the attractions of Chattanooga, having done most all of them multiple times. I've got to say, reading this article makes me want to hop in the car and go do them again! Chattanooga is truly a remarkable city; blessed with endless things to do; from man made (Lake Winnie Amusement Park) to natures wonder (The Tennessee River Gorge), it's a remarkable place. I've traveled all around the country, and I've seen some nice places, but, this will always be my home, and I always look forward to coming back when I've been away. As you know, you've really just scratched the surface of what can be done here in Chattanooga, and within an hours drive of here. Wonderful article! Thanks for writing it! I look forward to a part two and three, because, there is plenty more to feature about Chattanooga!

    • Pamela Mae Oliver profile image
      Author

      Pamela Mae Oliver 3 years ago from Georgia

      Yes! Chattanooga is truly a remarkable town! And, yes, there is really no way to cover all the possibilities for fun, excitement, and adventure this city has to offer in just one article! Part 2 and 3 may be on the horizon soon. Thank you for you generous comments, and I hope you will "hop in the car and go do them again!" soon!

    • Jeff Porter profile image

      Jeff Porter 3 years ago from Georgia

      Oh, and REALLY enjoyed the great photos, too!

    • Pamela Mae Oliver profile image
      Author

      Pamela Mae Oliver 3 years ago from Georgia

      I wish I had room to post all the great photos I found, but I am happy you enjoyed them!

    • profile image

      Loretta Castleber 3 years ago

      As far as I am concerned Chattanooga , Tn.is absolutely the best place in the USA to live and visit.I live on the Georgia side of the border between the two states,which means I have the best of both worlds.This article really brings Chattanooga to life for the reader.Pack your bags and check this wonderful city and surrounding area out ,you will not be disappointed !

    • profile image

      Loretta Castleber 3 years ago

      As far as I am concerned Chattanooga , Tn.is absolutely the best place in the USA to live and visit.I live on the Georgia side of the border between the two states,which means I have the best of both worlds.This article really brings Chattanooga to life for the reader.Pack your bags and check this wonderful city and surrounding area out ,you will not be disappointed !

    • Pamela Mae Oliver profile image
      Author

      Pamela Mae Oliver 3 years ago from Georgia

      I am so happy you enjoyed the article! I hope you take the opportunity to get out and enjoy some of the great things Chattanooga has to offer!

    • Pamela Mae Oliver profile image
      Author

      Pamela Mae Oliver 3 years ago from Georgia

      So happy you enjoyed the article! I hope you take the opportunity to get out and enjoy the great things Chattanooga has to offer!

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