In this post, I alluded to our 2014 trip to Chattanooga, which I realized I never blogged about. Well today I’m here to remedy that by covering the highlights.
Chattanooga is a vibrant, diverse city, which are exactly the qualities we appreciate when going somewhere. We went with my Mom for a short weekend trip that July, which is generally the time she comes to visit.
Because it was quite a long drive, our first stop was Coolidge Park to let Stinky and Blinky frolic and for the adults to stretch their legs. They enjoyed the Coolidge Park Carousel, which is an antique carousel featuring “52 whimsical hand carved animals, a calliope band organ, and ornate between gold leaf benches.” The DH and I loved that it was only $1 per ride.
Walnut Street Bridge and North Shore
There was a fountain for kids to play in and cool off, but it was dreadfully crowded so we walked along the riverfront to the Walnut Street Bridge. Like many landmarks / monuments / historical places in the South, there is often a dark history associated with it. Two black men were lynched on the Walnut Street Bridge at the turn of the last century. However, the City of Chattanooga, community groups and local foundations have worked diligently on revitalization projects to make this site welcoming for all.
The Walnut Street Bridge spans the Tennessee River and connects downtown Chattanooga to the North Shore. The surrounding area is a bustling hub of restaurants and home to the Hunter Museum of American Art and the Delta Queen Steamboat turned hotel and bar on the downtown side, and Renaissance Park and the Tennessee Aquarium on the North Shore side.
Ultimately we made an evening of it, having dinner in the area before heading back to the hotel.
The next day, we did the trifecta of Chattanooga Attractions: Ruby Falls, the Incline Railway, and Rock City.
In 1928, Leo Lambert and a team of excavators found a breathtaking waterfall located over 1,120 feet below the surface of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, TN. Lambert named the falls after his wife, Ruby, and opened the area as a public attraction in 1930. Today, Ruby Falls welcomes thousands of visitors each year. Come tour the falls for yourself and see why it has been one of the best Chattanooga attractions for over 85 years.
We really enjoyed touring Ruby Falls. It wasn’t difficult at all with two young children and a grandma in tow. There is so much to see, especially uniquely shaped (and named) stalactites and stalagmites.
The guide mentioned that the intensity of the waterfall changes periodically. It was not very intense the day we visited, nevertheless it was absolutely breathtaking (even if its not in my photos) with the most melodic sound. The sound was more of a roar to Stinky and Blinky who wanted to be held at the viewing platform.
There are safety rules to follow as well as narrow, damp spaces to navigate. This may be something you want to consider before planning a visit.
Our next stop was the Incline Railway. It is a system of trolleys that run a mile up and down Lookout Mountain at a whopping 72.7% grade!!! Of course my party had to sit in the front. Truthfully, it was a little intimidating at first but not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be.
The view at the top from the waiting area is simply phenomenal.
And now for the view below from the front of the trolley:
When we got to the base of the mountain, we had lunch in St. Elmo, a quirky little shopping village. There was an assortment of mom-and-pop-style BBQ restaurants and souvenir shops.
Since we were parked at the top of Lookout Mountain, we had to ride the Incline Railway back up. By this time, it was mid-afternoon and the line was insanely long. I don’t remember exactly but the wait time was probably close to an hour and a half. And it was hot!!!
Once we were back at the top, we headed for Rock City, famous for its ancient rock formations and immaculately kept gardens. The temperature here was much cooler between the rocks and it wasn’t nearly as crowded as the first two attractions. We took our time strolling the grounds and learning more about Lookout Mountain and Rock City.
One of the trails led us to Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Village. The caverns were dark and the displays were dimly lit which at times gave off an eerie vibe to me. Stinky and Blinky couldn’t get enough! Overall I thought it was a creative use of unusual spaces, incorporating woodland elements.
It was late evening by the time we wrapped up. In fact, we may have stayed until closing time, but I’m not sure anymore. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to rest for the drive back the next day.
It was a short, but sweet, trip. I’m glad we were able to go back a few weeks ago and visit the Chattanooga Choo Choo, which we missed in 2014. It is a darling city to visit if you ever have the chance.
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