Chattanooga, Tennessee, has undergone a downtown transformation in recent years and has become a wonderful place to visit. It is difficult to narrow the choices of what to see and do on a visit to the scenic city, so I will present a few of my personal favorites and you can decide for yourself. I have taken the liberty of combining some attractions based on proximity and type.
1. The Tennessee Aquarium. Two buildings house a diverse selection of animals. One containing animals representing species found along the Tennessee River and the other representing ocean species from tropical and marine habitats. Hourly animal encounters by aquarium educators are held to introduce dozens of species in more detail. Check out the VIP access passes, which allow an even more up-close experience.
2. Incline Railway. Located on Lookout Mountain, the Incline Railway was originally built in 1895 to transport residents and visitors up the mountain as an alternative to a four hour buggy ride. It is one of the steepest passenger railways in existence. At the top of the railway is Point Park which commemorates the Civil War, including the “Battle Above the Clouds,” named for the clouds which settle around the mountain.
3. Chattanooga Choo Choo. What would a trip to Chattanooga be without a visit to the famed Chattanooga Choo Choo? You may like to book one of the train cars that have been converted to hotel rooms during your stay. The hotel contains many elements of it’s majestic history. Enjoy the many shops or have a meal while you are there, ranging from pizza on a train car to an evening meal where your wait staff doubles as the entertainment. Pardon me boys, this is the Chattanooga Choo Choo. Arrival of rail traffic and position on the river secured the future of Chattanooga.
4. Bluff View Art District. A wonderfully relaxed area of town featuring art galleries, such as the Hunter Museum of Art and The River Gallery, a coffee house, artisan breads and pastries, an herb garden, a chocolate kitchen, Italian cuisine, and the Bluff View Inn, a three house bed and breakfast with a European flair. You will find products from the art district offered in businesses throughout Chattanooga.
5. A walk in the park, and then some. Considered the city’s north shore, Coolidge Park provides a place to picnic, play, throw a Frisbee, take a walk or ride on a 100 year old antique carousel carefully restored by many artisans. It is part of the TN Riverwalk which runs 15 miles along the Tennessee River. You can cross the river via the Walnut Street Bridge, the world’s largest pedestrian bridge and you have easy access to a variety of restaurants and shops. Visit on a Saturday summer night and you may get to enjoy a musical performance at Ross’s Landing, or schedule a stay during the 9-day Riverbend music festival held along the riverfront each summer.
These are only a portion of the reasons to visit Chattanooga. Not even mentioned are major tourist destinations Ruby Falls, Rock City or the Children’s Discovery Museum. Sunday visitors should know about the the Chattanooga Market featuring hand made items and weekly themed events every Sunday from March through December, and did I mention you can cruise the Tennessee River Gorge? Come visit Chattanooga. You’ll be glad you did.