Chattanooga is Tennessee's fourth most populous city and is just 120 miles from another large metropolis, Atlanta, to the northwest. But in a way it's a place apart. It's set in a valley surrounded by mountains and has earned the nickname Scenic City for its breathtaking views. Not surprisingly, hiking is a very popular activity here and Chattanooga accommodates walkers with excellent trails that lead into the parks and other sites in the mountains.
Most visitors to Chattanooga include a trip to Lookout Mountain on their itinerary of things to do. If you're not up for hiking, you can get there on the Incline Railway and enjoy the scenery as you climb. At the top of the mountain, there are some great attractions to explore, including Point Park, Ruby Falls and fascinating Rock City Gardens with its Enchanted Flagstone Trail through stony grottos and glens and along dramatic cliffs. Lookout Mountain is busiest during the summer season. There are, of course, many restaurants and souvenir shops up here, where you can buy a trinket or T-shirt and enjoy an authentic Southern snack.
Another popular attraction in Chattanooga is the Tennessee Aquarium, where you can meet marine life up close and personal. The site features two sprawling buildings, which include the River Journey and the Ocean Journey.
Shopping and Dining
If you're ready to take a break from communing with Chattanooga nature, downtown Chattanooga is a bustling place full of shops, restaurants and attractions. Visit historic Bluff View Art District to learn more about the area's past--and present. Located near the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge, the district has many galleries, plazas, coffee houses and restaurants. While there, stop to see the sights at the River Gallery Sculpture Garden and check out the impressive collections at the Houston Museum of Decorative Arts and the Hunter Museum of American Art. The district also includes a number of decent restaurants for when you get hungry. Or take a walk around the downtown area and choose from a wide variety of options, from seafood to vegetarian to the Southern favorite "meat and three."
For after-dark entertainment, take in a show at the Vaudeville Cafe Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre, which has performances every Saturday night. The place is usually packed with guests and arriving early is suggested so you can eat before the show starts.
A visit to Chattanooga is not complete if you don't make a stop at one more local landmark, the Chattanooga Choo Choo vacation complex. Located at the city's center, it includes lots of shops and restaurants, hotels (some rooms are in actual train cars), a model railroad, swimming pools and gardens all around.
901 James Avenue
1 Walnut St
120 East 10th Street
1012 Market Street