Chattanooga, Tennessee : Gateway to the Appalachians

chattanooga tennessee

We are starting a series about the things to do in the Appalachians Mountains. In the first of the series, we want to look at the main city of the region, Chattanooga. It is also one of our 18 cities to visit in 2018.  What does this city of almost 200,000 people have to offer? 

I have been through the city many times when I was working on another project. It has the only airport and it is only stand alone Greyhound station that I know of. The city is also the about halfway between Nashville and Atlanta. From a geographical point of view, it is very ideal.

Growing up, I mainly knew about the city because the infamous comment made by Walter Cronkite. To be fair, it was more who said it than what was said. Walter is from my hometown.

I have learned a lot about the city from my many visits in the South since then. I have to say that Chattanooga has quite a bit to offer the tourist. I realize most people’s idea of a vacation in the Appalachians is not a mid sized city but it is a great starting point.

Downtown Chattanooga
Walnut Street Bridge in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Downtown Chattanooga is amazing!

When people think of downtown areas in cities, they normally overlook some very cool things. Chattanooga has a lot to offer in the downtown area. On a nice day, everything is within walking distance as well. (There is also great transportation as well!)

The Bluff View Art District on 2nd Street is a great place to start. It is an area that highlights all different types of fine art (including the Hunter Museum for Art) overlooking the Tennessee river. What was of the most interest to me was the chocolate makers. I am just a sucker for real chocolate, I guess.

On Broad Street, is the popular Tennessee Aquarium. For $29.95 (or add $11.95 for a 3D movie at IMAX), you can see one of the best aquarium in the country. It houses 800 different types of animals. The aquarium itself that has 400,000 gallons in it is believed to be the biggest in America.

Down the street, is the new High Point climbing walls. For $17, you can climb up to 60 foot walls as much as you want. The same company has operations in Huntsville, Memphis and Birmingham. Membership to use any gym is possible.

The city has worked with people in the community to form what they called Outdoors Chattanooga. This is all centered around the 10 miles of paths for walking, running and riding along the river downtown. Everything from horseback riding to hang gliding can be quickly organized through the office.

One last thing that you might do might be a little sad. For the historical importance of it, the passage of where the Trail of Tears began for the Cherokee Indians is marked. It is was from Chattanooga that the military drove the Indians to Oklahoma like cattle. The markings is on Riverfront Parkway.

Lookout Mountain

While the range runs across Tennessee, the well known tip overlooks Chattanooga.  The good news is you are just a short drive from the mountain when you are in town. It is just over seven miles from downtown to the main lookout point.

Point Park is part of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. There is a vistor’s center at the gate as you come in where you would pay the $5 entry fee. The importance of Point Park is you can see Cumberland Plateau, Cherokee Forest, Tennessee River and the city of Chattanooga in one look. There is also a museum about the Battle for Chattanooga next door.

This area is a great place for taking hikes and there is quite a few cool things you can learn from being in the forests. While it can be challenging, the area is well marked and easy to work through. It is worth the try!

Rock City is probably the most well known of everything on Lookout Mountain. It includes Seven States. As its’ name says, you can see seven states on a clear day. It also features a 180 foot long swinging bridge. For everything at Rock City, there is a $19.95 entry fee.

It is believed that the nearby Ruby Falls is the largest underground waterfall in the United States. It will start with a tour of some limestone formations and the normal corny jokes from a guide. The tour will end with the 145 foot waterfall thundering down into a pool. It is well worth the $18.95 to experience.

While at Lookout Mountain, make sure to check out the steepest passenger train in the world. Incline Railway goes from Chattanooga to Lookout Mountain. It is an amazing ten minutes trip riding an old train from a century gone by.

You can buy tickets for the train, Ruby Falls, and Rock City for $49 on their website. 

Entertainment in Chattanooga

After a day of seeing what the city has to offer, you might want to get relax and have a cold beer. The good news is that you can easily do so. Like much of the development in the city, the bars are centered around downtown.

From 3rd Deck Burger Bar in Bluff View to the Chattanooga Brewing Company on the other end of the street; you can find a food cold drink until closing time.

According to Trip Advisor, the most popular is Comedy Catch on Market St and it is followed by Heaven & Ale on Cherokee. The third on the list is BrewHaus. You can see the whole list here. 

For those of us who do not drink or live at bars, there is a growing fine arts industry. It is becoming common to be able to catch a show at Tivoli Theater or the Chattoonga Theatre Centre. Both are known for producing high quality shows.

Lastly, it is not uncommon there is a festival of some type going on in the city. As the locals are pretty serious about the arts, it is reasonable that every April, they hold the 4 Bridges Arts Festival. It is followed by a major biking event in May. However, the grandest of them all has to be the Riverbend Festival in mid-June.

No matter when you visit, you should have a great time and enjoy being in one of the hidden gems of American tourism.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.