Nicknamed ‘Scenic City’, Chattanooga is located in Tennessee, just north of the Georgia border. Nestled on the Tennessee River, and surrounded by mountains and ridges, we choose Chattanooga as our November Family Adventure destination.
Before we even began the trip we were dealing with some preteen shenanigans. There is nothing quite like investing time and money in travel just to have it sabotaged by an adolescent attitude.
The certain someone we were dealing with that day happens to be highly motivated by money. So before we began the trip, we sat everyone down and gave them $10 a piece to spend however they’d like, whether at the museum gift shop, or to buy a treat, whatever they choose. The catch? Anytime they were caught complaining or fighting, they lost one dollar. It was a brilliant endeaver. We had zero issues on that trip, and very very happy kids to boot.
Chattanooga is an easy two hour drive from Atlanta, and we arrived in the city just in time for lunch.
Our first stop was on the North Shore of Coolidge Park. We rolled into the kid friendly restaurant GOOD DOG. GOOD DOG whips up a variety of gourmet style hotdogs, served classic how my kids like it (and for $3 so Yay!), or topped with unsuspecting combinations like the Dutch Dog, served with curried ketchup, gouda cheese, onions and peppers, and covered in fries (oh my!!). Their loaded frites are are amazing as well. I love that they also offer vegan and gluten free options, truly making this an affordable stop for the whole family.
After lunched we crossed the Street to Coolidge Park, a riverfront family recreational area. Right there in the park sits the restored 1894 Dentzel Coolidge Park Antique Carousel. With 52 whimsical hand carved animals, lovingly restored for the city, and a calliope organ as well, it truly was a magical place to spend a part of our day. Rides are just $1.00 so you can your heart out without breaking the bank!
Also in Coolidge Park are the outdoor water fountains, which were off season at the time, but still fun to climb and and play pretend with all the large animal statues. Just beyond that is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Tennessee River over to the South side, a great way to get in some exercise in for the day.
After exploring the park, we drove up Lookout Mountain to Chattanooga’s Prized landmark, Ruby Falls. Ruby Fall’s is the nation’s tallest and deepest underground waterfall open to the public. Located 1,120 feet underground, a visit to Ruby Falls includes a guided tour through the cave, and offers breathtaking views of magnificent cave formations as you walk through the narrow winding passages towards the Falls. The walk is about a half mile each way, with some of the paths getting narrow. Take note if you or someone in your party suffers from claustrophobia, they could have a problem in the cave.
For us, the trip was well worth it, especially because our boys are very much into geology. It was truly wondrous to experience nature underground.
After the Falls, we drove to the nearby Incline Railway, which is over 100 years old and whose track is on a 72.7% incline, one of the steepest passenger trains in the world. The train runs up and down the mountain about every 20 minutes and carries passengers from the top of the mountain to the bottom to explore the shops below in St Elmo. Not gonna lie, I had butterflies boarding the train as I stared down the steep side of the mountain, but the train ran slow, and soon I forgot me fear as I took in the breathtaking views of the city as the sun set and the moon rose over Chattanooga. It was absolutely worth the experience, and we’ll do it again next time we visit. The train runs daily from 10 am to 6 pm and a round trip ticket is $15 for adults and $7 for kids.
For dinner we hit up the local 5 Guys, which was very untouristy of us, but we were hungry and tired and overwhelmed by all the options. After we regained our energy we headed to our final destination, the historic Bluff View Art District, to grab a dessert and a coffee before hitting the road back to Atlanta.
We found the sweetest chocolatier shop right next to Rembrant’s Coffee House, a European style cafe offering in-house roasted coffee and hand made pastries. As the sun went down, the Art district seemed to be waking up. As much as we wished we could have explored more, our kiddos were tired out so we climbed back in the car and began the drive home.
Chattanooga had SO much to offer, much more than we could have experienced in one day. We’re already planning another trip back to see everything we didn’t have time for like the aquarium, Rock City, and the Children’s Museum.