From Civil War battlefields to marine animals and riverboat cruises, the visitor to Chattanooga, Tennessee will find a variety of attractions sure to entice them.
Two key Civil War battles raged here: the Battle of Chickamauga, which was a stinging Union defeat, and the Battle Above the Clouds, on the heights of Lookout Mountain, during which the Union forces finally drove the determined Confederate army from the area.
The battlefields are not the only attractions, however. Other sights include Rock City Gardens, Ruby Falls, Incline Railway, Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center, and the Tennessee Aquarium.
1. LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN
At 2,392 feet, Lookout Mountain towers over Chattanooga, nestled along the Tennessee River below. The view of Chattanooga at High Point, the highest elevation in the park, is stunning. The mountain marks the southernmost point in the Cumberland Plateau.
It was also the site of an important Civil War battle, Battle of Lookout Mountain, in 1863. The battle site of Last Battle of the Cherokee, where the American colonists wrested control of the area from the Chickamauga Cherokee, is nearby too. The National Park Service maintains the Civil War battlefield (admission charged), a visitor center and picnic area.
2. ROCK CITY GARDENS
Yes, you really can See Seven States. The extensive trail system through fantastic rock formations and beautiful gardens provides majestic views of the countryside below. It requires several hours to tour this park on the mountain above Chattanooga.
3. RUBY FALLS
Ruby Falls is the second of three major attractions on, or more accurately in, Lookout Mountain. A cave houses the sixty-five foot tall waterfall, almost 1120 feet underground. The falls, fed by rainwater and natural springs, descends into a large pool and eventually drains into the Tennessee River.
4. REFLECTION RIDING ARBORETUM AND NATURE CENTER
Located a few miles from Chattanooga at the base of Lookout Mountain, this arboretum has 317 acres of forests, fields and streams. The visitor may tour by car over the Reflection Riding Loop. Hike or rent a bicycle for a more intimate experience at the park. The Arboretum also offers canoes to rent for a two-hour self-guided tour on Lookout Creek.
The Visitor Center, a perfect place to begin a visit, has exhibits, maps and videos that interpret the park for the visitor. The Treehouse is a perfect place to relax and study the surrounding wetlands and observe wildlife.
5. TENNESSEE AQUARIUM
Rated Americas best aquarium for three consecutive years, this facility includes 10,000 animals, an IMAX theatre, and a riverboat cruise on the Tennessee River. Located along the Tennessee riverfront in downtown Chattanooga the Aquarium consists of two large buildings loaded with things to do.
The buildings each espouse a different theme. The River Journey contains freshwater creatures like river otters, turtles, alligators, giant catfish and thousands freshwater creatures.
In the Ocean Journey guests see penguins, sharks, butterflies and often scuba divers who interact with the guests. The River Gorge Explorer is a water jet powered hydrofoil that embarks on a two to three-hour tour of the river.
6. INCLINE RAILWAY
The Incline Railway, with a 72.7% grade, is the steepest railway in the world. The railway transports passengers over it one mile long track from St. Elmos Station at the base of the mountain to Point Park at the top.
7. CHICKAMAUGA AND CHATTANOOGA NATIONAL MILITARY PARK
The seven mile auto loop around Chickamauga Battlefield passes many monuments, historical tablets, hiking and horse trails in the park. Admission to the battlefield is free. The battle fought at this site was a key battle in the Civil War. The park has seven hiking trails through the battle field of varying lengths from five to fourteen miles.
The Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center houses a collection that includes over 300 military long guns as well as numerous dioramas, displays and videos that relate the events of the important battles fought in the area.
Chattanooga, Tennessee is a fascinating city with many attractions to offer the visitor. From enchanting river cruises to historical Civil War battlefields boredom will never be a problem as you wander through fields, forests or the streets of this charming city.