Chattanooga, Tennessee's fourth largest city, is located on the Tennessee River. Situated on and across the southeastern state line with Georgia, this revitalized city has appeared on lists of great places to live. The wealth of history, outdoor recreation and fun activities Chattanooga offers might qualify the town for a spot on a best place to visit list.
Chattanooga was established after the defeat of the Chickamauga tribe. The town grew steadily as many railroad tracks converged here. Due to its strategic position, the town became a coveted prize during the Civil War. Iron and steel mills once dotted the landscape but when the railroad declined and its downtown deteriorated, Chattanooga worked to turn things around and change its image.
The revitalized downtown district of Chattanooga has clusters of attractions within walking distance or trolley ride. Ross's Landing Park and Plaza, reveals the city's history through a series of landscaped bands with art and plantings. Board the 500-passenger Southern Belle at the landing for a river cruise. The visitors' center is located here as is Tennessee Aquarium. Devoted to freshwater aquatic life, the popular aquarium displays 7,000 species from around the world and around the area.
Nearby, see local history at Chattanooga Regional History Museum and learn about the life of blues singer and Chattanooga native Bessie Smith at the Chattanooga African-American Museum.
Visitors can stay in railroad coaches at Chattanooga Choo-Choo, a 30 acre downtown complex with restaurants, shops, a Holiday Inn and a 1930s trolley to tour the grounds. Upscale outlet shopping is just a few blocks away.
Take a three-block hike to reach Bluff View Art District, a cliff-side community overlooking the Tennessee River with art galleries, restaurants and museums. Or try a walk across Walnut Street Bridge. Built over the river in 1891, the bridge is now used by runners, cyclists and in-line skaters and overlooks Coolidge Park with its carousel, restaurants and shops.
Head south to visit Lookout Mountain and its legendary attractions. Rock City and its gardens lead visitors over rocks and stone passes to a view of seven states. Ruby Falls features a cave with 145-foot high waterfall. Incline Railway, built in the 1890s, provides an outstanding view along some of the steepest tracks in the world. Hang-gliders will enjoy the mountain's Flight Park.
Civil War history is on display in Chattanooga. Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, the nation's first, was dedicated here in 1895. The visitors' center has a collection of weapons and other artifacts. Open daily dawn to dusk, visitors can drive the seven-mile battlefield tour.
Point Park, at the end of Lookout Mountain, offers Civil War walking tours by park rangers. Other Civil War sites in the area include Craven House (once Confederate headquarters) and National Cemetery where over 12,000 Union troops are buried.
Outdoor recreation includes the Chattanooga Zoo, Booker T. Washington State Park for fishing and boating and the Riverpark, stretching 20 miles from Chickamauga Dam. Enjoy nature at Audubon Acres, a 130-acre sanctuary or Reflection Ridging Arboretum & Botanical Garden, with 12 miles of trails and 1,000 plant species. Next door, Chattanooga Nature Center presents native Tennessee animals. Harrison Bay State Park, northeast of town, has 39 miles of shoreline on a TVA lake.
Nightlife includes a varied club scene as well as traditional country music. Dining options range from 212 Market Restaurant, a favorite with locals, and St. John's Restaurant, where you can dine on creative dishes including antelope.
GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK-