Chattanooga is one of the most historic cities in Tennessee. A pivotal Civil war battleground, the city has earned its place in United States history. The word “Chattanooga” is a Creek word meaning “rock coming to a point” and it is thought to be a description of Lookout Mountain, one of the attractions we visited.
Chattanooga’s main attraction is without a doubt the Tennessee Aquarium, home to a collection of thousands of animals, divided amongst two buildings: River Journey and Ocean Journey.
The first stop on our visit is River Journey, the aquarium’s original building and features freshwater creatures and habitats from the Southeast and around the world. Visitors can explore two living forests under glass and get face to face with giant catfish, prehistoric sturgeon and alligators.
Ocean Journey takes visitors beneath the waves where 10-foot sharks, fierce barracuda and graceful stingrays glide through amazing coral formations. Other galleries showcase cuttlefish, squid, crabs and jellyfish. An indoor rainforest showcases the aquarium’s butterfly exhibit.
After touring the aquarium, head over to IMAX and enjoy, Born to be Wild 3D, an inspiring story of love, dedication and the remarkable bond between humans and animals, narrated by Morgan Freeman. The film documents orphaned orangutans and elephants and the extraordinary people who rescue and raise them. This heartwarming adventure transports viewers into the lush rainforests of Borneo and across the rugged Kenyan savannah as they watch the animals be rehabilitated and returned back to the wild.
Operated by the aquarium is the River Gorge Explorer, a 70-passenger catamaran, which transports guests downstream into “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon,” the Tennessee River Gorge. This scenic waterway is home to a remarkable array of plants and animals in addition to historic mansions. Angled seating allows each guest to enjoy the scenic beauty and wildlife. The 3-hour sunset cruise is not to be missed.
After a long day of sightseeing, check into the Sheraton Read House. Nestled in the heart of downtown Chattanooga, the historical property combines Georgian architecture with modern amenities, including an indoor pool, fitness center and spacious guest rooms complete with complimentary wireless Internet, feather and down pillows and luxury linens.
The hotel is also home to Porter’s Steakhouse, voted one of the best restaurants. There is also a Starbucks Coffee located in the hotel’s lobby.
Well-rested and ready for adventure, we head to Rock City, one of the city’s greatest attractions. The destination, said to have been “created by God and enhanced by man,” is a unique geological and botanical wonder. Located toward the top of historical Lookout Mountain, the attraction offers people the opportunity to experience enchanting beauty as they adventure along a nature trail, with added man-made entities.
The adventure begins as guests wind in and out of narrow rock formations and caverns. Intertwined into the attraction are Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Village, a fun experience for any age. One cannot deny Rock City’s overall beauty. The massive rock formations are estimated to be 200 million years old and the panoramic views of seven states from the observation deck at 1,700 feet above sea-level are unparalleled. If that isn’t enough, Rock City features a majestic 100-foot waterfall and thrill-seeking swing-along bridge suspended hundreds of feet high.
Also located on Lookout Mountain is the mystical Ruby Falls, one of the largest underground waterfalls in the world. Discovered in 1928 by cave enthusiast Leo Lambert, Ruby Falls is also located in one of the deepest commercial caves, at a staggering 1,120 feet underground.
Guests visiting Ruby Falls for the first time will not know what to expect. Upon being transported via elevator hundreds of feet below, visitors are welcomed into an enormous cave, which doesn’t give any indication that it is home to a gigantic waterfall.
As a tour guide leads a group through a maze of rock formations, one can only be in amazement of what Lambert went through to discover the falls, which he named after his wife.
After a nearly a 30-minute hike past breathtaking stalagmites and stalactites, the cavern opens up and visitors get a glimpse of the awe-inspiring wonder. Enhanced by multi-colored lights, Ruby Falls is one of the most thrilling sights in Chattanooga. Guests are encouraged to walk around the falls to really appreciate its sheer beauty.
Chattanooga is definitely a place that can be enjoyed by history buffs and thrill seekers alike, and, visitors should take in a little of both for the best experience. Who would have thought we could do all of this in just 24 hours?
Visit ChattanoogaFun.com for more information.