Chattanooga in Tennessee is one of the cleanest and most eco-friendly cities in the USA and one with a high quality of life.
It’s no wonder that we were hooked after the three days we spent enjoying the well-kept downtown and the many attractions around this city on the Tennessee River.
The Impressive Tennessee Aquarium
After leaving our luggage in our downtown hotel, the 4-Diamond Chattanoogan, we walked to the nearby Tennessee Aquarium, the world’s largest freshwater aquarium that is directly on the river. Together with excited schoolchildren, we marveled at the numerous exhibits, some of which are lovingly recreated habitats of rivers around the world, including the Amazon and the Rhine. We walked past some playful river otters and stopped at a basin to touch prehistoric-looking sturgeon.
From the Tennessee Aquarium, an incredible view of downtown Chattanooga
The Riverwalk and the Chattanooga Choo Choo
After our visit to the aquarium, we strolled along the Riverwalk, an area with paved and landscaped trails along the Tennessee River that’s home to several festivals throughout the year. We took one of the city´s free electric shuttles to the beautiful Chattanooga Choo Choo. Once a train station, the hotel today is a member of Historic Hotels of America. The station’s concourse has been transformed into the hotel foyer, and on the tracks, you’ll find 100-plus-year-old wagons in which you can spend the night.
Steam engines at the Chattanooga Choo Choo converted into restaurants and guest accommodations
Fascinating Attractions Around Lookout Mountain
The next morning, we were up early to visit Lookout Mountain, only about 15 minutes from downtown. After we took the 100-year-old Incline Railway up the rather steep mountain, we enjoyed views of the river and the city from the top. From there, we walked through Point Park, which is part of Chickamauga &Chattanooga National Military Park, marveled at old cannons and, in the adjacent museum, learned interesting facts about the history of this area during the Civil War.
In Rock City Gardens, we walked past picturesque rock formations, through a giant crevice and over a 50-meter-long suspension bridge, accompanied by beautiful music emerging from hidden speakers that created the impression of a magical fairy garden. As we reached the top, there was an unforgettable sight waiting for us: From the top of a giant ledge called Lover’s Leap, we had a fabulous panoramic view of seven states!
Deep inside the mountain, we visited Underground Ruby Falls. After we’d descended hundreds of meters with an elevator, we walked along with our tour and saw impressive rock formations until we reached a room where the lights were dimmed. The star of the underground caves was revealed with a Hollywood-style music and light show: Ruby Falls, a most impressive 45-meter-high cave waterfall, with water falling thunderously from the cave’s ceiling.
New York Peace Memorial towering over Point Park at Lookout Mountain
A Walk Past The Passage to Coolidge Park
On the last day of our visit, we walked through downtown Chattanooga once more, past the water-covered steps of The Passage, an art project that commemorates the seven Cherokee tribes that once lived here. Over the 720-meter-long Walnut Street Bridge, the longest pedestrian bridge in the world, we walked into Chattanooga’s Northshore district and enjoyed the view of the river and downtown from Coolidge Park one last time.
Scenic Coolidge Park in downtown Chattanooga