Do you usually travel over holiday weekends? We do if the holiday falls on a Friday or Monday because it works out great with our schedule and we’re able to go places without having to take a day off work. Columbus Day is celebrated on a Monday, so we decided to visit Chattanooga, Tennessee over the holiday weekend. It is currently the “IT” city of the South and draws more than 3 million visitors a year.
Chattanooga offers a variety of options for a vacation destination; there is something for everyone. Although the Tennessee Aquarium is an absolute must if you have not been, there are other great places to check out. These are some of the highlights over the weekend we spent there:
We did not visit the Tennessee Aquarium this trip, but we did ride the River Gorge Explorer that is guided by a Tennessee Aquarium naturalist. It is a 2 hour boat ride in a climate controlled setting and offers fantastic views of the scenery and wildlife along the Tennessee River. We spotted several species of birds including blue osprey, herons and a hawk. It is appropriate for all age groups, there is plenty of room for kids to be kids and for adults to find some peace and quiet. You are initially seated in the inside cabin to ride to your destination. Once you reach destination, you are free to hang out on the viewing deck or the stern of the boat. The boat has 4 engines and 35 mm horsepower, which the captains takes advantage of to ensure the passengers are safe while throwing in a bit of high speed and a maybe a few tricks when other boat traffic allows.
If your visit is going to coincide at a busy time of the year, buy your tickets in advance online and bring a printed copy with you. Tickets can be bought at the Aquarium, but lines can be really long and tickets are quick to sell out.
No need to arrive at the docking location more than 10 min prior. There is not a lot of waiting space and there is plenty of seating in the boat.
There are two ticket options: River Gorge Explorer (Adults: $32.00, Children 3-12- $24.50, Children under 3 – $18) or Tennessee Aquarium/River Gorge Explorer Combo (Adults: $56.95, Children 3-12 – $39.95, Children under 3 – $18).
We enjoy taking walking tours whether on the road or at home because they are a great way to see and learn about a city. We usually take large group walking tours because they’re affordable and low hassle. When we were looking for walking tours in Chattanooga, we found Chattanooga Sidewalk Tours and saw it was rated on TripAdvisor. They are a local company that gives group and private tours for locals and tourists. It was really easy to book with them, we corresponded through email a few times to find a time worked for all of us.
Chattanooga Sidewalk Tours offers two walking tours: Dynamo of Dixie and Bluffs and Bridges. We decided to take the Bluffs and Bridges Tour because we wanted to learn more about the people that helped to influenced Chattanooga’s transformation, see their homes and see the world class bridges and bluffs in Chattanooga. It was a 90 minute walk, perfect for anyone that enjoys a leisurely walk. Our guide, Keith, was fantastic. He was extremely knowledgeable about Chattanooga’s history and could answer practically any question pertaining to it and the Civil War.
Price: $15 per person, but it’s the south so be nice and tip too!
Who doesn’t like a good chocolate shop? This locally owned artisan chocolate and pastry shop, located across from the Chattanooga Choo Choo, is a must visit while in Chattanooga. They offer pastries that rival some of the best European ones, every kind of hot chocolate and coffee favor you can think of and excellent artisan chocolates. There’s even a window in the shop where one can watch chocolatiers and pastry chefs working. If you’re looking for an afternoon pick me up or an after dinner snack, this is your place.
This is a locally owned brewery that aims to be as green as possible. The brewery uses organic ingredients in their drinks and food and aims to be as environmentally friendly as possible in their business operations. They offer several different kinds of beer on tap as well as organic wine and spirits. For the people who cannot or do not like to drink alcohol, there is house made root beer available. Their menu is great for meat eaters as well as vegetarians. It’s a very laid back atmosphere, great place to hang out and watch a game. If you’re looking for a locally owned place with great drinks and food, consider this next time you’re visiting Chattanooga.