TRAVEL DOWN A NEW ROAD In and Around Chattanooga

Chattanooga, Tennessee is nicknamed The Scenic City and it certainly lives up to the nickname. Majestic mountains, the Tennessee River, cultural and fun events, and lush parks make it a travel destination for many. I have been a resident of the Chattanooga area for five years and have come to love and appreciate the many recreation offerings of this midsize Southern city.

The pictures above feature Chattanooga's Coolidge Park, a lush green space offering fountains for playing, grass for picnics and beautiful river views. The walking bridge is a beautiful view from the grounds of the Hunter Museum, part of Chattanooga's Bluff View Art District. Also featured is a shot of Rock City. The Tennessee Aquarium can be seen from Ross's Landing. Lover's Leap at Rock City is not for you if you're afraid of heights.

If you are planning a trip to Chattanooga, there are many travel guides that you will find online that direct you to certain places and events. Some of these places are expensive tourist traps and don't give you a real feel for the city, its history and character. Chattanooga is a city that has temperate weather conditions which are favorable for outdoor recreation. Sure, you can visit the tourist places and there are a few that I recommend here, but there are also things to do that cost less and involve fewer crowds. The touristy places I recommend are listed below:

The Walnut Street Walking Bridge is possibly the most photographed sight in Chattanooga and for good reason. It is the focal point of the downtown area, connecting walkers and bicyclists to both sides of the river at Coolidge Park and Ross's Landing. The bridge has great views of the park below, the downtown area and the river. The bridge is also a place for wedding photographers to capture the bride and groom on the city's most iconic landmark. There are plenty of benches spanning the bridge if you need to take a break. On a personal note, this is where my wedding proposal took place, so it holds a special place in my heart. It is also a safe place to walk or ride a bike as long as you don't mind dodging pigeons. The bridge also hosts Wine over Water, a wine tasting event for charity which is held each autumn. Of course the bridge gets crowded on nice spring days, but if you go early enough in the day, you will find mostly runners and bicyclists enjoying themselves. I prefer to visit in the winter; however, it gets windy on the bridge, so be sure to wear a hat if you plan a winter trip. At the Ross's Landing end of the bridge, there is an ice cream shop and a local market which serves snacks and rents bikes.

The Tennessee Aquarium and IMAX is a fun place; however, it is pricey and I have found that in order to spend enough time on the exhibits in both buildings, one day is really not sufficient. The Tennessee Aquarium is divided into two buildings. One is Ocean Journey and the other is River Journey. There is much to see in each building and there is also the IMAX theatre, which is a separate entity across the street. If money and time are no issue, I definitely recommend the aquarium. The butterfly habitat is particularly fascinating. There are restaurants surrounding the aquarium and some are just a couple of blocks away. Plan to come early and spend the entire day to get your money's worth on this one. As far as large aquariums go, this one is one of the best I've ever seen.

If you drive anywhere in a 50 mile radius of Chattanooga, you will see the infamous See Rock City barns. Rock City is a very popular tourist attraction that is best enjoyed on a clear day, so the Seven States view is best. There is a lot to see at Rock City, but the highlight is Lover's Leap, a rock formation with breathtaking views of the Tennessee Valley. The Enchanted Trail is also a must-see at Rock City. The trail is not accessible for strollers or wheelchairs. Take time to see the Wings to Soar Raptor show while you are visiting Rock City.
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