Sometimes the only thing you want in a holiday, is well a holiday. You want to get away from it all, relax and take in some of the sights and sounds that nature has to offer. Getting back to nature, while still being able to enjoy the perks of a city break is often the perfect marriage of the exciting and the soothing elements that make any vacation perfect. Chattanooga, Tennessee offers this perfect blend of city break and country escape, along with some excellent prices, friendly people, and an easygoing way of life. Whether you’re traveling with friends, with your family, or with that special someone in your life (like your dog), our guide will suit any city mouse or country mouse.
Starting in downtown Chattanooga, you’ll want to make sure you stop by the Tennessee Aquarium. You’ll start with some playful otters, and continue on to see local catfish, sharp-jawed alligators, and gigantic dinosaur-esque sturgeon. You can stop off at the ray and shark touch pond (great for kids and adults alike), and wander through the rainforest butterfly sanctuary. Plan to spend at least 2 hours here to get the most out of your trip, and if you’re up and at ‘em early enough (around 11am) you can even opt for the “Backstage Pass” tour that will allow you to feed the otters, or talk to a scuba diver who’s just come out of the shark tank (ask for Lotto number advice?).
Flickr photo via Andrew Steele
Next, why not experience something that feels truly “old timey” and southern, by going on a riverboat cruise? There are multiple riverboat cruises available to suit your tastes: Chattanooga Ducks offers a tour that’s perfect for people travelling with children, though be warned- duck-billed noise makers will be available to your children and your spouse. Don’t say we didn’t give you a heads up. If you’d rather partake in a more mature riverboat cruise, the Southern Belle offers you an old-fashioned feel, with some of the best panoramas of the riverfront as well as Lookout Mountain. Choose an evenings cruise if you like good Southern food and the opportunity to dance to some good ol’ Southern music as well.
Flickr photo via Brent Moore
If you get seasick, or if you’re really into the Great American Railroad and its historical locomotives, then why not try seeing Chattanooga’s beauty by train. The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum is a little outside of the city, and it’s perfect for couples and families alike. You can choose how long you’d like to ride: they offer tours that last anywhere from 15 minutes to 8 hours (though the longer tours include sojourns for walking about a sightseeing). Pack a picnic for a longer trip, or plan to have lunch at one of the local diners and restaurants for an authentic home cooked taste.
Finish off your trip with wine, in Chattanooga’s first one and only urban winery. Located in a historical and beautiful building (dating back to 1910), you will find DeBarge. Most the wines you’ll taste in the elegant tasting room are cultivated on site and the grapes come from their vineyard on Pigeon Mountain in North Georgia. Whether you’re new to wine tasting, or whether you’re a budding sommelier, you’ll be pleased and impressed with the selection available to you, for a simple 5 dollar tasting. DeBarge is surrounded by some beautiful art galleries and fantastic restaurants, so there’s plenty to do before and after the tasting.
This is just the beginning of what’s available to you in Chattanooga, but these are great basics to start framing your trip.