Just outside downtown Chattanooga is the Incline Railway where passengers can ride the world's steepest railway to the top of Lookout Mountain. A trip to the top affords spectacular views of the city and the Smoky Mountains 100 miles in the distance.
Once at the top of Lookout Mountain, several worthy attractions await visitors. One is Ruby Falls, a waterfall 145 feet tall. It's tucked 1,100 feet inside the mountain, so tourists must be prepared to negotiate a cave in order to gaze upon the falls. For those who can withstand enclosed spaces, it is a beautiful sight.
Rock City Gardens
Also on Lookout Mountain is the outstanding Rock City Gardens with its unusual sandstone formations. The views are incredible. On a clear day, visitors can see up to seven states at once. Children enjoy Rock City because of the fairy tale figures displayed throughout.
Battles for Chattanooga Museum
Those interested in Civil War history will be fascinated by the Battles for Chattanooga Museum, which is also located on Lookout Mountain. The museum records all of the major battles that took place in and around Chattanooga.
Bluff View Art District
Back in the city, the Bluff View Art District is a fabulous place to spend an afternoon of rambling. A free sculpture garden that overlooks the Tennessee River is particularly scenic. The Houston Museum of Decorative Arts and the Hunter Museum of American Art are both close at hand. Tourists can find Coolidge Park and its historic, hand carved carousel on the other side of the Walnut Street Bridge. Just a short walk away is Frasier Street, which hosts a collection of unusual boutiques and eateries designed for a lazy afternoon.
Creative Discovery Museum
Anyone traveling with children will want to put the Creative Discovery Museum on the itinerary. The museum houses exhibits that cater to children as young as 18 months. Most of the displays are interactive, and children seem particularly drawn to the Musician's and Artist's Studios. The Inventor's Workshop is another highlight. Children will want to spend several hours here.
The Tennessee Aquarium is a spectacular attraction for children and adults. The facility boasts the world's biggest freshwater tank. Inside the tank is a journey that begins at the Appalachian source of the Tennessee River and concludes in the Mississippi Delta. Some 9,000 different creatures call the aquarium home. Pause for a movie at the IMAX Theater to give tired feet a rest.