We didn’t go anywhere for Spring Break this year, except to the zoo. Today’s planned trip to Dollywood was canceled due to illness. So I got to feeling nostalgic about last year’s Spring Break trip, which I had never gotten around to sharing here.
Because I’ve waited a year to write about this, the details of the trip are less than clear. So I’m going to dump a LOT of pictures here, with less explanation than usual. But let me start by saying that if you live in Knoxville, and you’ve never taken a trip to Chattanooga, you are missing out. If you live farther away, it’s still worth the drive. We only did about half of what we wanted to do last year–the children’s museum, the nature center, the art museum, and more all await another visit.
So one year ago yesterday we packed up and drove 90 miles to Chattanooga, where our accommodations were cheap and convenient and that’s the best that could be said about them.
Clearly, Echo was not in favor of our leaving!
Tickets to local attractions are available at reduced prices online, so we were ready to get started as soon as we arrived. We began at the bottom of Lookout Mountain and rode the Incline Railway to the top.
I’ve ridden this thing before, years and years ago, but the cars were more enclosed than they are now and the . . . STEEPNESS . . . did not register with me. It registered with poor William, though, and he was not a fan.
Once at the top, the first thing to do is marvel at the beautiful views, which are not in short supply on Lookout Mountain.
We also got a look at the machinery that runs the Incline Railway.
Our first stop was Battles for Chattanooga, right down the street. On our way we enjoyed the beautiful homes and gardens we passed. We browsed the gift shop which is replete with Civil War memorabilia while we waited for the show to start.
The show itself is a combination of film and one of those models of all the battlefields that lights up to illustrate the various campaigns. You may have seen something similar in Gettysburg or Atlanta if you’ve been there. This was the first time I’d been to this attraction, and it was very instructive and provided context for Point Park, our next stop.
History, rock formations, and views are plentiful in Point Park, which charges a small entry fee on the honor system. There’s a little self-guided museum, and miles of walking trails which I am hoping to return to explore one day. Seriously, it’s so beautiful and you could spend an entire day right here.
We had other places to go, though, so we rode the Incline back down (William had to be very brave!) and drove the car back up so we could SEE ROCK CITY, just like the barns say.
Rock City is an attraction that is hard to categorize. The brainchild of Mr. and Mrs. Carter above, what began as an extension of the garden around their home is now a network of trails, massive rock formation, nerve-wracking bridges, breathtaking views, and more.
Above you see a nice solid rock bridge and a swinging bridge. Can you guess which one I walked across?
I bet you guessed right! 🙂
Directly above you’ll see a shot of Lovers’ Leap (with the waterfall turned green in honor of Saint Patrick!) and then what Rock City is probably most famous for: the view of seven states which strikes me as totally possible on a clear day.
There are some rare white fallow deer housed at Rock City. I didn’t get a picture but you can see Lorelei and William looking at them below!
The white deer are part of the fairy tale motif for which Rock City is known. Gnomes are plentiful, and there’s a whole gallery of nursery rhyme scenes.
At the conclusion of our Rock City adventure, we found a family-friendly Asian restaurant nearby before retreating to our lodgings to rest up for the next day’s activities.
We started the second day of our trip with another iconic Chattanooga attraction: Ruby Falls.
All I can say is that it’s a good thing God chose Leo Lambert and not me to discover His handiwork and reveal it to the masses. The story of his harrowing crawl through the pitch-dark and tiny passageways is terrifying. Luckily we can experience the beauty of the caverns without doing that. I’m just sharing a few pictures because even with an iPhone (WAY better than the Kodak with flip-flash I had the first time I visited almost 40 years ago!) it’s just hard to capture good images in the low light.
With Ruby Falls behind us, we headed down Lookout Mountain and into downtown Chattanooga with the Tennessee Aquarium next on our agenda. They’d added a whole new building since our last visit. One building showcases freshwater and the other seawater creatures.
I’d give more info on these creatures if I could, but it’s been a year and my memory of what things are is hazy. William would be able to tell me if I asked him–it’s fun to hear him announce the names of obscure animals without reading the informational placards.
These guys I recognize and you will too. There are many of them in the bayou area and it was fun to watch them.
I love all the beautiful colors and patterns–living art.
Water creatures share the Aquarium with some other wild things. This was taken in the butterfly room, where if you are lucky you may find yourself a perch for several butterflies!
And while penguins seem a bit out of place to me I’m not going to complain because look how cute they are. We had a hard time dragging the kids away.
These guys though–they are creepy.
The other-worldly, ethereal beauty of jellyfish is always fascinating to me.
And there were more to come, as the Aquarium is currently hosting an art exhibit with jellyfish and art inspired by them.
I’m pretty sure my kids would name the Aquarium if you asked them which part of our visit to Chattanooga they enjoyed most.
We were there until closing time and then we hit downtown to search for a William-approved restaurant (Genghis Grill) before heading back to the motel. We squeezed a lot of fun into two days and I was just talking to John today about how much more there is to see and do in Chattanooga. We will be back!