There is plenty to see and do in Chattanooga for couples and families if you are looking for a short getaway. We picked out 4 things we could fit comfortably into a weekend trip to Chattanooga.
We made the drive from our home in late Fall and spent a fabulous weekend in Chattanooga. Go Here to see the pictures and read about the Mayor’s Mansion Bed & Breakfast where we stayed. You will see how gorgeous the leaves were on the street during our stay and tour the inside of the B&B.
Our adventurous weekend included Rock City, Ruby Falls, The Incline at Lookout Mountain and also the Chattanooga Zoo. Of course we did venture downtown and visited some local favorite restaurant places as well.
A favorite family destination for generations, Ruby Falls is home to the tallest and deepest underground waterfall open to the public in the United States.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the majestic Ruby Falls Cavern Castle was designed to resemble a 15th-century Irish castle. It was built in 1929 with limestone excavated from the Ruby Falls elevator shaft which I find fascinating.
The Ruby Falls tour takes you on an almost one mile hike through a cavern after descending a 26 story elevator ride. The year round temp is a comfy 60 degrees. You may need a light jacket.
Many of the passages along the hike are very narrow requiring a single file line as seen above. My hubby is rather tall at 6′ 5″ and often needed to duck his head while walking through these passages.
Along the hike you will see lots of stalagmites and stalactites making Ruby Falls a good field trip for students.
Many of these have been named including one that looks like strips of bacon which is really cool. Your tour guide will share lots of information about the history of Ruby Falls and the caverns along the hike to get there.
The cavern hike is half way over when you reach Ruby Falls which is a natural underground waterfall. The light show synced to music beautifully illuminates the waterfall. Snap pictures quickly because you won’t be there too long. There are so many visitors, you have to hike back out to make room for more.
The entire tour only took us about 2 hours which was great. It leaves plenty of time to visit other sites on Lookout Mountain.
Just six miles from downtown Chattanooga, Rock City is one of the South’s most popular natural attractions. Rock City Gardens has over 400 species of plants and flowers, plus a 140-foot waterfall. Brave visitors can also walk across the Swing-A-Long Bridge along the journey! I am not that brave so I took the easier option.
Rock City is a wonderful outdoor hike experience on top of Lookout Mountain. It is right down the road from Ruby Falls so if you are up for a full day of walking, you can easily do both in the same day. The hike takes you through and around natural rock formations and passed wildflowers, shrubs, plants and trees.
The See Rock City birdhouses are iconic to a historic advertising campaign between 1936 and 1969. Read more about the barn painting ad campaign and see my DIY See Rock City Barn Birdhouse project here.
Lovers Leap is a highlight of the hike with breathtaking views above the waterfall.
There are plenty of snap shot places along the hike at Rock City. This spot with the Lovers Leap Waterfall in the background is a popular photo location.
You will have the unique experience of being able to see seven states across the horizon from atop the mountain. Views include the Chattanooga Valley and Missionary Ridge Civil War battlefields.
We plan to go back during the Christmas holiday season when they are doing the Enchanted Garden of Lights!
In operation since 1895, the Incline is a National Historic site and Mechanical Engineering Landmark. It is the world’s steepest passenger railway.
You can begin your ride at the top or bottom of Lookout Mountain and make a one way trip or you can go round trip. Expect to wait in a line. There are two railway cars moving most of the time because they have a split track at one point, so the line moves fairly quickly.
Riding the Incline was our last stop for the day so we were on top of Lookout Mountain. We left Ruby Falls where I had conquered my fear of being in enclosed places and was about to face my fear of heights. I am not going to lie, I nearly chickened out when I snapped the above picture.
Standing here looking at the railway car at the bottom of the mountain, it doesn’t look too steep at all. Because there is always a line, you have to exit the car and get back in line to go round trip. It doesn’t take long. I have waited longer at theme parks.
The views are amazing for sure. We were here as leaf peeping season was winding down but we still saw some of the amber colors of fall on our journey down the mountain.
The Chattanooga Zoo was really close to our B&B and admission is very affordable. It is always fun to visit a zoo!
You can tour the zoo and fit in another event in the same day. While there are plenty of things to see and do at the zoo, it won’t take up more than a few hours of your day.
This adorable little fella is a Tamarin. Chattanooga Zoo offers some behind the scenes opportunities for guest to interact with some of the animals. The Tamarin is included in those opportunities!
Book the experience in advance, you can reserve online. Isn’t that especially cool! I think so.
Gorillas have always been a favorite at the Zoo.
The Chattanooga Zoo does offer a full event filled day for families. There is a train ride, carousel, camel rides, animal shows, keeper chats and of course the Wild Burger restaurant.
We visited Chattanooga because it was a short drive from our home, only about 3 hours. There was plenty of adventure for the two of us to experience on a weekend get-away. None of the venues take a particularly long time to visit so we were back at the B&B at a reasonable time to be able to sit on the front porch and sip cocoa on those fall evenings.
Combo Tickets are the way to go if you plan to visit more than one of the sites. We purchased combo tickets which included Rock City, Ruby Falls and the Incline for a $10 savings over buying each one individually.