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Chattanooga, Tennesse

Updated: Jul 10, 2021

We did a day trip recently and is a great getaway as it is so close to Atlanta. We but plan to go back and spend the night next time. On this last trip, we left about 7 am and got home about 9:30 pm

Look Out Mountain Incline Railway

Our first stop was to take a ride on one of the steepest passenger railways in the world - Lookout Mountain's Incline Railway. Known as "America's Most Amazing Mile," The Incline's trolley-style cars climb through the natural beauty surrounding historic Lookout Mountain at a breathtaking 72.7% grade - straight up! Sit back, relax and enjoy the scenic views of the mountains and valleys from the observation windows on the train as well as the panoramic views from the observation tower at The Incline's top station" From their website

The day we went to the incline they opened at 9 am. We got their about 9:20 and it was already a 1 hour wait. Luckily they allowed my mother who had a cane to sit while my son and I stood in line. It was a hot 95 degree day so we were in the sun some of that waiting. They have bathrooms here but you have to ask people to move in line to get to them. They have a place while in line to get a picture taken I think they were around $20. They have them printed for you at the top. About 44 people get in a car and they run every 15 mins roughly, some times 10 sometimes 20. Then it takes about 12 mins to get up. One car is pulling the other car so they leave at the same time from the top to the bottom.

Again, it was a super hot day and we were hot from being in line, thank goodness I had a hand held fan, you get in the car with no air and the sun beaming down on you through the glass top roof so sit by one of the cracked open windows. I think fall would be a great time to go to see the leaves changed and cooler temps. Once you move if you are near the back you will feel the breeze. You then take your incline up. You are backwards going up and has a great view. They give you history as you ride up! It is not really scary or liek a roller coaster, just a slow nice ride up. Once at the top you get out, be careful of your step, as you walk up the slanted car. My mom sat in the back and has balance issues and uses the cane for it, but she did fine. The "driver" was also very helpful with her. You are free to walk around and go up to the top two levels for the views!

They have a gift shop up here and they sell snacks. You then wait to go back down. There are two lines. Look for the smallest one. They will rotate sides when they go down. One had like 5 people and one had like 30 people Not sure why people did not use both sides, so look for the smaller line. Then you go down with again more history. You must get off here. There are a few places to eat near here if you want to eat before or after. Parking: The lot is right after you drive past the incline. Please note, this is a pay lot. We did not see the pay part and luckily I saw it while in line for the incline and ran to pay for our parking. A cop does monitor this. You can pay via the app or you need exact change or a charge card. I suggest you bring water for in line while you wait, binoculars for the top, hand held fan if hot and snacks if you do not want to buy any up there.

There is a way to drive up to the top. Their website:… You can also get combo tickets for other places in the area, so if you are doing those, you would want a combo ticket.

Tennessee Aquarium

Next up was the Aquarium about a 10 min ride away. We ended up for time sake eating at the little Next up was the Aquarium about a 10 min ride away. We ended up for time sake eating at the little “food court at the Tennessee Aquarium” places that had a few places inside to eat. If we had time we would have eaten at places that had a few places inside to eat. If we had time we would have eaten at Pucketts. It is right there. Parking was very hard to find. I dropped off my mom and parked about 4 blocks away in a parking garage. There are a few lots near the aquarium, but they were all full.

Get your tickets on line before you go to save time in line. Check Groupon sometimes has them too. The line was long to get tickets. Download the app ahead of time too.

They have two buildings for this aquarium. River Journey and Ocean Journey. You can start at either. Both make you start on the top floor and work your way down. They have both elevators and escalators.

This link tells you the difference between the two buildings

We did the Ocean Journey first. They had a butterfly room, you can touch sea life here, they had penguins in here and an under sea cavern. I would start here first in my opinion and then do the other building. My son enjoyed this side the best. The other building was lots of aquariums and you go down most of it with rooms on the side with little exhibits. By this time we got tired and well all the fish seemed to look the same so we could walk through it faster.

Outside the aquarium between the two buildings are little water/river looking areas where we saw lots of kids playing in the water.

We then went to the Creative Discovery Museum which is like a children's museum. This is a great place for children! I am sad we did not bring my son when he was little. This is one of the best children’s museums we have been to. We could have been here all day too!

It is about 3 blocks from the aquarium and was actually right near the garage we parked our car in.

This is a great hands on area. My 9 yr old loved the maker space working area. We were in there two hours and he already asked when can we go back.

They have a little cafe here too.

The staff was amazing. My son wanted to make a little pillow in the maker space area and she heard me tell him we needed to leave so they made him a little to go bag for us to make it at home.

Be sure to plan on a few hours here no matter what the age of your child.

I did not have time to pictures of most of the areas so know it has a lot more than pictures.

We then got in the car and drove less than a mile to the Southern Belle Riverboat Cruise.

There are two large lots across the street from the boat. Again use the parking app to pay for parking, charge card or exact cash. Look for the large Riverboat across the street. They have a huge gift shop and you go in to get your real tickets at teh cash register. You can shop around while you wait and then they will tell you when to board. They do have a restaurant on the top of the shop called the Burger Bar.

You can just take the 2 hour cruise, but we knew we would need dinner about them, so spent the extra money on it. We are glad we did. The top floor is open and again it was very hot that day. They do have a covering there, so you are not in the sun, but not many seats there for everyone and you do get a breeze, but it would have been hot for 2 hours up there. They also have a bar and some snacks you could buy up there.

The bottom two floors are the restaurants that have assigned seating. We paid $50 upgrade for our family to have a window seat and you could have a bottle of wine when the bar opened or a shrimp, cheese and cracker appetizer. Both came with 2 captains hats and 2 wine glasses you can keep. We were glad we did this at they took a while before the buffet opened. your cheesecake desert will also be on the table already.

They let you go up only once to get food and in a certain seat order, so we were glad we had the appetizer food ahead of time. They had turkey, roast beef, a salad, veggies, potatoes and rolls on the buffet. The bar did not open for a while either and we were thirsty so glad we have water bottles with us. They say to get there an hour ahead but they did not let us board till 15 mins till and were still boarding at 5:15 when it was a 5:00 cruise.

Upstairs general tickets

Get your tickets ahead of time on line.The cruise was nice and they had live music playing on all 3 floors as well as restrooms on all 3 floors.

The food was good, just remember no seconds, so get it all the first trip.

We had a great time in Chattanooga and got a lot done in one day but hope to go back and spend the night and see more.

Other areas of interest:

Coolidge Park Splash Pad and Antique merry go round

Make sure to check back each Travel Tuesday, when I post about another great family trip! Check us out on Facebook or Instagram

For our complete list of family fun trips, check here

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