What is There to Do in Chattanooga
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Chattanooga is a great
place especially if you like nature-related activities
and scenery which seem to be everywhere in the city. Even
the downtown area has a lot of trees along the sidewalks
and a very unique park (Miller Park) with a waterfall and fountain. All
the power cables are underground so there is a feel of
openness which adds to the sense of natural beauty and
softens the appearance of what would normally be expected
of a downtown area.
Another interesting place to go the few people know about is the TVA Raccoon Mountain Pump Storage Visitors Center and Reserve about 15 minutes from downtown. There you can discover many facts about the Tennessee Valley Authority and the interesting pump storage generating plant. Also there are may dirt bike and walking trails and a very nice view of the Chattanooga downtown area and the Tennessee River Gorge from the overlook points. This is a free attraction. UPDATE: The Raccoon Mountain Visitor's Center is closed while some extensive maintenance is being done on the generators, but you can still explore the dirt bike trails and drive across the longest dirt filled dam in Tennessee (1 mile long). About two thirds the way across the dam is a road which takes you to a park called Laurel Point where there are rest rooms and picnic areas. For more information on this area, go to this link.
Tourist attractions in the downtown area skyrocketed over the last decade.
Restaurants of all types can be found in that general downtown area. Also, there is one of the most unique aquariums you might expect
to see. It is at the end of Broad street, close to the Tennessee River. In that area, you will also find the IMAK
theater, the Creative
Discovery Museum, the
Bell South Baseball Stadium, and the Majestic Movie Theater. There
is a free shuttle that runs every 5
minutes which will take you from the Aquarium area (one block from the
Majestic) through downtown and all the way to the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel complex. The shuttle has stops in almost every block. The Chattanooga Visitor's Center is now located at the parking garage on the left side of the hotel. Also located at the Choo Choo is one of the most unique and entertaining restaurants in Chattanooga: The Station House. Your server and all the other servers are also singers and will perform for you on stage or out in the restaurant. Believe me, they are all good! I suggest you call ahead for reservations. They are open 6PM to 10PM, Tuesday through Saturday. You will need to dial the hotel number (423.266.5000) to be transferred to the restaurant.
The Bessie Smith Hall was named after a renowned Black jazz singer from Chattanooga and contains a Museum of Black history and hosts various activities including a jazz festival, dances and other community programs. During the week of the annual Riverbend Festival, the street in front of the Bessie Smith Hall is closed to traffic on that Monday and a wide selection of R&B bands, barbecue stands and thousands of Festival participants crowd the street in what is known as the Bessie Smith Strut. There is now a small admission price for the strut. The Riverbend Festival itself is one of the top 20 festivals in the nation and draws around a half million people to see the big name entertainment and to sample the multitude of different types of food. Look for it to be held in the second week of June. There is usually a big fireworks display at the end of the festival but there seems to be fireworks (for other reasons) just about every other month. The entertainment on the major stages on the River has been trending toward country in recent years but there is also R&B entertainment.
Don't miss seeing the
traditional attractions like Rock
City, Ruby Falls
and Point Park on top of Lookout
Mountain complete with spectacular views overlooking
Chattanooga. Just travel down Broad street from
downtown toward the big mountain and then follow the
signs. Also, at least once, ride the Mountain Incline Railway on it's nearly one mile
trip straight up the face of Lookout Mountain. Even is you don't ride the Incline, stop at the Incline visitors and souvenir shop on top of the mountain for a free panoramic view of the city. Point Park also has a panoramic view but there is an admission charge. If you
would rather ride or look at one of the old trains of
yesteryear, visit the Tennessee
Railroad Museum. This wonderful place is located
about 15 minutes from downtown. Take 75 North to Highway 153. Then get off 153 on the Jersey Pike exit. Turn left on Jersey Pike and then right on the first street you get to. Travel about a mile to the Railroad museum.
Shopping is a traditional attraction that is constant for many people regardless of what city they visit. One of Tennessee's largest malls, Hamilton Place, is located about 9 miles from downtown Chattanooga. In that area, you will also find a great selection of restaurants ranging from all fast food types to great sit-down types like The Chop House, Outback, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and even a Chris's Steak House (next to the new Embassy Suits Hotel). Take I-75-north and take the Hamilton exit (just after the Hwy 153 exits). If you miss that one, you can get off the freeway at the very next exit,Shallowford Road. On that exit ramp, stay in the right lane. You will be forced onto the road that leads directly into the mall.
Chattanooga has an abundance of churches including a variety of denominations and with fifteen churches within one mile of downtown alone. My church is First Baptist on East Eighth Street in the downtown area. Our web site is http://www.FBCE8.com
Chattanooga is in a good starting location for making one-day trips to the popular cities of Atlanta and Nashville which each are only two hours away. The only thing that I don't like about our city is it seems freeway construction is always going on. I hope one day they will actually let us drive on the freeways without having to dodge orange barrels ...
I don't have all the answers so call the Visitor's Bureau at
(423) 756-8687 for other information.
© 2015 by F. L. Marsh
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