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Advice - 1st Time Visit to Chattanooga

Pennsylvania
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Advice - 1st Time Visit to Chattanooga

We are making a first visit to Chattanooga at the end of July. We will get in on a Friday night and be leaving for Pigeon Forge sometime Sunday,

Any input or advice would be appreciated.

We are staying at the Residence Inn near Hamilton Place. The more I read, the more I feel we should stay downtown, but my husband isn't convinced. Any pros/cons to not staying downtown?

On Saturday I am thinking of taking a ride on the Tennessee Valley Railroad - then going downtown to the Market and the MoonPie store and then doing some type of boat cruise. I am leaning toward Blue Moon Cruises. Any advice as to the afternoon or evening cruise or Blue Moon vs the other cruises - specifically the one run by the aquarium.

On Sunday we were going to do the 3 things at Lookout Mountain - FAlls, Rock City and Incline. Any advice as to what order to do these?

Pitman, New Jersey
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1. Re: Advice - 1st Time Visit to Chattanooga

I would do Ruby Falls either 1st thing in the a.m. or in the evening. It can get quite crowded there, particularly during summer, and unfortunately, I found they herd you in like cattle. You go out the same way you come in, so it can get pretty tight...not for the claustrophobic.

We did our tour in the evening after dinner, and although it was fairly crowded, it could have been much worse. On the plus side, the waterfall was pretty neat, particularly when it was illuminated.

If you don't do Ruby Falls first thing, definitely go to Rock City, especially if it's a warm day. We found Rock City to be our favorite of the Lookout Mountain attractions. I'd do the incline in the middle of the day.

I didn't see any mention of the aquarium. This is really the prime attraction of Chattanooga and should not be missed.

As for the hotel, we visited the area but did not stay there. We stayed out in the Lookout Valley, which is cheaper. The Chatt experts can offer good suggestions on downtown lodging if you decide you might want to change. It does cut down on driving, particularly for seeing in-town attractions.

Tennessee
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for Chattanooga, Blowing Rock, North Carolina Mountains
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2. Re: Advice - 1st Time Visit to Chattanooga

You say we, but not who "we is". Children or no children? That does make a difference in our answers. Where you are staying, will make a difference. You will have a commute either way and parking payments downtown.

With limited time. Rock City is for sure, then the Aquarium. The Bluff View Arts District is just beautiful and you can go there via the Riverwalk or driving. About a 6 minute walk from downtown. Coolidge Park, on the Northside of the river is beautiful , along with the antique carousel. The Tennesse Valley Railroad is very interesting and enjoyable. About 1/2 way from where you are staying to town. By staying out where you are, you will miss the "heart" of Chattanooga. It is a commercial are, not scenic.

Pennsylvania
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3. Re: Advice - 1st Time Visit to Chattanooga

Traveling will be me, my husband, and our 16 year old son - I should have included that information the first time - thanks for pointing it out.

How far would you estimate from where we are staying (Residence Inn - Hamilton Place) to downtown? Where should I park? I guess I am thinking since the railroad is on our way into downtown we would do that first on Sat, then come into town and everything we want and then back to the hotel. I know the Aquarium is nice and has good reviews, but we don't have an interest in it at least this time. But I was thinking of the Market Place, Coolidge Park, and a Blue Moon Cruise. I am not sure what else.

Thanks for al your help!

Pennsylvania
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4. Re: Advice - 1st Time Visit to Chattanooga

Oh, and how would I get to Coolidge Park - from what I have read so far - possible take the bus part way and then walk across the bridge?

Tennessee
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5. Re: Advice - 1st Time Visit to Chattanooga

The drive from your hotel to downtown is about 20 minutes. I would park in a lot close to the Aquarium and the Tennessee River, then walk across the Walnut Street Bridge or the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge to Coolidge Park. Another option would be to park in the Bluff View Arts Area, about a 5 minute walk above the downtown area an then proceed to the Walnut Street pedestrian Bridge, via the river-walk.

There is parking on the Northside of the river. This would include the shops, eateries and Coolidge. If your timing is right, you can park. If it is late, and it is busy, you are better off on the downtown side, the south side.

Since your son is older, the Discovery Museum would not be of interest. Chattanooga offers an interesting zoo.

vcv
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6. Re: Advice - 1st Time Visit to Chattanooga

As a frequent visitor to Chattanooga, I usually stay in the Hamilton Place area because I've always been able to get better prices on motels there than in the downtown. It's a quick drive to downtown (maybe 15 minutes). If you're a fan of Greek or Italian food, check out the Acropolis (a family-owned and run restaurant in the Hamilton Place area--lots of choices at moderate prices).

There is plenty of parking downtown near the acquarium--or you could drive across the river and park on the north side. Most of the tourist activities are very close together. There's a free trolley that runs up and down Market street (from the acquarium area, where tourist sites are concentrated, north to the Chattanooga Choo Choo).

One activity your son might enjoy (mine did at his age) is a ride on the Chattanooga ducks, which drive around the city for a short time and then into the river. The ducks are located near the acquarium (and the Visitors' Center in that area usually has discount coupons--in fact, the Visitors' Center is a good first stop to pick up the coupon booklet and other information).

The acquarium gets rave reviews, but it's not my favorite Chattanooga attraction, by any means. (It depends on individual preferences.)

The railroad museums should be interesting to all of you.

The battlefield just over the state line has an interesting visitors' center as well as areas to drive (or walk).

Have a great trip.

Edited: 12 July 2010, 02:24
Boston...
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7. Re: Advice - 1st Time Visit to Chattanooga

The Chattanooga Market is great.

Blue Moon with give you the most intimate experience. The Gorge Explorer is more high tech. Blue Moon is a longer trip (3.5 hours) while the explorer is about two hours. Blue Moon is a little more expensive. Just depends on what you're looking for. The other cruises won't take you to the Tennessee River Gorge. If you're interested in another view of the gorge that's 100%, take the hike from Signal Point to Edwards Point on Signal Mountain. One of my most favourite hikes in Tennessee.

Speaking as a seventeen year old, I'd feel kind of lame going to Ruby Falls or the Incline. They're just really touristy. Neat, but touristy. Then again, I would rather stay at home than take a trip to Pigeon Forge, so maybe I just have different interests. Rock City is nice. But there's other stuff on Lookout I like just as much like Reflection Riding, biking on the Guild Trail, Point Park and Sunset Rock, hiking up to Sunset from the base, the chapel and dining hall at Covenant College, Glen Falls, and such. Just counting the front of the mountain.

8. Re: Advice - 1st Time Visit to Chattanooga

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