Chattanooga is a vibrant, family-friendly, scenic city in southeastern Tennessee on the banks of the Tennessee River, at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. It is only 2 hours from Atlanta and Birmingham and its many attractions, such as Lookout Mountain, the Ruby Falls waterfall, and Rock City, make it attractive to visitors. The city offers a fascinating range of hotels, from charming historic bed and breakfasts such as St. Francis Cottage and Bluff View Inn, to modern, large, luxurious hotels such as The Chattanoogan. And, of course, they all have that unique combination of Southern charm and hospitality with modern comfort and amenities. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.The Edwin Hotel
3.St Francis Cottage
4.Bluff View Inn
5.Mayor's Mansion Inn Bed and Breakfast
6.The Read House
7.The Dwell Hotel
Where to Stay in Chattanooga - 7 Best Romantic Getaways
- The Edwin Hotel, Photo: The Edwin Hotel
- The Chattanoogan, Photo: The Chattanoogan
- St Francis Cottage, Photo: St Francis Cottage
- Bluff View Inn, Photo: Bluff View Inn
- Mayor's Mansion Inn Bed and Breakfast, Photo: Mayor's Mansion Inn Bed and Breakfast
- The Read House, Photo: The Read House
- The Dwell Hotel, Photo: The Dwell Hotel
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com
Attraction Spotlight: Raccoon Mountain
Raccoon Mountain is a premier RV park and campground and is the highest rated in Tennessee. Located outside of Chattanooga, Raccoon Mountain is nationally recognized for their cave systems and spectacular mountain views.
Raccoon Mountain was originally known as Mount Aetna and up until the late 1920’s was undeveloped. Local farmers would use the exposed limestone at the base of the mountain as a spot to cool off in the summer as cold air blew through the cracks. Leo Lambert visited in 1929 after he discovered Ruby Falls and found what became the Crystal Palace Room.
Lambert opened Tennessee Caverns to the public on June 28th, 1931 with the Lambert Tour which circled the Crystal Palace Room. 20 years later more cave rooms were discovered and the tour could be expanded and now reaches 5.5 miles with new discoveries being made still to this day.
The name of caves has changed several times and is now officially Raccoon Mountain since the early 1970’s. The campgrounds include full RV access with water and electricity, primitive camping as well as cabins.
There are 5.5 miles of caverns that have been discovered so far at Raccoon Mountain with 100% natural formations that can be experienced from lighted walkways. The caves are still geologically active and two different tours are offered.
Panning- Find rare gemstones, arrowheads and fossils by panning for them in front of the gift shop at Raccoon Mountain Caverns. Visitors have been excited to find genuine amethyst, quartz, sapphire, emeralds, citrine, and even ancient fossils! This educational and fun activity shows participants proper panning techniques and you take home everything you find in your bag. Different bags are available for purchase in the gift shop. The largest bag will include an Amethyst, fossils, arrow heads, and different gemstones.
Crystal Palace Tour- This 45- minute guided tour takes participants through the front of the cave and is one half mile long. Visitors will learn the history of the cave and how caves are formed. Expect to see wildlife such as bats and salamanders on the tour. The cave is 58 degrees all year round. Large groups can be accommodated with advanced reservations.
Wild Cave Expeditions- Participants are provided with helmets, protective gear, and lights before setting out on this adventurous and muddy tour that requires a lot of physical exertion, climbing and crawling. Participants explore the inner portions of the cave with a skilled guide that not many members of the general public get to see. Groups from 2-75 can be accommodated and age requirements vary depending on the specific expedition planned. There are also height requirements for some expeditions. More information about Wild Cave Expeditions can be found at www.wildcave.com
Staying on Raccoon Mountain
Raccoon Mountain was rated Chattanooga’s premier RV park and campground. There are four different way to camp at Raccoon Mountain.
Full Service RV Sites- Sites include city water, sewer, cable, and electricity and can accommodate class A motor homes or anyone desiring a large site. There are also slightly smaller lots available for standard size vehicles. All rates include up to 4 people. Some of the sites are shaded while others are not.
Water and Electric Sites- These sites are ideal for tent campers, vans and popups. They are shaded by mature trees, located near the pool and bath houses and nearly all the sites are back in. Several of the sites have sewer connections and there is a dump station for registered guests.
Primitive Sites- These sites are perfect for campers who want a quieter and more secluded experience but still want to have easy access to amenities such as a fire ring and picnic tables. Each site can host two tents and up to four people. The bathhouses and city water are within walking distance.
Cabins- There are nine cabins available for rent at raccoon Mountain that sleep 4-7 people. Photos of the cabins with policies and amenities are available on the website.
Pets are welcome at the Raccoon Mountain Campgrounds and RV Park however, there are restrictions on breed that can be found on the website and only service animals can be permitted in the camp store and gift shop and no animals are permitted in the cave systems.
There are rules pertaining to pets:
· Pets must be on leash
· Dogs must have a valid rabies tag displayed
· No pet waste can be on any site
· No pet can be left unattended for any amount of time outside on an RV
· Dog bites require contact to the Sherriff’s department and Health Department
319 West Hills Drive, Chattanooga, TN 37419, Phone: 423-821-9403
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Attraction Spotlight: Creative Discovery Museum
The Creative Discovery Museum is one of the top Children’s Museums in the United States, located in Chattanooga. The interactive museum features educational programing and hands-on exhibits for more than 200,000 visitors every year and has over 40 community partnerships.
The Creative Discovery Museum started as an idea recommended by the Board of the Hunter Museum of American Art to have a Children’s Museum be part of the revitalization of Chattanooga in 1989. Children of Chattanooga along with a large group of educators, content specialists, and focus groups put together design plans and the concept for the museum and out of 450 names submitted, Creative Discovery Museum was the chosen name.
The 42,000-square foot building and the exhibits was designed and constructed by the Lee H. Skolnick Architecture and Design Partnership after a $16.5 million dollar campaign. The Creative Discovery Museum opened its doors to the public in 1995 and become a vital part of the community as an educational resource and collaborative, nonprofit organization. The Museum has won many accolades including a national award from the Association of Children’s Museum for the programs for children with disability that CDM offers.
The exhibits at the Creative Discovery Museum seek to inspire children to think creatively and know that there are many times more than one correct answer to a problem. The exhibits are multi-disciplinary exploring art, music, sciences and technology in hands-on and interactive environments.
· Barsamian sculpture- A one of a kind exhibit made for CDM exclusively, this exhibit tricks your eyes into seeing something that isn’t there!
· Buzz Alley and Bee Garden- Check out how a bee colony operates in this full-size Honey Bee Hive.
· Corner Clinic- Kids can explore a lifelike doctor’s office, complete with exam table and stethoscopes.
· Culinary Corner- Healthy snack options using freshly prepared ingredients from the CDM garden are showcased in this exhibit where kids can learn recipes and cooking tips.
· Discovery Library- This quiet space is perfect for families to sit down and relax with books and Storytime.
· Excavation Station- Dig and build sand castles in the large-scale sand pit, complete with construction tools.
· Lookout Tower- An observation deck with an amazing view of Chattanooga.
· Little Yellow House- This 4-year-old and under play area is full of age appropriate activities that toddlers can enjoy.
· Make it- Inventors, creators, crafters, creative kids will love Make it, the newest exhibit at CDM. This space is best for children age 5 and up and uses tools such as sewing machines, hammers, and saws.
· Museum Plaza- Visit the herb and flower gardens and blow bubbles that you can fit inside.
· Performing Arts Gallery- A series of rooms dedicated to musical instruments and performing arts. Visitors can play instruments, record their voice and see what happens in a recording studio and more.
· River Play- Learn all about how the river works on this Riverboat transports kids on an adventure in this 2.5 story exhibit.
· Rooftop Fun Factory- This outdoor rooftop exhibit feature simple machines that visitors can explore in a hands on play environment.
· Student Art Gallery- Art from Chattanooga area students is displayed in this gallery
· Visual Arts Gallery- Children of all ages can create art in many different mediums in this gallery that explores photography, sculpture, drawing, weaving, and computer graphics.
Creative Discovery Museum offering educational programming on and off campus that is multi-sensory and fun. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are welcome to come to the Creative Discovery Museum to earn patches and there are several field trip options for educators that are a part of the local school systems for K-12. CDM also offers outreach events that take place at the school such as outreach lessons, family nights and mobile science labs. There are also lessons online and distance learning available through CDM. More information about resources for educators, homeschool groups and outreach can be found on the CDM website.
Creative Discovery Museum also offers Summer Camps for children age 4-14 that are science-focused, Gingerbread workshops in the winter, and an afterschool program during the school year. Playgym is also offered for children under the age of 3 that builds on sensory development for toddlers.
Shopping and Dining
While visiting the museum Café Dino-Mite is open 7 days a week from 11am till 4pm and serves full size meals and snack items. There are no deep fryers found in this café! Only nutritious food can be found here such as salads made from fresh roof top garden ingredients and deli style sandwiches.
The Museum Gift Shop carries a wide variety of toys and gifts that tie back to the exhibits found inside. All proceeds from the gift shop benefit the museum and kids can even create a wish list while shopping.
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321 Chestnut Street, Chattanooga, Tennessee, 37402, Phone: 423-756-2738
Attraction Spotlight: International Towing and Recovery Museum
The International Towing Museum in Chattanooga features a Hall of Fame that includes more than 300 towing professionals from around the world. The museum offers interactions with tow trucks full of fun and nostalgia. More than two decades ago a group of towing professionals established the Friends of Towing with a mission to recognize, record the history of and display artifacts from the industry of towing and recovery around the world. The group designed a Hall of Fame on a Semi Trailer that was driven to trade shows and was called the Friends of Towing Hall of Fame and Museum. The first class of inductees included 27 towing professionals.
The organization decided in 1995 to begin looking for a permanent location to establish a museum. The group chose Chattanooga Tennessee as it was the birth place of the first tow truck by inventor Ernest Holmes. The Hall of Fame was renamed International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum.
Hall of Fame
The Hall of Fame was established by the Friends of Towing who nominated 27 members into the first class. Since 1986, there are now over 300 members with a new class being added in a ceremony each September. Those who are included in this Hall of Fame are people in the Towing and Recovery industry who have made a substantial contribution to the standards of the industry. Some of the inductees are businessmen others are inventors and manufacturers.
Induction Weekend- This is the weekend that new members are inducted into the hall of fame in a ceremony. The event is over a three-day weekend and reservations must be made and paid for in advance. This weekend package includes several social activities, hotel accommodations, fine dining selections. There are tiers of tickets available that include different options. This event is the biggest fundraiser for the International Towing and Recovery Museum and is held annually in September.
The major exhibits at the International Towing and Recovery Museum include the Hall of Fame and the wreckers that are on display for visitors to get up close and personal with. Most of the wreckers that are on the showroom floor have been completely restored. Exhibits can change frequently as new inductees are added annually to the Hall of Fame and new artifacts are being added to the collection.
Wall of the Fallen- This exhibit was dedicated as a permanent but ever evolving exhibit in September of 2006. Wall of the Fallen is a monument dedicated to towing operators who were killed while doing their jobs. The mission of the wall is to raise public awareness to the dangers involved in the towing industry and to commemorate the fatalities related to the career field. There are approximately 60 towing operators who are killed annually and the International Towing Museum has set up a fund to benefit survivor families. More information on this fund can be found online. Every September, new names are added to the wall in a special ceremony to honor the fallen.
1926 Ford Model TT with Manley Crane- A local Cameron resident restored the 1926 Ford Model TT that was acquired at auction. He added a Manley crane and did a complete restoration bringing this tower back to working condition.
1948 Chevrolet 515 Holmes- a Holmes 515 bed is mounted to the back of a 1948 Chevy Truck and made its way to Chattanooga all the way from Westboro Massachusetts. The truck was completely restored and is the first Holmes 515 in the area.
World’s Fastest Wrecker- This wrecker was featured at the Talladega Speedway until 2005. Eddie Martin could drive this wrecker at speeds topping 109 miles per hour around the 33 degree turns of the track and over 130 miles per hours down the straightaways. The museum was able to purchase the wrecker in 2006 and it remains a visitor favorite.
Holmes w-45 Military Wrecker Diamond-T “Redball Express”- This W-45 Wrecker was built in Chattanooga and was one of only 7238 manufactured between 1941-1949. Used in France as part of the invasion known as the Red Ball Express, the wrecker was part of the US Army until the winter of 1947 when it was given to French arms.
Gift Shop- Hundreds of items relating to the towing and recovery industry are available at the gift shop and shoppable through the online store on the International Towing and Recovery Museum website. Visitors will find apparel, drinkware, souvenirs, models, stuffed animals, toys, games, books, jewelry, and more.
3315 Broad Street, Chattanooga, Tennessee, 37408, Phone: 423-803-4705