chat_riverboat.jpg The Chattanooga of today enjoys a vibrant downtown and historic landmarks.
Recently, our family of four decided to play “hooky” from our horses and everyday responsibilities and took a long weekend trip to Chattanooga to attempt 101 fun things in a weekend.  The jaunt from Lexington, Kentucky to Chattanooga, Tennessee was an easy five-hour car trip, even with a moody pre-teen girl and active ten-year-old boy.  The four of us have very different travel philosophies ranging from we’ll-wing-it-when-we-get-there to we-must-stick-to-the-itinerary.  Finding a weekend location that suits everything in between is a tall order to fill.  Chattanooga was up to the challenge.

Once considered a dirty little industrial town in the Southernmost section of East Tennessee, with pollution trapped in the air by the surrounding mountains, a dying downtown area, racial tensions, Chattanooga had a dismal outlook for the future. 

Fast-forward a little more than a quarter of a century to the Chattanooga of today with its vibrant downtown and historic landmarks.  Dedicated Chattanoogans who couldn’t bear to see their city die, cleansed the city of its industrial bile and propelled it into the spotlight, once again. 


The Chattanooga Area Convention & Visitors Bureau was incredibly helpful to us as we planned out trip.

Tennessee Aquarium, my son’s favorite

Our weekend started with a trip to the Tennessee Aquarium, and a sneak peak at the new penguin exhibit.  The aquarium is now housed in two buildings:  the River Journey takes you through the aquarium’s fresh water exhibit, and the Ocean Journey, a new exhibit opened in April 2007, provides a glimpse of amazing saltwater inhabitants.  As always, the jellyfish and the sharks were a hit with the male child, but even our sullen female seemed to enjoy the journeys through rivers and lakes and deep into the darkness of the ocean waters.  (Was that a smile I saw?)  It was most surprising to see how much the butterfly exhibit enthralled everyone, though.  From small, squealing children, to gray-haired, squealing children, the prospect of having one of the most beautiful creatures created land on one’s person was enchanting and exciting.

We arrived late on a Friday afternoon and found that the Aquarium was not crowded at all.  We were able to enjoy both buildings in the span of about two and a half hours, walking slowly.  This wasn’t our first trip to the Tennessee Aquarium.  We had visited the Aquarium about five years ago when the children were much smaller (and nicer to travel with), and there was no Ocean Journey.  It was nice to see that the kids enjoyed the visit now as much as they did when they were little.

IMAX® 3-D Theatre

Of course, no trip is complete without a 3-D movie… according to the boy.  Having determined that, our Saturday morning entailed a 3-D movie about dinosaurs.  Tickets to the IMAX® Theatre are available at the Aquarium ticket counter, and guests receive a discount if they are purchased as a package.  Even though we no longer have small children, there were many of them at the movie and (parents sit down) they were mesmerized throughout the film.  There was even a thumbs-up (part-way) from the pre-teen female.  WooHOO!


Click here for details about the following list of Teen & Tween-Approved Places to Eat and Visit

  • Big River Grille  & Brewery Downtown
  • Artha Frankenstein’s 
  • Sticky Fingers
  • Southern Belle Riverboat
  • Hunter Museum of Americn Art
  • Lookout Mountain 
  • Any every teen girl’s MUST SEE: Hamilton Place Mall