Chattanooga is a city that I often take for granted. It’s only two hours from Birmingham and is full of hiking and climbing and other things I love to do. When my friend, Mackenzie, suggested we go for a weekend, my friend Katie and I couldn’t pass it up. On Friday, after work, we hit the road toward the quaint mountain city.
A lot of my trips include minimal, last minute planning, but it is always a good idea to book an Airbnb a few days ahead. We were lucky enough to snag two bedrooms at The Beautiful 1930 House in North Shore. Mackenzie had never stayed at an Airbnb, so she was able to save $$$ using this code: www.airbnb.com/c/taylorc1809.
The Airbnb was our first stop in the ‘Noog. We met our hosts for the weekend, unpacked our bags, and got ready for the night out. They gave us great advice and told us to try the burgers at The Tremont Tavern for dinner.
We enjoyed each other’s company at the Tavern for a while, until we decided to venture further downtown. The first bar we tried out was The Honest Pint. It wasn’t quite what we were looking for, so we walked around the block to The Bitter Alibi. It still was a bit more relaxed than we wanted, but the décor and design of the building appealed to our intrigue and convinced us to stay for a beer. We decided to call it an early night, so that we could be up early enough for pancakes at Aretha Frankenstein’s.
Taking my friends to my favorite restaurant in Chattanooga the next morning made me very happy, and started kicked day off in the best of ways. I had to explain that the pancakes are always worth the wait, but I didn’t have to explain anything once our bellies were full. We crossed the Georgia line to go to Rock City next. The combo pass for Rock City and Ruby Falls is the best deal if you have time to see both. We had no idea what to expect of the waterfall and overlook, but it turned out to be so much more than we could’ve imagined!
The history of Rock City is extremely interesting; it was originally inhabited by Native Americans but it is known now as the birthplace of miniature golf! The 700 acres of Fairyland Gardens were once a private residence and golf course, but they are now a carved-out walking trail that takes you to the famous Lover’s Leap and High Waterfall. Standing here, you can see seven states: Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Virginia!
The trail also runs through attractions like the Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Village. We were so surprised by how much we enjoyed Rock City, and we all agreed that it was our favorite attraction of the weekend!
After about two hours of exploring around, we started across the mountain to Ruby Falls. We arrived to a very long and unexpected line of people ending outside of the building and in the parking lot. It turns out that buying a ticket in advance will give you no advantage over waiting in line. Our estimated wait time was 45 minutes, and it was nearly correct. Before we knew it, we were standing in the elevator and whizzing our way underground.
Like most caves, there is an incredible history of it’s modern exploration. A young man, Leo Lambert, who grew up exploring around Chattanooga was looking for a cave when he stumbled upon Ruby Falls. He romantically named the falls after his wife, and reportedly could not wait to show her. Now, millions of people come to see America's largest commercial underground waterfall.
Surprisingly our tour was really crowded. We were there in the late afternoon of a rainy Saturday, but I felt as if we were constantly stopping to make room for another group to pass. I would suggest trying to go earlier in the day, because the line was even longer than before! After our tour, we were ready for dinner, so we headed back to Tennessee.
Tony’s Italian Restaurant is where we devoured some hearty bowls of pasta and had a few brews. We were all too tired to do anything afterwards, so we went back to the Airbnb to get some rest for another day of adventures!
My girlfriends and I consider brunch to be a weekend requirement, and this weekend’s brunch would be at one of my favorite Chattanooga bars. The Flying Squirrel has great grub and mimosas and was a perfect stop before the Aquarium.
We thought we had acted like children at Rock City the day before, but our excitement inside The Tennessee Aquarium was in a fever pitch. We started on the smaller side with The Ocean Journey. The escalator took us up to the top and we started with lemurs and safe-to-touch stingrays.
The butterfly exhibit was really cool, because we could get very up-close-and-personal with the beautiful beings. We were able to get a few butterflies to land on us, but Katie did not like having them on her hands. We finally passed them off to some kids and kept walking down The Ocean Journey.
I have never seen someone’s face light up like Mackenzie’s did when we approached the penguin exhibit. We could have spent hours watching these little guys jump in and out of the water, but we needed to move on and let others enjoy the view. Sharks, turtles, and tons of fish were housed all throughout the Tropical Cove before we arrived at the last Ocean Journey exhibit.
The River Journey starts the same way the Ocean Journey did. You take a couple of escalator rides up to the top where an open exhibit themed after the Appalachian ecosystem allows you can touch sturgeons instead of stingrays. We made our way through The Mississippi Delta and to the River Giants exhibit. Giant sturgeon, stingrays, and catfish are on display from all over the world here.
We spent about 3 hours exploring the entire aquarium and had worked up a bit of an appetite. Puckett’s is just across the street from the aquarium and is one of Mackenzie’s favorite BBQ restaurants. We enjoyed a savory bite before we hit the road back to Birmingham. Our first weekend girls’ trip is in the books, and it couldn’t have been more successful!