russell cave national monument
an interesting side trip from chattanooga is russell cave national monument. russell cave is located in northeast alabama about 35 miles southwest of chattanooga. russell cave was home to native americans from 6500 BC to 1650 AD. the cave was inhabited by the paleo, archaic, woodland, and mississipian native american cultures. along with the cave there is a hiking trail and a very nice picnic area. for those interested in native american history and culture russell cave is a very worth while side trip from chattanooga.
from chattanooga take I-24 west past the I-59 cut off then south on US 72. near bridgeport alabama take CR 98 to the park. the address is 3729 CR 98 bridgeport alabama.
The Gardens Restaurant is one of four dining choices at the Chattanooga ChooChoo. I have only been here a few times, but I have always been very satisfied with the food and service. The atmosphere is pleasant, and the food is inexpensive. Not many locals dine here since its part of the hotel, but they are missing out on a great thing that many tourists get to enjoy. Make sure to take a stroll through the gardens outside, especially in spring and summer. Also, the cafe nextdoor serves delicious desserts and coffee drinks. There is also a bar on the opposite side of the lobby, and out back there is another restaurant on the diner cars of an old train. I used to always get the Market Street salad, but I learned on my last visit here that it had been replaced on the menu for another salad that was exactly the same but it had turkey instead of grilled chicken. I do not remember what this other salad is called, but you can substitute anything on these salads, including the meat. So I still got my Market Street salad. The buffet is what a lot of people get here, but I am yet to have tried it.
Coolidge Park is a wonderful park across the river from downtown Chattanooga. There is a huge lawn to play games on, a carousel, and fountains that kids love to play in. It is one of the nicest parks I have seen in a long time.
It occurs to me that all of this should be in the 'Tourist Trap' section, because all of Chattanooga, and particularly Rock City, is a tourist trap. But it's too late now, so nevermind...
From the top of Rock City, you can theorectically see seven states: Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Kentucky (I think, though someone swears to me that he saw Virginia and not Mississippi -- I don't think it matters all that much).
Rock City is all about swinging bridges and fairytales brought to life and all that. Really, it was cute when I was a kid, but now it's old and worn. It might have been old and worn then, too.
One side note before I leave Rock City. Marguerite (my numero uno travelling companion) and I came to Chattanooga for a day trip during Fall Break in college. We asked some random guy to take our picture, which he did (see above). His comment was hysterical: 'This sure is a nice place for a honeymoon, isn't it?' I just had to repeat that. So, if you're ready for a honeymoon, try the gnomes at Rock City!
chattanooga choo choo
the chattanooga choo choo is a hotel, museum, and entertainment complex located at the historic chattanooga train terminal. the name of the complex is based on the 1941 glenn miller song "chattanooga choo choo". the complex has a collection of antique engines and railroad cars and is home to the national model railroad association. for those interested in railroad history the "choo choo" is worth a stop when in chattanooga.