With riverside and mountaintop views, Chattanooga, Tennessee, offers a peaceful retreat from the fast pace of a modern life. Visitors can also travel back in history to the heyday of train travel or to Civil War battlefields.
From its beginning, Chattanooga was a railway town, and the Chattanooga Choo-Choo is still chugging along at the Tennessee Valley Rail Museum. Train rides can stay as local as Missionary Ridge or go as far as the "North Pole" on a special Christmas ride for children. For those who prefer only two wheels (or two feet), the Tennessee Riverwalk offers pleasure-seekers the opportunity to cycle or walk along 13 miles of the Tennessee River.
Nature-lovers can get a bird's-eye view of the river and more from the top of Lookout Mountain. Incline Railway, a nineteenth century passenger train ride, is the steepest railway in the world, and riders can travel from the foot of the mountain to the highest overlook on Lookout in about ten minutes. Or, they can head to Rock City, where panoramic views of seven states can be seen, along with the 200-million-year-old rock formations. And don't miss Ruby Falls, located more than 1,000 feet below the surface inside the mountain, which drops hundreds of gallons of water every minute.
Lookout Mountain is also the sight of one of three Civil War battlefields in the area. All three, including Chickamauga, the site of the last major Confederate victory, and Missionary Ridge, are visible from Chattanooga National Cemetery. The burial ground, established in 1863, is the final resting place for thousands of soldiers that fell at these and other Civil War battlefields.
The Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta is the closest major airport, but Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport does have direct service from several major U.S. cities.