A short day trip can take you to many of East Tennessee’s most visited attractions. Here are just a few to get you started. Whether you’re looking for history, adventure, nature or theater, it’s all here!
- Brush Creek Farms
- Chattanooga River Front
- Cherokee Removal Memorial Park
- Crystal Lanes Bowling
- Crystal Springs Skate Center
- Lookout Mountain & Chickamauga Battlefields
- Rhea County Courthouse & Scopes Trial Museum
- Rock City Gardens
- Ruby Falls
- Tennessee Aquarium
- Tennessee Valley Theatre
- Watts Bar Lake & Dam
- Wooden’s Apple House
Brush Creek Farms
Produce, fall decor, hay rides and a corn maze.
Chattanooga River Front
The Chattanooga river front is packed with outstanding restaurants, eclectic shops, parks and worldclass museums, all within a few blocks of the Tennessee Aquarium.
If you want to leave the car parked try The Fat Cat Ferry, Chattanooga’s newest riverfront addition. Disembark at Coolidge Park and ride the magnificent hand-carved carousel, enjoy the park’s lush landscaping and interactive fountain. Or take in the trendy local restaurants and shops on nearby Frazier Avenue. Then catch another ferry and continue your tour up river and around Maclellan Island, an 18-acre bird sanctuary.
The Hunter Museum of American Art, located in the beautiful Bluff View Art District, is just a two-block walk from the Aquarium through an outdoor sculpture garden and over a glass bridge.
Alongside the Aquarium, discover a dramatic underground passageway to the river that marks the beginning of the Trail of Tears and celebrates Native American culture. The wading pools and shady spots of The Passage are perfect when the summer sun is high in the sky. (“Swimmy” diapers, bathing suits and water shoes are recommended for little ones.)
For a relaxing dinner cruise on the Tennessee River complete with musical performances and prime rib, make a reservation on the Southern Belle Riverboat. Daytime sightseeing cruises and daily lunch cruises are also a treat.
Connecting all the fun is the Walnut Street bridge. Originally built in 1891, the 2,370 foot bridge was renovated in 1993 to become the world’s longest walkway bridge. It is now part of the Tennessee Riverpark, a beautiful section of the waterfront that is being converted into walking and biking paths. Phase one will include 22 miles of trails, easily accessible at 2 mile increments. The completed section begins at Ross’ Landing.
Cherokee Removal Memorial Park
A short drive east across the highway 60 bridge brings you to the historic Cherokee Removal Park, one of the main staging areas for the Trail of Tears. In 1938 approximately 9,000 Cherokees and Creeks camped here waiting to cross the Tennessee River at Blythe Ferry. In 1998 Joe Byrd, then Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, visited Hiwassee Refuge marking the initial dedication. Phase I including the boardwalk and wildlife overlooks at the top of the bluff are complete and open year-round. Phase II includes the Visitor’s Center which is now open, though staffing fluctuates and the Cherokee Genealogical Library. Phase III is a granite Memorial Wall. The park is open from sunrise to sunset and admission is free.
6800 Blythe Ferry Lane, Birchwood | (931) 484-9571
Other Certified Tennessee Trail of Tears National Historic Trail Sites in the area include:
- Audubon Acres: located at 900 North Sanctuary Road in East Brainerd, which is a suburb of Chattanooga.
- Brainerd Mission Cemetery: off Brainerd Road and Eastgate Loop Road near the Brainerd Village Shopping Center, in Chattanooga.
- Browns Ferry Tavern: located at 703 Browns Ferry Road, a few miles west of Chattanooga.
- Chattanooga Regional History Museum: is temporarily located in downtown Chattanooga, at 615 Lindsey St, Ste. 100.
Crystal Lanes Bowling
Crystal Lanes makes family fun affordable with specials like $2 game night on Tuesday, two for one bowling on Sunday and rent-a-lane for $8.50/hr. on Monday and Thursday.
2565 Old Graysville Rd, Dayton | (423) 775-1547
Crystal Springs Skate Center
This indoor rink is open year round. Skating provides great exercise — plus, it’s not like exercising at the gym — skating is fun! Lace-em up and come join in.
2605 Old Graysville Rd. Dayton | (423) 421-3614
Lookout Mountain & Chickamauga Battlefields
The 3,000-acre Lookout Mountain Battlefield contains monuments, historical markers, trails, and scenic vistas. Point Park, located on the top of the mountain, is the most prominent feature. The Visitor Center, located across the street from Point Park, displays James Walker’s 13 x 33 foot painting “Battle of Lookout Mountain.” The 5,200-acre Chickamauga Battlefield, scene of the last major Confederate victory of the Civil War, contains numerous monuments, historical tablets, wayside exhibits, and trails. Major points of interest can be reached by following the seven-mile auto tour.
Rhea County Courthouse & Scopes Trial Museum
Site of the 1925 Scopes Evolution Trial, the Rhea County Courthouse is now a National Historic Landmark housing the Scopes Trial Museum. Inside you’ll find
photos from the trial, information about its key players, creation vs. evolution and other local history. Courtroom tours are available. The Courthouse is at the intersection of Market Street and Hwy 30.
Rock City Gardens
Located atop Lookout Mountain, near downtown Chattanooga, Rock City is a true marvel of nature. Experience massive rock formations, gardens with hundreds of native plant species, the famous “See 7 States” panoramic view, the Enchanted Trail, Fairyland Caverns and Mother Gose Village, the Garden of Lights at Christmas and the Enchanted MAiZE in the fall.
Ruby Falls is a large, sparkling 145 foot waterfall located beneath the peak of Lookout Mountain. A friendly and knowledgeable tour guide will point out many unusual and whimsically named formations. While at the waterfall guests will marvel at the spectacular light display which takes place in a large vaulted dome room which is over 145 feet tall. The main room is 1,120 feet beneath the surface of Lookout Mountain making it one of the deepest commercial caves in the country. Feel the cool, gentle mist and marvel at nature’s wonders.
The Tennessee Aquarium is home to more than 12,000 animals including fish, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, birds (including the new Penguins’ Rock exhibit), butterflies and more. Located on the banks of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga. It is open daily with first admittance at 10 AM and last admittance at 6 PM ET befire closing at 8 PM. Aquarium tickets include admittance to both Ocean Journey and River Journey. Extend your Tennessee Aquarium experience aboard the River Gorge Explorer. This high-tech vessel will transport you swiftly downstream from the Chattanooga Riverfront into the scenic Tennessee River Gorge. Each two-hour adventure is led by an Aquarium naturalist who will point out wildlife and historic points of interest along the way. Don’t forget to add in a show at the IMAX®3D theater. From the far reaches of our solar system to the ocean depths of planet earth, IMAX takes you to places you’ve only imagined. With crystal clear, larger-than-life 3D images that leap off a six-story screen, you’ll feel as if you’re part of the action. Combination tickets are available for the Aquarium, IMAX and River Gorge Explorer.
Tennessee Valley Theatre
An amateur theater with professional quality shows, The Tennessee Valley Theatre now hosts multiple plays each year in addition to numerous special events including live music. It produces a minimum of four plays each year including two musicals and sponsors a free summer children’s theater workshop every year. The theater also hosts a variety of talent from concert pianists to bluegrass and rock and roll bands.
Watts Bar Lake & Dam
The sprawling 38,000-acre lake above Watts Bar Dam is one of the state’s best sport fishing areas whether you like to fish a bobber for bluegill or bream, cast plugs for feisty bass or set your hook into giant rockfish. The area provides sport fishing, rustic camping, water sports, picnic facilities and hiking trails. Nestled near the majestic Cumberland Mountains, Watts Bar Lake features 783 miles of shoreline and provides the largest inland nesting population of ospreys in the Southeast. Ospreys nest May-July, concentrated between the Euchee Boat Dock and Thief Neck Island. Concentrations of great blue herons, black-crowned night herons, and great egrets may be seen near Long Island. Waterfowl and bald eagles are common in winter and be sure to look for white-tailed deer, raccoon, woodchuck, muskrat, fox, mink, skunk and coyote.
Highway 68, Spring City | (423) 775-6171 or (888) 238-3263 PIN 1318
Wooden’s Apple House
Visit this rural orchard on the mountain for fresh apples from August until the end of the season. Enjoy homemade apple dumplings, fried pies, cider and more. Then peruse the gift shop for more apple products, gifts and crafts.
6351 New Harmony Rd, Pikeville | (423) 447-6376