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Adventure guide to don’t-miss moments in Chattanooga and Rock City

The lobby of the beautiful Chattanoogan Hotel.
The Chattanoogan Hotel

See Rock City. Hundreds of thousands come every year to see the ancient geologic marvel that is "the Rock City" located atop Lookout Mountain. Walk along the Enchanted Trail. See more than 400 native plant species. Need to check some states off your list? You can see a whopping seven from Lover's Leap. Explore the utterly charming Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Village and cross the Swing-A-Long Bridge . . . if you dare.

Rock City is located just a 15-minute drive from family-friendly Chattanooga. And you'll want to spend plenty of time here, too. You can spend a full afternoon at the Tennessee Aquarium, where you can also make arrangements to take an excursion aboard the River Gorge Explorer. After a full day's sightseeing, head to the hotel that knows how to pamper every member of your family: The gorgeous Chattanoogan, the only AAA Four Diamond-rated full-service hotel in Chattanooga.

IF YOU GO

Chattanooga, 800-322-3344, www.ChattanoogaFun.com.

The Chattanoogan Hotel, 877-756-1684, www.ChattanooganHotel.com. Ask for the Summer Fun package when making reservations. Rates start at $169 per night and are based on a two-night stay for a family of two adults and two children.

Read my "Bucket List Adventure: See Chattanooga's Rock City here. Get the best luggage for your family vacation.

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Rock City Lover's Leap
Rock City Lover's Leap R & R Marketing

Rock City Lover's Leap

Standing at Lover’s Leap atop Lookout Mountain and seeing the world spread out before you. Okay, not the world, but seven states (Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky) and at 1,700 feet above sea level. You may be overcome with the impulse to shout to your fellow tourists, “I’m the king of the world!”

River Gorge Explorer
River Gorge Explorer Tennessee Aquarium

River Gorge Explorer

Racing down the Tennessee River aboard the Tennessee Aquarium’s River Gorge Explorer, a zippy eco-cruise vessel that can do S-curves at 50 miles an hour and stop and turn on a dime. You might spy bald eagles, blue herons and other river life, and you’ll hear more about Lookout Mountain, its geology and role in the Civil War.

The Chattanoogan's Broad Street Grille
The Chattanoogan's Broad Street Grille Jackson Witt

The Chattanoogan's Broad Street Grille

Dining at either one of the Chef’s Tables in The Chattanoogan Hotel’s exceedingly pleasant Broad Street Grille. Sink into a comfy chair and turn yourself over to the culinary team; you won’t be disappointed. Dishes are layers of flavors (like the BLT – bacon, arugula, dried tomato and smoked onion aioli) beautifully presented in a no-rush, soft-hush atmosphere, perfect for long conversations and lingering over desserts like luscious tiramisu.

The Spa at The Chattanoogan
The Spa at The Chattanoogan The Chattanoogan Hotel

The Spa at The Chattanoogan

Treating yourself to a Riverport Facial at The Spa at The Chattanoogan. It’s 50 minutes of tranquility and total relaxation that ties harmoniously into a getaway to Rock City: Smooth-as-glass stones from North Chickamauga Creek and the Tennessee River are cooled and placed on key pressure points on the face to improve circulation. Divine! You’ll leave feeling buffed, de-puffed and polished.

MoonPie General Store
MoonPie General Store Kathy Witt

MoonPie General Store

Discovering the MoonPie General Store just a few blocks from the Tennessee Aquarium. Talk about a welcome blast-from-the-past. Grab some MoonPies and RC Colas or your pick of lots of other retro-themed candy and souvenirs – Gummy Bacon, sock monkeys Capt. Kirk mugs, even “See Rock City” birdhouses.