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Ready, Set, Break! Where Are You Headed On Fall Break?

October 31, 2018 Categories: Seasonal Vacation Planning

What about heading on over to Lookout Mountain? I have found that much like the four seasons (fall, winter, spring, summer), the seasons of my life also work well with Lookout Mountain.

The “Younger” Years

If you were like me, when fall break rolled around, all you could think about was creating an amazing adventure to share with your friends. However, I didn’t just want any ol’ beach adventure. It was too cliché.

Rather, I wanted something different. It was fall break, after all. Shouldn’t a fall break be filled with colorful leaves, crisp air, and a cozy nook for drinking coffee and a escaping in a good book? That was so my vibe, which is why I always enjoyed adventuring on Lookout Mountain for my fall breaks throughout college.

When choosing our stay, I always seemed to lean towards the RiverView Inn for my friends and I. Not only did this cozy inn provide a free continental breakfast and an outdoor pool, it was also near all the places we wanted to go.

Our first stop was always the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway. As we would ride to the Top Station, we took in all the amazing views surrounding us, especially the golds and ambers of the fall season.

Once at the top, it was as though we had traveled back in time. I remember strolling about and feeling the magnitude of the history all around us. In addition, a visit to Point Park was a must to witness the pivotal site involved in the Battle Above the Clouds.

Back at the bottom of the incline, our hunger would usually get the best of us. Fortunately, the town of St. Elmo offers plenty of amazing restaurants and shops, including microbrewery tours, fresh burritos, and, of course, homemade ice cream!

To end the night, we had to be sure to always make a stop at Rock City’s Rocktoberfest!

Between the German music, polka lessons, specialty food and beer, and fall foliage, Rock City’s German Rocktoberfest was always a great way to really celebrate our escape from the day to day.

A Family Affair

Of course, now that I am in the “parent” role, my ideas on a fall break have changed a bit. While I still want the stunning scenery and the cozy nook, I also want to make sure the activities throughout the day are ones the kids can enjoy, too!

Fortunately, Lookout Mountain has it all for all ages.

My children love taking a lantern tour at Ruby Falls. The kiddos always get so excited about being able to carry lanterns throughout the caverns and see the gorgeous 145-foot-high underground waterfall.

As the kids get bigger, so has their appetite for adventure. These days, we also add “Dread Hollow” to our itinerary during fall break. While the kids come out laughing, I seem to come out screaming! But, I do have to say, this is a mountain haunted house experience you do not want to miss!

Plus, I’m a firm believer that all that walking through 20,000-square-feet of hair-raising thrills at Dread Hollow earns me two-scoops of ice cream at Clumpies Ice Cream Co. I mean, I’ve earned it!

One thing that hasn’t changed is my affinity for Rocktoberfest. It’s a must-stop for my family, since the kids love to visit with the characters while trying their hand at polka dancing (talk about a photo opp!). Plus, I can reminisce about my “younger” years while making new fall break memories on Lookout Mountain as a family.

So, no matter what “season” of life you are in right now, Lookout Mountain can provide the much-deserved break you’re looking for this fall.



Hit the Road, Jack! And Head North for Adventure on Lookout Mountain

October 29, 2018 Categories: Seasonal Vacation Planning

“Some Days, Nothing Beats a Really Good Drive!”

Especially during this time of year, when the temperatures are a little cooler and the leaves are finally changing color. It’s just good to get out of the city and out of town for a while.

Fortunately, there’s just a two-hour distance between Atlanta, Georgia, and Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, when you head north on I-75. So, what are you waiting for? If you have a free weekend, pack up the car and head on over to Lookout Mountain – where there is certain to be something going on for every person in your group.

Why Make the Trip to Lookout Mountain? Let Me Count the Reasons!

On the fence about going to Lookout Mountain this weekend? Let me just help make the decision an easy one for you.

Reason #1 – Out of Town but Not Out of Town

We all need some time away to clear our mind and just hit the “Restart” button. However, going far away can cost a lot of time and money. You won’t have to worry about spending an arm and a leg on gas and wear and tear on your car to get to Lookout Mountain. It’s just two hours and less than one tank of gas away from Atlanta!

In addition, many of the attractions like Rock City, Ruby Falls, and the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway offer discounts, especially if you purchase a *bundle* pack. You’re getting out of town while also being efficient with your money. A win-win!

Reason #2 – Have You Seen the Views?

Don’t get me wrong—I certainly have a “city slicker” side. But even my hustle-and-bustle-lovin’ heart swoons at the views of Lookout Mountain in the fall. Words cannot do the scenery on the drive from Atlanta to Lookout Mountain justice.

The colors of the trees in the rearview mirror, the feel of the crisp air in your hair when the car windows are down, and the smell of apple and pumpkin pie baking in the oven at local stops along the way – seriously. What could be better?

Reason #3 – More Views on the Mountain

Once you arrive at Lookout Mountain, the breathtaking views just keep coming.

Whether you walk to Lover’s Leap at Rock City to see seven states, ride the Incline Railway up Lookout Mountain, or take in the vistas from Lookout Mountain Tower at Ruby Falls you’re in for some seriously picturesque scenes.

Reason #4 – Fall Activities for All!

Not sure what you want to do this weekend, but you know you want to do something? No problem! One of my favorite things about Lookout Mountain having several attractions available to guests of all ages is that there’s always something fun going on. You don’t have to worry about figuring out what to do – it’s all there waiting for you!

At Ruby Falls, you can explore the depths of a cavern leading to a stunning underground waterfall or take a ride on the wild side with the adrenaline-pumping ZIPStream Tower ZIP Ride, featuring 700 feet of rushing zip lines and a view to match!

At Rock City, there are special experiences designed for kids too. They can try to reach the top of the 25-foot climbing wall, mine for gemstones or go on a Geode Dig!

Reason #5 – You Can Relax

Yes, there is plenty of adventure waiting for anyone looking to get out and get active over the weekend. However, for those looking to slow things down a bit, that much-needed R&R awaits as well.

If you’re just looking for a peaceful getaway, then make plans to tour the bottom of the Incline. From massages to homemade candle-making and a delicious diner, you can take in the sights while enjoying a cup of coffee and a good book!

What are you waiting for? Pack your weekender bag and drive on up to Lookout Mountain for an epic autumn getaway!



TGLMA - Thank Goodness for Lookout Mountain Attractions

September 24, 2018 Categories: News and Tips Seasonal Vacation Planning

How many of you felt as though you were unable to do anything with your children all summer? I swear – by the time I got a summer routine down, it was time for back-to-school!

Thank goodness for Lookout Mountain Attractions! Although my kids are back in school, at least I can still take them to have some fun during the school year with everything Lookout Mountain Attractions has to offer!

You Have Never Taken Your Kids to Lookout Mountain? WHAT?!

Okay. Go ahead and grab a pen and a piece of paper. I am about to tell you five reasons why you need to make a trip to Lookout Mountain with your kids before the year is up!

Proximity

It’s hard traveling for hours with children – no matter if they’re toddlers or teenagers, those long, drawn-out car rides can be daunting. You need a place you can get to easily, visit, and get back home in a day if you don’t want to stay overnight. Hello, Lookout Mountain!

Less than three hours from Birmingham, Lookout Mountain gives you the opportunity to have a day of fun if you need to make it back at home at night. Plus, by the time you hear, “Are we there yet?” you are!

Thrills

Do you have some adrenaline-seekers in the family? Then, you must set a time to experience the one-of-a-kind Ruby Falls ZIPStream Aerial Adventure!

Featuring 700-feet of rushing ziplines with breathtaking views of the Tennessee Valley and a 40-foot climbing tower with 5 routes of varying difficulty, each family member can choose their level of thrill during a day of family fun!

This is a definite stop for my teenagers every time we go.

Adventure

Rock City Gardens is my favorite part because it allows for equal parts amazement and adventure.

The climbing wall at Lover’s Leap overlooking the seven states always leaves me awe-struck, while my teenagers tend to gear more towards the famous Swing-A-Long Bridge, which extends nearly 200 feet. The adrenaline rush always has them in all out fits of laughter, which makes the twinge of anxiety I feel as a momma bear totally worth it.

My toddler, however, is still a believer in the magic of Lookout Mountain. For him, we always make sure to take some time to experience and enjoy the wonder of Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Village. Seeing your children’s face light up just might make you a believer, too!

History

What parent doesn’t want to keep expanding growing minds? Fortunately, the area has plenty of learning opportunities.

From discovering the amazing wonder of an underground waterfall like Ruby Falls’ founder, Leo Lambert understanding the area’s Civil War history near the top station of the Incline at the Battles for Chattanooga museum, Lookout Mountain offers the kiddos learning experiences beyond the classroom.

Food! Food! And Food!

A family must eat, and there is always one in the family who is going to decide to be the “picky” eater. Fortunately, Lookout Mountain has you covered!

At Rock City, Café 7 offers a taste of the South with a kid-friendly menu that’s sure to appeal to even the pickiest eater. Then, on the way to Ruby Falls, you can find even more variety of dining options, including Café on the Corner, Urban Stack, and Mojo Burrito in St. Elmo which provides a large kids menu.

Of course, no trip to Lookout Mountain can be complete without a stop at Clumpies Ice Cream Co. at the bottom station of the Incline! From classic flavors to some creative tastes, you’ll feel compelled to get at least two scoops!

 

What are you waiting for? Take your list, pack your bags, and drive on up to Lookout Mountain for a day of family fun this fall!



Love Is in the Air - and on Lookout Mountain this Fall

September 17, 2018 Categories: News and Tips Vacation Planning

Let’s face it, when you and your partner both have full-time jobs, kids who participate in extracurricular activities, and everything in between, it doesn’t leave much time for a vacation for two. So, a weeklong getaway is not usually in the cards for most couples, including us.

But, a weekend getaway for two? That’s a more realistic timeline for my husband and me! And, with Lookout Mountain no more than a three-hour drive from home, it makes for a perfect romantic destination spot—allowing us to make it back home to our children quickly should the need arise.

Between my husband’s adventurous side and my own romantic notions, Lookout Mountain gives us everything we need to feel as though we have “escaped” our reality.

Of course, when making our romantic getaway plans, we love to stay at the Lookout Mountain RiverView Inn, which is located nearby Ruby Falls. With its cozy amenities, scenic views of the Tennessee River and convenience in location to the Lookout Mountain attractions, this newly updated boutique hotel certainly makes you feel as though you have escaped the hustle and bustle of everyday life to truly connect with your person.

After enjoying a cup of coffee and breakfast, my husband and I start our getaway by heading over to Rock City, where I am to this day amazed to be able to see seven states at one time. I mean, really – how cool is that?

My husband enjoys the festivals and music always happening at Rock City. Between the Summer Music Weekends in summer, Rocktoberfest in the fall, and the Enchanted Garden of Lights in the winter, we make it a point to schedule our getaways once a quarter so that we’re sure to hit them all by the end of the year!

Of course, no weekend getaway is complete without stopping by Café 7 for lunch! Located on the terrace at Lover’s Leap, Café 7 offers an amazing view while dining on seriously tasty Southern cuisine with a modern twist.

After enjoying our casual meal for two, my husband and I like to move our way down the mountain so that we can take a walk (or should I say “ride”) on the wild side with the Incline Railway. Known as America’s most “amazing” mile, the Incline provides that sense of adventure my husband yearns for while I get my spectacular views atop Lookout Mountain.

During the fall, the changing of the colors on the mountain offers the perfect photo op for our romantic weekend! The last few years, we’ve even used this photo as part of our holiday picture collage we send out to family and friends come December.

Before heading back to RiverView Inn for a relaxing evening, we like to indulge a little at Clumpies Ice Cream Co. I mean, we did just walk all over Rock City Gardens, so we’ve surely earned this sweet treat!

One More Stop Before We Go

The great thing about a weekend getaway that isn’t too far from home is the fact you can make one more stop on Sunday before heading back to reality, and still make it back in time for Sunday Night Football!

After we check out of our bed and breakfast, my husband and I make our last stop to Ruby Falls to take advantage of one more adventure before returning home. Seeing the fascinating geological formations and standing so close to the breathtaking waterfall, Ruby Falls serves as the perfect punctuation to our visit.

All this Lookout Mountain reminiscing has me all geared up for my next getaway with the hubs. I’m going to go ahead and get my calendar out to start planning another trip!

To plan your weekend above the clouds, click here.



Labor Day Getaway

August 29, 2018 Categories: Seasonal Vacation Planning

My friends and I have proudly been adulting this summer, dutifully reporting to our posts in office parks across the city sunny day after sunny day, while our younger peers have roamed free. We’ve finally finished school, which means getting real jobs—and not having a summer vacation. But we are so ready to plan out a well-earned getaway for Labor Day—out of the concrete jungle and into the natural world, where we can shake loose, recharge, and have a little fun. So, four of us girls are road tripping it up to Lookout Mountain.

It’s actually a really quick and easy drive up from Birmingham, where we all graduated together and still work. Most of us are local and spent our childhoods taking trips up there, but this will be the first time we’re going as grown-ups. But who says having a grown-up job means losing your sense of adventure?

We’ve decided to take on an attraction per day, giving us plenty of time to explore and relax at our own pace. We’ll start with Saturday at the Incline Railway. The bottom station is nestled in an adorable historic town called St. Elmo, and with two breweries, tons of restaurants, and its unique shopping opportunities, we’re thinking this is going to be a great place for us to hang out and treat ourselves with some of our hard-earned spending money!

Once we’ve treated ourselves, we’ll ride up the Incline Railway to the walking trails up top. I remember how much fun riding was when I was little, and I can’t wait to race up front for my favorite first-row view! We’ll have to take a selfie on the observation deck at the top station. Then, we’ve picked out the Bluff Trail, a hike that promises magnificent views and stunning greenery at a not-too-difficult pace. To reward my efforts, I’m grabbing some handmade fudge from the top station on our way back!

Sunday we’ll sink our teeth into Ruby Falls; we really can’t wait to see what they’ve done with the place. Over the summer, the Caverns rolled out a huge renovation, complete with an updated entrance atrium, gift shop, and entertainment plaza, offering even more room to relax or shop for goodies while you wait. One of my girlfriends is an environmental scientist, and she’s excited to return to one of the places that first inspired her love for the natural world. We’re all looking forward to feeling the magic and childlike wonder again at the foot of the beautiful falls.

Our last day will be spent at Rock City, tapping our toes at the last Summer Music Weekend of the year. We’ll get to soak in that summer sun and maybe even feel a taste of autumn air pass over the mountain. I know everyone’s going to dare me across the Swing-A-Long Bridge over to Lover’s Leap—but maybe now I’ll be brave enough to do it! If I can make that leap, we’ll be in the perfect spot to hear some live bluegrass tunes and grab a refreshing drink or two at Café 7, not to mention some of our favorite Southern summertime food!

I’ll miss the old thrill of a season-long summer vacation, but if we can make adulting this much fun, I think I’m going to be just fine. Labor Day weekend may just end up being my favorite holiday if I can keep making Lookout Mountain my summer break!



Fighting the Summer Slide on the Mountain

August 13, 2018 Categories: Seasonal Vacation Planning

Brain drain, summer slide—I’ve heard a few different phrases for what happens to kids’ learning skills over summer vacation. I used to roll my eyes at this idea; after all, kids need to be left alone to have fun and take a break, right? But since I realized how long a full summer break really is, and what filling it with TV and video games really does to last year’s lessons, I’ve been scheming up as many ways as I can to set their gears in motion again.

Of course, getting our two young boys interested in summer reading, or anything academic at all, can be a puzzle on its own. But the light bulb finally flicked over our heads when we planned a weekend trip to Lookout Mountain. This trip had all the fun of a family vacation, plus ample opportunities for us to sneak in some brain-boosting activities for the boys (almost like hiding vegetables in the pizza sauce, you know?). From geology to history, from environmental science to the arts, we had a full course of adventure to dig into.

Our first “lesson” began in the caverns of Ruby Falls, deep underground where explorer Leo Lambert first discovered the subterranean waterfall that still dazzles visitors from around the world. We snaked past stalagmites and stalactites (we know the difference now!), curtains and columns, and flowstone of all shapes and sizes. All these ancient geological wonders led us to the crowning feature: the magnificent, thundering waterfall highlighted with a beautiful light and sound show. Our adventure didn’t end here, though. Once we emerged from the cave, we climbed the stairs up Lookout Mountain Tower to take in the views and learn about Ruby Falls’ conservation efforts. Before our next stop, we picked up our rockin’ souvenir photo in the brand new gift shop along with a few extra goodies to enjoy.

Next up on the roster was the Incline Railway for a little history (and a lot of amazing scenery). We felt transported back in time as we stepped up to the charming bottom station at St. Elmo. The handcrafted ice cream from Clumpies was an especially welcomed treat! On board the 123-year-old railcar we watched the landscape bloom out from the panoramic windows as we ascended “America’s Most Amazing Mile.” The boys dared each other to sit closest to the front where they could really feel the steep slope and catch the best views of the valley. Up top, we visited the Centennial Photo Exhibit where we could see the area’s history up close, and the engine room, an engineering marvel that has powered the railway for over 120 years (yes, my oldest son was fascinated to find out, that means without computers!)

Our last activity of the day was to follow the famous barns’ advice and “See Rock City.” We got there just in time to catch the Summer Music Weekends event, which pumped out sweet bluegrass tunes as we sauntered through the gardens, taking in the black-eyed Susans, Becky Shasta daisies… and all the little gnomes and creatures hiding in the rocky crags. They even had a Critter Classroom where a Birds of Prey Show captivated all the kids who could attend! Seeing the huge hawks and falcons up close was awesome, says my youngest, and I’m inclined to agree. The show was led by folks from the Wings to Soar organization, who was super informative and fun to watch. We all learned a lot!

In the last few weeks of summer vacation, it can be hard to fight boredom and brain drain, but I think this trip did wonders for all of us—a little escape, a lot of fun, and plenty of exciting new things to see. If you’re looking for something fun to do before school schedules crank up to full speed, Lookout Mountain is your place!



A BBQ Battle Below the Clouds

August 06, 2018 Categories: Events Seasonal

Who do you know that makes the best backyard barbecue? I mean the most mouth-watering, fall-off-the-bone, tender, juicy barbecue you might just dream about? Is it you? Then you might just be cut out for the Ruby Falls Battle Below the Clouds barbecue competition this August 25.

This year will mark the 4th iteration of Battle Below the Clouds, and the fourth year my family will be attending to cheer on our favorite competitors. Each season, up to twenty teams of amateur grillers and smokers duke it out for bragging rights as the best backyard cooks in Chattanooga, and let me tell you, they always bring the heat.

Tendrils of smoke roll up the mountain starting at 6 a.m. as the teams begin putting their skills to the test in a day-long battle for three prestigious titles: Best Pulled Pork, Best Ribs, and Grand Champion. But it’s not all just a waiting game; throughout the day, spectators like us get the chance to talk shop, learn some tips, and of course, chow down. And, you’ll be served up sides of live bluegrass music to tap your toes to, prize drawings and giveaways, and plenty of fun activities for the kids.

Why am I so excited about this barbecue competition if I’m not competing? Though I’m still trying to convince my husband to get his own team together (he’s still got time, after all; registration is still open!), we were first inspired to get involved with this event when we heard that it benefits Lana’s Love Foundation, an organization that provides fun activities and outings for children with pediatric cancer and their families. Between the fun, the food, and the fantastic people, this wonderful cause is always worth making the drive over from Birmingham.

It’s most certainly the fun and beauty of the Lookout Mountain experience that keeps us coming back! Now, we always make a barbecue weekend out of our trip and can stay at the newly updated RiverView Inn near Ruby Falls, as well as take in the other wonderful attractions on the mountain. We always ride the Incline Railway down to St. Elmo for a bite at the Purple Daisy Café—perfect whether you can’t get enough barbecue or are looking for something on the lighter side. And we get a chance to walk off a few of those calories at Rock City Gardens, where we can stroll the grounds and take in the beautiful flowers this time of year.

So, whether you’re ready to smoke the competition or simply “meat” some great grill gurus, the Ruby Falls Battle Below the Clouds is the perfect excuse to indulge in a good time. Don’t forget to bring a few extra bucks to place in the Lana’s Love donation jars at the event, too.  All of the donated money and the team entry fees go directly to the foundation. We’ll see you at the winner’s table!



Summer is in full swing on Lookout Mountain

July 30, 2018 Categories: News and Tips Seasonal Vacation Planning

We’re all aware by now that summer is in full swing, whether we’re trying to cool down or heat up some fun for our little ones. This is the time of year where our household can fall prey to a little boredom (okay, a lot) if we’re not careful, with the kids right in the middle of their summer break and some of our creative energy running low. Some days it’s tempting to give up on the screen time battle and just let them stay glued to the tablet from now until school starts back.

But my wife and I have always been big on outdoor adventures—we both grew up taking family road trips, going to camp, and playing in the woods… you know, the true summer stuff. Of course, we all know that can be hard to do these days, but fortunately, we’ve got an ace up our sleeve in Lookout Mountain.

A trip to Lookout Mountain was always a big part of summer for me when I was a kid, and I wanted my daughters to have that same experience. In all the right ways, it’s exactly the same, but with so many new features and exciting events that even my little tech wizards found themselves forgetting the iPad and enjoying the natural beauty the mountain has to offer.

The girls adored Ruby Falls, where they felt like true explorers charting the underground caverns. They especially loved that they could touch one of the formations and look for the inspiration behind their silly names (Steak and Potatoes was a favorite, as was the Elephant’s Foot—I couldn’t help but sneak in a “Roll Tide,” despite the look I got from my wife). Outside the main cavern tour, we also experienced Ruby Falls ZIPStream Aerial Adventure. At six and eight, our kids are just the right age to tackle the kid-size zip line and obstacle course, and they had an absolute blast. ZIPStream also has more advanced courses we can do together as the kids get bigger. We took a family selfie on the new Blue Heron Overlook that my wife wants to use on our Christmas card. I’m not sure if it’s because, for once, all of our eyes were open or because of the amazing view – probably both. As we were exploring the brand new Ruby Falls Village, I got sentimental wondering what new experiences will be here for my kids to discover with their children someday.

We grabbed lunch at Mr. T’s Pizza and Ice Cream in Historic St. Elmo—it’s the building with the giant ice cream cone on top, so you can’t miss it!—before climbing aboard the famous Incline Railway. The old-world charm of the trolley car was brand new to the kids and only got more fun the closer we got to the top. The car climbs up the mountain into a breathtaking 72.7% grade, with panoramic windows offering stunning views of the landscape: a lot more exciting than what any video game can do! We had a good laugh about the “graphics” as we perused the gift shop and took pictures from the observation deck.

The cherry on top of this perfect family-centric experience was Rock City’s Summer Music Weekends festival. Every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Rock City plays host to some really toe-tapping, honkey-tonking bluegrass and country music bands. Looking out over the seven states view by the Café 7 restaurant, we sipped on some fresh-squeezed lemonade while we listened to the local talent croon. Then, it was on to the “Critter Classroom,” which hosted the Rock City Raptors Birds of Prey show. I don’t think the girls had ever been that close to wildlife—Yes, kids, these are the real Angry Birds—and they were blown away.

All of us are guilty of being too glued to our screens sometimes, myself definitely included. But it was so important to me to give my girls the gift of a good, old-fashioned family road trip to somewhere they could learn, see nature, and most importantly have a whole lot of fun. We’ll be making Lookout Mountain our summer destination for many years to come.



Rainy Day Vacay at Lookout Mountain

June 26, 2018 Categories: Seasonal Vacation Planning

Summer showers are notoriously unpredictable here in the South, which can seem a bit cruel when you’ve been waiting all winter to plan out your perfect vacay. But just like a rainy day at the beach can become your perfect excuse to have a lazy shopping day or movie date, our drizzly day in the mountains showed us new ways to enjoy a place we love. If you’re looking for a weather-proof getaway for your family, take it from us that Lookout Mountain is where it’s at.

Now, I know I certainly didn’t think that was the case while desperately checking my weather app on the way out the door and praying for a forecast change. That 60% chance of rain stayed perfectly stuck where it was, and I was picturing our perfect day soiled with soggy shoes, cranky kids, and dampened spirits. My husband, thankfully, is the big optimist in the family, though, and he rallied us up for a great time, rain or shine.

And you know what? As much as I hate to admit it… he was right! The clouds were “holding it in” first thing that morning, as my son likes to say, so we stuck with our plan to start at Rock City, armed with a few light ponchos just in case. It’s always cooler on the mountain, which is one of the reasons we love going in the summer, but with the cloud cover and the breeze, it was even more refreshing. And of course, we all know how different things look when the weather turns down here—something about the gray made the bright greens and electric purples pop out of the landscape even brighter. When a patch of rain did finally hit us, we ducked into the Cliff Terrace pavilion area to escape. Here, we grabbed some pizza and snacks, browsed the gift shop, and watched the storm roll over the valley from Lover’s Leap.

At the Incline Railway, we started up top near Point Park. We took advantage of the gift shop, fudge shop, and the covered observation deck before heading down to watch the big engine wheels turning—always one of the kids’ favorite things to see. The Incline Railway runs rain or shine, and it was especially cool to watch the raindrops hitting the panoramic windows as we watched the forest glistening on the way down. Plus, down below at the bottom station, there’s a whole town, St. Elmo, where we spent time shopping, popping in and out of different unique stores. The weather wasn’t stopping us at all!

Finally, we landed at Ruby Falls where… of course, the main attraction is underground! We entered and picked up our tickets at the kiosk, then had some time to peruse the new gift shop before our scheduled time, all under the protective covering of one giant roof. I was also impressed to find out that Ruby Falls recently started a rainwater collection program to irrigate their landscaping as part of their sustainability efforts, which made me feel even better about spending our getaway there. The cavern tour was incredible! Escaping from the weather to make discoveries 1,120 feet underground was an unknowingly clever choice. We avoided the rain, and all of the rainwater made the falls especially powerful! Seeing first-hand how rainwater impacts the waterfall, I realized how lucky we were to visit on a rainy day. We were too swept up in the wonder of the cave formations and falls to think about a little uncooperative weather above ground.

So, we certainly didn’t plan on a rainy day vacay, but who can? I’m just glad it happened to us on Lookout Mountain. How much fun we’ll have if it rains on us when we go camping next month, I can’t say…



The Ultimate One-Tank Road Trip

June 12, 2018 Categories: Seasonal Vacation Planning

In my family, we start dreaming about summertime as soon as the National Championships are over. But even as visions of barbecues and beaches dance through our heads, so do the dollar signs. With three kids, we really have to think about all the school supplies we’ll need to buy come August, not to mention the gas money it takes to cart our rambunctious family all over the country. Even in an efficient car, it can be tough to find something big on fun and easy on the wallet, but fortunately for us, we’ve got an ace up our sleeve: Lookout Mountain.

I live in Huntsville, my sister lives in Atlanta, and we can both make it up to Lookout Mountain for a fun-filled family getaway on one tank. There are so many affordable lodging options, and all the cousins love it—it’s really a win-win for everyone. Plus, there’s so much to do all packed into one convenient location; there are miles and miles of good times to be had without running on fumes.

This year, we hit the [under]ground running with our first stop at Ruby Falls. From the new Village Plaza at Ruby Falls, we took in the spectacular view while enjoying a lemonade and did a little shopping at the gift shop before our descent into the coolness of the cavern. No matter how many times we go, we always manage to see something new, and the kids are always dazzled by the light show on the water. Then we did something we had never done before, right next door. Zipping and climbing through the trees at ZIPStream Aerial Adventure was a blast! On a hot summer day, there’s nothing like feeling the wind rush past you while zooming through the shady mountain forest overlooking the Tennessee Valley. And they have courses for all ages and skill levels (someone has to go with the little ones, right? I’m a hero, really…).

Next, we grabbed lunch in Historic St. Elmo, a very short drive to the next world of adventure. Parking, eating, and riding up the Incline Railway are all super affordable and charming to boot. This leaves us every reason to grab some Clumpies ice cream for dessert while we wait for the Incline Railway and pause for a photo op along the way. The kids always get a rise (pun intended) out of just how steep the slope gets as it steadily climbs the mountainside. After some time in the gift shop, my artsy sister can snap some incredible photos from the observation deck, and our history-buff hubbies have plenty to take in at the nearby Battles for Chattanooga museum (it’s within walking distance, so we can walk off the dessert and save the fuel).

We always save Rock City Gardens for our second day because there’s so much we love to do there. While you can easily do it in a couple of hours, we like to take our time on the 4,100 foot walking trail, studded with sculptures, gorgeous plant life, and incredible natural formations. Not to mention the gift shops, the open-air Café 7 restaurant with its delicious Southern favorites, and the See Seven States view from Lover’s Leap—with so much to do and see in the different park locations, there’s no need to drive anywhere else!

Of course, eventually, we have to head home. But with all the money we save on our one-tank trip to Lookout Mountain, I suspect it won’t be long before I’m able to talk everyone into going back for round two. Perhaps my sister and I will make the trip on our own—after all, we could use a girls’ weekend to refuel before the mad rush of school and sports. Anyway, what are you waiting for? Rev up your engines and set out on your own one-tank adventure!



Memorial Day on the Incline Railway

May 23, 2018 Categories: Seasonal Vacation Planning

Military service has become something of a tradition in my family. It all started with my granddad’s enlistment the day he turned 18, then my dad’s, then my own. Each of us understands what it means to sacrifice for something we love, and we always make sure to come together on Memorial Day to celebrate our country, our freedom, and our family. And, of course, we just like to have a good time.

This year was a bit special. My granddad turned 78 last month, which makes 60 years since he joined the service. To celebrate, Dad and I thought it would be nice to do something a little different than our usual hot dogs by the pool (as famous as we are for our spectacular backyard cookouts!), so we took a trip to Lookout Mountain.

It had been a little while since we got the chance to go, but these trips are another kind of tradition for us. All the kids in my family remember daring each other across the Swing-A-Long Bridge at Rock City and racing to make out the seven states on the horizon, or pretending to be one of the first explorers in the caverns of Ruby Falls during the tour. Our favorite was always the Incline Railway. Granddad would treat us all to an ice cream from Clumpies and we’d dare each other to sit as close to the front as possible during the climb up the mountain.

I think Granddad especially loved the history of that place, whether he was admiring the charm of Historic St. Elmo down below or perusing the Centennial Photo Exhibit while we gawked at the massive Engine Room up top. That’s why Dad and I knew he would enjoy spending Memorial Day with a ride up to the top of the Incline Railway and a visit to the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park.

Granddad has kept himself in pretty good shape, but even so, the parks and museum are only a five-minute walk from the top Incline Railway station. We made the short trip to Point Park, which encompasses more than 9,000 acres of Civil War battlefields, monuments, and forests. The Battles for Chattanooga museum, located across from the Point Park entrance, was our first stop. A digital, projection-mapped show traced the major battles and events for us in a stunning visual story that brought the struggles to life. These battles sealed the fate of the Confederacy, and seeing it presented in such a well-crafted, modern way really drove the significance home to all of us.

After visiting the museum, we ventured into Point Park where we took the park’s paved walking path past historic tablets, monuments, and a scenic overlook that gave us a full view of the valley. Up there in the cooler air of the mountain, we paused a while and looked out over the land with renewed spirit. This, after all, was the driving reason for each of our decisions to enlist—an incredible land, full of amazing people. We spent the whole morning wandering the grounds and taking in the natural beauty of the mountain, reminiscing on old times and catching up on the new.

When we made our way back to the station, we took aside some time to do the things we always used to—take in the sights, talk Dad into posing for a few photos with us on the observation deck, wait in line so we could snag the front-row seats for the ride back down. And we even indulged in a little Clumpies ice cream at the bottom (you’re never too old for a family tradition). All in all, it was one of the most special Memorial Day weekends we’ve ever spent together, and we can’t wait to do it again next year. 



Southern Blooms at Rock City

May 11, 2018 Categories: Events Seasonal Vacation Planning

Everyone who knows me knows one of my absolute favorite places to visit is Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. I’ve been taking my girls for rides on the Incline Railway, journeys in the caverns of Ruby Falls, and strolls through Rock City’s enchanted gardens for as long as they can remember. It’s got everything a southern belle like me could ever want—natural beauty, historical roots, plenty of shopping, and good old-fashioned fun. And this year for Mother’s Day, my girls are old enough to treat me to a trip to my favorite place.

They’ve already planned out everything. We’ll make a weekend of it, with a stop at every attraction, all centered around the main event: an Enchanted Mother’s Day Lunch at Rock City on Sunday. This also falls smack in the middle of the Southern Blooms Festival, which is just to die for—we went last year and had an absolute ball! This will be my first time attending the Enchanted Mother’s Day Lunch, and I can’t wait to feel pampered, surrounded by gorgeous blooms and breathtaking views.

I can already see it: we arrive in balmy, sunny weather to a burst of colors and springtime fragrances. First on our docket is the historical tour, where we walk in the footsteps of Rock City’s founder, Frieda Utermoehlen Carter. She’s the one who dreamt up the idea for the charming displays in Fairyland Caverns, and who cultivated the fantastic array of plants that thrive in Rock City. The tour guide will lead us through the legacy and rich heritage of the gardens with stops along the way to greet traditional southern belles and even Rocky the Elf (he’s such a charmer)!

At the Big Rock Grill, we’re whisked straight away into a beautifully set table ready and waiting just for us. A beautiful melody floats through the air, as a harpist strums peacefully through lunch. We dine on scrumptious lemon chicken piccata and catch up on our busy lives, share a few laughs like we always do. And of course, indulge in a little blueberry cobbler white chocolate cheesecake! To top it all off, I’ll have a souvenir photo to take home with me.

After lunch, there will be time yet for the Fairy Garden Workshop and Garden to Go! Kids activities. You can never have too many fresh ideas, no matter how green your thumb is! We’ll stroll through the rhododendrons, azaleas, mountain laurel, and rose campion, and pick up a few ideas to take home with us. And all the while, we’ll have each other’s company, which is, of course, the most important part of all.

Once we’re home, I’ll be sure to come back and tell you if my vision has come true… but I know I won’t have to. If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that I’m guaranteed to have the perfect Mother’s Day on the mountain with my girls. Life sure is sweet in the South!



Sustaining the Fun at Ruby Falls

April 21, 2018 Categories: News and Tips

In my house, I’m the one that insists on recycling. Even more than my husband, in typical “Dad” fashion, it’s me who’s fussing at the kids about turning out the lights and running the water. It’s not that I want to nag, but when you were raised running in the woods and playing outside, you want to make sure your kids have the same big, bright world to explore.

It’s no wonder that our family is big on outdoor adventure. Whenever we take a weekend away, we try to build in at least one nature-centric activity. Sometimes that means an aquarium, sometimes camping, sometimes just finding a nice park, but last weekend we chose Lookout Mountain. Here, everything we did had us surrounded by natural beauty. When my son was geeking out over the Incline Railway’s big engine room or my daughter was gleefully hopping between sculptures of magical characters in Rock City’s Fairyland Caverns, nature was there all around us.

There was no eco-guilt to this awesome trip, but I was especially impressed when we got to Ruby Falls, and I learned about their sustainability efforts. I may not be world’s greenest mom—don’t get me started on the single day we lasted without plastic—but seeing everything they are doing to help maintain the natural beauty of Ruby Falls made me feel so good about our decision to make this journey.

From the observation tower, you can see the array of solar panels that help power the LED lights in the cave. These spectacular lights paint the picture of what Leo Lambert and his team saw as they first explored the cavern system. The light show that ignites Ruby Falls rivals any masterpiece hanging in an art museum, hands down. Finding out that they’re energy-efficient enhances the effect all the more; you know that you’re witnessing a true natural wonder and not damaging it in the process.

During the tour, we also learned that recycling has been built into the attraction since the beginning. The castle was built using the limestone excavated to reach the falls, and just recently, two 8,000-gallon water collection tanks were placed under the newly created plaza to collect rainwater for irrigation.  Ruby Falls is also the first U.S. attraction to achieve Green Globe Certification, the international standard for sustainable tourism. Whether or not all this information about saving the planet made its way down the line to my kids, who were busy looking for patterns in all the cave formations and racing to find new ones of their own, I don’t know. But I do know that as a mom who cares about leaving behind a beautiful world for the next generation to enjoy, Ruby Falls’ conservation efforts have made a big impact on me.

For a whole weekend, my kids weren’t plugged into any screens or complaining about the “boring” nature stuff I keep asking us to do. They were engaged, fascinated, and out in the natural world. And because of all the green efforts, I noticed while we were there, I feel confident that we’ll get to keep doing this, even when they have kids of their own.



Rockin’ Earth Day on Lookout Mountain

April 21, 2018 Categories: Events News and Tips Seasonal Vacation Planning

Ever since my boyfriend Rob and I started dating, we’ve been challenging each other to keep things interesting. We work hard, we play hard, and we’re always looking for new adventures. I mean, we met at our local sport and social club playing kickball and haven’t slowed down since. So, we knew for our one-year anniversary that we wanted an action-packed weekend that also afforded us some room to slow down, relax, and enjoy the season kick-off weather, and Lookout Mountain was our absolute first choice.

Since our anniversary hits so close to Earth Day, and we’re big nature lovers, we were drawn by all the outdoor activities Lookout Mountain has to offer. We knew Lookout Mountain was famous for its naturally beautiful attractions, but we found so many more fun things to do that were completely new to us!

We started our trip at Ruby Falls. It was great to explore the caverns in the cool air, and the trek to view the falls warmed us up for our next challenge—Ruby Falls ZIPstream Aerial Adventure. With zip lines and obstacle courses for kids and adults, this place offered tons of fun for people of all skill levels, and it was right next door to the cave tour. Of course, Rob took us straight to the Blue Diamond Course, the most challenging of all. We raced over the Zig Zag Bridge, clambered through the V-Net Traverse, and lumberjacked our way across the High-Swinging Logs. At the end of the course, the zip line ride through the trees surprised us with a gorgeous view of the Chattanooga Valley and Tennessee River. 

We drove down to Historic St. Elmo for lunch (we had some amazing BBQ at The Purple Daisy; I highly recommend it) and caught a ride back up the mountain on the Incline Railway. From the top station, it’s just a quick walk to Point Park and the head of some incredible hiking trails. We spent the rest of our day roaming the hills on these beautiful trails, losing ourselves in the mountain laurel, rhododendron, and wisteria that were blooming throughout the woods. When we’d finally gotten our fill and worked off all that delicious BBQ, we rested our tired feet at the adorable Chanticleer Bed and Breakfast to get ready for our second day at Rock City.

We discovered Rock City Gardens celebrates Mother Nature with an EarthDayz festival, and it was one of the best dates we’ve ever had. The gardens were buzzing with families and groups admiring the cherry trees and redbud trees bursting throughout the trails. All throughout the pavilion and Cliff Terrace Porch, people were building crafts with recycled materials, learning about art and nature, and even taking part in a show with birds of prey. We even took part in a rain barrel demonstration. Our absolute favorite part, though, was the RockQuest Adventure. We got our hearts pumping as we climbed to the top of this rock wall that had sprung up out of Lover’s Leap, offering us a super fun challenge and an awesome view. We celebrated our victory with a beer and a bite at the Café 7 and let ourselves unwind in the cool mountain breeze.

We rocked our anniversary trip. If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure to get your heart racing and take your breath away, you can’t beat Lookout Mountain.



Light the Lantern of Love at Ruby Falls

March 15, 2018 Categories: Seasonal Vacation Planning

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and while I definitely think I outdid myself this year, I don’t want to let myself off the hook just yet. You don’t want to be romantic on just one day, right? Thing is, my wife Sarah and I have been married a few years now, and I’d been starting to worry I was running out of ideas to keep things fresh. You can only do so many nice dinners, you know? So what’s a husband to do?

Fortunately, while talking about family vacations one day, Sarah started reminiscing about trips to Lookout Mountain. She couldn’t believe I had never actually been, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to see something new and give her a special treat. Well guys, let me tell you—this place is perfect for a romantic getaway. My wife loved it, and I want to share my good fortune with you.

We headed out in the early afternoon so we could make a full day of it. First, I took her to Rock City Gardens to take in the beauty from Lover’s Leap. Then, we took off on the Incline Railway. I tried to time it just right with the sunset and actually impressed myself with how close we got; the late evening sky from the panoramic railcar was stunning. At the bottom station in St. Elmo, we had our pick of restaurants for a nice meal. Finally, though, it was time to pull out the pièce de résistance—the Ruby Falls Lantern Tour.

Yes, I was thrilled to discover on Friday nights Ruby Falls hosts small groups for Lantern Tours, which offer a more intimate exploration of the caverns. From the moment we walked in, we felt a sense of mystique and wonder. Lantern Tours take place after regular operating hours, so we were able to take our time surveying the incredible formations in a way Sarah said she’d never experienced before.

Our group rode the elevator 260 feet down into the caverns, where several of us were given hand-held lanterns to light our path—all the other lights were completely out. Our guide drew our attention to the remarkable natural features as the shadows we created shifted and danced around them. Sarah stuck close to my side, excitedly pointing out new shapes and formations. Between tales of the site’s history and geography, our tour guide regaled us with mysterious folktales of unexplained happenings and strange phenomena in the caves.

All these sights and sounds built up the energy as we cut through the darkness toward the crowning piece, the famed Ruby Falls. The waterfall glowed, illuminated solely by the light of lanterns strung along pulleys -“like pearls on a necklace,” my wife gushed. Her eyes sparkled as she gazed up at the falls she’d loved so much as a kid, now lit in a charming, old-world flare.

Nailed it.

In all seriousness, if you want to treat that special person in your life to something truly breathtaking, you can’t beat a Lookout Mountain getaway. And whether you decide to take a day-trip or spend the weekend, make sure you don’t miss the Ruby Falls Lantern Tour. It absolutely stole the show for us, and made our trip one that… I’m actually going to have to try really hard to top next time. 



Shamrock City

Family St Patricks Day Fun at Shamrock City at Rock City Gardens
March 12, 2018 Categories: Seasonal Vacation Planning

Like any proud American, I’m also proud of my heritage—I am a Southern girl born and raised, but somewhere way back down the line my ancestors traveled from the Emerald Isles. Okay, I’ll be honest, that might be way, way back, but still, St. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite celebrations.

Last winter felt especially long, so my best friend and I decided to give ourselves a little pot-o-gold treat to break out of the funk and have some fun on my favorite holiday. For our 2016 St. Patty’s Day Celebration, we took a trip to Lookout Mountain, home to Shamrock City during two weekends in March. And, in an extraordinary stroke of luck, were able to get both our daughters to go along for the ride with us. It can be hard to pin down our soon-to-be college graduates these days, but they couldn’t resist a day with their crazy moms at their favorite attraction.

As we curled our way up the mountain toward Rock—rather, Shamrock—City, the road rose to meet us, as they say, green twirls of spring growth spiraling up the trees, energizing us for the full day of sights ahead at Lookout Mountain. When we arrived at our first destination, we were immediately swept away by the friendly leprechauns that had swapped places with Rock City’s familiar gnomes for the festivities. Our girls giggled, ironically at first, as they greeted us at the gates, but quickly caught the spirit and posed for selfies before we headed inside.

Where to begin? Celtic celebration had swooped down over every crag and cranny. The Roaming Pipers—members of the Chattanooga Pipe Band—wandered throughout the gardens, which made for a lovely soundtrack to our trek. We rambled on toward Lover’s Leap and held our breaths as we crossed the Swing-A-Long Bridge, our daughters flying like banshees across the slats like they were kids still trying to give us a scare. But then we saw it—the 140-foot waterfall had literally gone green. We hurried closer to our favorite spot to watch the emerald water cascade over the cliff, casting rainbows into the hills.

Finally, another urge overtook us: to chow down on some traditional Irish grub. At the Pot of Gold Pavilion, we stepped into a full-blown Irish festival where several Irish dancers taught lessons to folks of any—and I do mean any—level of experience. We took in some Shepherd’s Pie while watching the girls encounter the Suffolk sheep grazing nearby. My BFF and I then rewarded ourselves with a sip of Georgia Winery’s special Muscadine Gold and Green wines—it was a well-earned girls’ trip, after all. The experience was topped off with a Celtic band flush with bagpipes and drums welcoming us to the panoramic view where we could see seven states!

We could have spent all day there reveling in the Gaelic gaiety and very nearly did. But we came to Lookout Mountain to do it right, and we still had an afternoon of searching for the end of the rainbow down in Ruby Falls caverns and basking in the springtime green from the comfort of the Incline Railway ahead of us. Still, at Shamrock City, my best friend and I got to experience the luck of the Irish: a chance to kick back and laugh with our girls like we hadn’t in a long time and wake up into a new season surrounded by nature, dance and song. Sláinte!



Holiday Excursion to Lookout Mountain

December 18, 2017 Categories: News and Tips Seasonal Vacation Planning

We all know the holidays are a magical time of year, but we also know that it can be difficult to make everyone happy. What can you do with a family of all different ages, with all different kinds of interests? For our brood, the answer is a weekend trip to Lookout Mountain. This cluster of fun and adventurous attractions offers something for every member of our family, and at the holidays, a trip like this is the perfect way to bring out the Christmas spirit in all of us. As my own special kind of gift, I want to share our family itinerary—a magical tour of Lookout Mountain for every age!

 

Stop #1: The Incline Railway

The Incline Railway at the holidays is truly a beautiful sight to behold. There’s still so much color in the trees all along “America’s Most Amazing Mile,” but the winter air makes for a crystal clear, enchanting view of the Tennessee Valley. The kids in our family love the 72.7% grade that feels like traveling straight up—it’s an adventure they can see all around them in through trolley car’s panoramic glass windows. Down below, at the St. Elmo station, my mom and I like to shop until we drop for those last minute stocking stuffers in the town’s unique collection of shops, while the dads and granddads of our group take tasting tours of the two local microbreweries nearby. Of course, there’s always the hand-dipped ice cream at Clumpies to bring us back together—no one can turn their nose up at that.

 

Stop #2: Christmas Underground at Ruby Falls

Ruby Falls is spectacular at any time of year, but come December, the caves transform into magical, icy pathways connecting Chattanooga to the North Pole. We were so impressed by how fully immersive this holiday experience was for our kids, and, well, all of us! Even the older kids couldn’t resist the charm and all-together coolness of the underground lights and scenes, like the Northern Lights and Sugar Plum Fairy Village. The natural beauty of the cave made the search for “Joystone” (a magical gem that spreads holiday cheer) and visit with Santa a wonderful adventure for the whole family! Plus, the cozy Cavern Castle above was the perfect holiday lodge. With snacks like freshly glazed and roasted Bavarian nuts and a beautiful display of holiday décor, gifts, and souvenirs, it is a great place to stock up on Christmas ornaments, and presents!

 

 

Stop #3: Enchanted Garden of Lights at Rock City

When the sun sets below the hills and nighttime spreads over the valley, Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights springs to life. There are so many ways to enjoy the four holiday-themed realms of the park—whether you have a young one eager to sit on Santa’s lap and decorate gingerbread cookies with Mrs. Claus, or you want to relax with a cup of gourmet hot chocolate and listen as a local choir sings holiday classics. Leave yourself plenty of time to explore; this is a dazzling journey for the young and the young at heart alike.

 

While these stops are all so close to each other that you could hit them all in a day, we love to spread our trip out over a weekend so we can get the most excitement with the least stress. There are several really wonderful places to stay on Lookout Mountain; depending on how many of us we can get together, we’ll stay at one of our favorite B&Bs, the Chanticleer Inn, Sky Harbor, or rent a cozy cabin for the whole crew. Either way, you can check something off everyone’s wish list with a holiday excursion to this magical mountain getaway.



Family Holiday Tradition at Ruby Falls

December 04, 2017 Categories: Events Seasonal Vacation Planning

With the holidays drawing nearer, I’ve been thinking a lot about my favorite family traditions. My daughter is just hitting that age where she’s making real memories, and my husband and I want to create that spirit of family, joy and tradition that we both treasure so dearly from our own childhoods. There are so many different ideas to choose from, and with inspiration coming from all sides, we’ve had a lot of fun thinking about how we could incorporate them into our seasonal celebrations, and come up with some brand new ones, too!

One of my favorites from growing up was driving around the neighborhood to look at the Christmas lights. I remember the thrill when my parents would bundle up my brother and I and we’d pack into the car one quiet, chilly December night. My dad would meticulously chart out the best streets and neighborhoods and take us on a wonderland tour of the lights. We’d pump out the holiday tunes through the radio the whole way around, too, belting out our favorites between sips of hot cocoa my mom packed in a giant thermos.

My husband’s favorite was collecting evidence of Santa’s visit. Each Christmas morning, my husband and his sisters would wake to find big “snowy” boot prints leading from the chimney, past the tree, and around to the crumbs of homemade cookies and empty glass of milk on the coffee table (made with powdered sugar and his dad’s work boots, my mother-in-law tells me). Outside, they’d find reindeer hooves and glitter on the yard. He loved feeling so close to St. Nick’s magic!

This year, though, we’ve started something new: we took our daughter to Ruby Falls Christmas Underground. It combines a little bit of both of our favorite traditions with a ton of magic and surprises! From the moment we approached the Cavern Castle, I could feel the festive glow. The beautifully decorated Christmas trees and sounds of holiday music immediately caught my daughter’s attention. Light filled her eyes as she took in the impressive lodge, and when I told her we were going down to a secret tunnel that connected Ruby Falls to the North Pole, she couldn’t believe her ears!

We rode down the familiar elevator and emerged into a storybook land, greeted by Santa’s Joystone miners. They told us all about Joystone, a rare and precious gem that helps spread Christmas cheer, and how Santa needed our help to find more! My daughter was buzzing with excitement to help Santa and the Joystone miners. They guided us through a series of wintry wonders, including a glittering ice cave, the Northern Lights, and my personal favorite, Sugar Plum Fairy Village. My daughter, of course, was thrilled to spend one-on-one time with Santa and receive her own sparkling Joystone to take home with her.

I couldn’t believe how perfectly the already magical beauty of Ruby Falls had been transformed into a Christmas paradise. Even my husband and I got swept up in the experience of touring the secret passageway to the North Pole; the three of us couldn’t stop talking about it all the way home. I love all of our family traditions, but I think this one might just be our new favorite. We can’t wait until next year!

For more information about how you can make Ruby Falls’ Christmas Underground a part of your holiday tradition, go to rubyfalls.com.



Enchanted Garden of Lights at Rock City

November 20, 2017 Categories: Events Seasonal Vacation Planning

Every year, a magical transformation sweeps the natural trails of Rock City. A spirit of joy and merriment settles into every tree branch and natural outcropping, shimmering out all along the Enchanted Trail from Lover’s Leap to Fairyland Caverns—a holiday cheer so bright you’d swear you could see it from seven states. Each night during the holiday season, families and friends of all ages are invited to join together and experience the wonder of the Enchanted Garden of Lights at Rock City.

From the original 1932 Gatehouse entrance, winter casts a cozy spell over the land, creating four unique and charming realms that capture the many joys of the season. Choose your own path through each enchanting realm: will you let tradition be your guide, or carve out a new journey as you traverse the North Pole Highway? It’s up to you—wonder awaits in every nook and cranny, whichever route you choose.

In Yule Town, the Legends of Christmas take shape in dazzling lights. Lighted doves swoop and soar between red and green tree trunks down the Grand Corridor; in Toyland, teddy bears and drummer boys parade along the valley; and Santa’s Toy Soldiers illuminate the way to further wonders. Nearby, you’ll find Downtown Yule Town, home to a veritable emporium of gifts and treats from the Woodland Wonders and Gardens Gateway Gift Shops to the Fudge Kitchen.

Childlike wonder and fantasy dance to life in the Magic Forest, where fairytales are real and enchantment is revealed around every corner. The beloved characters of Fairyland Caverns don their holiday best, and play out their stories with a little extra sparkle in all the new tinsel and snow. And who could blame them? After all, along this Enchanted Trail lies the forest of Dancing Trees, a one-of-a-kind spectacle where the lights leap, prance and sway to the music that fills the air.

Icy blues and scintillating silvers form the Arctic Kingdom, the snowy home of Inara the Ice Queen and Jack Frost. Their realm is the playground of ice-fishing penguins and cave-dwelling polar bears magically animated in light. Stop in, see the sights and meet Inara and Jack themselves; they’re delighted to have visitors in their kingdom, and would surely be thrilled to snap a photo with any bright-eyed guests in their land.

North Pole Village is the star on top of the tree—quite literally! As soon as you cross into North Pole Village you’ll see, affixed to the famous Lover’s Leap above High Falls, a grand lit star that hails in the holiday season. And beyond this, scores of Christmas adventures await, including the chance to visit with Santa Claus himself! All the good boys and girls can decorate gingerbread cookies with Mrs. Claus in the North Pole Lodge while parents treat themselves to some gourmet hot chocolate and take in the nightly entertainment.

Each path, each realm, each stop along the way is a chance to create an unforgettable memory for the whole family. See Rock City, and see the magic of Christmas firsthand! 



The Lights at Lookout Mountain: Fun for All Ages

November 13, 2017 Categories: News and Tips Vacation Planning

Crisp mornings greet the mountain. The leaves of mighty oaks and hickories blaze fiery oranges and deep reds. Autumn blooms brightly on charming Lookout Mountain, drawing people from all over the world to enjoy its breathtaking adventures. When much awaited, glimmering lights at Rock City, Ruby Falls, and the Incline Railway appear in November, you know the holidays have begun. And from this luminous point, the whole mountain shines with light, fun, and festivities for visitors of all ages.

Lookout Mountain is home to three of the Southeast’s most beloved attractions, offering magical holiday experiences and creating unforgettable memories. The big, blue star above High Falls appears on the horizon, hailing in the Enchanted Garden of Lights at Rock City. Over a million lights illuminate Rock City every year from November to January, transforming everything from the natural rock trails to Lover’s Leap into a dazzling winter wonderland. Kids can experience the magic of Christmas and adults can rediscover that childlike excitement and wonder. At Ruby Falls Christmas Underground, a secret cavern passage to the North Pole is revealed, leading guests on a magical adventure to visit Santa. Along the way, children of all ages take a delightful journey through Joystone City, helping Santa’s gem miners find Joystones to spread Christmas cheer. Aboveground, the Ruby Falls Castle becomes a festive winter lodge at Christmas, and the Lookout Mountain Tower offers some of the most marvelous views on the mountain—not to be rivalled, of course, by the Incline Railway. What better way to see the lights that dance all across the mountain and down the valley than from America’s Most Amazing Mile on the world’s steepest passenger railway?

Of course, there’s still much more to see and do on Lookout Mountain. It’s the perfect place for a weekend getaway, whether you’re looking for a family adventure or a romantic escape. Work up an appetite on one of the mountain’s classic hikes, like the trail up to Sunset Rock, or get a taste of history at The Battles for Chattanooga, a perfect start for a tour of the nearby Civil War battle sites. When the sun goes down, you can chow down on a hearty dinner at the Café on the Corner. Once the town grocery, Café on the Corner serves traditional Southern meals with a touch of modern flair that will sate your hunger whether you’re inside by the fire or admiring the lighted patio. Then retire in any of the numerous lodgings nearby, like the luxurious Chanticleer Inn Bed and Breakfast.

Like a beacon on the horizon, Lookout Mountain lights up for the holidays, offering so many ways for families and friends, kids, and grown-ups alike to enjoy the warm spirit of the season. Come up and have a visit—we’ll light the way



Fall Colors Along the Incline Railway

November 06, 2017 Categories: Seasonal Vacation Planning

I always hear people saying “love is in the air” come spring, but to me no time of year is more romantic than autumn. The bold colors alone shout out more passionately than any spring pastel--flaming reds, opulent oranges, vibrant yellows--not to mention the opportunity the chilly air gives you to bundle up close to someone special. Lucky for me, my husband agrees. Since our wedding in September, we had been trying to think of something we could do to give ourselves a retreat this season, something we could both enjoy as newlyweds and that might give us a little break from the whirlwind holiday craziness. I'll admit, though, that I was surprised when he was the one who came up with the perfect idea of visiting Lookout Mountain.

It can be embarrassingly easy to forget the natural wonders you have in your backyard, which is the only excuse I can muster for not thinking of making this trip immediately. I hadn’t been to Lookout Mountain since I was a young kid, but my husband’s brother and his kids still make trips regularly. I loved Lookout Mountain trips when I was younger—playing with gnomes and fairies at Rock City, getting to adventure like a real-life spelunker in Ruby Falls, feeling the thrill when the Incline Railway started moving (that totally felt like a roller coaster to me at the time). Maybe I was afraid I'd outgrown that magic, but I found out on this trip just how ridiculous a thought that was.

Chattanooga isn't too far from our home in Birmingham, but far enough to make it truly feel like a getaway. As we drew nearer to the state line, my husband couldn’t stop marveling over the changing colors, pointing out new patches of blazing leaves every few minutes. Birmingham is beautiful, to be sure, but there's something especially spectacular about the mountain foliage as you climb higher into the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. As the earth begins to rise around you, cupping you in its painted slopes, it's hard not to feel a cozy sense of nostalgia. I immediately remembered being a kid, watching scenery blur past from the window, and couldn't help but think of the traditions my husband and I could be starting that very day.

I think we both agree that this is a trip that bears repeating—doing Lookout Mountain as an adult was spectacular, and just as magical an experience as being a child there. Everything we got to do was a ton of fun, from the breathtaking natural wonder of Ruby Falls to the magical journey of winding through Rock City. My personal favorite of the day, though, was the Incline Railway.

We chose to start “up top” at the Incline’s Upper Station, given its proximity to the other attractions and historic battlegrounds. While we waited to disembark, we knew we couldn’t miss our chance to take in the panoramic view from the observation deck. From this incredible vantage, the majesty of the Tennessee Valley bloomed below us in full color. The hills unfurled beneath us, a magic carpet of warm hues welcoming all the visiting friends and families above. It wasn’t just the cool mountain air that gave me chills—this sight truly was something to behold. We couldn’t resist the opportunity for a photo-shoot, the bursting landscape behind us forming the perfect backdrop to commemorate new memories. Another friendly family of four noticed our attempts at the perfect selfie (we did pretty good, I must say) and offered to snap a few shots for us, a favor we returned happily. I couldn’t believe how well they turned out—and I can’t wait to watch our own family grow in pictures just like this in the future.

It wasn’t long before the next train car arrived, and it was time to begin our trip down the mountain. Now, I remembered the Incline Railway being cool when I was little, but this was beyond just cool. At a 72.7% grade, it truly does feel like you’re sitting straight up—it’s not hard to believe that this is one of the steepest passenger railways in the world. But somehow, it’s not scary at all, even if you’re a bit nervous about heights like me. Surely the stunning view is to thank for that—encased by plenty of windows for a 360-degree view in the trolley car, my husband and I gazed and gawked like excited kids as we traveled down “America’s Most Amazing Mile” side-by-side. We really did feel like we were on top of the world, encompassed by a terrific terrain we couldn’t believe was so close to home.

The fun didn’t stop at the base of the mountain, either; “down below” we found ourselves in Historic St. Elmo, a beautiful and charming town full of things to explore. The Incline’s Lower Station let out into an assortment of shops where I was able to get plenty of my holiday gift-getting done (thanks, as well, to my patient hubby) and pick up a few fun things for myself, as well. When we found ourselves in need of some good grub, we visited the fun and funky Mojo Burrito, a hip local favorite decked out with creative art and delicious Tex-Mex fare. We also made time for a quick taste of the town’s two microbreweries: Mad Knight Brewing Company and Moccasin Bend Brewing Company. We thought there would be a clear winner, but we were so impressed we decided we’d just have to make time to do both on our next trip!

With so much to do, we had to pinch ourselves to get back to the station in time for the ride back up. This time of year, the sun had already set as we rode the railway back up at the end of our journey, but the view was still breathtaking. As we watched the lights dance across the Tennessee Valley, the blue shadows of the trees embracing us as we passed, we both knew this trip had been exactly what we needed. Our first day trip as newlyweds had come to an end, but neither of us had to say much to know that we would be doing this again. Fall may be our favorite season, but we’ll just have to see them all to make sure!



An unparalleled view from Lookout Mountain on the Incline Railway!

October 23, 2017 Categories: Vacation Planning

Already one of the most unique and exhilarating ways to travel Lookout Mountain, the views from the Incline Railway in the fall are something to behold. The array of gold and orange foliage witnessed as you take the 72.7-degree incline along Lookout Mountain is breathtaking. Downtown Chattanooga and the surrounding mountains take on a new look, and the view leaves you with a renewed appreciation for the beauty of the area and nature itself. And the Incline Railway is the best way to experience it all while exploring Lookout Mountain and the valley below.

Start your journey by heading up Lookout Mountain on the railway where a unique Lookout Mountain adventure awaits. After soaking in the stunning fall colors on the ride up, explore the upper station before heading to Point Park, which is a short walk away.

On the upper observation deck, take in the splendor of the fall foliage from the highest vantage point on Lookout Mountain. It is the perfect place to take a sweeping one-of-a-kind photo of the using the panorama feature on your smartphone. After admiring the majestic mountains and relishing in the refreshingly cool mountain air, take time to explore the engine room and historic photo gallery to gain a new perspective on what a marvel of engineering the Incline Railway is.

From the terminal, it is a short walk to historic Point Park. The park was home to a critical Civil War battle, and now markers and plaques designate the battles fought here. There are many overlooks in the park giving you a remarkable view of downtown Chattanooga, the Tennessee River, and the southern Appalachians that can’t be found anywhere else on Lookout Mountain. Take some time to roam the park and the mountain trails, especially the Ochs Museum, which delves into the history of photography and signaling on Lookout Mountain.

After a rejuvenating walk and journey back down the Incline Railway, explore historic St. Elmo at the lower station. Recharge with a meal at some of the best restaurants in the Chattanooga area, including the 1885 Grill and MoJo Burrito. Or treat yourself and the kids to some ice cream at Clumpies or a cup of joe at Plus Coffee. With everything happening on the Incline Railway this fall, it is the perfect place to relish the dramatic change of seasons that make it one of our favorite times of the year.

To discover why the Incline Railway is your gateway to Lookout Mountain, go to www.ridetheincline.com to buy tickets and plan your trip above the clouds. 



Hidden beneath Lookout Mountain: Ruby Falls mysteries you didn’t know

October 16, 2017 Categories: News and Tips

Everyone loves a good mystery. We are infatuated with uncovering the rhyme or reason for why something was done or uncovering something no one else has. Curiosity about the unknown sparks our imagination which can lead to new discoveries. Mysteries surround us every day, and for the thousands that travel to Ruby Falls each year, they are right under their feet.

Located below the caverns of Ruby Falls, Lookout Mountain Cave was put to good use by animals and people long before Ruby Falls was discovered. This ancient cave, now closed to the public, holds some mysteries that will never be solved and some that have been thoroughly researched. One of the most curious findings in Lookout Mountain Cave are 13 square stone boxes that sit on the cave floor. They were not made by natural formations within the cave, and while there are a few theories on their origin, no definitive proof is available to tell who made them or why they did. It is a secret only the stone walls can answer.

Another discovery that can be tied to human hands are the plethora of signatures carved into the cave by Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. The Battles for Chattanooga were critical to the preservation of the Union, and both sides took refuge within the cave walls. Some of the soldiers left proof behind in the form of their names. One of the earliest signatures is that of 18-year-old Union Army Corporal Calvin Frederick. There are also many signatures with the initials C.S.A. under them, designating service in the Confederate Army.

Of course, humans aren’t the only ones to use the cave as a place to seek shelter. Many varieties of wildlife have used Lookout Mountain Cave for thousands of years as a place of refuge. Kent Ballew, Resident Cave Expert at Ruby Falls, set off in 1992 to explore deep within Lookout Mountain Cave. What he found made the difficult journey worthwhile—jaguar skeletons. Three to be precise. One appeared to die while asleep, one was stuck in a hole, and another was in a stream bed. There were also numerous bear and jaguar tracks.

Evidence of other animals that have used the cave for sanctuary has been found over the years. A 1982 expedition unearthed bones from many different animals, including deer, grouse, fox, Hellbent Salamander, woodchuck, and even the pig-like peccary. The bones were taken to the Louisville Museum of Natural History and Science where they were properly identified.

While Lookout Mountain Cave is no longer open for public exploration, there’s still a world of wonder to discover in the caverns at Ruby Falls. After seeing the amazing geological marvels throughout Ruby Falls, it’s easy to appreciate why cavers, like Kent Ballew, find the appeal of discovering the mysteries that lie beneath us a call that’s hard to resist.

Plan a trip to make your own discoveries at Ruby Falls by going to www.rubyfalls.com, where you can plan your trip and buy tickets. 



Foliage, fun and festivities with Rock City this fall!

October 09, 2017 Categories: Events Seasonal Vacation Planning

Fall is a festive time at Rock City. The air is crisp, the foliage is rich with golds and oranges, and Rocktoberfest is here! Our roots come out during this signature fall event, as we honor our founder Frieda Utermoehlen Carter and her German heritage. In this 12th annual event, Rock City transforms into a total celebration of all things German, with live German music, food and—of course—specialty beer. You can also learn the traditional polka as costumed characters don traditional German attire to help get you in the spirit of the season.

Rocktoberfest is one of our favorite family-friendly events, and is a unique way to experience Rock City while enjoying the change in seasons on Lookout Mountain.

Each weekend, the Rock City Pavilion is filled with German-themed activities, including authentic German Oompah bands, The Wurstbrats and The Musik Meisters. While traditional German music fills the air, members of Rock City Talent perform German and Bavarian Folk dances. You’ll also find a host of activities just for the kids throughout Rock City, including the return of the Fall Fairy, storytelling with Ik the Troll and visitor-favorite Rocky the Elf will be roaming the gardens.

And since you can’t have a German festival without specialty food and drink, Rock City offers some of your favorite authentic German dishes, like beer cheese soup, grilled bratwurst and German sauerkraut. Pair them with an Oktoberfest Big River Beer, or German Gewurztraminer grape from Georgia Winery to immerse yourself in the Rocktoberfest experience. Remember to take home a special souvenir from Rocktoberfest! Collector beer steins and Rocktoberfest gear will be available to commemorate your experience.

While we celebrate fall on Lookout Mountain, the season is also in full swing at Blowing Springs Farm located at the foot of the mountain. Blowing Springs Farm is the ultimate in fall family fun. The Enchanted MAiZE brings the family together as you work to weave your way through the tall stalks of corn. There are also fun farm activities for kids including a cow train, duck races, pedal carts and a corn slingshot. You can even get close to some friendly farm animals at the Critter Coral, or tour the farm on a relaxing hay ride.

Come down from the excitement on Lookout Mountain to Blowing Springs Farm, where kids under three receive free admission! The farm is open on Friday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. beginning September 29th and closing for the season on October 29th.

Rock City and Blowing Springs Farm are the perfect places to enjoy nature and the change of seasons, while creating memories that will last a lifetime! For more information on Rock City’s fall events, go to www.seerockcity.com to plan a trip and secure your tickets for a fall adventure to remember!



Get into nature this fall season on Lookout Mountain

October 02, 2017 Categories: Seasonal

Fall is finally here. It’s our favorite time of year on Lookout Mountain as the humidity wanes and the beauty of the mountain comes to life. The deep greens of the trees gradually turn into spectacular golds and oranges, making fall the perfect time to get into nature and explore everything above the clouds. On top of the natural beauty the season brings, the attractions on Lookout Mountain enhance your mountain experience, whether you are at Rock City, Ruby Falls, or taking a ride on the Incline Railway.

One of Lookout Mountain’s premier fall events is Rock City’s Rocktoberfest. This celebration of Rock City’s German heritage happens every Saturday and Sunday in October. Here, German music, food, and specialty beer bring Rock City to life like no other time of year. There will be costumed characters, and you can even learn the traditional German polka dance. Rocktoberfest is in its 12th year of celebrating harvests and foliage, making it a fall favorite for families looking to get out and enjoy the season.

As the leaves transform to their vibrant warm hues, you’ll find that this is one of the best times to travel up Lookout Mountain on the Incline Railway. Traveling up the 72.7-degree grade of Lookout Mountain gives you a unique perspective of Chattanooga and the surrounding mountains as they are transformed by the change of seasons. Just sit back and enjoy the view on America’s Most Amazing Mile. When you get to the upper station, head to the upper observation deck for a view from the highest point on Lookout Mountain. From there, it’s a short walk to historic Point Park and more remarkable mountain views.

At Ruby Falls, you can travel through the foliage on ZIPStream Aerial Adventure. This is a one-of-a-kind way to experience the spectacular fall colors on Lookout Mountain—all while getting the adrenaline flowing. There is a course for everyone as well as a 40-foot climbing tower that will bring out the adventurist in you. If you are in the mood for a more relaxing way to take in the beauty of autumn, the Lookout Mountain Tower offers breathtaking views of the color across the Tennessee Valley.

While some enjoy the refreshing weather and stunning sights of fall, for others, autumn means that Halloween is almost here. And Ruby Falls’ Haunted Cavern’s Dread Hollow is the place to go for those that like some fright in their life. Voted one of the top haunted houses in America by Rand McNally and Buzzfeed, this year’s Haunted Cavern in the town of Dread Hollow is not for kids or the faint of heart but is perfect for those on the hunt for a spine-tingling one-of-a-kind experience! It’s at an all-new location on Browns Ferry Road with 20,000 square feet of haunted fear factors!

Discover everything happening on Lookout Mountain this fall by going to www.lookoutmountain.com, and plan your trip to enjoy the view above the clouds.  



Blowing Springs Farm is fall fun for the entire family!

September 25, 2017 Categories: Events Seasonal Vacation Planning

You have certainly witnessed it while admiring the view of seven states from Rock City—a bright red barn donning the familiar phase, “See Rock City.” It stands out among the lush greenery of the valley below and harkens back to an era where roadside barns across America adorned the words that would draw millions of people to the natural wonder that is Rock City. This iconic barn is the home to Blowing Springs Farm, where an adventure for the whole family awaits!

Located at the base of Lookout Mountain—giving you a unique vantage point of Rock City and Lookout Mountain—Blowing Springs Farm puts the “fun” in farm with activities and special events throughout the fall season. The Enchanted MAiZE is a great way to get lost in pastoral wonder as you weave your way through tall stalks of corn. And don’t forget to pick up a “Get Lost” souvenir shirt to show that you made it through the farm’s labyrinth!

While the maze is the main attraction, there are a host of activities that make Blowing Springs Farm the perfect place to enjoy the crisp autumn air on a weekend or a relaxing Friday afternoon. There is something for everyone, including Bagby’s Critter Corral, where guests can get in touch with farm favorites like mini Scottish Highland Cows, a miniature horse, an alpaca, rabbits, and even potbellied pigs! Kids love the games on the farm, too—duck races, pedal carts, and the corn slingshot are just a few of the farm-centric activities geared toward the littlest members of your brood. Be sure to make time to hop aboard a hayride and enjoy gorgeous mountain views!

Fall is pumpkin season, so while you’re visiting the farm, select your perfect pumpkin to paint or carve for a fun fall decoration. And when all that autumn action works up your appetite, the Main Street Food Building will be serving hot dogs, fried sausage and pepper sandwiches, funnel cakes, and fried Oreos! You can also get refreshments like hot boiled peanuts, coffee, hot chocolate, Coca-Cola products and Slush Puppies onsite.

Blowing Springs Farm is open for fall fun from September 29th through October 29th on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Kids three and under receive free admission, making Blowing Springs Farm the ideal place to get the family outdoors while creating memories that will last a lifetime!

To buy tickets and discover more about all of the fall offerings at Blowing Springs Farm, go to www.blowingspringsfarm.com.



Ride the Incline Railway to cool off on Lookout Mountain this fall

September 18, 2017 Categories: Seasonal Vacation Planning

Another hot and humid summer is mercifully winding down, ushering in the return of refreshing fall temperatures, as well as the much-anticipated return of Saturday football. This makes it one of the best times of the year to get outdoors to enjoy the change of seasons. With spectacular views, lush foliage, and a rich history, Lookout Mountain is the perfect place to take advantage of the cooler weather while creating an adventure all your own. And the best way to experience Lookout Mountain (and even cooler weather) is to travel America’s Most Amazing mile on the Incline Railway!

Start your adventure at the lower station of the Incline Railway in historic St. Elmo, where you can get a breathtaking view of the 72.7-degree incline railway heading up Lookout Mountain. While in St. Elmo, explore the dining options—the 1885 Grill is one of the best outdoor dining experiences in the area—or grab an ice cream at Clumpies.

Traveling up Lookout Mountain on the Incline Railway gives you a unique view of Chattanooga and the surrounding mountains. The climb gets steep and the car is steady, a testament to the engineering marvel that the railway is. Before heading out to historic Point Park, discovering the Battles for Chattanooga exhibit, or taking a trek along one of Lookout Mountain’s world-class trails, explore the upper station, where you can find the highest point on the mountain at the upper observation deck.

There are two observation decks at the upper station. The upper deck is the perfect place to use the panoramic option on your camera phone, giving you an image that you will want to share with friends and family. On the lower deck, you can get a feel for just how steep the incline is by peeking over the rail and watching the Incline Railway travel back down Lookout Mountain.

After marveling at the views, take a tour of the engine room to get an up-close look at the machinery that makes the railway work. And to explore the history of the Incline Railway, don’t miss the Centennial Photo Exhibit. Here you can see how the railway has changed over the years through some remarkable images that are certain to give you a greater appreciation for the tedious work involved in making the railway a reality. 

A fall trip also means more time to explore the upper station with fewer crowds and relishing the outdoors on Lookout Mountain without the heat and crowds of summer!

To book a trip on the Incline Railway and discover for yourself why they call it America’s Most Amazing Mile, go to www.ridetheincline.com.



School’s in! Make the most of your time on Lookout Mountain

September 11, 2017 Categories: Seasonal Vacation Planning

Another summer is in the books. And while it has been a season full of fun and excitement, now is the time to take advantage of the kids being back in school. The downside of summer vacation is that everyone else is on vacation too, which means long lines and densely populated attractions. Long lines = less time to enjoy the attractions and natural beauty of Lookout Mountain.

But a little patience goes a long way!

Our attractions are designed to mesh with the stunning scenery and splendor of the mountain while giving you an adventure you won’t forget! So, a trip outside of the busy summer season lets you and the family enjoy your trip to Lookout Mountain devoid of crowds and lengthy lines, whether at Rock City, Ruby Falls, or on the Incline Railway!

More time for you and the family to explore Rock City’s gardens and more time to admire the view of seven states from Lover’s Leap all while enjoying a decrease in temps?! Yes, please! Pose for an extra photo or stand along the railing a little longer without the worry of making room for someone else. Go through the Enchanted Trail for a second time and take another walk across the Swing-a-Long Bridge; it is a wonderful way to relax and catch something you may not have noticed the first time around.

At Ruby Falls, a shorter wait time gets you to the falls as quickly as possible! There is also more time with your knowledgeable tour guide, a veritable wealth of information about the story behind Ruby Falls and the Lookout Mountain Cave. It’s easier to take some time and explore the intricate details of the rock formations—and your time witnessing Ruby Falls doesn’t feel as rushed, leaving ample opportunity to take an extra picture or admire the natural wonder of the cave.

While a trip on the Incline Railway gives you a remarkable view of Chattanooga and the surrounding mountains, the experience is all-encompassing with time to experience the upper and lower terminals while you’re there! After the summer rush has subsided, you can spend plenty of time exploring historic St. Elmo in the valley or Point Park and the Battles for Chattanooga on Lookout Mountain. Shorter lines equals more time to explore all those intricacies fully—and there’s absolutely something for every one in your brood!

Plan your Lookout Mountain adventure on www.lookoutmountain.com, and take advantage of the shorter lines and wait times while getting into nature this fall!



Did the 7th POTUS leave his mark under Ruby Falls?

September 04, 2017 Categories: News and Tips

A mysterious burst of cool air prompted one of the greatest natural discoveries in the 20th century.  The unexpected rush of air was felt by excavators 260 feet below ground, coming from a newly drilled opening in a section of stone as they tediously carved out an elevator shaft to the Lookout Mountain Cave. Eager to discover and explore the source of the cool air, Leo Lambert set off through a small opening, on what would become a 17-hour caving excursion.  On his expedition, Lambert discovered a majestic waterfall that had been hidden deep within Lookout Mountain. Named after Lambert’s wife, Ruby Falls  is the tallest underground waterfall open to the public and since its discovery has been seen by millions of people. While the falls were once a great hidden secret of Lookout Mountain, there are still a few other mysteries floating around under the surface. One of the most popular—an unsolvable gem—is the carving of President Andrew Jackson’s name deep within Lookout Mountain in the caverns beneath the Ruby Falls cave.

Nearly 100 years before the entrance to Ruby Falls was discovered by Leo Lambert’s crew, local legend has it that America’s seventh president, Andrew Jackson, stopped in Chattanooga during one of his summer travels from Washington, D.C. to the Hermitage, his home in Nashville. On this visit, he visited the Lookout Mountain Cave and left his mark. Using something sharp, possibly his sword, President Jackson is said to have carved his named and the date, 1833, into the wall of the cave below the path to Ruby Falls.

The trouble with legends and lore is that they can become embellished over time.  It remains unknown if the signature was carved by Jackson himself, another man with the same name or perhaps by someone pulling a prank on cave explorers of a bygone era. The answer is a mystery that is forever buried in Lookout Mountain.  While public tours of the Lookout Mountain Cave where Andrew Jackson’s signature is located are no longer running, the intrigue surrounding the mystery remains.

If our seventh president or the unknown carver would have etched their name into the cave today, they would be in a bit of trouble because of current strict conservation laws that prohibit defacing cave walls in any way.  But a century before these laws and Ruby Falls’ own conservation initiatives, Andrew Jackson wasn’t the only one to carve his name into the caves of Lookout Mountain. During the Civil War, Lookout Mountain Cave was used as a temporary hospital, and some soldiers took the opportunity to leave their mark behind. Thankfully, Ruby Falls conservation initiatives now protect the cave and its ancient formations, minimizing the effects of visitors, light levels, temperature and even air flow.  Not only does Ruby Falls have stewardship programs to preserve the cave for future generations of explorers, it is also charged with protecting the water traveling through the cave from pollution as it eventually joins the water table of the Tennessee River.

While you may have the urge to leave your signature behind, it’s best to simply enjoy the natural beauty of the cave and appreciate the wonder that is Ruby Falls.

To discover more about Ruby Falls, go to www.rubyfalls.com to buy tickets and plan your own Lookout Mountain adventure today!



Beat the late summer heat and save on Lookout Mountain

August 28, 2017 Categories: Seasonal Vacation Planning

The summer is rapidly winding down.  Even though these last few days of the season can be the hottest, this is still a great time to get the family out into nature to take advantage of the long summer days before fall officially begins. One of the best ways to beat the heat while making long-lasting memories is to head above the clouds to Lookout Mountain.

While the valley below and downtown Chattanooga average 83 degrees during September, Lookout Mountain averages 77 degrees during the same time, making it a perfect respite from the late-summer heat. And if you really need to cool off on a hot day, the cave at Ruby Falls maintains a refreshing 60-degree temperature year-round.

The attractions on Lookout Mountain are unique, offering a mix of adventure and outdoor excitement that can’t be duplicated. Whether it is exploring the gardens and view of seven states at Rock City, embarking on an adventure to witness the tallest underground waterfall open to the public in America at Ruby Falls, or a journey on America’s Most Amazing Mile aboard the Incline Railway, Lookout Mountain is your key to a family vacation to remember.

You can enjoy all three attractions with the Triple Play ticket package! Tickets remain valid for an entire year from the date of purchase, giving you plenty of time to plan your adventures to the Incline Railway, Ruby Falls and Rock City. Whether you want to visit all three attractions in one day, over a weekend or spread them out over multiple seasons, you’ll save money with the Triple Play. Adults save $5 per ticket, and kids ages 3-12 save $4 – a great value for individuals and families!

It’s easy to save money by purchasing tickets for this mountain of a deal. Just go to www.lookoutmountain.com to kick off your Lookout Mountain adventure with the Triple Play ticket package!



A Chattanooga Tradition: Cool off with some refreshing Clumpies ice cream

August 14, 2017 Categories: News and Tips Seasonal Vacation Planning

Even though the summer is winding down, the heat is still relentless. As you scramble to make your last summer vacation plans around Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain, don’t forget to cool off at Clumpies Ice Cream. There is no better way to beat the heat during a hot summer day, and a refreshing cone or cup of ice cream is a sweet way to create memories that will last a lifetime.

Clumpies’ unique brand of ice cream started in Chattanooga nearly 20 years ago. And the process is the same now as it was then, with each batch of delicious ice cream hand-made with the very best ingredients. Because each batch of ice cream is created in amounts of less than 10 gallons, the ice cream aficionados at Clumpies are able to ensure that every single scoop is perfectly creamy, rich and delicious—which means every scoop of your favorite flavor is excellent every time!

The Lookout Mountain dessert staple offers 18 classic flavors that everyone loves like vanilla, chocolate, cookie dough, and cookies and cream. But Clumpies also offers several unique featured flavors that change with the seasons. These special creations are often exciting combinations that you and your palate could’ve never even predicted! Cool selections like Blackberry Cobbler, Burnt Sugar Brownie, Whiskey Peach, and Strawberry Lemon Almond Sesame are just a few of the savory summer treats that take your taste buds to the next level! The featured flavors change throughout the year, so be sure to follow Clumpies on Facebook,  Instagram, and Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on your favorite!

You can satisfy your ice cream cravings throughout Chattanooga and on Lookout Mountain. The flagship store on Frazier Avenue in Chattanooga is more popular than ever, and locations in historic St. Elmo—next to the Incline Railway—and the seasonal store near the entrance to Point Park keeps Lookout Mountain cool in the summer heat. You can also find Clumpies in partner restaurants like The Blue Plate, Main Street Meats, and The Chattanoogan along with many others. Check out www.clumpies.com for a full list of restaurants that serve your favorite after-dinner treat!

Clumpies is also on the go with our Clumpies Cart, which pops up across Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain! The Clumpies Cart can be found at Warehouse Row and the Chattanooga Market, in addition to other special events. Make sure you follow the driving desserts on social media to catch where the Clumpies Cart will roll up to next!



Finish the summer with an Incline Railway family adventure!

August 07, 2017 Categories: Seasonal Vacation Planning

Another summer is almost in the books. The start of a new school year is right around the corner, and soon photos of the first day of school will replace the vacation pics in your social media feeds. Supplies have been bought and the kids are anxiously awaiting meeting their new teachers and classmates. Unfortunately, the start of school also means less family time, but there you still have the chance to create one more summer memory.

While summer vacation may be coming to an end, the heat of the season is still on. One of the best places to bring the family together to stay cool is Lookout Mountain, and the best way to explore Lookout Mountain is to travel on the Incline Railway.

Known as one of the most unique ways to travel and explore Lookout Mountain, the Incline Railway gives you a remarkable view of downtown Chattanooga and the surrounding mountains. Whether you and the family are interested in history, hiking, or just some relaxing time together, the adventure starts with a ride on America’s Most Amazing Mile!

At the lower station, explore historic St. Elmo, a quaint downtown that features some of the Chattanooga areas best eateries, along with fantastic places to grab a coffee or an ice cream. You can even tour a micobrewy! It is also the best place to get an appreciation for the 72.7 degree grade that the Incline Railway travels.

The ascent on the Incline Railway and the view of downtown Chattanooga will give the family a vision that will be remembered for a lifetime, with the city below surrounded by majestic mountains. Once at the upper station more adventure awaits, but first, make sure you and the family check out view from the upper observation deck. Which is the highest view on Lookout Mountain! It’s the perfect spot for a family photo worth sharing!

On top of the observation decks, there is much more to explore at the upper station. To see the machinery that makes the Incline Railway work, take a tour of the engine room for a behind the scenes look at this marvel of engineering. Also, don’t miss the Centennial Photo Exhibit to see some remarkable photos that show how the railway has changed over the years. Before heading out on your Lookout Mountain adventure, don’t forget to let the kids pick out a souvenir from the gift shop that they will always treasure.    

From the upper station, it is a short walk to Point Park. This is the place to create an unforgettable family adventure and discover the many aspects of Lookout Mountain.

Prior to heading into the park, check out the Point Park Visitors Center. It is just across from the park entrance, and contains a wealth of information on the history of Point Park, along with exhibits detailing the Civil War battles in Chattanooga.

Upon entering the park, you notice the marvelous overlooks right away, and can see why Lookout Mountain is such a magnet for photographers. There are many historical markers and monuments to discover, including the New York Peace Memorial, which is the largest in the park. Don’t miss out on a tour of the Ochs museum. Here the family can explore the history of photography on Lookout Mountain prior to taking your own memorable family photos, or before you hit the trail to the iconic photo spot Sunset Point.

There is no shortage of history here, as Point Park is where the famous Point Hotel was built and there are numerous markers describing the Civil War battles fought here.

With 10 acres of adventure, Point Park is just one of the reasons why the Incline Railway is the gateway to Lookout Mountain and the best place to get in that last family vacation before the start of another school year!

To discover more about the Incline Railway and everything to do at the upper and lower stations, go to www.ridetheincline.com.



End your Summer with Mountains of Fun

July 24, 2017 Categories: Seasonal Vacation Planning

Those three words that kids dread-and parents quietly anticipate-have started to pop up in your favorite stores. Nothing signals the end of summer more than those ominous words, “back to school.” Everyone is anxiously anticipating the start of a new school year, and it’s almost time to pick up the class supply lists. But summer isn’t over yet, and there’s still time to get in a family road trip before the mornings are spent in carpool lines or on bumpy school buses.

Lookout Mountain has been a top summer destination for decades. The mountain offers many choices for families to experience fun and adventure while reconnecting with nature. It is the perfect place to get away and enjoy time together for the last vacation of the summer. From amazing views to scenic hikes and underground exploration, the attractions on Lookout Mountain have something that will excite everyone in the family.

Planning a trip has never been easier. You can do everything from buying tickets to discovering a new adventure at Lookout Mountain Attractions online. We even offer a special Triple Play ticket, which gets you access to Ruby Falls, Rock City and the Incline Railway while saving money!

The possibilities for you and your family are endless on a last-minute excursion above the clouds. Travel up Lookout Mountain on the Incline Railway, the steepest passenger railway in the world. At the top, historic Point Park and numerous mountain trails await. The kids may even get a jump start on their history lessons for the upcoming year. The Battles for Chattanooga exhibit, located just outside Point Park, gives incredible insight into the Civil War battles fought here.

Next, head to the largest underground waterfall in America open to the public at Ruby Falls. Connect underground with Smart Cave, the deepest Wi-Fi network in the world, to share your photos of the spectacular waterfall discovered by Leo Lambert and named for his wife Ruby nearly 100 years ago. And don’t forget to join in on the fun above the cave with ropes courses, zip lines, and a 40-foot climbing tower at ZIPStream Aerial Adventure.

Round out your trip by touring Rock City Gardens with unforgettable views of seven states and beauty on Lookout Mountain. Rock City is a true marvel of nature with over 400 native plant species at 1,700 feet above sea level, with a 140-foot waterfall that cascades down the mountain, and the famous Swing-A-Long bridge that spans nearly 200 feet featuring unforgettable views of the Chattanooga Valley.

Enjoying the remarkable natural and historic wonders of Lookout Mountain is the perfect way to bring the family together one last time before they crack open the books-until next summer that is.

To discover everything happening on Lookout Mountain for the rest of the summer and throughout the year, go to www.lookoutmountain.com to buy tickets and plan your trip!  



Hike to iconic Sunset Rock using America’s Most Amazing Mile!

July 17, 2017 Categories: News and Tips Vacation Planning

Is there anything more relaxing than a scenic hike above the clouds? We know that hitting the trails soothes the soul, and the Incline Railway is your gateway to one of the most scenic hikes on Lookout Mountain as well as a unique way to immerse yourself nature.

For decades, people have used the Incline Railway to travel up Lookout Mountain for the world-class hiking and scenery. The hike to Sunset Rock, in particular, promises unparalleled views all culminating in a photo-worthy moment at one of the world’s most iconic bluffs. Usually, a hike starts with a drive to a parking lot, where you step right out of the car onto the trail. But the Incline Railway offers a different hiking experience. When you take the world’s longest passenger railway up Lookout Mountain, an adventure like no other begins.

Start in historic downtown St. Elmo at the lower station, and admire the marvel of modern engineering that ascends the 72.7-degree incline up Lookout Mountain. As you board the railcar and begin the trip up Lookout Mountain, take time to admire this one-of-a-kind view of downtown Chattanooga and the surrounding mountains. This is just a glimpse into the experience that awaits atop Lookout Mountain.

After arriving at the upper station, and before you start your journey to Sunset Rock, head to the upper observation deck for remarkable view of the valley and mountains from the site’s pinnacle. The upper observation deck is the perfect place to take advantage of the panoramic option on your camera phone, giving you an extraordinary image to share with friends.

From the upper station, it is a short walk to Point Park. This will be your journey’s starting point—a noteworthy beginning, to be certain. These grounds were the site of many crucial Civil War battles, and  markers can be found throughout the park to provide a deeper insight into the battles that were once forged on the property.

Once you have explored the park and admired the scenery from the many overlooks, your hiking adventure begins. 

If haven’t already mapped your route, there is a map of the trails of Lookout Mountain detailing the routes and places to go at the start of the trail. Make sure to take a picture of it with your phone before you start your hike along one of the most popular Lookout Mountain trails.

The hike to Sunset Rock is one of the well-traveled for good reason. Lookout Mountain has always been a hot spot for photographers, and the vantage point from Sunset Rock has been the subject of photos for decades.

Bluff Trail leads the way to Sunset Rock, and the hike to this scenic spot is just a little over one mile. The round trip back to Point Park will take around 1.5 hours, promising an afternoon spent soaking in the stunning sights and enjoying the refreshing mountain air. Bluff Trail is considered one the best and most user-friendly trails around Chattanooga. You will be surrounded by magnificent sandstone cliffs on one side and stunning views of the surrounding mountains on the other, making this hike one you won’t soon forget.

A short junction trail leads the way to the rock steps that will take you to the top of Sunset Rock. You might need to rest after traversing the steep stairs, and, luckily, the view makes the journey more than worthwhile. From here, you have a breathtaking vantage point of the mountains, as well as the Tennessee River and Moccasin Bend, all of which provide a glimpse into how magnificent the natural world can be.

The hike back is filled with a feeling of contentment, knowing that you just witnessed one of the most remarkable views found anywhere—and it all began with a ride on the Incline Railway.

To explore all there is to do at the top and bottom stations of the Incline Railway and discover your gateway to Lookout Mountain, go to www.ridetheincline.com



Lantern Tours light Ruby Falls on Friday nights

July 10, 2017 Categories: News and Tips Seasonal Vacation Planning

Sometimes the most exciting summer adventure isn’t in the blazing hot sun, but rather in the cool confines of a historical cave that is millions of years old. Since Leo Lambert first braved the darkness of the caverns leading to Ruby Falls in 1928, millions of people have included this destination on their must-see list for summer vacation.

A tour of the cave and waterfall is much different than when it first opened. Today, environmentally friendly lighting highlights the remarkable natural rock formations and softly illuminates the path which leads to magnificent Ruby Falls. Back when Leo Lambert and crew first explored the small opening that would lead to Ruby Falls, they were treated to a much different view of the cave, surrounded by complete darkness except for the small sources of light they carried. The formations cast a different shadow under low light, thereby bringing the mysteriousness of the cave to life.

We want you to be able to explore Ruby Falls in a similar way to how Leo and Ruby Lambert did. That’s why we started our Friday night Lantern Tours. These limited-sized specialty tours let you see a different face of the cave, and the familiar formations look completely different when only lit by the light of a few lanterns.

The tour guide leads the way with an inspector’s lantern lit with fuel, and the flickering flame brings the cave to life in a fantastic way. A few members of the group will also get a small handheld electric lantern. These are the only light sources in the cave. Your eyes slowly adjust to the low level of light, revealing a breathtaking scene, letting you see the path to Ruby Falls like few will. A heightened sense of adventure permeates the cave, as you make your way to the falls, which are spectacularly lit using a system of lanterns and pulleys.

Lantern Tours are one of our favorite ways for guests to visually experience the cave and Ruby Falls, and the storytelling demonstrated by our knowledgeable tour guides will leave you with a deep appreciation for the history and geology behind this natural wonder. Your guide will also delve into the hidden folklore of Ruby Falls, including some phenomena that have yet to be explained.

These tours only operate during select times of the year. Currently, there are 2 tours available every Friday night through Labor Day, so there is still time to plan a nighttime adventure that will be the talk of the summer! Reservations are required, and check-in time is between 8:30-9 p.m.

Experience Friday nights in a whole new light at the Ruby Falls Lantern Tour! Space is limited, so book your adventure online today!



Ready to rock this summer? Check out Summer Music Weekends at Rock City!

July 06, 2017 Categories: Events Seasonal Vacation Planning

We are in the heart of summer, and nothing livens the season like enjoying the outdoors while listening to live music. There’s just something about time spent with friends and family listening to good music that puts us in a great mood. And we know it does to you as well. Combine the sound of music filling the refreshing air over Lookout Mountain with the spectacular views from Rock City, and you create summer memories that will last a lifetime.

For this reason, we bring back Summer Music Weekends year after year. It’s a crowd favorite that is a must-attend summer event. Concerts are held at the Café 7 stage from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Labor Day. There isn’t a better place to enjoy a variety of Southern food as you overlook the remarkable view of seven states—all while melodies flow with a cool summer mountain breeze.

A concert series on the mountain wouldn’t be complete without music that was born in the Appalachian Mountains. You know we are talking about bluegrass. Matt Downer, the Old Time Traveler, always gets the crowd clapping with toe-tapping traditional bluegrass, and we also have a variety of up-and-coming artists that will make your experience at Rock City a memorable one.

Emerging artists the Highbeams will show off their unique brand of upbeat folk rock. The Voice Semifinalist Amber Carrington will also perform, as well as Tarryn Aimee Smith and Martin & Durham.

But the weekend is about more than just music. It is a festival to celebrate the natural beauty of Rock City with special activities that will make it a truly remarkable weekend. We know kids love to sing and catch bugs, and we have them covered! They can make some music of their own when they join in with the WSRC Radio live broadcast and sing along with some classic tunes, as well as make their own glow-in-the-dark firefly catcher at Aunt Frieda’s Firefly Jar station.

Our always popular Birds of Prey raptor show is back, where the Wings to Soar rescue birds put on an educational and interactive experience that will leave you in awe of these magnificent animals. There are five shows held at the Critter Classroom on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays through Labor Day.

Details about Summer Music Weekends can be found online at www.seerockcity.com. Come join us for fantastic music-filled weekends of fun, and make your summer rock at Rock City!   



Plan a Weekday Adventure on the Incline Railway

June 26, 2017 Categories:

You already know it’s the best way to travel Lookout Mountain and catch a remarkable view of the Appalachian Mountains. And now that we are in the thick of summer vacation season, everyone riding the Incline Railway for the unbelievable scenery can also revel in a bit of respite from the summer heat at the apex of the mountain. While anytime is a good time to ride America’s Most Amazing Mile, you can maximize your time by planning a weekday adventure to get ahead of the weekend crowds.

That means more time at the lower station to grab an ice cream at Clumpies, a farm-fresh Tex-Mex meal at Mojo Burrito, or refuel at Plus Coffee while you explore historic St. Elmo before traveling up Lookout Mountain in one of the most unique methods possible.

With so much to do on Lookout Mountain, less time in line means more time exploring. After traveling up the 72.7-degree incline, be sure to head to the upper observation deck to check out the highest view on Lookout Mountain. Bring some change for the binoculars, or even bring your own to enhance this already remarkable view. Before leaving the station, check out the engine room and historical photos to discover what an engineering marvel the Incline Railway truly is.

Next, head to Point Park, which is just a short walk from the upper station. Part of the Chickamaunga-Chattanooga National Military Park system, Point Park is the perfect place to put on your walking boots and make your own discoveries. Start at the Visitors Center to find out everything about the park, and to view an outstanding painting that portrays the critical Civil War battle that was fought here, the Battle Above the Clouds. It is also the site where the famous Point Hotel was built, as well as many iconic photo spots.

There are many overlooks throughout the park that provide the perfect spot for you to snap a picture with downtown Chattanooga and the Appalachian Mountains in the background—just don’t forget to share with family and friends.

If you are feeling extra adventurous, explore the trails that lead to historic Craven’s House or the iconic photo spot Sunset Point. Don’t forget to check out the Ochs Museum in Point Park to discover exactly why Lookout Mountain is such a famous photo locale and has been since modern photography was invented.

Since you are saving a little time in line, stop by the Battles for Chattanooga exhibit—just a short walk on the way to Point Park from the upper station—to get a unique look at the Civil War battles fought under your feet on Lookout Mountain. And for the geography inclined, the exhibit puts a name and new perspective on the surrounding rivers and mountains, letting you know what you are looking at as you admire the amazing Lookout Mountain views.

While riding the Incline Railway is always worth the wait, a weekday trip gives you more time to explore the hidden gems that make Lookout Mountain one of the top summertime destinations year after year.

To plan your trip to Lookout Mountain on the Incline Railway, go to www.ridetheincline, to buy tickets and make summer memories that will last a lifetime!



Rock Your Weekday This Summer At Rock City

June 19, 2017 Categories:

The signs of summer are everywhere. Kids are out of school and are looking forward to their next camp getaway or first adventure of the summer. Instead of making the kids wait for the weekend to take a road trip, make the summer rock with a weekday trip to Rock City on Lookout Mountain. While we are known for special events like our Summer Music Weekends and Rocktoberfest, taking a day during the week is the perfect time to come explore our gardens and 4,100-foot walking trail. Besides, you know that the summer is hot, and it’s always cooler on Lookout Mountain.

Exploring this natural wonder without the weekend crowds will give you a different perspective on Rock City and what a marvel it is. Lover’s Leap has a different atmosphere when it’s only you, your family, and a few others admiring the magnificent view of seven states. It is one of the most popular photo spots in America and has been since Rock City was founded in the 1930s. Be sure to snap a picture with your phone or bring your best camera for a truly memorable photo that you’ll want to share with everyone.

Navigating the gardens is a different experience as well. You and the kids can take a little more time on the 180-foot swing-a-long bridge and explore Fairyland Caverns a little longer. While a weekend with us at Rock City is always exciting, full of music and activities, a weekday visit creates a more relaxed environment and lets you view the gardens in a different light.

As you enjoy your weekday adventure at Rock City, don’t forget that Café 7—on Lover’s Leap—or Big Rock Grill are the perfect places to recharge and get the most out your visit. If you need an extra pick-me-up, Starbucks is right outside of the main entrance across the street, and the kids will certainly love a stop at Clumpies Homemade Ice Cream, with three locations to choose from. 

Plan your weekday trip to Rock City today by going to www.seerockcity.com, and create memories this summer that will last a lifetime.



Surprising Facts You May Not Know About Ruby Falls

June 12, 2017 Categories:

Summer is here!  It’s time to create memories with carefree adventures that will be talked about all summer long – as well as sharing social media posts to let everyone know you were there.  We all know keeping the family cool during even the hottest days is an important part of great summer vacations, and a trip to Ruby Falls keeps everyone in the family cool while creating lasting memories.    

As one of America’s must-see attractions, the breath-taking, 145-foot Ruby Falls is the tallest underground waterfall open to the public! There are all kinds of discoveries to make on your way to the heart of the cave.

 

From the stunning geological formations (some might make you hungry) to the wishing wells found along the path, Ruby Falls is full of amazing wonders. Surprise your family and friends (though probably not your tour guide) on your trip to Ruby Falls this summer with these fun facts:

 

·         The temperature inside Ruby Falls year-round is a cool 60 degrees. Add in a little humidity and the temperature in the cave feels like a perfect 70 degrees.  

 

·         The Cavern Castle, the entrance building to Ruby Falls, used to be a dinner and dance hall prior to being converted into the lobby and ticketing area  it is today. While browsing the gift shop, check out the old photos showing the Cavern Castle as a dance hall with a large fireplace. If you look closely, you can still find the fireplace tucked just behind the stairs on the back wall. 

 

·         As you travel in the cave towards Ruby Falls, you realize the massive amount of work it took in making the pathway to the falls possible. And those lights! There are over 500 lights in the cave pathway to illuminate your journey through the caverns to Ruby Falls—much brighter than the headlamps and lanterns that lit the way for founder Leo Lambert when he discovered the falls in 1929!

 

·         Lookout Mountain and baseball go way back. In 1931, Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees visited the falls while in town to play the Chattanooga Lookouts. It was a history-making event that saw one of the first female pitchers, Jackie Mitchell, pitch for the Lookouts. During the momentous baseball matchup, Ms. Mitchell famously struck out a few Yankees, including Lou Gehrig and the Babe.   

 

·         During the Great Depression, young tour guides, trying desperately to support their family, sold small pieces of onyx from the cave. Today tour guides and visitors alike respect the formations, leaving them intact and protected for future generations to enjoy.

 

·         Traversing the cave is truly walking through time. The cave is estimated to be 30 million years old. Imagine all the life that has made its way through this testament to history! The excitement is palpable as you inch closer to the grand Falls and experience this natural wonder.

 

Visit us at  www.rubyfalls.com to plan your summer adventure and create memories that

will last a lifetime!



Your Old-School Summer Road Trip Awaits on Lookout Mountain

June 05, 2017 Categories:

Summer means one thing—road trip! And one of the most popular destinations this summer is Lookout Mountain. Thousands travel up the mountain each year for the scenic views, fresh mountain air, and cooling summer winds that Lookout Mountain is known for. Not to mention the amazing attractions like Rock City, Ruby Falls, and the Incline Railway!

Everyone knows that while the kids tend to focus on the destination—cue the “are we there yet” chants—it’s often the journey that creates memories that will last long after the pics are posted to social media. If you crave that stress-free, old-school road trip, one where you can shut off the GPS, and its computerized voice telling you to “proceed to the route,” Lookout Mountain is one of the few places where you can easily use the road signs to guide your way.

Lookout Mountain has always been celebrated for its signs. The founder of Rock City, Garnet Carter, had over 900 roadside barns painted with huge signs, inviting passing motorists to “See Rock City.” Since 1949, bumper stickers and billboards have beckoned travelers to visit Ruby Falls and the Incline Railway, the world’s steepest passenger railway. These iconic black and white signs have led thousands to head above the clouds to Lookout Mountain.

Today, old-school signage points the way to all the excitement on Lookout Mountain. Quaint black and white signs lead you to the next adventure, so all there is to do is roll the window down, relax, and enjoy a mountain drive.

No need for the GPS to dictate your journey; whether it’s an adventure to the tallest underground commercial waterfall in the world at Ruby Falls, a remarkable view of seven states and a walk through the magnificent gardens at Rock City, or taking the Incline Railway on America’s Most Amazing Mile, a road trip experience like no other is waiting for you on Lookout Mountain.

To plan your summer road trip adventure on Lookout Mountain, go to www.lookoutmountain.com, where you can buy tickets and explore everything above the clouds.



The Perfect Weekend Adventure Getaway: Stay above the clouds on Lookout Mountain

May 22, 2017 Categories:

The perfect weekend adventure getaway: Stay above the clouds on Lookout Mountain

Looking for a weekend where you can get into nature, spend quality time with family and friends, and have a fantastic adventure? Would you like a vacation that’s not a hectic run from one place to the next and where traveling to the next attraction is relaxing? If so, Lookout Mountain has you covered as the attractions here were designed with adventure in mind.

A weekend on Lookout Mountain is packed with excitement, and whether you start at Rock City, Ruby Falls, or with a trip on the Incline Railway, you will create memories that will last a lifetime.

Each attraction offers a unique way to experience Lookout Mountain. Travel America’s Most Amazing Mile on the Incline Railway, where you can walk to historic Point Park and the Battles for Chattanooga’s digital panoramic show, which brings history to life at the upper terminal. After checking out the highest view on the mountain at the upper observation deck and finishing your ride at the lower terminal, explore the outstanding dining and dessert options in historic St. Elmo before heading to your next adventure on Lookout Mountain.

A relaxing drive up the mountain follows, where you can turn off the navigation and let the signs guide you to Ruby Falls or Rock City.

If you decide Rock City is your next destination, a wonder of nature awaits. The See Seven States signs are certain to capture your attention, and if you haven’t witnessed the view already, it is one you won’t soon forget. In addition to the views and the magnificent rock formations, Rock City showcases some of the best bluegrass and folk music around during our Summer Music Weekends. Cap the day off with a late lunch at Café 7 or the Big Rock Grill. Browse the expansive gift shop at Rock City where you can find the perfect souvenir to commemorate your trip.

Now that the first half of the weekend is complete, a trip to America’s largest underground commercial cave is in store at Ruby Falls. As you listen to the amazing story of Leo Lambert and how the waterfall in the cave was discovered, the magnitude of his achievements will captivate you. Walk in his footsteps on the way to the falls to behold an unparalleled underground adventure. The falls come to life in a stunning show, and the brilliant bursts of light shining through the underground waterfall present the opportunity for the photo of a lifetime.

The adventure doesn’t end after stepping off the elevator—make sure to check out the view from the observation deck, then check out the ZIPStream for an aerial adventure though Lookout Mountain as the perfect way to cap off an unbelievable weekend one of Chattanooga’s best attractions!

To discover more about all the attractions on Lookout Mountain, and to plan your stay above the clouds, go to www.lookoutmountain.com.



Fill Your Summer Weekends with Music at Rock City

May 15, 2017 Categories: Events

Fill your summer weekends with music at Rock City

Music and the mountain go hand in hand. Add a spectacular view of the Southern Appalachians and you have one of the most unique venues in the country, and that is exactly why we started our Summer Music Weekends at Rock City. Something about being on the mountain inspires good music and good times, and Rock City is known for being the best at both.

Our Summer Music Weekends event brings the sounds of traditional bluegrass along with modern and folk-country music to Rock City once again this summer. Bluegrass was born in the Appalachian Mountains and has inspired all genres, making it the perfect backdrop for the view of seven states. The festival is a crowd favorite, and a summer vacation on Lookout Mountain isn’t complete without experiencing the sounds of mountain music filling the air in tandem with a cool summer mountain breeze.

This year’s Summer Music Weekends start on Memorial Day weekend and run all summer long until Labor Day. Concerts fill the refreshing mountain air on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays until 7 p.m. Emerging and established musicians will perform at Rock City, including, Matt Downer, the Old Time Traveler—who is certain to get your hands clapping and toes tapping with the upbeat sound of traditional bluegrass music. Rising artists like the Highbeams will bring their energetic style of folk rock to the festival weekends, along with Grand Ole Opry performer and semi-finalist on The Voice, Amber Carrington.

In addition to the music, Rock City’s popular Birds of Prey Raptor Show is back, and the view from Rock City can only be enhanced by the sight of nature’s most magnificent aerial creatures soaring overhead. The Birds of Prey Show is held at the Critter Classroom in conjunction with Summer Music Weekends, and the raptors entertain with four shows daily on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

We know that kids like to catch bugs, and their favorite summer bug to catch is fireflies (or lightning bugs, if you prefer) so we put together a special activity where kids can make their own glow-in-the-dark firefly jar for a summer of critter-catching fun!

Dining with a view that is second-to-none makes Summer Music Weekends complete. Café 7, the very spot overlooking that famous view from Lovers’ Leap, has you covered. With a mix of Southern favorites and local delicacies, Café 7’s lunch offerings change with the seasons but always leave you satisfied, reenergized, and ready to explore the rest of Rock City.

To buy tickets and find out more about our Summer Music Weekends, go to www.seerockcity.com.



Start Summer in the Sky at the Ruby Falls ZIPStream Aerial Adventure

May 08, 2017 Categories:

Start Summer in the Sky at the Ruby Falls Falls ZIPStream Aerial Adventure

Summer is here! Well, it’s not technically, but with the end of the school year on the horizon, kids are already looking forward to a summer vacation filled with fun and adventure. You have flashbacks to the excited chant of, “Are we there yet?!” while looking fervently for a vacation that will go down in family history. The kids have been in the classroom, studying hard all year—they deserve an awesome vacation—and so do you. There’s no better way for family and friends to create memories that will last a lifetime than on Lookout Mountain with an aerial adventure at Ruby Falls ZIPStream.

Let’s check out some ingredients that make up a fantastic summer vacation that everyone will be posting about long after you’re back home to see how ZIPStream stacks up:

There must be a sense of adventure and a challenge that will build excitement.

Ruby Falls ZIPStream Aerial Adventure is more than just a ZIP line—it is a complete obstacle course with bridges, ZIP lines, ladders, nets, and tunnels. It challenges and takes you out of your element, creating a unique Lookout Mountain experience. You can also test your climbing prowess with the 40’ Climbing Tower, with five routes to match (and test!) your skill level.

Everyone can join in on the fun.

With three obstacle courses designed to accommodate different age and skill levels, ZIPStream is built to get everyone (or at least those ages 6 and up) involved and out enjoying nature. Not interested in an obstacle course? No problem, ZIPStream also has the Tower ZIP Ride for those who want the feeling of flying through the forest without the challenges the obstacles bring. 

Plenty of bonding time with family and friends.

Standing on the platform or the ground, cheering on your family and friends as they fly down the ZIP line or make their way through the obstacle courses creates a bonding experience that can’t be beat. Encouraging a friend as they conquer the Climbing Tower—and perhaps even their fear of heights—is an experience destined to be remembered for years to come. 

You get to take a break from technology and reconnect with nature.

As great as our devices are, they can rob us of some serious quality time with friends and family. At Ruby Falls ZIPStream, you can regain some of those precious moments with loved ones while creating memories and stories to share for generations to come. Recharge and do something unforgettable amid the natural luster of Lookout Mountain.

Start your summer off right with excitement and thrills at Ruby Falls ZIPStream Aerial Adventure—go to www.rubyfallszip.com to purchase tickets and plan your visit today!



Extend Your Lookout Mountain Adventure on the Incline Railway

May 01, 2017 Categories: News and Tips Vacation Planning

Extend Your Lookout Mountain Adventure on the Incline Railway

Spring is in full bloom and summer is right around the corner, making now the best time to get out and explore Lookout Mountain. And everyone knows the best way to travel the mountain and experience the fantastic views is on the Incline Railway—America’s most amazing mile.

Your roundtrip journey up or down Lookout Mountain on the Incline Railway creates two unique experiences. Both allowing you and your family to extend your trip while exploring Lookout Mountain in a new way.

Let’s start in historic St. Elmo with a trip up the Incline. As you sit back and start your ascent, an unforgettable view of Chattanooga, the Appalachians, and the Tennessee River is in front of you, and that’s just the beginning. There is a remarkable view, which is the highest on Lookout Mountain, from the upper observation deck at the Incline Railway top station.

After admiring the view stroll down to the lower level and observe the engineering marvel of the engine room.   On the main top station level, don’t miss the Centennial photo exhibits of the bygone era of Lookout Mountain. 

Just a few short walk from the top station is Battles for Chattanooga Museum, here, the Civil War’s Battle Above the Clouds comes to life in a digital panoramic display. While describing in detail the battles of this critical Civil War campaign, the display also provides more perspective on the geography of Lookout Mountain and surrounding areas, which will come in handy when you walk through history at Point Park.  Markers commemorating the Civil War battles fought on Lookout Mountain can be found throughout the park, and as you overlook Moccasin Bend and the Tennessee River-you remember the description from the Battles of Chattanooga-the historical importance of this place is felt.

Lookout Mountain is one of the most popular photo spots in the country, so make sure you pose for a potential profile picture with Chattanooga in the background at one of the overlooks within Point Park or from the Incline top station Observation Deck.

Heading back to the upper station, be sure to find that perfect souvenir of the trip and get ready for the adventure that awaits at in historic St. Elmo below.

After descending Lookout Mountain back to the lower station, we are certain the family has worked up an appetite. Luckily some of the best restaurants in Chattanooga are just a short walk away, and whether it’s a burger at the 1885 Grill, a burrito at Mojo’s, or a fresh slice at Mr. T’s Pizza, there are numerous dining options available.

Afterwards, treat the kids—and yourself—to some of Clumpies' homemade ice cream, or maybe even head to Plus Coffee in historic St. Elmo to help you recharge for the next round of Lookout Mountain adventures.

Book your trip and extend your adventure on the Incline Railway at www.ridetheincline.com, and discover the gateway to a fantastic family vacation!



Save money on Lookout Mountain with the Triple Play ticket

April 20, 2017 Categories: News and Tips Vacation Planning

Save money on Lookout Mountain with the Triple Play ticket

In baseball, a triple play is a rare occurrence. It has happened only a few times in Major League Baseball history. While the odds are against you seeing one in person, there is a triple play on Lookout Mountain that is easy to find. One that saves you money while helping you have a relaxing Lookout Mountain vacation.

We know it can be hard to pack all the adventure and excitement of Lookout Mountain in one day or over a weekend trip. For this reason, we created the Triple Play ticket package. This combination ticket gives you access to Rock City, Ruby Falls, and the Incline Railway on your schedule!

The Triple Play ticket package is good for one year after the date of purchase. You can enjoy all 3 attractions in one day, but if you want to extend your stay on Lookout Mountain, you can take advantage of the of the year-long expiration and plan your visits to the Incline Railway, Rock City, and Ruby Falls over several days or any time throughout the year! This ticket package gives you the opportunity to explore these amazing attractions at your own pace, all while saving you money!

Instead of purchasing separate tickets for Ruby Falls, Rock City, and the Incline Railway-you can capture the full Lookout Mountain experience by visiting all three-save $5 per adult and $4 for kids from 3-12 with the Triple Play combo ticket. Kids 2 and under are always free. For a family of five that is almost $25 in savings! Enough to cool off the family with some ice cream at Clumpies!

Whether your family favorite is a journey to America’s largest underground waterfall at Ruby Falls, a ride on the Incline Railway through America’s Most Amazing Mile, or exploring the wonder of Rock City on the way to See Seven States, the Triple Play ticket package is the best way to see all three!

To purchase tickets for you and your family go to the Lookout Mountain Ticket Center online. From here you can begin to plan your Lookout Mountain adventure!



9 reasons to ride the Incline Railway this spring

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April 13, 2017 Categories: News and Tips Seasonal

It’s a ride like none other, and it distinctively changes with the seasons. As you travel up the 72.7 grade of the Incline Railway in the winter, the view of Chattanooga is spectacular, and bare trees frame an unparalleled view of the Appalachian Mountains. Now as the days become longer, and the temperatures start climbing, you can be sure of one thing; Lookout Mountain is the place to stay cool when it gets hot, and below are 9 reasons to travel America’s Most Amazing Mile this spring.

Surround yourself in spring blooms

As bare winter branches give way to spring blooms, the Incline Railway is the best way to get an amazing view of Chattanooga and surround yourself in the colors of spring. Bright white and pink blooms from magnificent Mountain Laurel and the bright yellows of native Azaleas border the trip up Lookout Mountain, making this the best time to travel the most amazing mile.

Cool off at the top

You know as summer gets nearer, the heat comes up quick. Given that this has been a relatively mild winter, it’s a good bet that late spring will ratchet up the temperatures. As we all know, it’s cooler on the mountaintop, and Lookout Mountain is always a few degrees cooler than the valley.

Cut out the wait

While summer is a great time to ride the Incline, one of the advantages of a spring trip is a more relaxed atmosphere, which makes the wait time shorter. This allows you to spend more time exploring historic St. Elmo in the valley, enjoying the view from the observation deck, or finding the perfect souvenir to remember your trip.

Dine in the sun at the 1885 Grill

Down in the valley of historic St. Elmo is one of the best outdoor dining experiences in the area. The 1885 Grill has fantastic service and a burger that can’t be beat. Start at the top and take the Incline down, enjoy the spring weather on the patio, and have a dining experience like no other at the base of the Incline Railway.  

Check out the highest view on Lookout Mountain

While there are numerous fantastic sites with a view on Lookout Mountain, the upper observation deck at the Incline Railway is one of the most amazing. It is also the highest on the mountain. Don’t forget quarters for the binoculars, or better yet, bring your own, and soak in a remarkable view of Chattanooga and the Appalachians.

Hike through history at Point Park

Point Park is the gateway to one of the most unique blends of history and hiking trails that you will find. The Civil War battles on Lookout Mountain were some of the most important of the war and Point Park, located a short walk from the top station of the Incline Railway, offers numerous ways to explore the mountain’s history while enjoying nature. On top of being a popular photo spot-as evidenced by the Ochs Museum located on site-there are trails that lead to historic Cravens house, Sunset Rock, and the site where Lookout Mountain’s Point Hotel once stood.

Treat yourself to some ice cream

When it’s hot in the valley, you know the best way to cool off is with some ice cream. Luckily, some of the best ice cream around Chattanooga can be found in Clumpies next to the bottom station of the Incline Railway. Clumpies has been making homemade ice cream since 1999, and everyone will find a flavor they love. Enjoy your favorite flavor while you wait for your ride back to the top, or treat yourself and the family while reliving the journey on the most amazing in America! 

Spot a groundhog at the top terminal

These furry animals can be found all year at the top of the Incline Railway, either from one of the observation decks or from the railcar as it is perched prior to decent. They are a little hard to find, as they like to blend in with their surroundings, so make sure you and the kids keep an eye out. Maybe even ask the guide if they know of any groundhog hiding spots.

See the Battle Above the Clouds come to life

You can’t get a complete picture of Lookout Mountain if you don’t explore its history and role in the Civil War. One of the best ways to do both is through the Battles for Chattanooga exhibit. Located just before the entrance to Point Park and a short walk from the top of the Incline Railway, the Battles for Chattanooga is a digital panoramic display that brings this critical Civil War campaign to life using the latest in modern technology. In addition to giving you a unique perspective of the Battle Above the Clouds and Chattanooga area battles, it is one of the best way to explore and get a handle on the geography of the area.

To book your trip on the Incline Railway, and use it as a gateway to exploring Lookout Mountain and the valley, go to www.ridetheincline.com.



Battle Below the Clouds BBQ Competition: A good time for a good cause

April 04, 2017

Ruby Falls is all about bringing fun to kids and families. We combine a brand of excitement and adventure that is hard to find anywhere else. On Saturday, April 29th, Ruby Falls is partnering with...

Battle Below the Clouds BBQ Competition: A good time for a good cause

April 04, 2017 Categories: Events Vacation Planning

Ruby Falls is all about bringing fun to kids and families. We combine a brand of excitement and adventure that is hard to find anywhere else. On Saturday, April 29th, Ruby Falls is partnering with Coca Cola, Food City and The Barn Nursery to team up with Lana’s Love to help bring some fun into the lives of kids who are battling cancer. Our Battle Below the Clouds amateur barbecue competition will surround Ruby Falls with the savory smell of BBQ, while raising funds and promoting awareness of pediatric cancer.

This is the 3rd consecutive year of the competition, in which we partner with Lana’s Love, a Chattanooga foundation whose mission is to help kids diagnosed with cancer and their families have fun.

Lana’s Love was started by the family of Lana Beth Webster. Lana Beth was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma when she was 6, and fought courageously for five years until passing away. The foundation works to help families with pediatric cancer patients enjoy life with their loved ones by setting up family outings at places where you know kids will have fun, like Ruby Falls and many other Chattanooga area attractions. They also plan many different activities with the patients, hand out gift bags, as well provide arts and crafts for the kids. All activities are free to the patients and their families.

Jim Webster is Lana Beth’s father, and is overwhelmed every year by the generosity of the people at Ruby Falls and the success of the Battle Below the Clouds event.

“Lana’s Love’s association with Ruby Falls has been amazing,” said Jim. “The Battle Below the Clouds was wholly their idea. It is a fun event that raises thousands of dollars for the kids and families of Lana’s Love. Even the BBQ teams give away free samples to Lana’s Love families and help raise money for the charity. Ruby Falls supports us in numerous ways, and I can’t imagine a better partner to help us with our mission.” 

To register your team, go to  Battle Below the Clouds or Lana’s Love. The competition is a festive and family-friendly event with live bands, prizes and giveaways. Awards will be given for Best Pulled Pork, Best Ribs, and Grand Champion.

All contestants will receive one bone-in pork butt and one slab of baby back ribs courtesy of Food City. The entry fee is tax deductible, and 100 percent of your entry fee goes to help brighten the day of a kid with cancer. Entry fee also includes a little fun for yourself, with two tickets to the ZIPStream Aerial Adventure, as well as two tickets to explore the magnificent Ruby Falls. Combine the value of the tickets with the knowledge of knowing that the $400 entry fee will go towards putting a smile on a kid’s face, and it’s a deal too good to pass up.

The cookers and smokers will fire up at 6 a.m. in the Ruby Falls bus parking lot, and BBQ must be turned in for judging by 5 p.m. Participants are limited to 15 teams, and registration closes April 23. Go ahead and get your backyard BBQ team together today to help bring joy to the kids of Lana’s Love. Sign up your team or donate to Lana’s Love at Ruby Falls’ Battle Below the Clouds or Lana’s Love registration page



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9 reasons to ride the Incline Railway this spring

April 13, 2017

It’s a ride like none other, and it distinctively changes with the seasons. As you travel up the 72.7 grade of the Incline Railway in the winter, the view of Chattanooga is spectacular, and...