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.
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.