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…