Sightseeing in a Scenic City – Chattanooga, TN

Moving on and pointing Betsy’s nose northward, we arrived in a new-to-us state – Tennessee – Chattanooga to be exact.  Along the hilly highways of the area, wildflowers adorned the sides of the road in an explosion of pink, yellow and white.  I was delighted that spring is still in the air, and I loved it!

We followed another happy camper into the Great Smoky Mountains
Just some of the beautiful wildflowers we saw along the highway
Just some of the beautiful wildflowers we saw along the highway

After settling in at our new home base,  we perused several brochures to see what’s to do in Chattanooga.  As many cities do, Chattanooga boasted the many rave reviews they have garnered.  To validate these claims, we had to do our own investigation to see for ourselves.  Chattanooga is nearly surrounded by mountains and sits on the banks of the Tennessee River.  Folks here have officially nicknamed it  “The Scenic City,” and we were pleasantly surprised to discover that it really is.

Chattanooga means “rock coming to a point”
Chattanooga, TN
View of the city from Lookout Mountain

Getting around town is easy since they offer a free electric shuttle, but it is very walkable and we opted to use our legs.  Leaving our car at a good central point, we headed straight down to the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge.  It is one of the world’s longest pedestrian bridges and spans .45 mile across the Tennessee River.  A sign on the bridge indicates it was built in 1891 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.  It was restored and reopened in 1993, and is obviously very popular.  Walking over the river, we were able to enjoy scenic views of a city that has been transformed in recent years.

Walnut Stree Pedestrian Bridge, Chattanooga
Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge, viewed from the Hunter Museum of American Art
Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge
The Walnut Stree Pedestrian Bridge in the foreground, viewed from Coolidge Park on the north shore

I’m making the bridge my main attraction because when you’re on it you see beautiful scenery in every direction.  It’s not only a tourist attraction, but also a connection between downtown Chattanooga and other businesses on the north shore.  It is also sort of central to an area encompassing the 13-mile Riverwalk and Coolidge Park.  This is really a vibrant and active town with many opportunities to enjoy the scenery while working out, and it’s also full of excellent restaurants in case you want to put those calories right back on.



Walnut Street, Pedestrian Bridge
It’s only empty in this photo because we arrived early.  The bridge is usually full of active people

From the bridge we could see the city’s hub for arts and culture, with the imposing Hunter Museum of American Art on the bluff…

Hunter Museum of American Art
Hunter Museum of American Art

…the Tennessee Aquarium in the riverfront district with Lookout Mountain in the background…

Lookout Mountain
Imposing Lookout Mountain in the background

…and Coolidge Park on the north end with more walking/biking trails, and even a merry-go-round in that building to the right.

Coolidge Park
Coolidge Park at the north end of the bridge
Water fountain at Coolidge Park
Posing with an elephant at Coolidge Park

Bluff View, ChattanoogaAfter strolling through the north shore streets, we went back across the bridge to the downtown area.  As we strolled along, we realized the city has designated six sections (or districts), depending on what the area has to offer.  The bluff view is the artistic part of town.  Since neither of us are art enthusiasts, we skipped the Hunter Museum and instead admired the various art sculptures displayed around the city and at the outdoor River Gallery.  This is a good place to feast your eyes on various distinctive art pieces and sculptures – for free.


Riverfront, ChattanoogaWe continued to follow the Tennesse Riverwalk at the riverfront district, and cooled off on the steps covered in cascading water next to the Tennessee Aquarium complex.

Tennessee Aquarium at Ross Landing
Ross Landing with the Tennesee Aquarium in the background

I later learned there is also a public art memorial known as “The Passage,” which celebrates the area’s Native American heritage.  It features several six-foot medallions depicting the Cherokee tribe’s history.  In 1838, when the Cherokee nation was ordered to leave their land here, many died on the westward march known as the Trail of Tears.  At the foot of the cascading water is Ross Landing, designated as one of the three places for the rendezvous for their removal.

The Little Water Spider
Standing on the Little Water Spider at the bottom of the “The Passage.”  Yes, it’s OK for people to walk in the cascading waters steps!
Coiled Serpent by Bill Glass
Coiled Serpent by Bill Glass
Stickball Players by Robbie Mcmurtry
Stickball Players by Robbie Mcmurtry

CityCenter, Chattanooga, TN

We saw an interesting steeple in the city center district that had been been built in 1881 as part of a large First Methodist Church. It turns out the church was never completed, but services were held in the steeple until 1967 when its congregation merged with another one.  It looked kind of strange to see just the steeple in the middle of the city, but it is quite a beautiful structure on its own.


Our tummies were grumbling after all of the walking, and Steve had been talking for a couple of days about a place he found that served excellent fried chicken.  Not what we usually eat, but you know how you can get those “hankerin’s” every now and then!  We walked all the way across town to a place called Champy’s, and we weren’t disappointed. We were happy to walk almost two miles back to our car after that incredible lunch!

Champy's Fried Chicken
Fried chicken and cold beer – here I come!

There is so much to do in Chattanooga.  We walked it, drove it, biked it and hiked it.  We also boated it on the Southern Belle (coming up next) to get a view from the river.  By the end of our weeklong stay we were pretty much exhausted – is this what retirement is supposed to be like?  Among the mid-sized cities we’ve visited, Chattanooga lived up to its hype – it’s scenic, clean, not too big nor too small, and the outdoor fun is almost limitless. Stay tuned to see what else this cool place has to offer!




  1. Chattanooga sure is a beautiful place to get out in nature. I’m learning so much from reading your posts and seeing your beautiful photos. Keep enjoying life!

    I took my new dog Sparky Sparkles camping at New Brighton State Beach in Capitola last week and it was in the upper 90s. We still had a lot of fun playing at the beach. Now we are going to lots of music festivals and Carnaval is this weekend in San Francisco. I love this time of year.

  2. What a beautiful and interesting city! I had no idea that Chattanooga is so cool. I love all of the public art; just my kind of place. Now I’m excited to go there! (You got some drive-by wildflower photos, haha!)

  3. Oh, and I meant to say that all of the walking looks like fun, too! That’s the best kind of city, when you can explore by hiking and biking. Great photos, and you look as adorable as ever.

  4. We bought our MH right near there in what is now Camping World (it was Shipps RV then). We only spent two days and one was at Lookout Mountain. We did the riverboat cruise, too!! Sure sounds like you had a wonderful sampling of the city. Thanks for a great tour:)

  5. Wow an electric shuttle. Now that’s a progressive city! I had no idea. The Trail of Tears is just so sad and so cruel. It’s hard for me to even accept that our ancestors would do such things. . I wonder if the artists for the Native American art were actually Native Americans? Are you sure the Chamber of Commerce didn’t pay you for such a rave review of the city? 🙂

    • Ha ha Sherry, I hope the CC will read my blog and send me something, like a free pass at the Hunter Museum. Yes Sherry the Passage memorial was created by Team Gadugi, a group of five Native American (only two of them are Cherokee) artists from Oklahoma. It was here that I first read about the Trail of Tears, a really sad tragedy.

  6. We have driven through Chattanooga but never stopped. You did a great job on selling the city. Now added to our list.

    I love the sculpture garden.

    Keep enjoying the good life.

  7. Thanks for the great tour … though we’ve been to the Smokies twice, we’ve not been west of it. The cascading steps are a neat idea.

  8. Gorgeous photos, Mona. We only stopped over in Chattanooga for one night. I didn’t realise that there was so much to see. Those sculptures and the medallions are wonderful.

  9. We love Chattanooga…so glad you had a great time! What a nice walking tour you shared! And oh my, the mention of southern fried chicken makes my mouth water!

  10. To be honest, the first few you talked about didn’t excite me. But those art displays and sculpture are enough to convince me to go there. The Little Water Spider is whoa too of course. 😀

  11. I had no idea that Chattanooga offered so much. It has been added to our ever-growing list thanks to your post MonaLiza. I think for me “The Passage” sounds most interesting. Great photos as always! 🙂

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