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The city of Chattanooga sits on the bucolic banks of the Tennessee River, backed by the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain Range and Lookout Mountain. This is a city that is as much about nature as it is about urban life, with museums, science centers, cultural programming, and a forward-looking tech-friendly streak. The terrain in and around Chattanooga is loaded with fairytale scenery, babbling brooks, and cascading waterfalls. Add a dose of Southern charm, and the city is a major draw for vacationing families, groups of friends, and even business travelers here for a work-play stay. Chattanooga’s neighborhoods are a patchwork of green parks and classic Victorian and Tudor homes; it’s no wonder that it’s nicknamed the Scenic City.
Chattanooga is located in Hamilton County, Tennessee. It abuts the Georgia border, and sits at the junction of three main highways: I-24, I-75, and I-59. The town is easy to reach by car if you’re coming from Atlanta (118 miles northwest), Knoxville (112 miles southwest), or Nashville (134 miles southeast). If you’re arriving by air, it takes only 20 minutes to reach downtown Chattanooga from Chattanooga Airport (CHA) by taxi, car, or rideshare. A daily direct bus departs every 30 minutes and takes around 30 minutes. Huntsville International Airport (HSV) is 114 miles away. Once you’re in town, Chattanooga’s convenient public transportation system provides a free electric shuttle service throughout the city, and bicycles are a favored mode of transportation by both locals and visitors.
Fall is the most beautiful time of year in Chattanooga, when the foliage bursts into bright shades of crimson and orange and the temperature is pleasant for outdoor activities. In September, the average highs reach 82 degrees Fahrenheit, with a low of 56. Come November, the highs hover around a balmy 62 degrees, and by December the visitors empty out as the colder weather blows in. If you’re looking for a scene, summers are popular but hot, sometimes unbearably so. July and August are the hottest months, with an average high of 88 degrees, though temperatures often soar higher than that. A high UV Index of 10 in summer means you should double up on sunscreen and bring protective sunglasses.
The Tennessee River Gorge is a breathtaking 26-mile canyon carved into the Cumberland Plateau by the Tennessee River. There are plenty of ways to experience this natural wonder, from renting a boat or raft to swimming or fishing. But the local favorite remains hiking the trails of Tennessee River Gorge that meander through meadows and forests to overlooks.
Explore another world at the renowned Tennessee Aquarium. Stingrays, sharks, crocodiles, fish, and other underwater creatures fill the colorful tanks. It’s not only fish and amphibians that live here, but butterflies, birds, and invertebrates. Educational opportunities abound through informational sessions and programming at the IMAX theater.
One of the gems of Chattanooga is the 2,400-foot Lookout Mountain, a captivating ridgeline a few miles from town. Choose from among three individually ticketed points of interest that provide ample opportunities for a full day on the mountain: Incline Railway, one of the steepest funicular railways in the world, in operation since 1895; Ruby Falls, the county’s tallest public underground waterfall; and Rock City, a hiking exhibit of surreal rock formations, native plants, and views of seven states.