The natural beauty and attractions of Chattanooga, Tennessee continually fascinate student groups year after year. Nicknamed the “Scenic City,” Chattanooga is a southern gem that is located in southeastern Tennessee near the Georgia border. Chattanooga is the fourth largest city in Tennessee. The name “Chattanooga” comes from the Creek Indian phrase “rock rising to a point” – a reference to Lookout Mountain, which sits perched like a sentry over the city below, bearing witness to changes that have occurred over many centuries. The beautiful landscape, marked by the Tennessee River, redeveloped riverfront and surrounding highlands is what will greet every student group upon arrival.
Chattanooga is a city rich in history, natural beauty and bustling activity. With exciting attractions, world-class museums, Civil War historical sites and the scenic Appalachian Mountains, Chattanooga offers student groups many attractions including the following:
Located high atop Lookout Mountain, Rock City is perhaps as famous as its longtime roadside advertising in the Southeast, with the slogan “See Rock City” posted on barn roofs, billboards, and birdhouses throughout the region. This magnificent mountaintop rock garden contains the Lookout Mountain overlook where on the clearest of days seven states are visible. Student groups can also take a trip down the enchanted trail, learn about 400+ native plant species, experience Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Village, and visit the gift shop. Rock City is truly a “must see” for student groups of all ages. (Photo Courtesy of Chattanooga Area CVB)
Ruby Falls, the highest underground waterfall in the U.S., is a spectacular natural wonder. Sitting 1,120 feet below the surface, the caves surrounding Ruby Falls were discovered in 1928 while excavators were building an elevator shaft into the mountain. Tours of the cavern include many geological rock formations, stalagmites and stalactites en route to the falls. Special events throughout the year include Ruby Falls Haunted Cavern, Ruby Falls Lantern Tours and Deck the Falls during the Christmas season. (Photo Courtesy of Chattanooga Area CVB)
Lookout Mountain Incline Railway
Lookout Mountain Incline Railway is the world’s steepest railway and features an unforgettable experience on the slopes of Lookout Mountain. Known as “America’s Most Amazing Mile,” the Incline’s trolley-style cars climb through the natural beauty surrounding historic Lookout Mountain at a breathtaking 72.7% grade – straight up! Student groups will enjoy the panoramic views of the mountains and the city of Chattanooga both on the train and from the observation tower at the top of the mountain. (Photo Courtesy of Chattanooga Area CVB)
Chattanooga’s revitalized downtown area is centered around a pair of glass-peaked buildings that comprise the fascinating 190,000 sq. ft. Tennessee Aquarium. Located on the banks of the Tennessee River, exhibits in the two buildings focus on saltwater and fresh water habitats respectively. The River Journey building highlights local and worldwide fresh water habitats and features a series of well-curated interconnected rooms where groups can experience species like snapping turtles, moray eels, sturgeon, and several types of trout. The newer and bigger Ocean Journey building, located next to the River Journey building, houses crowd-pleasing fish like sharks, stingray, barracuda and squid in 700,000 gallons of water. The aquarium also has an IMAX theatre and offers river excursions onboard it’s River Gorge Explorer, a high speed catamaran which is a favorite for student groups. (Photo Courtesy of Chattanooga Area CVB)
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, the site of many Civil War battles, features Chickamauga Battlefield with Union and Confederate Civil War relics and a visitor’s center. Lookout Mountain Battlefield Visitor Center at Point Park also recalls the Civil War period. Throughout the summer, both battlefields offer Civil War re-enactments and living history presentations on how a soldier lived during these turbulent times. Located at the entrance to Point Park, the Battles for Chattanooga Electric Map and Museum features an electronic battle map display that recreates the major battles fought here. (Photo Courtesy of Chattanooga Area CVB)
Celebrated in both song and lore, the Chattanooga Choo Choo’s home is located at a historic former train station. Today, it’s one of Chattanooga’s most famous attractions, as well as being a hotel where guests can sleep in converted Victorian-era train cars on the old train tracks. There is a diner in the old rail car, a restaurant in the Grand Dome lobby and a shopping area as well. (Photo Courtesy of Chattanooga Area CVB)
Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement Park
Named for the Native American word meaning “bountiful waters,” Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement Park has been home to excitement and thrills for many years. With over 38 amusement rides, the park’s more popular thrill rides include the Cannon Ball Roller Coaster, Matterhorn, OH-Zone (a free fall ride), Paratrooper, Scrambler, Genie and Conestoga. The park also features a water ride, traditional rides like the Ferris Wheel, a 1916 Carousel, the Wave Swinger and a train ride. Lake Winnepesaukah is recognized as one of America’s top ten family amusement parks in the U.S. by Travel and Leisure
Magazine. (Photo Courtesy of Chattanooga Area CVB)
Lastly, a sightseeing or scenic tour of Chattanooga is always suggested. Tours include riverboat cruises, a walking ghost tour, a tour of the city including the art district, the Tennessee Valley Railroad tour (steam train that takes groups through Civil War tunnels and battlefields) and even a shopping tour of Warehouse Row. Also, if your student group is a performance ensemble (band, orchestra, choir, dance, theatre, etc.), there are many opportunities/venues to perform throughout the city including the Tennessee Aquarium, the University of Chattanooga Fine Arts Center, the Camp Jordan Amphitheatre, and more.
Overall, there are few places where a destination can offer so many fascinating attractions and still be within ten minutes of breathtaking views from high atop the mountains. Chattanooga provides student groups and class trips a wonderful opportunity to study American history with its Civil War sites. In addition, Chattanooga offers many fun opportunities including one of America’s top-rated aquariums, the highest underground waterfall, incredible mountain views, beautiful gardens, popular museums and entertaining tours. For educators, Chattanooga should be at the top of the list when selecting destinations for student group travel. With all the city has to offer, Chattanooga will entertain your group like no other city.
For over 20 years, Kaleidoscope Adventures has organized historical and performance trips to Chattanooga for thousands of schools. We are experts in booking student tours and specialize in planning complete travel services for any student group. We plan everything from A to Z, thus giving you peace-of-mind. We even give you a tour director who helps you every step of the way during your trip.
Put your trust in Kaleidoscope Adventures to meet all of your student travel needs. Why not give your group an exciting trip to Chattanooga? Let us bring your classroom to life and create lasting memories for your student trip.