Chattanooga Choo Choo

#4 in Best Things To Do in Chattanooga
Chattanooga Choo Choo picture
Gillet's Crossing/Flickr

Key Info

1400 Market Street

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.8scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 4.5Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

To the naked eye, the Chattanooga Choo Choo may look like just another hotel, but what lies within the building's old brick walls is a history so rich it helped put Chattanooga on the map. Ironically, the building that housed the Chattanooga train station was originally a hotel before it was acquired by the Southern Railway in 1905. Four years later, it opened as a train station and eventually became a hub, transporting more than 50 passenger trains a day. From the time it opened to its closure in 1970, all trains traveling south passed through Chattanooga, with Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt among the many passengers who frequented this historic station. Although well-known in the railroad industry, the Chattanooga Choo Choo didn't became a household name until the Glenn Miller Orchestra created a song of the same name, which was featured in the 1941 movie "Sun Valley Serenade."

By 1973, the train station was turned back into a hotel thanks to the efforts of four local businessmen who were fans of the song and wanted to spare the building from demolition. Today, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is among the Historic Hotels of America. Some of the original station tracks still run through the property, and sleeper cars have been restored and converted into hotel accommodations. Visitors not staying at the hotel can marvel at the first Chattanooga Choo Choo Train, which dates back to 1880 and is the only one of its kind in the city. The property also boasts shops, gardens and a trolley, which travelers can ride to hear an audio narrative of the building's history.

Recent visitors were fascinated by the history of the hotel, with many particularly enjoying the beautiful lobby and the condition of the gardens.

The attraction is located in downtown Chattanooga, and the free electric shuttle stops right outside of the hotel. It's free to explore the hotel even if you're not a guest, but a ride on the trolley costs $3 per person. For more information, visit the Chattanooga Choo Choo's website

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Type
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#1 Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park

Along with natural attractions and a notable role in history of the rail industry, Chattanooga is very well-known for being a Civil War battleground. The Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park is the oldest and largest of America's Civil War parks, encompassing land north and south of the Tennessee-Georgia border. During the Civil War, Chattanooga was considered to be an attractive area for its railroads and location, earning the title of the "Gateway of the Deep South." In 1843, battles broke out in various areas in Chickamauga and Chattanooga, with both the Union and Confederate troops experiencing victories and losses.

The park is headquartered at Chickamauga, Georgia, which is about 9 miles south of downtown Chattanooga. Visitors looking to stay in Tennessee are still within reach of many important war sites, including Orchard's Knob, the Chattanooga National Cemetery, Signal Point, Lookout Mountain and various areas along the Missionary Ridge. Those with a tight itinerary (and who already have plans to visit either Ruby Falls, Rock City or ride the Incline Railway), should visit Point Park, the site of the "Battle Above the Clouds" and the Battles for Chattanooga Museum at Lookout Mountain.

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David Brossard/Flickr
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