- Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing Type
- 1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
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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.
- Thing to Do