Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park#1 in Best Things To Do in Chattanooga
Price & Hours
Along with natural attractions and a notable role in history of the rail industry, Chattanooga is 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 several different sections of land both 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 1863, 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 Ruby Falls, Rock City or ride the Incline Railway), should visit Lookout Mountain's Point Park, the site of the "Battle Above the Clouds," and the Battles for Chattanooga Museum.
Recent travelers were impressed by the preservation of the national park and appreciated the amount of information available to visitors, both laid throughout the park and within the visitors center. Some travelers recommended taking a tour with a park ranger, as their narration made the sites come alive.
The Chickamauga section of the park is free, but there is a $10 fee to enter Point Park for adults, while children younger than 16 can visit for free. The Chickamauga & Chattanooga national parks are open from sunrise to sunset year-round, with the exception of December 25 and January 1. The Chickamauga Battleground visitors center, the Lookout Mountain Battleground visitors center and the Ochs Museum are open limited hours due to the coronavirus pandemic. Currently, all three sites welcome visitors from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. year-round. For more information, visit the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park website.
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#2 Tennessee Aquarium
The Tennessee Aquarium is one of the world's largest freshwater aquariums, and easily Chattanooga's biggest attraction, contributing more than $115 million to the city's economy annually. And for good reason: The Tennessee Aquarium isn't your average fish tank. The aquarium aims to take visitors on a journey, and features eclectic animals that dwell above and below sea level. The theme of the journey is the migration of a raindrop as it makes its way from atop a mountain stream to the bottom of the ocean. Through the "River Journey" exhibit, visitors travel through ecosystems such as the Appalachian Cove Forest and the Tennessee River, meeting many friends along the way, including chirping birds, river otters, alligators, turtles and more. The "Ocean Journey" exhibit follows, where penguins, jellyfish, sharks and colorful reef fish live. There is also a pool of stingrays, which visitors are allowed to touch, featured along the journey.
Reviewers loved their visit at the aquarium, with many amazed by the amount of animals housed at the facility. Along with the animals, reviewers were also pleased with the knowledgeable staff members. Many travelers recommend planning to spend a full day at the aquarium, thanks to the fun atmosphere and a variety of things to see and do. They add that this is a great spot to take the kids.
The Tennessee Aquarium is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; though admission times may vary daily due to the coronavirus pandemic. Admission costs $34.95 for adults and $21.95 for children ages 3 to 12; kids younger than 3 can enter for free. IMAX theater tickets are an additional $8 per person, regardless of age. The aquarium is downtown on the banks of the Tennessee River. There is no on-site parking, but there are paid lots near the venue as well as paid street parking in downtown Chattanooga. The city's free shuttle also stops next to the aquarium. For more information, visit the aquarium's website.
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