Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park#1 in Best Things To Do in Chattanooga
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.
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. National park rangers offer a variety of free guided tours at Lookout Mountain battle sites and Chickamauga during the summer. The Chickamauga section of the park is free, but there is a $5 fee to enter Point Park for adults, while children younger than 16 can visit for free. The Chickamauga & Chattanooga national parks open at 6 a.m. and close at sunset year-round. The Chickamauga Battleground visitors center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the Lookout Mountain Battleground visitors center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 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 $100 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 the Appalachian Cove Forrest to the Tennessee River, meeting many friends along the way, including chirping birds, river otters, alligators, turtles and more. The Ocean Journey follows that same raindrop deep into the ocean, 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.
The aquarium offers more than two dozen animal programs complimentary to visitors. There are various Keeper Talks and the Secret Reef Dive Show, where divers answer questions from visitors within the tank. There is also the unique Butterfly Release show where patrons can help release new butterflies into the aquarium's Butterfly Garden. Recent travelers 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. Some travelers reported being able to spend more than one day at the aquarium, thanks to the fun atmosphere and a variety of things to see and do. Visitors also highly recommend a stop here if you're traveling with children. A few travelers even advised springing for the Backstage Pass, which allows guests to spend time with the keepers to get more up close and personal with the animals.
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