Rock City Gardens

#5 in Best Things To Do in Chattanooga
Rock City Gardens picture
Antipunk/Getty Images

Key Info

1400 Patten Road


Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
  • 4.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

This popular 4,100-foot path located on the Georgia side of Lookout Mountain offers attractions to appease many different types of travelers. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy weaving through the tall boulders situated at Needle's Eye and Fat Man's Squeeze along the Enchanted Trail. Children will feel like adventurers crossing the 180-foot long Swing-a-Long Suspension Bridge and likely delight in the figurines depicting fairytales and classic children's stories in the Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose's Village. Couples looking for a photogenic moment will appreciate Lover's Leap, a lookout point adjacent to the mountain's 90-foot waterfall. And everyone will have fun trying to see how many states they can spot from 1,700 feet above sea level at the See Seven States viewpoint.

Rock City now sees more than half a million visitors a year, but it used to struggle to attract visitors to its grounds when it first opened in 1932, due to its off-the-beaten-path location. One of Rock City's founders, Garnet Carter, hired a local artist to promote Rock City around the country. The artist, Clark Byers, traveled across the nation and painted "See Rock City" on farms and barns as far as Texas and Michigan, eventually solidifying Rock City as a roadside attraction to visit. 'Although a commercial success, Rock City is still a family-run business, currently operated by a third-generation descendent of the Carters.

Recent visitors enjoyed their experiences at Rock City, citing the natural attractions as beautiful and fun to explore, especially for those with children. Visitors particularly liked the waterfall and recounted the amazing views from the available lookout points. But not everyone was satisfied: a few travelers complained of the lack of accessibility for disabled visitors, and how certain parts of the attractions, specifically Needle's Eye and Fat Man's Squeeze, are difficult for overweight guests to enjoy since space is limited. Many travelers recommended wearing comfortable shoes and advised visiting early to beat the crowds.

Rock City has seasonal hours; check the website before you head over. Admission is $19.95 for adults and $11.95 for children ages 3 to 12. Visitors can also purchase package tickets that include admission to Ruby Falls for $35.90 for adults and $20.90 for children, as well as a package that includes Ruby Falls and the Incline Railway that is $48.90 for adults and $25.90 for children. Parking at the attraction is free but due to its location in Georgia, it cannot be reached by public bus.

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Time to Spend
#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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