Adjacent to the visitor center is the Tennessee Aquarium and IMAX 3D Theatre, 1 Broad St. (tel. 800/262-0695 or 423/265-0698; www.tnaqua.org), the world's largest freshwater aquarium, with exhibits designed to take you on a journey from the Tennessee River's source in the Appalachian high country, down through the Mississippi Delta. Should you tire of watching the 9,000 critters here busily swimming, flying, and crawling, you can check out the IMAX theater. Open daily from 10am to 6pm (to 8pm some summer evenings). Admission is $20 adults, $13 ages 3 to 12, free for children 11 and under. Combination tickets, which include the aquarium and IMAX theater, are $25 for adults and $17 for children.
The Creative Discovery Museum, 321 Chestnut St. (tel. 423/756-2738; www.cdmfun.org), just 2 blocks from the aquarium, caters to toddlers as young as 18 months while also enthralling the older set with such interactive exhibits as the Artist's and Musician's Studios and the Inventor's Workshop. Hours are daily from 10am to 6pm Memorial Day to Labor Day; otherwise, they are Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm, and Sunday from noon to 5pm. Admission is $8.95 adults (including children ages 13 and older), $6.95 children 2 to 12.
Culture vultures flock to the Bluff View Art District (tel. 423/265-5033; www.bluffview.com), located just east of the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge. Spend some time ambling through the free Sculpture Garden, perched scenically on a bluff overlooking the Tennessee River. The Houston Museum of Decorative Arts, 201 High St. (tel. 423/267-7176), houses an impressive glass collection. It's open Monday through Saturday from 9:30am to 4pm, summer Sunday from noon to 4pm. Admission is $9. Reopened in 2005 after a yearlong renovation, the Hunter Museum of American Art, 10 Bluff View (tel. 423/267-0968; www.huntermuseum.org), showcases paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, and contemporary studio glass -- not to mention spectacular river views. Just across the Walnut Street bridge is Coolidge Park, with its beautiful hand-carved carousel, and Frasier Street, where you'll find some funky shops and cafes.
Exploring Around Lookout Mountain
From downtown, Lookout Mountain can be reached quickly and easily via Broad Street to Tenn. 58. Don't miss historic Incline Railway, 827 E. Brow Rd. (tel. 423/821-4224; www.lookoutmountainattractions.com), the steepest passenger railway in the world, with panoramic views of the city and the Great Smoky Mountains 100 miles away. Round-trips cost $15 adults and $7 ages 3 to 12. Open daily.
Also on Lookout Mountain is Ruby Falls, 1720 S. Scenic Hwy. (tel. 423/821-2544; www.rubyfalls.com), a 145-foot waterfall located 1,100 feet inside the mountain. If you're at all claustrophobic, or simply don't want to be herded through a cave with a large group of people, skip it. Open daily at 8am. Admission is $18.95 adults and $10.95 ages 3 to 12.
Best among Lookout Mountain's main attractions is Rock City Gardens, 1400 Patten Rd. (tel. 800/854-0675 or 706/820-2531; www.seerockcity.com), where you'll have a view of seven states on a clear day. Rock City's unique sandstone formations are striking, and younger kids will be fascinated by the displays based on classic fairy tales and nursery rhymes. Open daily year-round. General Admission is $19.95 adults and $11.95 for ages 3 to 12. Premiere prices are $22.95 adults and $12.95 for children.
If you want to save some money, here's a tip: Discounted tickets to all three Lookout Mountain Attractions (Incline Railway, Ruby Falls, and Rock City Gardens) are $48.90 for adults and $25.90 for children.
Civil War buffs should check out the Battles for Chattanooga Museum, 1110 E. Brow Rd. (tel. 423/821-2812; www.battlesforchattanooga.com). Just 3 blocks from the Incline Railroad's upper station at the entrance to Point Park (site of the "Battle above the Clouds" in 1863), this museum features a three-dimensional electronic battle map that presents details of major battles in Chattanooga's Civil War history. It's open daily; admission is $6.95 adults, $4.95 ages 3 to 12.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.