Do you ever want to get away just for a little bit? No big time or money commitment, but just take a little break?
That’s what we wanted a couple of weeks ago when my brother and sister-in-law came to visit. They had spent a long weekend in Knoxville and planned to continue their vacation in Chattanooga for a few days. We decided to join them for one day.
We can definitely recommend a quick trip to Chattanooga. Here are a couple of things we did — and two great restaurants we enjoyed.
We started by dropping by The Lost Sea attraction, a place none of us had ever visited. It was fun and interesting. Photography was tough because of the artificial lighting in the cave, but it was an hour well-spent in Sweetwater on the way to Chattanooga.
The Lost Sea is America’s largest underground lake. You reach the sea by walking with a tour guide through a cave system called Craighead Caverns. It is a series of huge underground rooms used by the Cherokee Indians long ago. There is evidence of Cherokee Council meetings having been held there. Later, early European settlers apparently used the caves to store produce because of the constant temperature there of 58 degrees. During the Civil War, Confederate soldiers took over the caves to mine saltpeter, a key ingredient in gunpowder. The caves also have been used as a dance hall, a bar, and, of course, a place where children and adults have adventured. The full extent of the caves and the lake have not been determined to this day.
When we got to the deepest part of the cave, our guide turned off all the artificial lights for just a minute so we could experience pure darkness. He said we were in one of only a few places on earth where pure darkness occurs: caves like this and the deepest part of the oceans. He said that after several weeks in pure darkness we would begin to go blind because our retinas would burn themselves out searching for light. Wow.
After a quick stop at the Ruby Tuesday in Athens (which is one of the best Ruby’s I’ve ever been to, by the way), it was on to Chattanooga and the Tennessee Aquarium. The featured attraction at the aquarium: seahorses.
By now, we were starving again. So we went in search of food and drink.
Then it was to Tony’s for appetizers and wine. We needed both!
At Tony’s, we had various kinds of bruschettas and crotinis.
For dinner, we sought out a restaurant our friends Katie and Blair Kline recommended: St. John’s. It is a chef-owned restaurant with a constantly changing farm-to-table menu. We loved it.
The next day, Alan and I headed to Knoxville and work. Jimmy and Tess stayed two more days in Chattanooga and visited the IMAX theater, took a boat ride, and went to Rock City and Ruby Falls before heading towards their Alabama home. But we know that an easy, fun little escape is only two hours away whenever we need it.
Do you have any favorite places to visit in Chattanooga? We need to know in order to plan our next visit.