Our tour director Martie said the tour to the Chattanooga area was wonderful! Read what she has to say:
What a trip! Train rides, history, natural wonders, a cruise, gaming, shopping, terrific food and great company – what more can you ask for in a vacation?
We spent our first night in Knoxville, TN, and left early in the morning to make our appointment at Ruby Falls in Chattanooga. For those passengers who could not walk too much, the gift shop at Ruby Falls offered lots of things to look at, plenty of places to sit, and a small restaurant for refreshments. For the passengers who were able to negotiate it, our guide took us down an elevator 1,000 feet underground to the cave that would take us to the falls. It was quite hot in Chattanooga, so the 65 degree temperature was a welcome relief. The cave itself was amazing with narrow passage ways, many rock formations, stalagmites and stalactites hanging from the ceiling.
After a half-hour walk with frequent stops to take in the cave creations and listen to our guide tell us the history of the cave, we could finally hear the falls, although we still couldn’t see them. When the sound of the falls was very loud we were told to go to the rail in front of us and wait. It was very dark. All of a sudden the lights came up, the music began to play and the most beautiful waterfall was right before us!
The falls are 1,029 feet below ground and fall into a beautiful pool of water. The guide told us that they had no idea where the water came from, but they did know that it flows into the Tennessee River. Lots of pictures and videos were taken before we had to leave and head out to our next destination.
Next, we headed up to Big Rock on Lookout Mountain. It was an interesting ride up for
our driver, Mary Louise, with lots of twists, and hairpin turns; however for the passengers, it was a beautiful ride. We had a wonderful picnic lunch prepared for us at the Big Rock Grill, and then had some time to explore the shops and surrounding area.
With our bellies full, we then headed to the Incline Railway at the bottom of Lookout Mountain. The train was just one car that when loaded went backwards up a very steep incline for one mile. For those who want great views, this is a must see.
We reached the top and exited the train car into a gift shop and refreshment area. The views from the top of the mountain were spectacular and you could see for miles around at the beautiful Smoky Mountains. Some didn’t care to take the train up, and sat and enjoyed delicious ice cream at the station, while waiting for the rest of us to return.
Hot and tired, we then headed to our fabulous Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel.
The hotel is the old terminal station and it has been kept in beautiful condition. Many of the rooms are actual rail cars that have been turned into hotel accommodations. We had regular rooms right near the pool. There were many restaurants nearby for our passengers to enjoy dinner after our busy day.
Waking up to a fabulous breakfast buffet the next day, we were picked up at our hotel by the Chattanooga Ducks for a tour of the city and a trip down the Tennessee River. Lots of laughter and fun listening to our guides tell us about the secrets of Chattanooga and seeing the beautiful aquarium from the water.
Next stop: the Tennessee Valley Railroad at Grand Junction Station. We boarded our private, air-conditioned car and had a wonderful box lunch to enjoy on the train while we traveled for a one-hour excursion through Missionary Ridge Tunnel, which was completed in 1858. We had an interesting character come through to take pictures with the passengers and talk to us about the history of the railroad.
That night, we had dinner on the Southern Belle Riverboat. As we set sail, we were treated to great food, fun entertainment, and beautiful sights along the Tennessee River. At the end of the cruise, we were all ready for a good night’s sleep in anticipation of the next day’s activities.
After another delicious breakfast we departed and headed to the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in Bryson City, NC. We boarded the train – again in a private, air-conditioned car – and enjoyed a box lunch on our Tuckasegee River Excursion. We stopped in Dillsboro, NC to enjoy the shops in this tiny town with lots of history.
Upon our return from the train ride, we headed to Cherokee, NC for our overnight at the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Hotel. Passengers were able to enjoy dinner at one of the many restaurants available, and also partake in a little gambling, if they so desired. We were served a wonderful breakfast buffet, before we departed and headed back with wonderful memories of our train trip.
Anderson Coach & Travel has been providing Superior Travel Experiences since 1937. In celebration of our 80th Anniversary, college student McKenzie Caldwell will be traveling with Anderson. McKenzie, our tour directors and guests will share their stories from on the road here!