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Chattanooga, Tennessee

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Chattanooga in Tennessee.

 

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Chattanooga is the fourth-largest city in the U.S. state of Tennessee with a population of 167,674 (after Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville), and the seat of Hamilton County. Located in southeastern Tennessee on Chickamauga Lake and Nickajack Lake, which are both part of the Tennessee River, Chattanooga lies approximately 120 miles (190 km) to the north-northwest of Atlanta, Georgia, 120 miles (190 km) to the southwest of Knoxville, about 135 miles (217 km) to the southeast of Nashville, and about 148 miles (238 km) to the northeast of Birmingham, Alabama.

Culture and tourism

Museums

Chattanooga is home to the Hunter Museum of American Art, a well known art museum. As the birthplace of the tow truck, Chattanooga is the home of the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum. Another transportation icon, the passenger train, can be found at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, or called TVRM by locals, which is the largest operating historic railroad in the South. Other notable museums include the Chattanooga Regional History Museum, the National Medal of Honor Museum, the Houston Museum, the Chattanooga African American Museum, and the Creative Discovery Museum.

Arts and literature

Chattanooga has a range of performing arts in different venues. Its historic Tivoli Theatre has been renovated and is home to the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, under the direction of Robert Bernhardt. The Chattanooga Theatre Centre offers 15 productions each year in three separate theater programs: the Mainstage, the Circle Theater,and the Youth Theater. Another popular performance venue is Memorial Auditorium.

Chattanooga hosts several writing conferences, including the Conference on Southern Literature and the Festival of Writers, both sponsored by the Arts & Education Council of Chattanooga.

Attractions

Tennessee Aquarium

Chattanooga touts many attractions, including the Tennessee Aquarium, caverns, and new waterfront attractions along and across the Tennessee River. In the downtown area is the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel, housed in the renovated Terminal Station and exhibiting the largest HO model train layout in the United States. Also downtown are the Creative Discovery Museum, a hands-on children's museum dedicated to science, art, and music; an IMAX 3D Theatre; and the newly expanded Hunter Museum of American Art. The Tennessee Riverwalk, an approximately 13-mile (21 km) long trail running alongside the river, is another attraction for both tourists and residents alike.

Across the river from downtown is the North Shore district, roughly bounded by the Olgiati Bridge to the west and Veterans Bridge to the east. The newly renovated area draws locals and tourists to locally owned independent boutiques and restaurants, plus attractions along the Chattanooga Riverpark system, including Coolidge Park and Renaissance Park. Chattanooga's only floating hotel, the Delta Queen, is a unique attraction alongside the North Shore, and is permanently docked at Coolidge Park.

The Chattanooga Zoo at Warner Park is located a short distance from the downtown area.

Parks and natural scenic areas provide other attractions. The red-and-black painted "See Rock City" barns along highways in the Southeast are remnants of a now-classic Americana tourism campaign to attract visitors to the Rock City tourist attraction in nearby Lookout Mountain, Georgia. The mountain is also the site of Ruby Falls and Craven's House. The Lookout Mountain Incline Railway is a steep funicular railway that rises from the St. Elmo Historic District to the top of the mountain, where passengers can visit the National Park Service's Point Park and the Battles for Chattanooga Museum. Formerly known as Confederama, it contains a diorama that details the Battle of Chattanooga. From the military park, visitors can enjoy the panoramic views of Moccasin Bend and the Chattanooga skyline from the mountain's famous "point" or from vantage points along the well-marked trail system.

Near Chattanooga, the Raccoon Mountain Reservoir, Raccoon Mountain Caverns and Reflection Riding Arboretum and Botanical Garden boast a number of outdoor and family fun opportunities. Other arboretums include Bonny Oaks Arboretum, Cherokee Arboretum at Audubon Acres and Cherokee Trail Arboretum. The Ocoee River, host to a number of events at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, features rafting, kayaking, camping and hiking. Also just outside Chattanooga is the Lake Winnepesaukah amusement park. The Cumberland Trail begins in Signal Mountain, just outside of Chattanooga.

Festivals and events

Chattanooga hosts the Riverbend Festival, an annual nine-day music festival held in June in the downtown area. One of the most popular events is the "Bessie Smith Strut", a one-night showcase of blues and jazz music named for the city's most noted blues singer. The annual "Southern Brewer's Festival" and the "River Roast" festival celebrate such traditional Southern staples as beer and barbecue.

New events, such as GoFest!, "Between the Bridges" wakeboard competition and Talespin attract new audiences. Back Row Films is a city-wide celebration of film co-sponsored by the Hunter Museum of American Art, the Arts & Education Council and UTC.

"Nightfall" is the free weekly concert series in Miller Plaza on Friday nights that continues to bring an eclectic mix of rock, blues, jazz, reggae, zydeco, funk, bluegrass, and folk to downtown Chattanooga from Memorial Day until the end of September. The Chattanooga Market features events all year round as part of the "Sunday at the Southside", including an Oktoberfest in mid-October.

The Chattanooga Dulcimer Festival, held each June, features workshops for mountain dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, and auto harp, among others, along with performances by champion performers from across the nation. Chattanooga is also the center of much bluegrass music. In 1935, as well as from 1993 to 1995, the city hosted the National Folk Festival.

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