We just got back a few days ago from a beautiful fall trip to Chattanooga. Dan and I both have been there before, but this was our first family trip. We loved that it was only a few hours car ride from our home and that it gave us a taste of the mountains, while enjoying some fun family friendly amenities a small city could offer.
We found this awesome vacation home on VRBO right in downtown Chattanooga. The owners did an amazing job transforming an old Victorian home into a beautiful dual use residence. The owners reside on the upper level, and rent out the lower level for guests. Miki, the owner, is an incredible artist, and there is a beautiful gallery displaying her artwork in the front room, as well as some amazing pieces throughout the residence. It made for a fun eclectic place to stay. Plus, it was equipped with all the essentials from home that would allow us to cook, eat and sleep comfortably for six nights. As a bonus, it was close to anything and everything we wanted to do, which is essential when you have two little ones that need to be rushed home for naps.
The first day, Saturday, we headed over to Rock City. They were having Rocktoberfest, which basically meant everything was german themed with music, brats and beer. In addition to taking in some amazing views and strolling along most of the stroller friendly areas, we enjoyed a nice brat lunch as well some fun German entertainment. Parker was over the moon with excitement! This may have been his most favorite thing the entire trip. Who knew? He was ecstatic watching the little band play. He thought it was the coolest thing he had ever seen. (Clearly being a rock star for Halloween suits him!)
After Rock City, we headed back to the vacation home so Parker and Mason could take their afternoon naps, then we headed back out to downtown Chattanooga and went for a walk on the walking bridge and had dinner on the other side. It was such a pretty evening, and the weather was in the mid 70s. There was a really nice view from the bridge of the Tennessee river.
Chattanooga has an awesome Aquarium. It’s pretty crazy that we live in a city with the largest Aquarium in the world, (that we have yet to take our kids to) but we choose to go to the Chattanooga Aquarium for our kids first aquarium experience. Parker really enjoyed it, but he definitely needed it in doses. It was split into two buildings, and fortunately, or vacation home was about five minutes away, so we just hit one building, went home for naps, and then did the second building afterwards. It worked out pretty nice because Parker can get a little burned out. There are just so many glass windows that we can point to before Parker starts to look for something that he can climb on or a stretch of clearing to make a run for it. Other than him taking a plow into a mirror wall (he saw my reflection on a bench in an adjacent wall, and thought he was running to me), he had a wonderful time. Dan and I enjoyed it too!
We decided we’d try the Incline Railway, which hails itself as being the steepest passenger railway in the world. I’m not sure why we thought this would be a good idea to do with an infant and a rambunctious toddler… My nerves were a little rattled when we were at the top (the steepest incline). I was holding onto Mason with a tight grip and fortunately, I didn’t trip over my own two feet trying to leave the train. So, we live to see another day. The top view was a tad disappointing to me. The view from Rock City was much more superior to this. I was surprised to see that there really wasn’t much at the top. Fortunately, we packed a lunch and we ate on one of their picnic tables, but other than that and a cheesy souvenir shop, there wasn’t much else to do. We were told there was a civil war monument 3-4 blocks away, but that just wasn’t happening with the kiddos. Nevertheless, it was still a fun experience.
Another big favorite of the trip (which came as no surprise) was the Chattanooga Choo Choo. It was literally a block from where we were staying, which came in quite handy during Mason’s morning nap. We went as a family too, and Parker loved exploring the trains, taking a trolly tour (at least for the first five or ten minutes) and running through their nicely manicured courtyard gardens.
We decided to hit up the Creative Discovery Museum on Tuesday. Parker had such a great time exploring and learning everything they had to offer. They even had quite a bit for Mason’s age, which was surprising to me. We haven’t been to the Children’s museum in Atlanta, but I thought this one was very well done. We started our tour on the second level, which was fine, but the first level had so much more to offer. We didn’t get to see the first level as much as we wanted to before the boys started to get tired for their naps. Good thing we were staying right in town. Parker didn’t want to leave. He had a great time there. The dinosaurs, the play house, the outdoor pullies, and other various play areas were such a big hit.
One of the big perks about staying in a vacation rental as opposed to a standard hotel, is that you can make a home cooked meal. This comes in pretty handy when you have small kids that aren’t always the most patient ones, when waiting for food in a restaurant. Last year, I cooked up some yummy spaghetti for the family for a nice fall dinner in Asheville. So, I thought I’d continue the tradition and serve it this vacation too.
The last day we decided to take it easy. We walked to breakfast at a local restaurant, and after Mason’s nap, we headed out to have lunch at Good Dog, which has excellent hot dogs and brats made in-house. The owner was super sweet too, and made us feel right at home. After a delicious lunch, we strolled through Coolidge Park. It was such a gorgeous day. It was nice to have an easy relaxing day, taking in the sunshine and the beautiful scenery by the river.
After dinner our last night of vacation, Parker helped me end the vacation with some yummy cookies. There was a great local mini Whole Foods-ish grocery store nearby where we picked up food for the week, and somehow cookie mix fell into the cart, so I thought, what the heck.. . Per usual, Parker loved helping me in the kitchen, and being a little cookie monster afterwards.
Not only did we do some pretty awesome activities in Chattanooga, but we got to bond more as a family. We really enjoyed the lazy unscheduled time we spent just lounging around and taking it easy around the house too. Mason hit a few milestones during the trip. He started to get up on his knees and rocking (pictured below in the “childs pose”) and he’ also refined his pincer grasp, and can now pick up food to self feed! This little smarty pants is growing up way too fast. His brother, Parker is talking more and more too. His latest favorite phrase (besides the less than popular “No, Dat’s MINE”) is “Okay, Mommy” or “Okay, Daddy” coupled with an enthusiastic grin. I just love it!
Overall, another wonderful, memorable fall vacation!