We are taking advantage of the kids being in preschool as long as we can and taking vacations during spring and fall instead of when the masses have a summer break. We love Chattanooga. Not only does it have a lot to offer in the way of activities for families, but it’s close. It’s only about 2.5 hours from our house, which makes it a big win in our book!
We had a bumpy start to our trip. Mason had a rash at school that was on his back, arms, and slightly on his legs. We thought it would be best to have him checked out by the doctor before leaving to go out of town in case it was something serious. He said it itched terribly and had a really difficult time resisting scratching it and was pretty uncomfortable. The doctor said she thought it was an allergic reaction to a virus, and asked us to keep him on around the clock benedryl. She said it was fine to resume our planned activities, and to use an over the counter topical steroid if it got too uncomfortable. That evening, it had gotten worse, and he was really bummed that he missed out on going to the pool with Sienna and Parker, but he was a trooper about it. He stayed back with Daddy and played legos together and all was good. However, his rash continued to get worse. We looked online and we read that allergic reactions can get worse, and Dan and I feared a terrible reaction, and had a difficult time sleeping that night. Not to mention that Sienna had a difficult time adjusting to being in a hotel. She DID NOT want to go to bed in her pack and play! After singing, begging, laying her down and patting her back, covering and re-covering… we just had to leave and let her cry for a little bit. We felt horrible, but she didn’t want to be held… she just wanted to run free and not go to sleep. Finally, after about an hour, and fearing that we were going to get kicked out of the hotel, she calmed down and started babbling, then put herself to sleep. Parker was in the room with her and I know he was glad to hear her be quiet! He didn’t complain once, which was great! That night we kept Mason in our room so we could keep a closer eye on him and his rash. We were all so tired anyway and it was just easier to have peace of mind.
The next morning we checked the weather, and there was a chance of rain, but the chance of rain was more over then next few days of our trip, so we decided to take a chance and head over to Rock City. We love Rock City’s Rocktober Fest, and really just all they have to offer. Such a fun attraction!
We were surprised that the trail was fairly kid friendly. We remembered being there last November, and there were some areas that were just too hard for us with how little the kids were, but now that they’re older it’s a little easier. Sienna was in the backpack carrier for part of the time, but there were several caves and paths that were just fine for her to roam around on. The area that made me the most nervous was where they had the little bridges with sides that only came up to my knees at best! Way too low for little ones! One thing we thought was really fun was that the boys got little maps at the beginning, and they were told to get little stickers from certain stations on the map… one being a fun troll. Then they were to go on the Enchanted Trail and find the fairy and get a special surprise if they showed her the map with all the stickers. All three kids got a fun pinwheel! They just loved it.
We also saw a new area this time, Mother Goose’s Cave (not sure the official name), and it was a black-light themed storybook village with a fun little miniature area that the kids loved! We left out of a different area and completely missed that fun section last time we visited!
That evening we enjoyed a fun walk downtown over the bridge near Coolidge Park and out to dinner at Blue Plate, one of our favs in the area. A fun end to our first full day in Chattanooga!
The next day we decided to try Ruby Falls. We had concerns about Mason’s rash that had gotten worse overnight, and it delayed our start to the day (everything was fine with him though, just more benedryl and concerned convo with his doc!) and we got to Ruby Falls a little later than we had planned. It was PACKED! People were hanging out of the entrance to the main building and the kids weren’t listening. Sienna didn’t want to be held and kept running off when we put her down, the boys didn’t want to be still, and were complaining that they didn’t want to wait any longer… we quickly realized that it was a very bad idea to try to do Ruby Falls at this time of day. It would’ve taken at least an hour to get through that line, then it was another hour and fifteen to get to see Ruby Falls. It was just cutting it too close to lunch and nap time which is a big no-no when you have little kiddos! So… we made the decision to leave and go visit downtown instead. We went back to Coolidge Park and found a nice deli and then had fun walking through the park and riding the carousel. Dan pointed out a fun little alleyway that was marked up with chalk and graffiti, and it ended up being a fun backdrop to photograph the kids! I didn’t bring my DSLR, but my new iPhone 6 did the job just fine and these are some of my very favorites!
We called the office at Ruby falls after the kids had their nap, and they told us that there wasn’t a line and that it would probably be a 5-10 minute wait before heading down to the falls. We were so excited and felt better prepared this time. The kids each had a water bottle for hydration, and even though Sienna completely refused to go in the back carrier, she was more compliant about either holding our hand or being held, so that was good. Dan quickly purchased the tickets and I stood in line by the elevator to hold our spot. We were so excited that we were so early that we didn’t make sure the kids emptied out before heading down to the falls. The elevator takes you hundreds of feet under ground, and there are no restrooms. About twenty minutes in, Mason started asking to go to the bathroom. I felt like the worst mother of the year. We didn’t have him go when he got up from his nap because I remembered thinking-he’ll just empty out right before the tour. Yikes. We had a tour guide that was great, and the kids loved the little walk. There weren’t steep cliffs or too many areas that we had to hold their hands like at Rock City, so it was fairly easy for little ones. I wouldn’t suggest for the early walkers who don’t like to be held on in carriers though. Overall, very pretty and worth the walk, but I don’t think I would have the same sentiment if we went through with it earlier in the day when it was busier. I can see how people can feel claustrophobic with too many people down there, but for us, it wasn’t too bad. So, on goes the saga of Mason having to go potty. We’re literally waiting to go see the falls. There’s a group in there, and we were next. Our group of around fifty people were quiet when our tour guide turns to Mason and says “How’s it going little buddy?” and Mason yells “I have to pee REALLLLLLLY Bad. I Caaaaaaan’t Wait!!” Embarrassed, Dan and I looked at each other with wide eyeballs as if to say…what the heck are we going to do? No restroom… we’re down in a cave. I looked at the kids water bottle in my hand and I just took Mason and walked swiftly to the back of the crowd of people and found a little private area in the cave, and had him go in a bottle. Classy, I know. The best part? He announces it to everyone upon his return. I just love that kid!
On Monday, we ventured to the Creative Discovery Museum. That place never gets old! We just love that place and always explore something new each time we go. This time, we spent a lot of time in the music area. The boys climbed up the large playground area that about gave me a heart attack, so I safely excused myself and brought Sienna to the toddler area. There is so much fun to be had in that area, and when the boys were done with their death defying playground tunnels, they came and joined in the fun. We had such a great time there!
Our last day it rained so much that it literally shut down our exit to the interstate. It had been raining off and on all weekend, but it had poured the night before. Our last night at the hotel we enjoyed their indoor pool. Mason’s rash had finally cleared up and he was excited that he could finally go swimming! We had a great time!
We were trying to think of something fun to do in Chattanooga our last day where we could stay dry. We were very familiar with their aquarium… so much so, that we decided to skip it this time. We were just at our Atlanta aquarium in July and we were at the Chattanooga aquarium just last November. The manager at the hotel we stayed at (the Hampton Inn Lookout Mountain) had suggested the cave at Raccoon mountain. Our first hint should’ve been that he has older kids. It was a little boring for little ones. Not to mention, it was pretty wet and treturous and none of the kids could really be left unattended without their hands being held or being picked up. They were bored to tears…literally. I think they loved ruby falls because there was an end in site…the falls. Raccoon Cave was very pretty, but it left a lot to be desired for little kids. Maybe again in ten years on a boys scout trip…
All in all, lots of fun memories made in Tennessee our family fall vaca!