Perhaps Chattanooga’s most famous attraction, Rock City is beautiful, kitschy, and fun. And Café 7 offers delicious food at totally reasonable prices!
Welcome to my first Chattanooga tourism post! I mean, I guess Chattavore has always been about Chattanooga tourism, what with my focus on locally-owned Chattanooga restaurants, but why not throw some do-not-miss spots in for people visiting the city (or those of us who want to find something fun to do on the weekend)?
My original plan for last weekend was to check out the National Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg. After a little thought, though, I decided that I wanted to start with a truly local Chattanooga spot…and what better place for my inaugural post than what is probably Chattanooga’s most world-famous tourist spot, Rock City? I mean, really…aside from The Chattanooga Choo Choo, what iconic Chattanooga location is more famous than Rock City, which people know from all the Rock City barns all over the world?
Rock City, atop Lookout Mountain, is actually located in Georgia (shhhh, don’t tell anyone). According to Rock City’s website, a couple named Garnet and Frieda Carter developed the trails that we now know as Rock City in the 1920s as part of a community that they were developing known as Fairyland. Frieda planted gardens around the property that have grown, along with the naturally occurring foliage, into the beautiful scenery that we see today.
Not only does Rock City include naturally occurring attractions such as Fat Man’s Squeeze and Lover’s Leap (see the image below for the legend there), it also includes a swing-along bridge (see below for my feelings on that bridge…but hey, I did it). For those of you who just can’t stomach it, there is a way across that does not move.😬By the way, I feel like this is a good place to mention that because of the narrow passages and steep stairs, strollers are not permitted on the Enchanted Trail. Rock City recommends child carriers.
One of the last things that you see as you near the end of the Rock City trail is the kitschy and fun Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Village, which feature sculptures that the Carter’s contracted Atlanta-based sculptor Jessie Sanders to create.
And, of course, you can’t leave out the unbelievable views of seven states – Tennessee and Georgia, of course, Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Sadly, it was an overcast day and we forgot our quarters, so we didn’t get to use the binoculars. It didn’t make the views any less spectacular.
And…Café 7. Located by the See Seven States overlook, Café 7 features outdoor seating so you can enjoy the views while you enjoy your lunch. I have to admit…I wasn’t expecting a lot from this restaurant. I mean, how many restaurants in a tourist attraction are more than restaurant-supply store grade fast food? Dumb. I was dumb to think that. The food at Café 7 was actually fan-freaking-tastic. The menu changes, but the menu that was available on the day of our visit was comparable to any of our favorite locally-owned casual dining restaurants in the valley. Appetizers, sandwiches, entrees, desserts, and a respectable beer list (Philip got a Chattanooga Brewing Company beer for $2!)…what more could you ask for?
Of course, the menu is not the only thing that’s important. Would the food taste good? I was skeptical, but that was silly. My Choo Choo nachos, with pulled pork, cheese, barbecue sauce, sour cream, and caramelized onions atop housemade potato chips, were perfect, and at $8 definitely a respectable price for an entree. Philip decided on the chicken fried chicken with a side of edamame succotash and mac and cheese. The fried chicken was a boneless chicken breast that was fried to absolute perfection, and the edamame succotash (in place of the usual turnip greens) was fresh and flavorful. He thought the macaroni and cheese was a little “meh”, which, honestly, is my usual reaction to restaurant mac and cheese. At $15, his was a little more pricey than mine, but still reasonable. Unlike most tourist attraction restaurants, the food here was not outrageously priced, and it was delicious. I found our service to be great too, and, let’s be honest – you can’t beat that view. If you would prefer, you can consider Big Rock Grill at the entrance of Rock City for short order items or Cliff Terrace for snacks. There is also a Starbucks located at Rock City.
Another thing? Rock City is pet-friendly! You are welcome to bring your leased pet to walk the trails and even dine on the terrace at Café 7 with you. They even provide a list of pet-friendly hotels in the area for those who are visiting with their pets.
Finally, Rock City offers lots of special events. Everyone knows about (or at least I think they do) the Enchanted Garden of Lights around the holidays (I’ve been twice and it’s spectacular), but their website lists several other special events that I didn’t know about.
Rock City is located at 1400 Patten Road, Lookout Mountain, Georgia. Rock City’s hours are seasonal, and you can view the hours by season on their website. Tickets are $19.95 for adults and $11.95 for children 3-12. Parking at Rock City is free and Rock City is partially accessible for visitors with disability (find more info about accessibility in their FAQs). For more information about Rock City, check out their website or their Facebook page, or call them at 706-820-2531 or 800-854-0675.