Above the Clouds
See Seven States from
Rock City, copyright
When in Chattanooga, go up Lookout Mountain. It's a rule, or it should be. Make your ascent on the aptly named Incline, the world's steepest passenger railway. Never mind time-wasting switchbacks. This choo-choo cranks straight up the 2,120-foot mountain in 15 minutes, reaching an angle of more than 72 dizzying degrees.
You've gone up the mountain; now go inside it. A drive up the "hill" on Scenic Highway will bring you to Ruby Falls, a spectacular series of caverns culminating in a 145-foot underground waterfall. Warn the kids in advance that the waterfall is not actually red, it's just named after a woman named Ruby. Even so, it's still cool.
Now you get to obey those ubiquitous barn signs. Take a three-mile drive over to the Georgia side of the mountain to Rock City. This park of massive rock formations and gardens is not new -- it's even a little goofy -- but it's irresistible. Slither through narrow rock crevices at Fat Man's Squeeze, or step gingerly across the Swing-Along cable bridge, where you'll be rewarded by a view of seven states from Lover's Leap.