Is It Worth It To SEE ROCK CITY?
This is part two of my day trip to Chattanooga post. In part one, I talk about where to visit in the city, specifically the Bluff View Arts District and Northshore. Be sure to check it out! If you’re like me and only have time for one day in Chattanooga, I suggest starting with Rock City so you can take full advantage of the park.
Even if you haven’t seen Rock City, I guarantee you’ve seen a sign telling you to “See Rock City.” In 1969, the owners of Rock City decided to paint their advertisement on 1900 barns across 19 states to draw people from all over. Understandably, it worked.
I am very easily influenced by advertisements and if I see the same one long enough, I absolutely NEED to follow what it says. On a road trip back from Disney on my freshman year spring break, I made us take a pit stop at a gas station. But I didn’t have to go to the bathroom or stock up on snacks. The only reason for the stop was that I had seen billboards advertising the “Florida Citrus Center” for hours and needed to see what the hype was about. Apparently, the hype was oranges, baby alligators, and bootleg Disney merchandise. It was the essence of Florida.
Even on that trip, I remember constant signs pointing us to Rock City, but we didn’t have time for a stop that long. So, when my friend Jamie and I decided to take an impromptu day trip to Chattanooga earlier this year, Rock City was the only plan on the agenda. Then five months later it worked again and I found myself back at Rock City.
What is Rock City?
To put it simply, Rock City is a classic tourist trap. The whole park was created to draw people in to spend money. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. Even blatant capitalism can’t stop me from enjoying myself! With the warm spring weather, March and April are the perfect times to visit. The park has over 400 different species of plants, and most of them are in full bloom this time of year.
Gardens, bridges, gnomes and, of course, rocks make up Rock City. Paths lead you around rock formations, through beautifully landscaped gardens and eventually to Lover’s Leap. In a Cherokee tale, two star-crossed lovers met their fatal demise at the overlook. Luckily, I don’t think anyone else has fallen from these heights, but it is a reminder to be careful as you walk around the cliff. At this point, you can view the rainbow room, waterfall and the famous overlook where you can see seven states.
Rock City is the perfect place to test your greatest fears in a safe environment. As you begin on the path around the park you will find that it gets more and more narrow, before opening again into big open spaces. Walking through areas like “fat man squeeze” can give anyone claustrophobia as you travel between boulders.
Then you come upon the swing bridge where you can battle your fear of heights as you look over at miles and miles of land.
Do you hate Disney and the puppet-like characters? Well, Rock City also has a good handful of those lying around for you to enjoy. Enter the Fairyland Caverns to see UV displays of classic fairytales and European Folklore. Puppets and figurines are displayed in windows for you to enjoy as you walk through the cavern. The path leads you to a room with a much larger display in the center. This is filled with smaller depictions of stories all together in Mother Goose Village. It is a sight to be seen, but I couldn’t help imagining the danger posed to anyone that isn’t 100% sober.
On Saint Patrick’s Day weekend, not only can you enjoy Rock City, but you enjoy Shamrock City. The first stop was for a green wine tasting at The Georgia Winery, a permanent shop onsite. While we made our way around the park, bagpipes and Irish music accompanied us. In remote areas, the music was played from speakers, but there were also live performers by the café.
Most of the special activities took place in the same area. Leprechaun mascots and mimes were walking around and performing. The Pot of Gold Pavilion had traditional Irish foods, special St. Patrick’s Day ice creams, live music, and green beer. But be warned, the higher elevation makes the alcohol hit you harder than it normally would. We don’t want anyone else falling off Lover’s Leap!