See Rock City. A Georgia Must.
After miles of passing red barns painted with “See Rock City” and the littles yelling out “Let’s go to Rock City” we relented and drove up Lookout Mountain to Rock City Gardens.
Jeff and I had visited a decade earlier before having kids. Rock City Gardens had also been a staple of my all-girls spend the night summer camp experience, as the camp was located on nearby Lookout Mountain. Despite all our visits, we hardly recognized the place. It has grown substantially with an expanded parking lot and “visitors plaza.”
When we honed in on a post-lunch Rock City visit we went online to purchase tickets. Due to Covid timed tickets are required. We noticed there were plenty of tickets for all the afternoon time slots and decided to wait until our arrival to book. We pulled into the parking lot and slightly panicked to see lots of cars, a line and all the 2pm tickets gone from the online reservation system.
Jeff popped into the queue while I parked the car and soon called to tell us that we had tickets and could go right in. You can only purchase online tickets for greater than an hour prior. Jeff easily obtained tickets for our current time slot at the window and was able to get a military discount.
We did waste a bit of time using the restrooms outside of the ticketed entrance. We should have waited and used the toilets once inside the garden as there was less of a crowd. (We just weren’t aware there were restrooms as soon as you got inside.)
The garden is currently set up in a one-way configuration. I actually think I prefer this to the otherwise crazy passing of people on the pathways.
We spent an hour and a half squeezing between rocks, looking over cliffs and passing under “troll bridges” to the utter delight of our children. While Rock City is the ultimate example of Americana Tourism, it really is well done. Its kitch delighted us all.
The Littles shrieked with joy as they passed through the “rainbow tunnel” which is nothing more than some cellophane taped over openings cut into the rock.
They loved all the Gnomes (although we use the Dutch word Kabouter) placed all over the rock formations.
We delighted in every touristy photo we could possibly take.
The tour ends with a visit to the Fairyland Caverns, where backlights and twinkly lights adorn the cavern walls. Scenes from classic fairy tales are placed inside the cave’s creases for viewing through windows. Its tacky and wonderful, piped in much fills the caverns. This section reminded us so much of many of the storybook lands we visited while in Europe.
We emerged from Rock City around 4pm and decided it was a good bet to go ahead and grab dinner in Chattanooga. We opted for a cute burger place called Slicks. It’s perfectly kid friendly, has outdoor seating and serves local beer. (So basically it ticks off all our requirements.)
There are several other great looking restaurants in this area. We were able to snag some free street parking, but there are also plenty of paid lots in the area.