Southern Experiences

Discover the Tallest Underground Waterfall in America

Ruby Falls | Chattanooga, TN

See one of the southeast’s must-see attractions, Ruby Falls.

The history of Ruby Falls starts with the Lookout Mountain Cave whose natural entrance was located at the foot of Lookout Mountain along the banks of the Tennessee River. This particular cave has been used and explored by Native Americans, cave explorers, notorious outlaws, Civil War soldiers, and others. However, this cave closed to the public in 1905 due to construction by Southern Railroad Company.  So, in 1928 Leo Lambert, a local cave enthusiast, began drilling an elevator shaft with the hopes of opening back up the cave. Instead, he discovered a hidden marvel. Ruby Falls started offering tours to the public on June 16, 1930.

Along with your tour, you’ll learn more about the history of Fall and how exactly Leo Lambert discovered them. Additionally, you will see various formations including flowstones, stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, soda straws, and columns.

Ruby Falls | Chattanooga, TN

The largest formation at Ruby Falls, the Leaning Tower, seen above, is estimated to be between three and five million years old.

Ruby Falls | Chattanooga, TNRuby Falls | Chattanooga, TNRuby Falls | Chattanooga, TN

If you have a good rain before descending into the cave, you may even get to see the underground stream flow.

Ruby Falls | Chattanooga, TN Ruby Falls | Chattanooga, TN

After wandering through all of the formations, you reach the Falls Room. Ruby Falls is a 145-foot high underground waterfall, making it America’s deepest commercial cave and largest underground waterfall. The waterfall has also been named one of the Ten Most Incredible Cave Waterfalls on Earth.

Ruby Falls | Chattanooga, TNRuby Falls | Chattanooga, TN

After you exit the cavern, be sure to head to the top of Lookout Mountain Tower for panoramic views of the Tennessee Valley. The Tower was built from the rocks taken out of the elevator shaft and stands over 70 feet tall.

Ruby Falls | Chattanooga, TN


Are you ready to tour Ruby Falls?

Southern Experiences

Southern Eats: Clumpies Ice Cream Company

Southern Eats is a series about beloved Southern dining establishments. Do you have suggestions? Send us an email.

There is nothing quite like ice cream on a hot day. If you are in Chattanooga, then you need to try Clumpies Ice Cream Co., a Chattanooga special. Clumpies Ice Cream Co. opened its doors in 1999 in the heart of Chattanooga’s Northshore neighborhood. Since then, Clumpies Ice Cream Co. has opened three more locations in St. Elmo, Southside and Lookout Mountain.

Clumpies Ice Cream Co. in St. Elmo

The cool thing about Clumpies Ice Cream Co. is it is a micro-creamery that produces all of its ice cream by hand in small batches, en gallons or less at a time. Each gallon uses the finest ingredients to create rich, creamy, delicious ice cream.

Clumpies Ice Cream Co. in St. Elmo

I tried the Pistachio ice cream at the St. Elmo’s location and I would give it a two thumbs up!

Clumpies Ice Cream Co. in St. Elmo

So, the next time you are in Chattanooga and looking for a sweet treat, swing into Clumpies Ice Cream Co. to get a cup or cone.

Southern Experiences

America’s Most Amazing Mile

The Incline Railway | Chattanooga, TN

Travel “America’s Most Amazing Mile” during your time in Chattanooga. The Incline Railway is built along the side of Lookout Mountain and achieves an incline of 72.7 percent, which makes it one of the steepest railways in the world. It is also designated as a National Historic Site and a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.

The Incline Railway | Chattanooga, TN

The Incline Railway has been one of Chattanooga’s most unique attractions since 1895. The first train up the side of Lookout Mountain actually arrived in 1885 as an alternative route up Lookout Mountain and to its attractions. In 1895, the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway Company constructed a track that was steeper than the original. The cars were originally operated on coal-burning steam engines and were upgraded to two 100-horsepower motors in 1911. Today, the train is managed by a cable car system that was made by the Otis Elevator Company with two stations, one at the top of the mountain and one at the bottom.

The Incline Railway | Chattanooga, TN

The descent down the mountain takes about 15 minutes and a train leaves from each station every 20 minutes. I would highly recommend you provide at least an hour for the whole experience.

The Incline Railway | Chattanooga, TN The Incline Railway | Chattanooga, TN

From the Top Station, located at the highest point of the mountain, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Chattanooga Valley as well as delicious fudge or a souvenir from the gift shop.

The Incline Railway | Chattanooga, TN The Incline Railway | Chattanooga, TN The Incline Railway | Chattanooga, TN

The second station is located in historic St. Elmo. This station is within walking distance to Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe or Clumpies Ice Cream Company. Perfect for an afternoon treat before you head back up the mountain.

The Incline Railway | Chattanooga, TN


Are you ready to take on America’s Most Amazing Mile?


10 Tips for Mastering the Road Trip

There’s no question about it – road trips are awesome. There is no denying that the lure of the road is undeniable. Road trips also provide some flexibility. You get to choose where to go, when to go and your budget. To get the most of your experience, don’t miss these road trip tips.

Check Your Vehicle

Before you leave for your trip, take your car to the mechanic to have everything checked out. The worst thing is getting on the road and then encountering car troubles. Also, make sure you have a fully inflated spare tire and jumper cables in your car.

Have a Loose Plan

Most road trippers have a time limit, thanks limited vacation days, so it’s smart to figure out how far you will drive each day before you set off. When solo driving, my max is six hours a day but when I have a road buddy, my max is eight to ten hours.

Carry Cash for Tolls

Toll roads always pop up when you are least expecting it and are generally more expensive than you anticipate. Grab a cute change purse to keep your quarters and dollars, so you are prepared for those pesky polls.

Entertainment Options

Music and the open road go together as well as peanut butter and jelly. Before you leave, download some music to your phone and don’t forget to check out new radio stations as you drive through new towns. Additionally, pack some games to keep your passengers entertained on the ride. Think books, puzzles and other time-killing activities. Also, create your own road trip games like “find the license plate”. Here are a few more. Just have fun with it!

Pack Light

It is guaranteed you will find collectibles along the way, so make sure you have room in your car to store those keepsakes. It would be such a bummer if your trunk was too full of suitcases to stow your finds.

Related: Tips For Packing Light

Fuel Up & Stay Hydrated

This time I’m talking about you instead of your car. Pack up a bag of vitamin-packed, healthy foods will allow you to snack without having to stop at all the fast food joints. Additionally, pack a cooler of water to keep you hydrated on the long drives.

Follow the Blue Highways

Blue Highways are the back roads of America, and generally are called as such because they are blue on atlases. If you are going to hit the road, you definitely need to spend some time on the back roads, especially if you don’t have a specific destination and a strict schedule. Additionally,  if you see a sign for a weird tourist attraction? Take that detour! Now’s your chance. Spontaneity is the primary rule of road trips.

Lastly, some of those back roads have limited speed limits and can make your trip longer. So, make sure you have a way to get back on the interstate.

Eat Local and Stay Local

This is my tip for all sorts of travelling, but road trips give you more opportunity to try the local foods. You never know when you might get to try a dish again. Additionally, staying at a local B&B or mom and pop place will help add to the flavor of your trip and will make for great memories later down the road.

Cruise Control is Your Friend

It’s too easy to step too hard on the gas when you’re looking out the window at beautiful things.  This is where cruise control becomes your friend! You really don’t want that ticket for speeding in an unknown area. Cruise control also helps with your fuel economy which helps with that bottom line.

Take Pictures

And I don’t mean the Instagram type. Take fun and goofy pictures that will bring back the fun memories!

Bonus: Roadtrippers

Have you heard of the Roadtrippers? This site is chock full of information, from quirky roadside sights to accommodation. Roadtrippers includes the world’s most interesting destinations and sights.


What are your road trip tips?

Southern Experiences, Travel

Southern Eats: Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe

Southern Eats is a series about beloved Southern dining establishments. Do you have suggestions? Send us an email.

Are you looking for a place for good eats in Chattanooga? You need to try Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe. Located in the historic St. Elmo district next to Historic Incline Railway, Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe is the perfect place to stop by for lunch while you are touring Lookout Mountain.

If you are looking for classic Southern cuisine, this lesser known restaurant in Chattanooga will delight your taste buds.

With a menu that is a mix of barbecue, American grill, sandwiches and delicious desserts. I tried their Stuffed Potato with BBQ Pork with the Sweet BBQ Sauce and a side of Hashbrown Casserole. I finished off my lunch with some Alabama Dirt, a pudding with oreo crumbs. It was delicious.

Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe | Chattanooga, TN Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe | Chattanooga, TN Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe | Chattanooga, TNThe best part of this restaurant is their eclectic decorations. It’s a hodgepodge of different items that all work together to make a fun and casual atmosphere.

If You Go

The Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe is located at 4001 St. Elmo Avenue, Chattanooga, Tennessee 37409. Parking is available at the restaurant, and they are open 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM Monday through Friday and 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM on the weekends.