Southern Experiences

See Rock City

Rock City Gardens is a world-famous marvel of nature located atop Lookout Mountain outside Chattanooga, Tennessee. Rock City features massive ancient rock formations, gardens with over 400 native plant species, and the famous “See 7 States” panoramic view.

The area known as “Rock City” has been known to civilization since the 1820s but opened as a public attraction on May 21, 1932. As you enter the gardens, you will start your stroll through the 4,100-foot trail, where you’ll encounter incredible rock formations, caves, and beautiful flowers, along with a few other surprises.

One of the surprises you’ll encounter in the Gardens is a 180-foot suspension bridge, provides a great panoramic view of the Chattanooga Valley.

Shirt // Jeans // Shoes // Watch // Necklace

Also, did you know there are few places in America where you can see multiple states at one time? Lookout Mountain is one such place. It is actually the only place where you can view the most states from one location. “See Seven States” is located at the top of Lover’s Leap.

Lover’s Leap is one of the most iconic rock formations on Lookout Mountain. This formation is named for the Cherokee legend of two lovers.

My favorite part of Rock City is Rainbow Hall, which is along the under-cliff passage to the observation platform of Lover’s Leap and beautiful High Falls.

There are also two major rock formations you squeeze through while you are on the trail and those are Needle’s Eye and Fat Man’s Squeeze.

The final thing you pass through on the enchanted trail is the Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Village. These two exhibits include your favorite nursery rhymes and were moved to this exhibit in 1947.

Mother Goose Village | Rock City | Lookout Mountain, GA

The final thing you should look out for during your visit are the gnomes located all along the trails. The concept came from Frieda Carter, wife of the founder, who brought in German statues of gnomes. Can you guess how many gnomes are in Rock City?

Finally, one of the famous aspects of Rock City is not actually in the Garden itself. It’s the barn roofs that were used as advertising in the 1930s. The founder of Rock City, Garnet Carter, is the brainchild of the famous See Rock City barns. Today, you can still see some of these historic advertisements along roadways in the Southeast and beyond. Here’s a map of all the barns to keep a look out for during your next southern road trip.


Are you ready to See Rock City?

Southern Experiences

Lookout Winery

Wine with a view? That’s exactly what you’ll experience at Lookout Winery in Guild, Tennessee about 20 minutes outside of downtown Chattanooga.

Lookout Winery offers you the opportunity to view three different states – Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia – as well as the Tennessee River from their patio as you enjoy all they have to offer.

In addition to incredible views, Lookout Winery provides you the opportunity to sample their wines with a tasting flight of either three wines, six wines or 16 wines. I opted for the six wine tasting, three whites and three reds, and tried their Bier Wine, Patrizio, Marguarita, Santino Sangiovese, Vincente Petite Sirah, and The Italian Trio. My favorites were the Marguarita from the whites and The Italian Trio from the reds.

Each wine pairs well with one of their house pizzas. Yum! So, I paired a bottle of The Italian Trio with The Pisa. It was delicious. (Like, probably one of the best pizzas I’ve had in a while and I ate until I couldn’t physically take another bite.) When you feel like you can’t eat anymore, be sure to top everything off with their gelato or other tasty desserts.


What is your favorite Middle Tennesse winery?

Photography, Travel

Rules for Amazing Travel Photography

Travel photography freezes memories from a journey past that you can look back on and enjoy for years. So, you’ve made it to somewhere amazing, and you know you want to capture it beautifully. But how? Here are a few simple rules on taking pictures you’ll love forever.

Rule of Thirds

One of the most basic rules of photography is understanding the Rule of Thirds. Imagine breaking an image down into thirds horizontally and vertically, so it’s split into nine different sections. The goal is to place the subject of the photo into these sections and help frame the overall image. Instead of putting your subject in the dead center of the image, try to move it to anther section of the image. Additionally, ask yourself: What is the subject of this shot? Where should I place them on the grid? I also recommend you play around and experiment with subject placement.

Utilize Depth

Depth is frequently overlooked unless you’ve trained your eye to see it. But when used correctly, it can give your photo that much more umph. The key factors to keep in mind with depth are: foreground, middle ground, and background. More times than not, the middle ground will be your main subject. When this is the case think: What is between you and your subject you can add to photograph to make it more interesting? What is behind your subject that can make a clean background?

Example from Paris, France

Utilize Focus

Focus is another element to consider. Focus is a way of telling your viewer exactly what they should be looking at or what they should see first. The focal point of your photo should be the main thing or subject you want your audience to see. This technique is great for isolating your subject.

Example from Denver, Colorado


The Framing technique is about using what’s around you to “frame” your subject, illustrating to the viewer the focal point of the image. This is an easy technique, but it may require you to scout out your subject and to view it with a different perspective. Additionally, don’t be afraid to stand further away from your subject and use the zoom on your lens to get the “frame” you desire. But don’t forget, your feet work as a great zoom too!

Example from Paris, France

All in the Details

I think we’ve all been traveling before and thought we would remember the details of the place. We take them in and think we will remember with the wide shot photographs, but when we get home we foret the details we loved so much. So, don’t forget to grab those detail shots with your travel photography so you don’t forget the little things of the place. And get bonus points, if you use all the other rules from above.

Photograph People/the Locals

People add another demisnion to a photograph. Attractions are one thing, but it’s really the people, their experiences, and their culture that make a place. Photos without people often feel empty. If you’re taking a close-up shot of a specific person, you should ask them if it’s okay before doing so. Sometimes locals may not want to be photographed. Or, if you’re a bit shy like me, you may be too nervous to ask if you can take their photo and tat’s okay too! Photographs from afar work as well. Additionally, chances are your viewers will connect more to the images with people than an empty street. This technique is one that I’m always working to improve.

Example from Austin, Texas

Always Be Ready

Good travel photography requires time. So, don’t take quick snapshots as you rush from location to location or you’ll end up with images just like everyone else. Additionally, always be ready as you’ll never know when the right image will come along. Take for instance the photo below, it was caputred driving down the highway of Grand Turk.

Related: Ultimate Photography Gear Guide

Here are two foolproof ways to always be at the ready:

  1. Keep your camera out or handy. Don’t stuff it deep in your backpack. The easier it is to pull out and shoot the more you will be inclined to take a photo.
  2. Keep an eye out on your surroundings and not just the sights.


Example from Grand Turk


What are your rules for travel photography?

Hotel Reviews, Southern Experiences

Checking In: Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel

Checking In is a series for reviewing properties, whether it is a hostel, hotel or other forms of accommodation. To suggest a property, please send us an email..


The Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel is located in Terminal Station, a former railroad station in the middle of Chattanooga, and was the largest station in this Southern city.

Terminal Station opened in 1909 and was the first train station in the South to help open a pathway to connect the North to the South. The doors to Terminal Station were closed in 1970 in an era when passenger trains declined. Destined for termination, Terminal Station reopened its doors on April 11, 1973, as the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel, inspired by the Glenn Miller song. Since this date, the Hotel has served as a popular vacation destination for travelers.

The hotel provides guests two unique opportunities for staying in Chattanooga. The first is in the MacArthur Building, named for Southern Railway’s last steam-powered freight train, which boasts spacious rooms with king or queen beds as well as a heated pool.

The second option is staying in a historic Pullman train car, which feature a queen size bed and deluxe bath amenities.

The hotel is also a member of the Historic Hotels of America.

In 2014, the hotel redeveloped with new and vibrant restaurants and exciting music venues. Today there is again the bustle that was once so familiar in the railroad days!




Home Tour: Bathroom

Today marks the six monthiversary of me closing on my first house. So, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to kick off my Home Tour series.

Home Tour | Bathroom

I purchased an adorable ranch-style home with 3-beds and 1-bath. Since I only have one bathroom this room moved to the top of the lists to complete. Lucky for me the previous owner updated the tile work, vanity and light, so all I really needed to do was make the room my own.

Home Tour | Bathroom

The room was initially painted a pale blue, so a paint job was necessary to make it work better with the grey grout in shower and floor. I chose Behr Silver Bullet in Flat/Matte.

Home Tour | Bathroom Home Tour | Bathroom

Next, the bathroom came with no hardware, so my mom being the awesome mom that she is found these great hooks from World Market. I added two next to either side of the shower and one next to the sink. It really has helped so much with functionality in the bathroom, plus they are so much prettier than plain towel bars.

Home Tour | Bathroom

To help bring everything together, I purchased this shower curtain, this bath mat, and these towels. For finishing touches, a clock from Michaels and Couture magazine covers.

Home Tour | Bathroom Home Tour | Bathroom



Towel Hooks: World Market
Shower Curtain: Target
Towels: Target
Bath Mat: Target
Bathroom Accessories: Toothbrush Holder and Trash Can
Artwork: July 1950, February 1963; December 1954
Clock: Michaels