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Chattanooga For Grands: From Trains and Mountains to an Aquarium Sleepover

Program Number: 17691RJ
Start and End Dates:
7/14/2013 - 7/19/2013; 6/19/2016 - 6/24/2016; 6/26/2016 - 7/1/2016; 7/10/2016 - 7/15/2016; 7/17/2016 - 7/22/2016;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Chattanooga, Tennessee
Price starting at: $875.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Intergenerational; Science & Nature
Meals: 12; 5 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 4 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

Program intended for grandchildren from 9 - 12 years of age.

“All aboard” for a special week of learning and adventure in Chattanooga. Hear stories from the Civil War, ride the famous rails, and “blast off” at the Challenger Space Center. You’ll even spend an overnight with sharks at the Tennessee Aquarium!


• Ride the rails across Chickamauga Creek and through pre-Civil War Missionary Ridge tunnel.
• Join Mission Control at the Challenger Space Center. Get “launched” into space and conduct research in a Space Lab.
• Learn the history of Lookout Mountain that includes Native Americans, notorious outlaws, Civil War soldiers and a U.S. President - followed by an overnight at the Tennessee Aquarium where you'll sleep alongside the sharks!

Activity Particulars

Walking less than one mile at Ruby Falls.

Coordinated by Center for Educational Adventure.


Tennessee’s fourth-largest city is located near the Georgia state line on Chickamauga and Nickajack lakes. The city was the setting for several significant Civil War battles and later became a railroad hub and industrial center. Today, visitors to the Tennessee Aquarium help spur the multimillion-dollar revitalization of Chattanooga’s waterfront.

Popular hotel located in the heart of downtown Chattanooga, featuring stylish guest rooms, heated outdoor pool, contemporary lounge.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Carol Burton, Group Leader

Carol Burton attended Dalton State College, where she began her 16 years as a Road Scholar coordinator with its Center for Educational Adventure. Married to her childhood sweetheart, she grew up in Hampton, Va., and moved to Georgia in 1970. Carol said she was born with a love for animals and volunteers with her local humane society.
Justin Strickland, Locomotive History

Justin Strickland has been fascinated by trains his entire life. His first "railroad" job was with the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway at the age of 15, where he eventually became a conductor. Justin has also worked with the Southeastern Railway Museum, Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, and the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. He authored the only book dedicated to the Terminal Station in Chattanooga and has been interviewed for the railroad documentary "Tracing the Tracks."
Bud Ellis

When Bud Ellis was an art professor at the University of Tennessee, a student brought in an old carousel horse that needed repair. Bud took the horse apart and studied how it was put together decades ago. This was the start of Bud’s career building carousel horses and, eventually, two complete carousels in Chattanooga, Tenn. Bud is also an excellent woodcarver and artist who teaches students the proper techniques for shading, gold leafing and making the animal look realistic.
Maury Nicely, Chattanooga History

Maury Nicely is a lawyer and historian in Chattanooga, Tenn., and author of the “Chattanooga Walking Tour & Historic Guide” and the “East Tennessee Walking Tour & Historic Guide.” Maury has served on the boards of Chattanooga History Center and Cornerstones, Inc., Chattanooga's historic preservation organization.
Matt Downer, Entertainment, Fiddle and Banjo

Matt Downer has been documenting and performing with the elder musicians of the Tennessee Valley region for more than a dozen years. Specializing in pre-1930 string band music on fiddle and banjo, Matt performs regularly with the Old Time Travelers and does solo performances in and around the Tri-State area.
Meals and Lodgings
   Chattanooga Choo-Choo Historic Hotel
  Chattanooga, TN 5 nights
 Chattanooga Choo-Choo Historic Hotel
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Nestled among the city’s buildings and bustle is an oasis that attracts and delights visitors from around the globe. The once busy railway station has been transformed into the Chattanooga Choo Choo Historic Hotel. Its lush gardens include the only rose garden in the state of Tennessee designated as an All American Rose Selection Garden. For train enthusiasts of all ages, don’t miss the Model Railroad Museum. Iits model railroad was built in HO scale, which is 1:87 (87 model boxcars hooked together would equal the length of one real boxcar). The Model Railroad is 174 feet long and 33 feet wide at its widest point. It includes more than 3,000 feet of track, 320 structures, 150 switches, 120 locomotives of all types, 1,000 freight cars, 80 passenger cars, three major yards, two small yards, and four passenger stations. It is one of, if not the largest, in the world open to the public. Take the self-guided tour to browse the landscape at your own pace with plenty of time to read about the history of Chattanooga trains and the unique features of this one-of-a-kind experience! While strolling through the gardens, you can enjoy an exciting, entertaining, and educational excursion around the Choo Choo complex aboard an authentic 1924 New Orleans trolley. The trolley is open most days for 10-12 hours, and only ceases to run in inclement weather. Soak up the sunshine at two outdoor swimming pools amid beautiful landscaping or swim year-round in the heated indoor pool beneath a skylight dome four stories high. Or try out the whirlpool after crossing a bridge over the pool and relax to the soothing sound of the waterfall.
  Contact info: 1400 Market Street
Chattanooga, TN 37402 USA
phone: 423-266-5000
  Room amenities: All rooms at the Choo Choo provide wireless high speed internet, coffee maker, hair dryer, iron + ironing board, and a voice mail system. Non-smoking rooms are available upon request. Rooms have one king-size bed OR two double beds.
  Facility amenities: Fitness Room: Work out on one of three Life Fitness treadmills, two Lifecycle exercise bikes, and one Life Fitness stair climber. Tennis Courts: Work on your tennis game on two courts located in the back of the complex. The lights automatically come on at night. Business Center: For your convenience, a copy machine, a fax machine, and two computers with Internet access available. (All guest rooms are equipped with high speed wireless Internet access.) Dry Cleaning Service: Every morning at 9:00am (Monday through Friday), Champion Dry Cleaners will pick up laundry at the front desk and have it back by 6:00pm. Transportation: Downtown Shuttle. From the Choo Choo to the Tennessee Aquarium, the CARTA shuttle will take care of all your downtown transportation needs. Electric shuttles run every ten minutes and include stops for downtown shopping and sightseeing. You can catch this complimentary shuttle service just across the way from the hotel lobby. Airport Shuttle: In the event that you fly into Chattanooga and stay at the Choo Choo and you do not have your own transportation to and from the airport, our security team will be able to assist you. Please call 423-308-2466. Leave a message or tell the security officer your airline, flight number, and arrival or departure date and time. Call well in advance to ensure timely transportation. The hotel complex also includes shops, pools, gardens, trolley, and model railroad.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Call hotel for special rate. Additional nights before and after the program are available by calling 423-266-5000.
  Check in time: 4:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Call hotel for special rate. Additional nights before and after the program are available by calling 423-266-5000.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
4:00 pm Hotel Check-In, Road Scholar Registration from 4-4:30 pm You will be staying at Chattanooga Choo-Choo Historic Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
Hotel Check-Out is 11:00 am, Road Scholar program ends at 10:00 am You will be staying at Chattanooga Choo-Choo Historic Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. A waiver of liability for the Aquarium Sleepover is included in this information packet for the parents to sign. This form must be returned to Center for Educational Adventure before start of program. If you have a Senior Pass, Golden Age Passport or National Parks Pass, please bring it with you.
  Parking availability:
No charge for parking at the hotel.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Chattanooga, TN
  Nearest city or town:  Nashville, TN, 2 hours, Knoxville, TN, 1 hr. 50 min
  Nearest highway: I-24, I-75, I-59
  Nearest airport:  Chattanooga, TN
  From End of Program
  Location: Chattanooga, TN
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Chattanooga, TN


From Airport




Hotel Shuttle
Chattanooga Choo Choo Historic Hotel
phone: 423-266-5000
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


free of charge
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


25 minutes 




15 miles


Shuttle to Chattanooga Choo Choo Downtown...(423) 266-5000 - free of charge from the Chattanooga airport.

Driving Directions
  From Knoxville, TN to Choo Choo Historic Hotel FROM KNOXVILLE & GA: TAKE I-75 TO I-24, EXIT 178, (MARKET ST), CHOO CHOO HISTORIC HOTEL IS ON THE RIGHT
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Check-In/Orientation/Dinner/Getting to Know You
(Sunday, July 14)
 Afternoon: Check-in to the hotel, then walk over to the Road Scholar registration desk. Check-in for the program begins at 4:00 pm, followed by an orientation and overview of all the exciting and fascinating adventures ahead.
 Evening: We'll have a wonderful buffet dinner in the conference room. Afterwards enjoy "Getting to Know You" activities with grandparents and grandkids. This program features many different opportunities for learning and doing things together. Intergenerational relationships are the key as we learn with and from one another.
Accommodations: Chattanooga Choo-Choo Historic Hotel

Day 2: Shortline Railroad/IMAX/Swim Games/ Evening Activity
(Monday, July 15)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in The Gardens. Family-style Southern cooking with lots of choices including delicious fruit.
 Morning: We will begin today’s adventure as we answer the call for “All Aboard” on a shortline railroad ride. We’ll cross Chickamauga Creek and pass through pre-Civil War Missionary Ridge tunnel that became the hub of local railroading activity in the early 1900s. During this field trip, you will see a turntable demonstration and explore the railroad repair shop. We’ll learn how the railroad was built, how railroads are maintained today, and about the lives of those who fought here. Did you have any ancestors in the Civil War?
 Lunch: Lunch at the hotel.
 Afternoon: After Lunch, we will ride the electric shuttle downtown so that you will become familiar with it for traveling to and from town during your free time. It is a free shuttle and it begins and ends at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Historic Hotel where you are staying. Then, join in the fun at a 3-D IMAX Theater Movie. When you have finished the film, you may have time to go off on your own and explore the sights around the Tennessee River downtown. Or, you may choose to return to the Choo Choo for pool games and fun for the rest of the afternoon. There are three pools at the Choo Choo. One indoor and two outdoor.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: After swimming and dinner, we will have a classroom activity for both grands and kids.
Accommodations: Chattanooga Choo-Choo Historic Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Horsin' Around Carving School/Coolidge Park Carousel/Challenger Space Center/ Swim Games/Evening Activity
(Tuesday, July 16)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in The Gardens.
 Morning: Visit Horsin' Around Carving School under the direction of Bud Ellis, master carver and instructor. Get a behind the scenes look at the process of carving a carousel horse. Bud's creations are featured on two carousels located in Chattanooga. We will visit the one at Coolidge Park.
 Lunch: Lunch at the hotel.
 Afternoon: Get ready to participate in a simulated space mission. On January 28, 1986, seven astronauts began a mission of discovery and education. To the nation's shock and sorrow, their Space Shuttle exploded 73 seconds after lift-off. The Challenger Shuttle may have been destroyed, but the crew's mission to educate and inspire lives on. students fly simulated space missions. The Challenger Learning Center offers students the next best thing to actual space flight with a Mission Control room designed after NASA Johnson Space Center and an orbiting space station. Programs are built on simulation methods inspired by the way NASA trains America's astronauts—such as the mission scenarios that routinely launch hundreds of thousands of students to Mars, Moon, and beyond in Challenger Learning Centers throughout the world. This is about a two hour mission. Later, join everyone and swim at the outdoor pool.
 Dinner: Dinner at the Chattanooga Choo Choo.
 Evening: Evening presentation for kids and grands.
Accommodations: Chattanooga Choo-Choo Historic Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Ruby Falls/Rock City/Sleepover at the Tennessee Aquarium
(Wednesday, July 17)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in The Gardens.
 Morning: You won’t believe everything you’re going to see, learn and experience today! Lookout Mountain is famous for many unusual geological features. Ruby Falls is unique: a 145-foot underground waterfall more than 1,120 feet beneath the mountain’s surface. The fascinating story of the formation of Lookout Mountain, the cave and Ruby Falls itself is told by the rocks that formed each of these wonders. The story begins with the original Lookout Mountain Cave whose natural entrance is located at the foot of Lookout Mountain on the banks of the Tennessee River. Tales of this cave’s huge chambers and winding passages have long been passed down from one generation to the next, and its whereabouts were known by Chattanooga inhabitants for centuries. Learn about the rich history of this cave that includes Native Americans, cave explorers, notorious outlaws, Civil War soldiers, and even a President of the United States. There were many reports of explorers traveling deep into this cave, as far as 12 miles without reaching the end. As the field trip begins, anticipation builds, the temperature drops, and a cool fresh breeze surrounds you as you are immersed in darkness. There is the thunderous sound of water splashing directly in front of you, and you feel an invigorating mist. Suddenly, there is light, your attention is drawn immediately upward. You are now staring at one of the world’s most amazing phenomena, Ruby Falls. The minimum time spent at the falls will be around 1-1/2 hours. You will be on a paved level pathway with a few gradual slopes and a few steps on the pathway, each paired in sets of 4-5 with handrails provided. (The temperature in the cave is around 60 degrees year round but with the high humidity it feels more like 70 degrees so bundling up is not necessary.) The Ruby Falls entrance building is handicapped-accessible but the cave itself is not handicapped-accessible due to narrow passages, two-way traffic, and steps.
 Lunch: Lunch will be special at a restaurant atop Lookout Mountain.
 Afternoon: Continue discovering Chattanooga’s wonders at the brow of Lookout Mountain, Rock City, located 1,700 feet above sea level, with a 100-foot waterfall that cascades down the mountain, and the famous Swing-A-Long bridge that spans nearly 200 feet. Get a real bird’s-eye-view from atop the mountain. Some of the other features you'll experience include the climbing wall at Lover’s Leap where you can see seven states. Located atop Lookout Mountain, just 6 miles from downtown Chattanooga, Rock City is a true marvel of nature featuring massive ancient rock formations, gardens with over 400 native plant species, and breathtaking "See 7 States" panoramic views. Take an unforgettable journey along the Enchanted Trail where each step reveals natural beauty and wonders along the woodland path. Experience the magic of Fairyland Caverns. This is a favorite for kids and grands.
 Dinner: Dinner at the Chattanooga Choo Choo's The Station House restaurant where singing waiters and waitresses will surprise you. We will have a fun night out with everyone together at the singing restaurant located right on the Choo Choo property.
 Evening: Kids will go to the aquarium for a sleepover. Grandparents will have an evening of dining and adult conversations while the kids enjoy activities at the aquarium.
Accommodations: Chattanooga Choo-Choo Historic Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Tennessee Aquarium/Chatanooga Duck/Free Evening
(Thursday, July 18)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in The Gardens.
 Morning: Grandkids will be delivered back to their grandparents and will have breakfast together in the Gardens. They will have time to shower, redress and then they are taking their grandparents to the aquarium for a personal field trip where they will be the guide for their grandparents. This worked so well this summer that we are doing it again. Grandparents will see why it is rated one of the top aquariums in the country. Take a remarkable journey from a cove forest high in the Appalachian mountains to a coral reef in the blue depths of the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, see thousands of animals and three living forests . . . exploring life above and below the water's surface. There are two buildings of the aquarium, the Ocean Journey and the River Journey. Your grandchild will be able to tell you all about it from all the information they received the night before.
 Lunch: Lunch is on your own today. There are many restaurants that surround the aquarium within easy walking distance. Enjoy your time with your grandchild.
 Afternoon: Grandparents and grandkids will continue the afternoon together with a ride on the Chattanooga Duck. Just when you think you've seen it all from land, we will splash into the Tennessee River for the unforgettable views of Chattanooga's Riverfront and Maclellan Island. You will board an authentic renovated WWII amphibious landing vehicle for a narrated field trip sure to please kids and grands.
 Dinner: Dinner will be at the hotel.
 Evening: Free time or swim time for the grandkids.
Accommodations: Chattanooga Choo-Choo Historic Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Final Presentation/Wrap-up/Farewells
(Friday, July 19)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in The Gardens.
 Morning: We will review what we’ve seen and learned as grandparents and grandkids share their fondest memories of this time together. The program concludes with this final session, and then you're off and on your way home.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

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