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

Program Number: 17691RJ
Start and End Dates:
6/22/2014 - 6/27/2014; 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: $999.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Intergenerational; Science & Nature
Meals: 13; 5 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 5 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
   DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel Chattanooga Downtown
  Chattanooga, TN 5 nights
 DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel Chattanooga Downtown
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: The DoubleTree Hilton Hotel Chattanooga Downtown boasts an ideal location just off I-24/Highway 27 in the heart of downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee. Our hotel is situated only minutes from Rock City, the Tennessee Aquarium, all of Chattanooga’s riverfront attractions, and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). Shop, dine and stroll the Scenic City that waits right outside our doors. We have complimentary wired and wireless Internet access throughout, including guest rooms and suites. Check email in our inviting lobby or with a cold beverage at the H2O lounge. Our hotel offers a vibrant choice of dining and rejuvenation options. Dine on bistro-style dishes at ELEVEN, plunge into the pool or reinvigorate at the fitness center. Our 11,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space and downtown Chattanooga location makes us ideal for meetings, weddings and social events. Nearby Chattanooga tourist attractions include Historic Chickamauga Civil War Battlefield, Lookout Mountain, Rock City and the Tennessee Aquarium. The hotel is close to several businesses including Alstom, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, CIGNA, Unum Group and Volkswagen. Set on two lakes and surrounded by mountain vistas, Chattanooga, Tennessee is a scenic city. With a unique blend of urban and rustic charm, the riverside city offers a mix of shopping and dining experiences. Our hotel is steps away from the city’s riverside attractions including the TN Aquarium, IMAX 3D Theater, and the Creative Discovery Museum. After a family day at the aquarium, cinema and museum, enjoy a dinner cruise along the Tennessee River on the Southern Belle Riverboat. Spend an enchanted day at Lookout Mountain, minutes from our hotel. Trek through Rock City and admire views of the Chattanooga Valley. Discover the waterfalls of the Ruby Falls underground cave, and ride the Incline Railway, the world's steepest passenger railway.
  Contact info: 407 Chestnut Street
Chattanooga, TN 37402 USA
phone: 423-756-5150
  Facility amenities: Automated Teller (ATM) ($2.50) Baggage Storage Elevators Gift Shop Laundry/Valet Service Lounge Luggage Hold Multi-Lingual Staff Room Service Safety Deposit Box Fitness Room Pool Parking: Self parking: $8.00 (per day) Valet: $12.00 (per day)
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Call for hotel rate. Call ahead to make reservations on your own.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Call for hotel rate. Call ahead to make reservations on your own.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Hotel check-in begins at 3:00 pm Eastern Time. Road Scholar check-in starts at 4:00 pm in the conference room located on second floor. You will be staying at DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel Chattanooga Downtown that night.
  End of Program:
Hotel Check-Out is 12:00 pm Eastern Time. Road Scholar program ends at 10:00 am Eastern time. You will be staying at DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel Chattanooga Downtown the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. We have also enclosed a Parental Consent Form and a Rules And Regulations Form that is required for all children who participate in our Intergenerational programs. Please complete these forms and mail back to your Program Provider. They cannot be submitted online. 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.
  Parking availability:
Self parking is $8 per day or $12 per day for valet parking.
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

DoubleTree By Hilton Downtown Chattanooga, TN


From Airport




Millennium Taxi Services
phone: 423-267-2008
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


$28/person or $33 for two people
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


15-20 mins 




13.7 miles

Driving Directions
  Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport to DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Downtown Chattanooga South on Airport Connector Rd.East on Shepard Rd.Turn right onto TN 153S towards I-75.Take exit 2 to merge I-24 West toward I-59.Take exit 178 merge onto I-27 North.Exit 1C first light make a right Distance from Hotel: 15 mi. Drive Time: 20 min. TYPE TYPICAL MINIMUM CHARGE Limousine 60.00 USD Rental Car varies Taxi 20.00 USD
  From Atlanta to DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Downtown Chattanooga Take I-75 North to I-24 West. Then take Highway 27 North and get off at exit 1C. Take a right at first stoplight and a right turn into the DoubleTree Hotel entrance.
  From Knoxville to DoubleTree By Hilton Downtown Chattanooga Take I-75 South to I-24 West. Then take Highway 27 North and get off at exit 1C. Take a right at first stoplight and a right turn into the DoubleTree Hotel entrance.
  From Nashville to DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Downtown Chattanooga Take I-24 East to Highway 27 North and get off at exit 1C. Take a right at the stoplight and a right turn into the DoubleTree Hotel entrance.
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/Free Time
(Sunday, June 22)
 Afternoon: Hotel check-in begins at 3:00 pm Eastern time. Road Scholar registration begins at 4:00 pm Eastern upstairs in the conference room. Orientation and overview of all the exciting and fascinating adventures ahead will begin at 5:00 pm in the conference room followed by dinner.
 Dinner: We'll enjoy a buffet dinner in the conference room.
 Evening: Free time for grandparents and grand kids to enjoy time together at the pool. 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: DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel Chattanooga Downtown
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Shortline Railroad/IMAX Theater/Swim Time/Chattanooga Train History
(Monday, June 23)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 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: Experience the six-story IMAX screen, the largest in the region. It is the only one big enough to show you a life-sized blue whale as big as a school bus. IMAX 3D movie theaters offer one of the most engaging movie experiences in the world. There will be time for swimming or socializing with newfound friends in the afternoon.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: Your presenter has been fascinated by trains his entire life. He authored the only book dedicated to the Terminal Station in Chattanooga and has been interviewed for the railroad documentary "Tracing the Tracks." Sit back and learn all about Track 29 and the Terminal Station.
Accommodations: DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel Chattanooga Downtown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Horsin' Around Carving School and Coolidge Park/Challenger Space Center/ Swim Time/Music
(Tuesday, June 24)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Board the motor coach for Soddy Daisy, TN, a 20 minute drive. Bud Ellis, Master Carver, who restored Chattanooga's Coolidge Park vintage carousel of pigs, ostriches, giraffes, camels, rabbits and fish, founded the only carving school of its kind in the country. See first hand students carving ability as you visit the carving school and see master carvers at work. Learn about the history of the Coolidge Park Antique Carousel. The 1894 Dentzel carousel is a central feature in Coolidge Park. The antique carousel was restored by local master wood carver Bud Ellis and a devoted team of craftspeople and volunteers. Then, head off to the carousel and pick your favorite animal to ride. Grandparents join in for what some have termed "one of our favorite parts of the program".
 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 liftoff. 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.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: Join everyone and swim at the outdoor pool. Musical presentation for kids and grands.
Accommodations: DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel Chattanooga Downtown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Ruby Falls/Rock City/Sleepover at the Tennessee Aquarium
(Wednesday, June 25)

Note: The Ruby Falls tour is on a paved pathway with only a couple of gradual slopes. There are approximately 35 stairs 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 humidity in the cave it feels more like 70 degrees. The cave tour is not wheelchair accessible. Rock City is a 4100 ft. walking trail surrounded by natural geological and botanical wonders.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 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 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: Adults will have dinner out at a favorite local restaurant. Enjoy the evening knowing your grandchild is having fun at an aquarium sleepover. Dinner will be at The Station located at the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo Terminal. Your delicious dinner comes complete with exciting entertainment provided by a live band and "Singing Server".
 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. KIDS: Ever dream of sleeping under the peaks alongside sharks, stingrays and more? Now is your chance. Come ‘sleep in the deep’ and wake up to a whole new world. Aquarists and divers will give you some idea of what it’s like to be part of the Aquarium team. Just when your eyes can’t stay open any longer, we’ll bed down alongside our largest exhibits where you can dream about all the magnificent creatures found in the Tennessee Aquarium.
Accommodations: DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel Chattanooga Downtown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Tennessee Aquarium/Chattanooga Ducks/Free Afternoon/Dinner at Hotel
(Thursday, June 26)

Note: There are seven steps to climb to board the amphibious Duck. They will not accommodate a wheelchair.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Grandkids will be delivered back to their grandparents and will have breakfast together at the hotel. 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: THE CHATTANOOGA DUCKS More than just a ride it's an Adventure Begin at the corner of 5th and Market where you will board an authentic WWII amphibious landing craft built specifically for the D-Day invasion. Enjoy an historic tour through downtown Chattanooga and just when you think you have seen it all, splash into the Tennessee River at Ross' Landing for an historical and ecological tour of the river and the Chattanooga Waterfront.
 Dinner: Dinner will be at the hotel.
Accommodations: DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel Chattanooga Downtown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Final Presentation/Wrap-up/Farewells
(Friday, June 27)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 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.

Suggested Reading List

Chattanooga (Then & Now: Tennessee) [Paperback]

Author: Rob Clifton

Description: Twenty-five years ago, the citizens of Chattanooga met together to plot the future of their city by reinvigorating the townÂ’s origins by the river. Changes since then have refreshed the city and the waterfront, renewing energy in this friendly Southern town. This volume documents the landmarks that remain and the ones that exist only in images and fading memories.

Chattanooga Landmarks (TN): Exploring the History of the Scenic City (The History Press) [Paperback]

Author: Jennifer Crutchfield

Description: Chattanooga's history and heritage are embodied in the historical sites, structures and groundbreaking feats of engineering that have defined the city from its beginning. Many of the Scenic City's most important landmarks are still preserved. Yet with so many fascinating historic sites and storied destinations, seeing them all is no easy task. Fortunately, Chattanooga Landmarks offers a helpful survey of the most historically significant sites in the city and the surrounding area. Join Chattanooga local Jennifer Crutchfield as she guides you through the city's historic wonders, both natural and man-made. From the top of Lookout Mountain down to the banks of the Tennessee River and through downtown, Chattanooga Landmarks covers the breadth of the historic sites that make this Tennessee city a landmark all its own.

Chattanooga's Terminal Station (TN)

Author: Justin W. Strickland

Description: Long before Glenn Miller made the world-famous "Chattanooga Choo Choo" an American icon, Chattanooga was already a bustling railroad community. By the beginning of the 20th century, passenger trains overwhelmed Chattanooga's two railroad depots and a larger station was needed. The solution was Terminal Station, which rivaled most Southern depots in size, expense, and aesthetic beauty. Providing transportation to cities throughout the country, the terminal made its mark as the gateway for rail from the agricultural south to the industrial north. Following its closure, the terminal was reopened as a renowned hotel and entertainment complex in 1973, becoming one of Chattanooga's many exciting attractions. Images of Rail: Chattanooga's Terminal Station follows the history of this depot in both stories and photographs.

Historic Photos of Chattanooga [Hardcover]

Author: William F Hull

Description: HISTORIC PHOTOS OF CHATTANOOGA captures the remarkable journey of this city and her people with still photography from the finest archives of city, state and private collections. From the Civil War through Reconstruction, the rise of industry, World Wars and into the modern era, Chattanooga has remained a unique and prosperous city. With hundreds of archival photos reproduced in stunning duotone on heavy art paper, this book is the perfect addition to any historian's collection.

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