Yet Chattanooga, with its natural beauty and Southern charm, has succeeded in becoming a hotspot for religious group trips. Chattanooga sits on the Tennessee River, tucked between the Appalachian Mountains and Cumberland Plateau. Surrounding the city on all sides are mountains and ridges revealing why Chattanooga’s official nickname is the “Scenic City.” Chattanooga offers a host of events, festivals and attractions that appeal to numerous markets, including religious groups.
Religious Attractions in Chattanooga
Chattanooga is home to numerous religious organizations and ministries. One is Precept Ministries, founded in 1970 by Kay Arthur. Arthur is a Gold Medallion award winning author of over 100 books. Precept Ministries offers numerous opportunities for religious groups. Two women’s conferences are held in the spring and fall. Training workshops, classes and Bible study tours feature daily teachings by Arthur and Precept’s staff.
The Ankerberg Theological Research Institute, founded by John Ankerberg in 1982, can also be found in Chattanooga. ATRI produces the John Ankerberg show, a half-hour TV and radio ministry that is broadcast nationally.
Further opportunities for lectures and conferences are available at Covenant College, located atop Lookout Mountain. Covenant is a Christian college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of America. Speakers include Covenant’s own staff of professors and those from outside the college. During the summer months, Covenant hosts summer camps and retreats that enable participants to take advantage of Covenant’s various resources, such as sporting complexes and a paintball course. Covenant is also available for religious groups wishing to plan summer events.
Chattanooga’s Main Attractions
Downtown Chattanooga provides enjoyable and educational attractions for religious groups of all ages. It features a newly remodeled riverfront with a pier, fountain and the Tennessee Aquarium, all within walking distance of each other. The Aquarium is famous for its range of animals, from penguins to sharks and a butterfly garden, but also features educational classes throughout the year.
Downtown also boasts the Bluff View Art District, a five minute walk from the Aquarium. Bluff View features the Hunter Museum of American Art, whose collection of American art ranges from the colonial period to the present. Bluff View also contains the River Gallery Sculpture Garden, overlooking the Tennessee River.
Just a short walk across the river on the pedestrian Walnut Street Bridge is the North Shore, where Coolidge Park features a carousel, fountains and areas for games and picnics. A popular place for locals here is Clumpies Ice Cream Shop, complete with friendly service and unique flavors.
Another great way to see the downtown and waterfront is through Chattanooga Duck Tours. These tours start in a boat on wheels, driving through downtown before plunging into the Tennessee River for a tour on water. On the Southern Belle riverboat, travel the Tennessee River for a lunch or dinner cruise or simply for the scenic views.
Lookout Mountain, a 10-minute drive from downtown, has many attractions revealing the area’s natural beauty. Lookout is home to Rock City, Ruby Falls and the Incline Railway. Rock City offers a walking trail that maneuvers through massive rock formations and boasts gardens with over 400 native plant species and breathtaking views. Ruby Falls is an underground waterfall located in a cavern inside the mountain. Those not afraid of heights should take the Incline Railway, featuring trolley-style cars that climb the face of Lookout Mountain at a 72.7% grade straight up. Views from the trolley ride and the observation tower at the top make this a must-do attraction. Group rates are available at these attractions, with discounted rates for Rock City and Ruby Falls when purchased together. Meals for groups can be prearranged at the cafes at either Rock City or Ruby Falls.
Chattanooga’s Festivals and Events
Chattanooga’s most famous festival is the Riverbend Festival, a nine-day music fest held every June. Riverbend features well-known performers, including Christian musicians who perform during its Faith and Family Night. Performers have included Michael W. Smith, MercyMe and Jars of Clay.
Nightfall is a music festival held every Friday night between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It is a concert series at Miller Plaza in downtown and has featured performers such as Alison Krauss and Union Station and Buddy Guy.
The Chattanooga Market in Cricket Pavilion is a festival held every Sunday afternoon in the summer. It features handcrafted works by local and regional artists, local food and live entertainment.
There is no lack of things to do when visiting Chattanooga with a religious group. The city provides a great atmosphere for religious groups seeking to grow, learn and enjoy their time together. Visit the “Scenic City” and your group will leave full of memories.