1-Day Tennessee Eco Tour

Day 1 You'll See:

  • Southern Belle
  • River Gorge Explorer
  • Chattanooga Ducks
  • HighPoint Climbing Center
  • Bluff View Art District
  • Ruby Falls
  • Tennessee Aquarium
  • Lake Winnepesaukah SoakYa Park


Southern Tennessee has so much to offer, especially when it comes to ecological oases! Spend a full day exploring the most beautiful, unique, and inviting natural landmarks and protected areas. Spend your morning cruising down the Tennessee and taking in all the facts and wildlife viewing opportunities you can, then spend your afternoon and evening climbing, splashing, and riding around the most scenic vistas in Tennessee! There’s something for everyone in your group on this trip, a true nature lovers’ perfect getaway.


Day 1

Southern Belle - Start your day in Tennessee the right way, with a gorgeous early morning cruise down the Tennessee River on the floating restaurant, the Southern Belle. This Deluxe Excursion Vessel brings out the nostalgic Old South with a day of entertainment, dining, and sightseeing. The Southern Belle cruise is considered the best and most unique family dining experience in Chattanooga and features live music, drinks, and fine food that changes daily, depending on the tour your group chooses to take. The boat itself is a 450 passenger ship created in 1985 with features of Easter River and Bay Boats, with Tennessee River specifications such as the large landing stage enabling easy docking anywhere. This cruise line offers daily sightseeing, lunch, dinner, pilot house, and sunset tours to allow visitors from far and wide to take in the sights of the Tennessee River in a unique way. Don’t forget to check check out the behind-the-scenes captain’s cabin in between dancing and eating the night away, the engineering behind this boat is incredible!

River Gorge Explorer - Just two blocks away from the Tennessee Aquarium your group is going to board the high tech catamaran, the River Gorge Explorer. This classic Chattanooga excursion takes you downstream from the Chattanooga Pier into the 26 miles of River Gorge. This typically two hour excursion is guided by an Aquarium naturalist and features relevant local history and wildlife viewing and information opportunities. A lot of Civil War history is covered, as well as geological facts about the highlight of this tour, the Tennessee Grand Canyon! The boat itself has climate controlled cabins in which you can view the gorgeous scenery out the windows, or you can choose to hang out on the observation deck for the best 360 vistas. The 27,000 acres of protected land within the Gorge is highly photogenic, so be sure to bring a camera with plenty of film! Most importantly, this cruise is meant to be peaceful and relaxing, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the views and facts as you float down the Tennessee River Gorge.

Chattanooga Ducks - Don’t worry, the cruising fun isn’t over yet, as your group now heads downtown for a unique and one of a kind Chattanooga Duck tour. This tour takes you from the bustling streets of downtown Chattanooga to the gleaming waves of the Tennessee River in an authentic renovated WWII amphibious landing craft. These DUCKs are technically DUKWs, basically meaning that they are utility vehicles created in 1942, with all wheel drive and two rear powered axles. They were built for the 3-day beach invasion known as D-Day, making them highly historical and also very unique ways of touring. This tour is typically around 1.5 hours, spending some time on the streets then hitting the water hard for a tour of the Chattanooga Riverfront as well as Maclellan Island. The facts will cover the history of downtown, the ecology of the river, the history of the river, Civil War history, and D-Day facts. The members of your group will have a chance to drive the boat themselves, as well as have the thrilling experience of hitting the boat ramp and watching the vehicle repurpose into a boat. This is one cruise you're not going to want to miss a second of!

HighPoint Climbing Center - Get ready to flex those muscles and harness up for some adventure at your next stop, the HighPoint Climbing and Fitness Center in downtown Chattanooga. This gym offers one day passes that will give your group access to the climbing walls, where you will learn the basics of wall and rock climbing! After signing a waiver, getting an orientation, and renting gear your group will have the chance to choose an intro class to take, each of them directed towards first timers looking to learn the basics of climbing and safety. This program is operated by world-renowned climbers Lisa Rands and Wills Young, who offer indoor coaching and classes, as well as outdoor guiding and instruction. They support youth clubs, a climbing team, weekly classes, one on one sessions, and biweekly beginners sessions. Your group will love this unique opportunity to explore the obscure and thrilling world of climbing, sharing Lisa and Wills knowledge, passion, and skills as you climb your way to the top!

Bluff View Art District - Enjoy a relaxing cool off from climbing as you stroll around the historic neighborhood downtown known as the Bluff View Art District. This, Chattanooga’s original art district, sits high atop the stone cliffs above the Tennessee River, giving it spectacular scenic bluff top views. From here your group will be able to see the Tennessee River, downtown Chattanooga, and Walnut Street Bridge. The district itself features a few restaurants, a coffee house, an art gallery, a historic bed and breakfast, several gardens, plazas, and courtyards. The whole district will give your group a sense of relaxation and rejuvenation, as you decide to stroll around the award-winning River Gallery Sculpture Garden or explore the nationally recognized artists of the River Gallery. The district is dedicated to visual, horticultural, and culinary arts, as is made clear as you view their several dramatically landscaped gardens or eat the freshest ingredients at any of their local eateries. Your group will delight in this opportunity to relax and immerse themselves into the downtown culture.

Ruby Falls - Welcome to the natural wonder that is Lookout Mountain, in which your group will have the chance to visit Ruby Falls, America’s deepest commercial cave and largest underground waterfall all in one. This immense cavern featuring a 145 foot enclosed waterfall is considered to be one of the ten most incredible cave waterfalls on Earth! The cave in which you will be walking is over 1,120 feet below the surface and stays a comfortable 59 degrees year round. The cave was discovered in 1928 and opened for the public’s amazement in 1930. For over 85 years thousands of visitors have annually visited to see the hundreds of gallons of water rush through here per minute, as well as the full color LED light show put on the fall itself. Ruby Falls takes pride in its environmental sustainability methods of showmanship, from their solar paneled LED supports to their onsite recycling program, this is the first U.S. attraction to receive the Green Globe Certificate. A tour of this geological wonder will show your group the many unique rock formations, view from Mountain Tower, and chance to take part in the ZIPstream Aerial Adventure zip line tour. There’s something for every adventure lover here at Ruby Falls, and the sight of the underground waterfall is a one-of-a-kind view you won’t find anywhere else.

Tennessee Aquarium -  Get ready for quite the adventure back at the world’s largest freshwater aquarium, the Tennessee Aquarium. Built in 1992, this nationally acclaimed attraction is located on the downtown riverfront and features two different buildings, featuring two very different types of water species. Visit the River Journey building to learn about freshwater species, and the Ocean Journey building to learn about saltwater species. Start your visit in the River Journey building, where you will see otters, trout, alligators, catfish, and turtles. You’ll actually learn here that 25% of the continents freshwater species live here, in this area! Some of the exhibits here include the Mississippi Delta, Rivers of the World, and Appalachian Cove Forest. Next head over to the Ocean Journey building and see the saltier side of things, complete with penguins, stingrays, butterflies, and a full coral reef featuring tons of fish and sharks. You can also check out the IMAX for an out of this world entertainment experience or  even take a behind-the-scenes tour in which you will get to feed the animals with the staff! Protip for this location: download the free Tennessee Aquarium App on your smartphone to get complete showtimes, event schedules, maps, and tickets!

Lake Winnepesaukah SoakYa Park - End your Tennessee tour at Lake Winnepesaukah SoakYa Water Park, an attraction opened in 1925 that is still going strong today! The word Winnepesaukah translates into either "bountiful waters" or "beautiful lake of the highlands," and was borrowed from the Native Americans from this area. Opening day gave way to 5,000 guests, today nearly doubling daily. Slowly the park added pools, pavilions, rides, showboats, and rollercoasters,becoming what they are today, a massive southern Tennessee and northern Georgia top attraction. The entire 80 acre park is called Lake Winnie Amusement Park, but the water park itself takes only 5 acres. Total there are 40 rides, 7 attractions within the water park including Adventure River, Wave Lagoon, 2 body slides, 2 tube slides, as well a kids play area. Your group can try the Coke Float Cove obstacle course, float down the lazy river, or grab a burger from the Ferris Wheel Cafe. You can also rent paddle boats, hit all the gift shops, play mini-golf, or grab some Dippin Dots as you fully embrace the park motto ‘come on get happy’!