What: See Rock City
Where: 1400 Patten Road, Lookout Mtn., GA 706-820-2531
When: Hours vary by season, so check the website
Cost: $18.95 adults, $10.95 children (3 – 12) Free Parking
Photos: For more photos of Rock City visit Field Trips with Sue on Facebook
What drew me initially to See Rock City, was the famous ad campaign on rural barns and the See Rock City bird houses. I once bid unsuccessfully at a silent auction for a coffee table book of the famous barns and a birdhouse. I don’t remember what it went for, but there was fierce bidding. You gotta love an ad campaign that started in 1936 and is still working more than 70 years later!
Rock City Gardens has a 1950 ‘eque feel, which is what I like about it. Sure, they’ve added gem panning and rock climbing for the kids, but the rest of it is a walk through time that brings you back to a simpler day when families drove to their destinations playing car bingo and kids fought for real estate in the back seat. Like the ad campaign, kids still clamor 80 years later to get a good look atop the mountain and “See 7 States”. Of course now they’ve added binoculars for a closer view. If you have small children, look for the short look-out stands that are just the right height for kids. The views and photo opportunities are truly spectacular.
The self-guided walking tour along The Enchanted Trail takes you through huge rock formations, some estimated to be 200 million years old. They have great names like “Needle’s Eye” and “Fat Man’s Squeeze.” My kids loved the 180-foot long Swing-a-long bridge, but if that’s not for you don’t worry, you can go around. For those with smaller children, note that strollers won’t be able to get around the entire path, so plan to carry your little ones or pack them in a carrier of some kind. Of course, even then you may have to make some adjustments. We had my youngest in a backpack years ago and had to get him out to fit through Fat Man’s Squeeze.
Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Village add some whimsical to the visit. I was actually surprised that my boys didn’t know more of the Mother Goose rhymes. They can dazzle you with knowledge of intergalactic planets and beings, but were a bit stumped on why Jack and Jill went up the hill. Both of these attractions are underground and lit by black light. If your child is afraid of the dark, distract them by focusing attention on white shoelaces or glowing t-shirts until they adjust and they’ll be more likely to enjoy the exhibits.
When I think of Rock City, I think of the rock formations. The formations and natural pathways were the inspiration for a 14-acre garden with more than 400 different species of native wildflowers, plants, shrubs and trees. Visitors can use their cell phone to hear a guided tour of the Gardens. We visited in the spring when everything was beginning to bloom and it was beautiful.
Rock City is a destination for anytime of year. Perhaps time your visit for the many events and festivals hosted by the Gardens. Rock City is located in Georgia, but only six miles from Chattanooga, TN. We stopped at Rock City on our way to a vacation in Chattanooga. There are packages to See Rock City, Ruby Falls and the Incline Railway all in one day. All great attractions, but this is a lot for kids (and adults) to do in one day. I would suggest splitting it into two. If you must do it all in one, plan a lighter schedule the next day.
Although we were provided complimentary attraction tickets for the purpose of reviewing it (as is common in the travel industry), we only recommend places we would stay and products we would use.