The artistic symbolism within the design of this linear park traces the city’s earliest roots.
“We wanted to capture the spirit of city and nature, so we created a bold pattern of alternating bands of paved and green landscapes,” said Dennis Carmichael, the landscape architect who designed the plaza.
“This pattern is further enriched by a series of art elements that tell the story of Chattanooga’s history,” he said.
This includes a railroad heritage, the Civil War and Native American history, a tribute to the city’s musical contributions and its influence are meant to be discovered as visitors move through the space, said founder John Ross.
Throughout October, the Tennessee Aquarium will offer guided tours to enrich the guest experience and set the stage for a thrilling cruise into “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon.”
A new Gold Pass, available Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from Sept. 30 through Oct. 30, includes this experience.Ê
A Tennessee Aquarium naturalist/historian begins each tour with a brief walking tour of the Aquarium Plaza, helping visitors appreciate the significance of the timeline embedded within the park’s art elements, including the medallions adorning the aquarium’s exterior.
“I’m super excited to begin these tours,” said John Dever, one of the naturalists who will bring this rich history to life. “There are so many fascinating layers to Chattanooga’s narrative that begin in this very location. I can’t wait to share these stories with others.”
The tour continues indoors, on a journey from the mountains to the sea while exploring the aquarium’s two buildings. A guided tour offers guests an opportunity to “dive into” the aquarium’s richly diverse living collection of more than 10,000 animals while having a conversation with an expert. Along the way, visitors will discover their connections to freshwater ecosystems that feed into the vast saltwater realm first unveiled by Jacques Cousteau.
Guests will be invited to join their naturalist guide as a group for lunch at nearby Big River Grille and save 15 percent on their purchases, or they may choose to dine on their own.
The adventure then continues on the Tennessee River aboard the River Gorge Explorer.
This sleek, 70-passenger vessel whisks passengers swiftly downstream to a protected habitat.
The naturalist guide points out wildlife and historic points of interest during each two-hour voyage. Guests can soak in the views from the topside observation deck while slowly cruising through the most scenic portions of the route.
“October is my favorite time of the year,” Dever said. “The weather is just about as perfect as it can be and it’s great seeing the fall colors appearing. Adding the plaza and aquarium tours to a day on the river will be a lot of fun for me.”
The Tennessee Aquarium Gold Pass is $58.95 for adults and includes the guided plaza and aquarium tours and two-hour river cruise which is regularly a $75 value.
The outings are available Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from Sept. 30 through Oct. 30..
Tours Begin at 10:15 a.m. and continue until approximately 1:15 p.m. Passengers board the cruise at 2:45 p.m.
You may check the Tennessee Aquarium website for exact cruise schedules. There are several dates with 2 p.m. cruises available.
Tickets may be purchased in advance online at: www.tnaqua.org/GoldPass.