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Rock City Gardens
1400 Patten Rd.
Lookout Mountain, GA 30750
Think back to your cartoon watching days. For some of you, that may be now, but just to be clear, we are talking Looney Tunes. Remember how Bugs Bunny would occasionally hold up signs that said “See Rock City”? These were an homage to such signs that proliferated in more than half a dozen states, most notably painted on barn roofs. Rock City is located just above Chattanooga, and we really didn’t know what it was. Something to do with rocks. Vaguely city-like. But what did it matter? We had to see it.
Turns out Rock City was organized by Frieda and Garnet Carter--he invented Tom Thumb miniature golf so there is a theme going with this particular Plucky Survivors trip—on the grounds of their very rocky estate atop Lookout Mountain. Opened in 1932, it’s a series of paths that wind up and down and across boulders of various sizes, with forest dotting the whole. You sometimes have to really have to go cautiously to get through mossy passages called things like Needle’s Eye or Fat Man Squeeze.
Occasionally, the path skirts the edge of estate, offering views that go on for miles, and from where you can, they say and we take their word for it, see as many as seven states at once. (All states look alike from a tall view.) There’s a cavern that has been liberally decorated with small rocks plus black light dioramas featuring gnomes and nursery rhyme or fairy tale tableaus that date back to the forties, and are quite cute even in the dark.
Maybe it was the time of day—we got there just when it opened and so had the place almost entirely to ourselves—but we were quite smitten with Rock City. Apart from some pointless if innocuous New Age music playing from hidden speakers, it was a peaceful and truly beautiful place and did not come off at all like the tourist trap those ubiquitous signs would indicate. Our experience would clearly be vastly different on a crowded hot day—can’t imagine negotiating Needle’s Eye with a long line of people in front of and behind us—so we say, see Rock City, but do it early.
We Saw Rock City.
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