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Tuning into Tennessee

With its New South mix of music, food and revitalized waterfronts, Tennessee is practically tailor-made for fun on and off the shoreline.

Boats lining the Riverwalk in Chattanooga.

Boats lining the Riverwalk in Chattanooga.

Chattanooga Visitors Bureau

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Talk to anyone about Tennessee and the conversation will usually boil down to a back-and-forth about music or barbeque. Well, we’re here to tell you that boating should be added to the dialog. A grand confluence of mighty rivers and sun-drenched lakes deliver onboard opportunities to all corners of the Volunteer State, with the quality of fishing, cruising and camping rivaling anywhere in the Midwest. Factor in the rejuvenated waterfronts found in many of the cities here, and you can see what we mean when we say Tennessee is practically tailor-made for fun on and off the shoreline.

Not only has this scenic town tucked between the mountains of southeast Tennessee and the beautiful Tennessee River been named УBest Town EverФ by Outside magazine, it’s also been voted one of the "Top 45 Places to GoФ and УBest Adventure Towns in the U.S." by the New York Times and National Geographic Adventure, respectively. And about two dozen other things from other media pundits. The heaping of praise is a little embarrassing, really, but you won’t hear us disagree.

You can’t miss the Riverwalk, part of Chattanooga’s redeveloped waterfront, which connects Coolidge Park (featuring a carousel, restaurants and shops), the celebrated Tennessee Aquarium (see our story on page 36) and Ross’s Landing near Chickamauga Dam. It covers 13 miles along the Tennessee River from end to end, so bring a good pair of shoes if you plan to go the distance.

Don’t feel like hoofing it? Hop aboard the aquarium’s River Gorge Explorer catamaran, which will take you on a guided tour of the spectacular Tennessee River Gorge, or ride the Fat Cat Ferry or Chattanooga Water Taxi to Maclellan Island, an 18-acre bird sanctuary with great blue herons, osprey and migrating warblers. Additionally, the Southern Belle riverboat invites you for daily sightseeing and lunch and dinner cruises.

Tie up at one of the marinas on either side of the Chickamauga Dam to be within walking distance of downtown. MarineMax Tennessee River is located at Ross’s Landing and has a transient dock, gas and diesel, restrooms, groceries and lodging. Erwin Marine operates Chickamauga Marina, off the main channel in an embayment just upstream of the lock, and Gold Point Yacht Harbor, a little east of downtown in a picturesque cove. Both offer showers, stores and other services for visiting cruisers.

About five miles downriver, Harrison Bay is home to Island Cove Marina & Resort and Chattanooga Yacht Club (private) and is adjacent to Harrison Bay State Park, one of the area’s top spots for hiking, fishing and mountain biking.

Mark your calendars for RiverRocks, a free outdoor festival celebrating the natural blessings of the Tennessee Valley, the health benefits of the activities they inspire, and Chattanooga’s commitment to environmental stewardship and conservation. It’s from October 4 to 13 this year, with more than 120 activities spanning the 10 days, including hot air balloon rides, hang gliding, climbing, hiking, paddling and obstacle courses.

Visit nearby Lake Winnepesaukah, an amusement park located in Lakeview, Ga. This summer, it will unveil a five-acre, multimillion-dollar waterpark with a lazy river, wave lagoon, flume body slides, enclosed tube slides, side-by-side racer slides and a splash park for toddlers. It’s not exactly a boating attraction, but who among us doesn’t love swimming and soaking up some rays?

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