Looking Forward to Chattanooga

I’ve just returned from a short trip to Chattanooga to get a preview of the site of our 2006 WPA conference and workshop in July, the Chattanooga Choo Choo Holiday Inn and Convention Center (http://www.choochoo.com/). Local Committee leaders Lauren Ingraham, Jennifer Beech, and James Inman and I took a tour of the meetings rooms where our conference sessions will be held and got a good look at many of the other features of the hotel developed around this historic site, including train cars converted into sleeping rooms and train station transformed into hotel lobby. After the tour, we met for about an hour of conference program planning, then caught the electric shuttle for a 10-minute ride from the hotel to downtown for lunch.

Later in the afternoon, my husband Leon and I took the Incline Railway up to the top of Lookout Mountain for a brief visit to Point Park, built to commemorate the American Civil War “Battle Above the Clouds.” The view from the railway and from the top of the mountain was spectacular on this later fall afternoon. I’m looking forward to seeing it again at the height of summer. When we returned to the hotel, there was still enough daylight left for us to enjoy a lingering walk through the Formal Garden, which includes an All American Rose Selection Garden, water garden, and herb garden. I’m hoping the blooming cycle of the 200 day lilies in the garden will coincide with the conference this summer.

This was my second visit to Chattanooga. Local committee members will have more to say, but based on my two trips, here are my recommendations:
Plan to add a day or two onto the beginning or end of your trip so you have plenty of time to explore the area: http://www.choochoo.com/attractions/attractions.shtml
Bring your family—there are many fun educational things for kids and grown-ups to do;
Seriously consider reserving one of the train cars for your hotel room;
Lot of airlines have direct flights to Chattanooga, but flying to Nashville or another city in the area and driving through the Smoky Mountains is another attractive option.

We'll have more information about the conference up on the website in a few days. Meanwhile, it's not too early to start planning your summer vacation...