Floating Hotel with 1920s Elegance and Riverfront Views
When it was built in the Roaring Twenties, the Delta Queen looked like it was designed to carry royal passengers, especially because of its mahogany and brass-lined grand staircase. Soon, the ship was forced into a more rugged lifestyle, serving as floating barracks during World War II and traveling more than 5,000 miles to reach New Orleans via the Panama Canal. Though it's now retired from active duty, the boat has been designated a National Historic Landmark. It also serves as a floating hotel, docked beside Coolidge Park on the Tennessee River with panoramic views.
The boat’s Paddlewheel Restaurant looks out over the river, but the interior itself isn't too shabby to look at, either. Furnished with Tiffany glass pieces, the dining room sits near the grand staircase, which is crowned by a chandelier. Here, chefs serve southern-inspired fare such as shrimp and grits ($18.95) or fried catfish with hush puppies ($18.95). The dining room often hosts live performers. And during summer months, staff members step on deck to play the calliope, an organ powered by the ship's original steam engine.
In your guest cabin, you'll find a bottle of wine and a pair of stem-less souvenir glasses imprinted with the ship's golden seal. President Jimmy Carter famously stayed in one of the cabins near the ship's sun deck, and all the ship's cabins have an elegant feel. Paneled walls and carved furnishings decorate the standard cabins, and deluxe cabins add wall-to-wall windows trimmed with lace. In the morning, dine on a breakfast buffet of pastries, french toast, and hickory-smoked bacon. Guests will receive a sandwich lunch at some point during their stay; request to have it prepared for a picnic.
Chattanooga, Tennessee: Museums and Parks Along the Riverfront
Located right along Tennessee’s border with Georgia, Chattanooga was once a railroad hub, inspiring the song "Chattanooga Choo Choo." Today, the city has scrubbed its industrial-era grime and looks greener; there's an electric-powered tram through the city, pedestrian bridges, and tree-lined avenues.
The Delta Queen floats along the North Shore, an up-and-coming neighborhood with independent boutiques and restaurants. Here you’ll find Coolidge Park, a downtown hangout where kids can hop on a century-old carousel (two tickets included) and play in the interactive fountain.
Chattanooga is home to one of the world’s longest pedestrian bridges: the Walnut Street Bridge, which stretches over the Chattanooga River with its wrought-iron trusses. From here, you can take a scenic stroll toward downtown attractions, such as the Tennessee Aquarium and the Hunter Museum of American Art.
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