AAA Editor Notes
Rock City Gardens is 5 mi. s.w. on Lookout Mountain, following signs from I-24 exit 174 or 178. The man credited with inventing miniature golf stars in the story of how a personal retreat became a symbol of American tourism. Garnet Carter purchased a large tract of land atop Lookout Mountain for residential development in the 1920s. While he built a mountaintop home, wife Frieda landscaped the grounds, weaving walkways over, under and around natural rock formations and planting native flowers and trees beside the paths. Carefully placed statuary completed the mood of a charming secret garden with whimsical fairy-tale touches.
The housing development was scrapped and a tourist attraction that has never ceased to amaze guests was born in the early 1930s. Ever the entrepreneur, Carter hatched the marketing scheme of the century when he sent one of his handymen across country to paint “See Rock City” slogans on roadside barns. Carter descendants operate the attraction today.
Rock City features more than 400 native plant species and panoramic views 1,700 feet above sea level. The Enchanted Trail leads through wonders such as Grand Corridor and Needle's Eye en route to Lover's Leap, site of the See Seven States view. Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Village display 3-D scenes from fairy tales and nursery rhymes. Enchanted Garden of Lights, held the Friday before Thanksgiving to early Jan., 6-9 p.m. (closed Christmas Eve), features more than 500,000 lights and some 30 holiday scenes with music.
Food is available. Time: Allow 2 hours minimum.