1.Enjoy Wine Over Water (WOW!): This annual October benefit run by Chattanooga’s only nonprofit historic preservation organization, Cornerstones, offers three hours of wine tasting as you stroll across one of the longest pedestrian bridges in theworld. Whether you prefer prosecco or pinot noir, sake or sangria, you’ll enjoy sipping with a view — and the ticket price ($60 to $70 depending on when you buy) is easier to swallow when you remember half of the cost is tax-deductible! (Bonus: In 2012 it coincides with the 3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival, a free event with dozens of performers.) www.wineoverwater.org, www.cornerstonesinc.org, www.3sistersbluegrass.com
2. Embrace Classic Kitsch: From the legendary Lovers' Leap to the countless gnomes hiding among the crevices of Rock City Gardens, an afternoon on Lookout Mountain will have you dreaming of pixie dust and wishing on shooting stars. Gaze at a 100-foot waterfall from the “Enchanted Trail” and take advantage of the photo opportunities as you tour the millions-of-years-old rock formations. The first official visitor arrived 80 years ago and the city is celebrating with all kinds of special events. Rocktoberfest and a cornfield maze top the list of fall attractions. www.seerockcity.com
3. Call Your Artistic Bluff: This hamlet adjacent to downtown puts a creative stamp on Chattanooga. More than a collection of traditional art galleries, it’s a neighborhood filled with coffeehouses and courtyards where you can relax after taking in the exhibits at the city’s signature museum, the Hunter Museum of American Art. Check out the String Theory Series that brings world-class chamber musicians to perform in the lobby on six Thursdays between October and April. Your inner artist will also love the River Gallery Sculpture Garden! www.bluffviewartdistrict.com, www.huntermuseum.org
4. Head for the Head of the Hooch: One of the largest and most colorful regattas in the country happens in Chattanooga in November. More than 1,600 crews are expected to compete November 3-4, racing down the Tennessee River. Besides the official teams, this event attracts great outdoorsmen and women from around the world, ready to kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or just cheer on the competitors at the Riverfront at Ross’s Landing Park, behind the eclectic Tennessee Aquarium.
5. Be Mountain Bound! Fall is a great time for active travelgirls to leaf-peep while rock climbing, caving and hiking in the surrounding mountains. Families may want to consider taking in the scenery from a train car, with the help of the Tennessee Valley Railroad. Beginning November 17th, you can even get to the North Pole from Chattanooga! North Pole Limited train rides include storytelling, sing-alongs and, of course, Santa. www.outdoorchattanooga.com, www.tvrail.com
5. Deck the (Ruby) Falls: Venture 1,120 feet underground on Lookout Mountain and see what’s billed as the largest and deepest U.S. subterranean waterfall open to the public. For November and December the popular attraction adds holiday music, lights, crafts and more to create a Ruby Red Christmas. www.rubyfalls.com