With kids frolicking in a stream next to the world's biggest freshwater aquarium or bicyclists riding miles of riverfront trails, downtown Chattanooga offers one of the most family-friendly downtowns of any city in America, according to an online publication that writes about more than 500 U.S. cities.
As a result, the editors of Livability.com identified Chattanooga as one of the top 10 most livable downtowns.
"Those with a smaller companion or two will find their downtown of choice in Chattanooga," said John Hood, a spokesman for the Franklin, Tenn.-based publication. "The famous Tennessee Aquarium has made quite a name for itself in the maritime world, and is certainly worth a visit."
Kim White, president of the downtown development group River City Co., said Chattanooga transformed its downtown over the past 25 years "through public and private partnerships that helped build new parks, add public art and fund the aquarium and other attractions." Such amenities have helped the city's biggest employers - BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Unum and Cigna - to maintain their local headquarters downtown.
Livability.com also listed its hometown of Franklin among the top downtowns, but the others on the list stretched from Vermont to Texas and from Oregon to North Carolina.
The best downtown is in Indianapolis, Livability.com said.
"A good downtown, whether it anchors a big or small town, acts a little like an addiction," the online editors said. "Go once, and you can't resist going back for more."