From an underground sea to a giant flea market, Sweetwater packs everything you need for a fun-filled weekend with the family.

Situated less than 100 miles northeast of Chattanooga, Sweetwater offers a wide range of activities from farm tours to museums and plenty of delicious food in between.

With a population of less than 6,000 Sweetwater is still the largest city in Monroe County, meaning it offers an escape from Chattanooga without sacrificing the amenities of home.

Sources:,, the Los Angeles Times

At a glance

* Founded: 1875

* Population: 5,933

* Famous names from the area: Butch Baker, country music artist; North Callahan, historian and journalist and Paul Dean Holt, former NASCAR Winston Cup driver.


Sweetwater was first established in the 1850s on a series of lots sold by Isaac Lenoir, a local politician and son of the founder of Lenoir City. One legend says the city’s name comes from descriptions of the local springs by early settlers who saw a scenic valley surrounded by rich farmland.

Lost Sea Adventure

The Lost Sea is America’s largest underground lake and the temperature inside the enormous caverns remains a pleasant 58 degrees Fahrenheit year round. Wide, sloping walkways take you on an adventure to a variety of interesting rooms, some of which are among the widest, highest and largest rooms of any caverns in the Southeast. Upon reaching the lake, visitors finally board large glass bottom boats for a trip on the Lost Sea and a chance to observe some of the largest rainbow trout in the United States.

* Where: 140 Lost Sea Road

* When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. most months, with hours varying by the season

* Pricing: Adult: $19.95; child: $10.95 (ages 5-12); free for children 4 and under.

Get some grub

* Dinner Bell Restaurant and General Store: After more than four decades in business, the Dinner Bell is sure to please anyone looking for quality comfort foods at a reasonable price. Though the name might not suggest it, the restaurant serves breakfast and lunch as well. For lighter fare, a salad bar is also available. (423-337-5825; 576 Oakland Road)




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