Travel Thoughts by Kim
Let’s go on an adventure together….to Savannah, GA!
Let me just say, “I LOVE SAVANNAH”!!! Of all the amazing places I’ve been, I can honestly say there are only a couple that made me say, “I think I could live here happily ever after” with an instant “at home” feel, and Savannah is one of those places. It makes me sad, right now, to think that I’ve only been there twice. I do believe I need to remedy that.
Both times I visited Savannah, I stayed on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina and drove into Savannah, so I can’t help you with ideas on where to stay, if you want to stay right in Savannah. The first time was for a business trip – a co-worker and I attended a seminar on Hilton Head. We flew into Savannah airport a day early and rented a car, so we spent our first day acting like tourists around the beautiful city.
Unfortunately, it was a chilly, rainy day and we didn’t have any more time to return for more sight-seeing, so didn’t really get to enjoy it fully. My second visit was with a friend in February 2011 and the weather was PERFECT and we walked and trolleyed all over the city and saw as much as we could see. I was living in NC at the time, so we drove my Mustang (oh, how I miss that car) down for the trip. We stayed at a beach resort on Hilton Head that my friend had a time share with and drove over to Savannah each day we were there.
Since I mentioned Hilton Head, I will add that it is another really nice place to visit. It is a beautiful island community with wonderful shops and restaurants and, I hear, good golfing (can’t say, myself – not a golfer). It made for a great combo trip. The drive on US 17 into Savannah is about 40 minutes or so and very pleasant…..well, except for the Talmadge Memorial Bridge!
This is a very tall bridge with a twisty approach when coming upon it from Hilton Head to Savannah that is a very intimidating sight. It’s not that bad once you get on it and the approach from Savannah back to Hilton Head is much more calm, but, man….seeing it coming up from the SC side is a real “take your breath away” moment. I would recommend the combo trip – very nice! The link to the blog post at the end of this article also includes photos of Hilton Head.
Savannah is a gorgeous city built for walking and walking is the best way to see it. We went to the Visitor’s Center and gathered a bunch of brochures and just started walking. The historic district consists of a well laid out pattern of twenty-two squares in four main sections – Along the Waterfront, The First Squares, Squares of Luxury, and The Booming Westside. On our first day, we parked in metered parking and walked the entire lower portion of the historic district – Along the Waterfront and The Booming Westside sections.
Savannah was established in the mid-1700s with the intent to provide a buffer zone between the Spanish pushing northward from Florida and the English colony of South Carolina. The squares were uniquely designed to give Savannah a strong military advantage and are now lovely parks and memorials to the rich history. James Edward Oglethorpe started the colony with four squares and, by 1851, it grew to twenty-four squares with twenty-two remaining, today. The city is truly a walker’s dream….and a history buff’s idea of heaven.
During our days in Savannah, we learned a lot about the wonderful history. The gorgeous mansions, the cotton exchange, the monuments, the shops, the industry, and so much more filled us with wonder and awe. Each square is a block with a beautiful park in the center and the mansions or shops or whatever surrounding it. The City Market is amazing. It is in the middle of the city, but feels much more like a park. In fact, we really didn’t feel like we were in a city anywhere we went. We may have crammed a lot into a few days, but it was such a lovely, relaxing time that we hardly noticed until we looked back on all we accomplished.
My very favorite part of Savannah is the Riverfront district. The buildings are old and the streets are cobblestone with trolley rails and the river views are stunning. There are some really great shops and restaurants, but the main attractions are the monuments and memorials along the edge of the river. Among them is one called “The Waving Girl”, honoring Florence Martus. Florence waved a handkerchief by day and a lantern by night at all the ships entering and leaving the port of Savannah from the porch of her home on Elba Island. It is said that she never missed waving at a single ship between 1887 and 1931.
There is so much to see and do in Savannah – a haunted drug store on the most haunted street, an eerie cemetery brimming with history, the mansions, the restaurants, the riverfront, the movie locations, and on and on. An absolute MUST do: There is an awesome candy shop with locations in both the City Market and on the Riverfront where you can purchase fresh, warm pralines that will melt in your mouth and make you feel like you died and went to heaven. The food at all the restaurants we chose (in both Savannah and Hilton Head) was absolutely incredible – including a very rustic tavern called “The Pirate’s House” that used to be frequented by pirates and sailors back in the day.
We even got to see Forrest Gump! On our last day, we took a trolley all day to save our feet and Forrest hopped on asking if anyone knew where Lt. Dan was because he was looking for him. What a hoot!
Take a trip to Savannah – you won’t be disappointed – like I said, it is one of only a couple places that I visited where I felt like I could make it my home and be instantly happy! But, for now, you can visit my blog post for more stories and photos from Savannah: