One of America’s Greatest Cities
Recently, a friend emailed me about the winter we spent in the Savannah, Georgia area. Savannah is one of the great treasures of the United States--old, beautiful, historic, charming, gracious, and above all, friendly. This city offers a multitude of cultural and entertainment options to interest everyone in the family.
Steeped in History
Founded in 1733, Savannah served as the first state capitol when Georgia became a state. One of the great historic facts that the tour guides always point out is that when James Oglethorp founded the colony, he banned both slavery and lawyers. The early settlers had a reasonably good relationship with the Native Americans they met there and prospered as a major seaport. When the original city was planned, it included 24 parks located throughout the city so that you could stand in one and see at least two other parks. Twenty-two of the original parks remain, making Savannah one of the most pleasant cities to stroll through. Forsyth Park is famous for its elaborate fountain and is a gathering place for citizens at the new, dog-friendly Fort restaurant and community center in the park.
"Friendly" is one of the best descriptions for Savannah. Everywhere you go, you find people ready to help and suggest something you should see or do. The city has one of the most diverse and beautiful historic districts in the nation and many people live in the bustling downtown area. The range of art and cultural events and festivals is nearly endless and there is some event in progress most weeks of the year. There is too much to see and do in Savannah to include in one article. This is a sampling of the possibilities.
Top 10 Savannah Sights
1. Take the Historic Tour
There are several companies that offer the tour and it is by far the best way to see the city and become familiar with it. Most tours allow you to get off at different stops and pick up another bus later. Also, check out the free shuttle operated by Chatham Area Transit that runs around the city all day.
2. Visit City Market
A tourist-friendly area with a nice selection of restaurants, gift shops and galleries. You can also get a tour of the city by horse and carriage from here. Explore the newly reconstructed park next to City Market with its beautiful flower gardens and sculpture.
3. Take a Walk Along River Street and the Cotton Exchange
The original warehouse district and port area is restored and offers fantastic views of the river and its modern day ship traffic. Savannah is a bustling modern port and the ships glide by River Street and the Waving Girl Statue that greets the ships as they pass. The statue is a tribute to Florence Martus who greeted ships on her own initiative from 1887-1931. The tourist information center is located here and there are some excellent restaurants and galleries as well as free riverboat rides.
4. Visit the Telfair Museum and the Jepson Center
Located on Telfair Square, it's one of the oldest art museums in the country, it houses a wonderful permanent collection along with a constantly changing series of events.
5. Visit Forsyth Park and the Fort Visitors Center
This large park is a focal point of family activity with its tennis courts, ball fields, children’s playgrounds and the newly rebuilt Fort with a visitor’s center and café that is dog friendly. You can even get your pal his own snack.
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6. See Some of America’s Most Beautiful Homes
There are beautiful homes everywhere you turn. Just drive along Victory Drive and admire the private homes that are so carefully preserved. In the spring when the azaleas are in bloom, it is breathtaking.
7. Historic Home Tours of the Old Mansions of Savannah
Just a few are: The Owens-Thomas House, The Mercer House, The Sorrel Weed House, and The Andrew Low House built in 1849. There are many more to admire.
8. The Juliette Gordon Low House
It is the birthplace of the founder of the Girl Scouts and the house is operated by them as a memorial and museum.
9. The Colonial Cemetery
Dating back to the 1730s, this is a special place with a long and sad history and some unique stories all its own to share with visitors.
10. Take the Ghost Tour
This evening tour takes you though the old colonial part of the historic district and hear about local legends, house hauntings and even the occasional house exorcism in Savannah.
Always Something Fascinating in Savannah
That is only scratching the surface of Savannah. I have traveled to the city over four years and find something new and fascinating on every trip.
Savannah is also the home to the second largest St. Patrick’s Day parade and festival in the United States. It is the home to the prestigious Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Hunter Air Force Base is located there and it is only about an hour to Hilton Head Island.
The city is a favorite location for moviemakers - the setting for Forrest Gump, Something to Talk About, and Savannah is where the true story of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil took place, as well as being where the movie was made. The Mercer House is where the murders took place.
Savannah promises to give everyone something to fascinate and enthrall and everyone will bring home a favorite story and meet someone they will remember.