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Learn about Savannah, Georgia by reading Savannah-Where History Lives in A Modern City by Charlie Spence, Travel Writer. It features a mini, but thorough tour of the destination, plus all you'll need to know to plan your trip including getting there, objective information on places to stay and eat, and things to do. At the end of the article, we've provided a summary of the contact information for your easy reference. Enjoy!

Savannah—Where History Lives In A Modern City


by Charlie Spence, WTA Member and Travel Writer

Settle into one of the elegant carriages and hear the clip-clop of the steeds pulling you along the streets lined with beautiful homes, and as you glance at the tree-shaded squares you will believe you’re back a hundred years ago in a charming southern community. Actually, you’re in Savannah, Georgia.

Historic preservation has long been a part of Savannah, the first planned city in America. It was first laid out in 1773, the year that General James Edward Oglethorpe landed with 120 colonists and claimed the area for King George II. Georgia became the last of the original 13 colonies. Oglethorpe laid the city out in a series of grids that allowed for wide-open streets and many shady public squares and parks.


Fountains are just a few of the interesting sights in Savannah’s 21 squares.
Photos Courtesy Savannah Convention and Tourist Bureau.

There are 21 squares, giving the city a serene, genteel atmosphere of a small town. By all means enjoy one of the carriage tours that slowly take you through these well-maintained squares in the historic district passing the massive oak trees. You’ll stop at many of the structures where your coachman/guide will point out the significance of the spot. You might want to drop in at the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the nation’s first Girl Scout troop. The first headquarters of the Girl Scouts is also here with a museum and gift shop. Visit this area and focus on the book and motion picture Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The city has more than 20 tour companies and a variety of routes to suit your specific interests. These include Civil War, Negro Heritage, architectural and haunted history. Once you’ve gained the broad view from the carriage ride, take a walk through the area filled with quaint shops and bistros.


Fine old houses along the cobblestone streets take you back to the genteel days of the Old South..
Photos Courtesy Savannah Convention and Tourist Bureau.

For a full look into the past, see the eighteenth and nineteenth century architecture of the King-Tisdell Cottage, the Andrew Low House, the Davenport House, and Thomas-Owens House. Or, visit one or more of the fascinating museums. The historic district was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966. Thousands of buildings and markers in the area mark the Old South’s history, including the oldest African American church in North America.

You can continue that feeling of living in the early days by visiting the area’s only surviving examples of plantation life. Out the Avenue of the Oaks you can journey further back in time and see how the early settlers tamed the wilderness.

Although deeply immersed in the historic, Savannah is also up to date in everything from its nightlife to its bustling port. You can sit at a window table in one of the restaurants and see the huge cargo ships slowing moving up and down the river to port, so close you can almost touch them.

Several of the nightspots offer the cool Savannah jazz and blues; some feature the songs of the city’s native son, Johnny Mercer; while others present bluegrass, swing, or pop music from the eighties and nineties.

Outside the City

Savannah itself is such a fascinating place to visit that you might not want to leave it, but there are attractions up and down the coast that beckon. Just east of the city is Fort Pulaski National Monument, site of Robert E. Lee’s first military assignment. Places like Old Fort Jackson, Fort Screven, and Fort McAllister stir memories of the War of 1812 and the Civil War.

But maybe you’re more interested in today than years past and ways to do that are take advantage of some of the many attractions along the coast. Like golf?  Play a few rounds at the Savannah Golf Club, the oldest golf course in the United States. It is just one of the many fine courses in the area. Or, head over to Sea Island and be treated royally like the world leaders who gathered there for the G-8 Summit in 2004.

For a bit more activity, go scuba diving around the sandstone reef near a national marine sanctuary. The area along the coast also offers some of the best fishing, or you can build up your courage and do some sea kayaking.

Another water outing you can enjoy is to paddle along the inland waterways of the Altamaha and Ogeechee rivers or in the backwaters of the Okefenokee Swamp. While admiring the ancient cypress trees you might see rare and endangered species.

Whatever your pleasures for a few days or a longer stay, Savannah will welcome you with traditional Southern Hospitality.

Details

How to Get There

The Savannah International Airport is an excellent facility, served by eight airlines. It is just 20 minutes from historic Savannah. Rental cars are available as are authorized ground transportation companies.

If you are driving, Savannah is just a few miles off Interstate 95, the main north-south east coast highway.

Where to Stay

The historic area offers a wide selection of hotels and bed and breakfast facilities. There are small, European style hotels and large, grand hotels. The Suites on Lafayette, for instance, offers luxurious apartment suites on a nightly, weekly, or monthly basis. The Suites are actually in three different historic buildings on Lafayette Square in the heart of the historic district. Another is The Mansion on Forsythe Park. It was built onto an existing 1888 mansion. There are other B&Bs and historic inns. Some are in private homes. Whatever your choice, you will find many of them within walking distance of the many sights, and of the center of the city’s nightlife.

You can check rates and book your room and rental car with WTA’s Online Travel Booking Service, http://worldtravelers.org/travelservices.asp. Hotel savings can be significant.

Where to Dine

Where to dine could be the most difficult decisions you will make because there is an abundance of fine, colorful restaurants. You will surely want to visit somewhere you can excite your taste buds with low country cookin’. Have a bowl of creamy she-crab soup. Follow this with fresh collard greens or a bowl of grits. After enjoying these down home meals, you can find a myriad of other fine restaurants with an international flare in the area, many of them nearby in the historic district.

Notice: This information is current as of November 2005. It is recommended that you contact the numbers, and/or visit the web sites above to determine any changes to the information.