Spanish moss dripping from live oaks…stately mansions exuding the charm of the 1800's…historic Revolutionary and Civil war sites. This is Savannah, Georgia. Classic yet cool, historic yet hip, this "Hostess City of the South" magically melds the old with the new.
SPANISH MOSS DRIPPING FROM LIVE OAKS
Savannah is truly a walking city. However, it is also a city that can be enjoyed equally by trolley, carriage, Segway, bicycle, or car. In other words, however you choose to see it doesn't matter. Just see it.
I arrived in Savannah by ship. It was my first port stop, on what proved to be a glorious 13-day cruise aboard Silversea's Silver Shadow. The ship docked at 8 AM and we had a full day and evening in the city.
There was plenty of time for two tours if you cared to experience as much as possible in Savannah: One on Silversea's Discover Savannah Tour where you experience Savannah without leaving the Old Savannah Tour bus.
The other on the Orange & Green Old Town Trolley, a hop-on hop-off trolley, that offers a stress-free, flexible way to see the city at one's own pace. Along the tour route, passengers can get off the trolley for optional activities, shopping, eating, etc.
Clang, clang, clang went the trolley…and we were off on a journey back to another era, touring Savannah's historic district, its sites, and its beautiful treasures. The historic district, the heart of Savannah, is famous for its cobblestone streets, beautiful gardens and magnificent architecture.
The fun-loving conductor shared his historic knowledge and his love for Savannah as he entertained with amusing narrative and facts about Savannah. The Orange & Green Old Town Trolley is a delightful union of transportation and entertainment. It is "Transportainment" at its best.
OLD TOWN TROLLEY
Some of the not-to-be-missed attractions in the city are the following:
The Juliette Gordon Low birthplace is affectionately known as the "Girl Scout Mecca". Juliette, nicknamed Daisy, was the founder of the Girl Scouts and lived out her childhood in the home that is now a National Historic Landmark. At this exquisite mansion, built in the early 1800's, you will learn about the history of the Girl Scouts, the life of its founder and that era in American History.
The Gingerbread House, built in 1899, is an outstanding example of "Steamboat Gothic gingerbread carpentry". Also known as The Asendorf House, it has been featured in many films and is one of the most photographed homes in Savannah.
THE 1899 GINGERBREAD HOUSE
Congregation Mickye Israel in Savannah, Georgia, is one of the oldest synagogues in the United States. On first glance, it could be mistaken for a church. With its slightly pointed windows, pinnacles, and stained glass windows it is a rare example of a Gothic-style synagogue. In 1878, the synagogue was consecrated on Monterey Square in historic Savannah. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is one of the great Roman Catholic Churches of the South. The stained-glass windows and delicate sanctuary arches are some of the most compelling aspects of the design in this French Gothic Style Cathedral located in historic downtown Savannah.
CATHEDRAL OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST
Owens Thomas House is one of a vast inventory of colonial homes that have been restored to their original luster. Some architectural design styles include Greek Revival, English Regency, and Victorian. The Owens-Thomas House is said to be one of the finest examples of English Regency architecture in America. Check out the beautiful garden, impeccably kept interior, and horse stables.
Once you have gotten your bearings from riding a trolley, carriage, Segway, bicycle, or car, the next best way to truly experience Savannah is to simply start walking.
A stroll down picturesque River Street will immerse you in Southern charm. This waterfront open-air mall, that was once the home of a thriving cotton industry, abounds with unique boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, and a drop-dead view of the harbor.
PICTURESQUE RIVER STREET
The monuments on cobblestoned River Street exude an abundance of history. The World War II also known as "The Cracked Earth", represents the conflict of a world divided. The Waving Girl, commemorates Florence Martus, who is thought by some to be waving to a returning sailor with whom she had fallen in love. The Anchor Monument is dedicated to all merchant seaman lost at sea. The African American Monument shows a family embracing with the chain of slavery at their feet.
Savannah City Market, the center of social life in the mid-1700's, was the place where fishermen sold their fresh catch of the day. People, from all around the city, flocked to the market to shop, socialize, and catch up on the latest gossip. Today, the lovingly restored City market is still a popular shopping and dining destination.
Forsyth Park is the perfect place for people watching. The 1858 Forsyth Fountain, designed after a fountain in Paris, is a focal point in this 30-acre park. Every year on St. Patrick's Day the city of Savannah dyes the water in the fountain green. Among other monuments in this most popular park is The Confederate War Monument, a large ornate column with a bronze soldier on top, dedicated to all of the men who fought on behalf of the Confederacy during the Civil War.
If you enjoy art and other cultural pursuits, the Telfair Museums will fill that bill. They are actually three different museums…the aforementioned Owens-Thomas House, the Jepson Center for the Arts and the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences. Together, their collections offer more than 4500 pieces of art.
JEPSON CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Savannah, the "Hostess City of the South" is a city steeped in history. When you visit Savannah, you will be immediately immersed in the time and customs of the Old South. Once dubbed "the pretty lady with a dirty face", Savannah has surely learned what to do with her makeup brush. Little wonder that she is one of the South's most treasured coastal cities.
To quote Savannah's hometown songwriter Johnny Mercer, "You got to accentuate the positive"…and Savannah certainly does that!
JANET STEINBERG is an International Travel Consultant, Travel Writer, and the winner of 40 National Travel Writer Awards.