Sweet Savannah

Another city in the U.S. I’ve always wanted to visit is Savannah, Georgia.  It’s consistently ranked in the Top You-Name-It American cities… top places to visit, top places to live, one of the friendliest… and now I know first-hand why!

Let’s start with where we stayed.  In a campground, of course, but this was another really cool coastal campground.  We spent three nights in Skidaway Island State Park – another first-rate (all except for the dated bath houses) state park that was not at all full… seems only us “full-timers” are camping here in the wintertime, and particularly the week before Christmas.  This site was a long, level pull-thru, making arriving and departing camp quite easy.  The tall moss-covered Live Oak trees created a nice shade canopy over our activities which, because the weather is really nice down here, included lunch outside at our picnic table.  :)

Charley's digs in James Island State Park just outside Savannah
James Island State Park just outside Savannah

It was recommended to us that we take the Old Town Trolley Tour as that was a good way to get around and learn about Savannah, and on weekends our state park is a pick up and drop off destination, so we took advantage of this and took the trolley to Savannah!  While this was a hop-on-hop-off tour, we found it most enjoyable to ride almost all the way around while listening to our driver / tour guide tell us all about this glorious southern town.

Southern cooking at its finest at The Pirates House

Another couple of recommendations we took and were were happy for the advice:  first, we ate lunch at The Pirates’ House.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that the classic southern specialties we were served were the best southern food we’ve ever had!  Fried chicken, greens, snaps, sweet potatoes, zucchini au gratin, biscuits, and so much more washed down with iced cold sweet tea.  Paula Dean has a restaurant here in Savannah, as well, but happy were we that we were steered to this place.

(Homemade biscuits, pecan honey spread (for our fried chicken) and sweet tea – now THIS is Southern comfort!)

The building itself dates back to 1733-34, just a scant block from the Savannah River.  Tales are told of men drinking their fiery grog with carefree abandon in this historic tavern, then waking to find themselves on a strange ship bound for ports half a world away; seems this was the remedy for shorthanded ships!

Savannah’s Historic District dates back to 1733 when founder James Oglethorpe was sent by England’s King George II to settle an area south of the Savannah River and create a buffer zone against both the Spaniards in Florida and the French in the Louisiana territory.  Oglethorpe laid the city out originally with four park-like squares around which the settlement developed.  This plan was continued as the city expanded over the next two centuries.  Twenty-one of what at one time was 24 squares still remain, around which lovely homes were built.  Fortunately many of these homes still stand today because Savannah was spared from the devastation visited by Sherman’s troops as they tore through the south on their March to the Sea during the Civil War.  [I’m picturing Scarlet O’Hara watch as her beloved city of Atlanta burns to the ground at the end of Act I of Gone With The Wind.]

Leopold's Ice Cream - voted 5th best in the whole world!
Leopold’s Ice Cream – serving Savannah since 1919!

The other recommendation we weren’t going to miss was having a scoop of ice cream at Leopold’s Ice Cream.  We were pleasantly full from our lunch, but deemed it a good plan to walk around the city and walk off some of our lunch to make room for our ice cream.  But then we recalled niece Kelsey’s belief that you always have room for dessert because you have a separate ‘dessert stomach’ just for desserts!  We opted for both exercise, then dessert, and were not disappointed.  Leopold’s has been making ice cream since 1919, and Savannah’s resident crooner, Johnny Mercer, even wrote a famous song about one of their flavors – Tutti Frutti!

We walked around Savannah for much of the afternoon, seeing and enjoying the Historic District before trolleying back to our campground.  It was a truly enjoyable day!

I haven’t read the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil yet – Mom just gave it to me at Thanksgiving to read – but apparently in the movie [staring two of my favorite actors, Kevin Spacey and John Cusack; I can’t believe I haven’t seen this movie either!] there are some scenes filmed in an old cemetery.  This would be Bonaventure Cemetery, a peaceful setting that rests on a bluff of the Wilmington River east of Savannah.  It’s a charming site that has been a tourist destination for 150+ years due to the moss-covered oak-tree-lined roadways, and unique cemetery sculpture and architecture.  There’s folklore, too, associated with the site and the many notable people buried herein.  Fred roamed the grounds for a couple of hours taking lots of interesting photographs.  Me; I strolled through and saw what I wanted to see, then went off to enjoy a latte at Starbucks (a rare treat these days) for a while before returning to retrieve my Ansel.  He’s got loads more terrific shots from this mystic place which sometime soon we’ll post on a site of his own, but for now, you can see my photos below.

I know I’ve said it before in my posts about some of the other wonderful places we’ve visited, but when you’re down South, make sure you give Savannah two or three days of your itinerary – it’s a gem of a place you’re sure to enjoy just as we did!

Hover your cursor over the two photos, below, then click on the arrows to scroll through some photos taken at Bonaventure Cemetery:

Bonaventure Cemetery