Savannah – The Hostess City

Everyone said Savannah was great, but we needed to see it for ourselves. Now we can say from first-hand experience that Savannah is indeed one of America’s great cities, welcoming visitors like the hostess she is.  Our week in the area was filled with history, architecture, and natural beauty that surprised us at every turn.

We based ourselves at the relatively new CreekFire Motor Ranch, which put us about 20 minutes from historic downtown Savannah. Creekfire is truly a resort with a heated pool, kids pool, lazy river, gym, lake, on-site bar and restaurant and more.

We even enjoyed a live band one night while sitting out by the lake. It was so nice that we’ve already booked a return visit next year!

In Savannah, we decided to get oriented with a tour. This time we chose a bike tour, which took us from one side of the city to the other in about two hours. Our guide was well versed in the history of the city, its 22 squares, historic homes, and churches. Many of the places we visited were featured in the popular book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by Berendt, and my book club friends will likely recognize a few of these pictures.

The bike tour gave us a good foundation for exploring the city on other days too. The American Prohibition Museum opened our eyes to the social, economic, and political impacts of restricting people’s choice to imbibe. Of course, Savannah was a mecca for moonshine and bootleggers. 

A stunning place to stroll is the Savannah Riverfront. Originally a bustling port for the cotton industry, now the old port buildings, roads, and ramps are now a focal point for shops, restaurants, and hotels. Even Bob and Mia enjoyed our riverfront walk.

Another must-see stop in Savannah is the hauntingly beautiful Bonaventure Cemetery, where Savannah’s history is buried. We joined noted guide and historian Shannon Scott on a two hour exploration of the cemetery which was first established in 1846.

Originally designed as a Victorian cemetery with winding pathways, lots of trees and grass areas, Bonaventure has been a gathering place for family picnics as well as a place of comfort for the bereaved. Probably the most famous residents are songwriter Johnny Mercer and writer Conrad Aiken.

A trip to Savannah is not complete without a visit to Wormsloe Historic Site, the colonial-era estate of Noble Jones, one of the area’s first settlers. The former plantation is the site of the oldest standing structure in Savannah. The ruins of Jones’ 1745 tabby house still overlook the Savannah River and the property was held by his descendants until the state acquired the land in 1973. Most striking is the mile-long archway of live oaks that usher you into the plantation. It’s what you picture a southern plantation should be. 

One reason we put Savannah on our itinerary was so that Steve could run his first live marathon since the start of the pandemic. On Saturday morning he rose early, drove out to nearby Skidaway Island and ran 26.2 miles in about four hours. He was rewarded with a medal, new sunglasses, a t-shirt, and claim to running a marathon in Georgia. He’s now marathoned in 19 states and counting…

Our time in the Savannah area coincided with the annual St. Patricks Day festivities. While the annual parade was cancelled due to COVID-19, there was still plenty of Irish spirit, especially out on Tybee Island.

On Tybee we learned about the island’s early military history, including the American Revolution, War of 1812, Spanish American War, WWI, and WWII. The Tybee Island Light Station, originally built in 1773, provided guidance to mariners in the past and now gives tourists sweeping views of the Atlantic and Savannah River. We enjoyed the 178 step climb to the top, as well as our tour of the Keeper’s Cottage. 

On our way out of Tybee we also stopped in to take a peak at Fort Pulaski. One of a series of forts along the Georgia coastline, the fort was built after the War of 1812 and was, for a time, under Confederate control. Once taken by the Union army, the fort eventually became a prison for Confederate officers. So much history…

Full exploration of Savannah and the surrounding area takes much more time than we allotted. Next time, we’ll spend more time sitting in the peaceful squares, enjoying the world-famous restaurants, and learning more about this fascinating part of America.

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