Known for its hospitality and charm, Savannah, Georgia, is a quintessential Southern city. Considered one of America’s first planned cities, Savannah overflows with history, art and architecture. The city definitely has an old-world vibe to it. If you have just one day to spend in “The Hostess City,” here are five things you should do.
- Check out the many parks and squares
If you want to get a flavor of the real character within the city, check out the nearly two dozen park squares that lie within the historic or Victorian districts. Savannah has a very walkable downtown, so you can park your car and walk to most of the sites you want to visit. Fare-free shuttle buses and a ferry provide transportation around the Historic District and its most popular tourist areas.
The popular 30-acre Forsyth Park is a must-visit, if only to see its famous fountain. The park is bordered by Gaston Street to the north, Drayton Street to the east, Park Avenue to the south and Whitaker Street to the west.
Other squares to see are Chippewa Square located at Bull and McDonough streets, made famous in the movie “Forrest Gump,” and Ellis Square, located at Barnard and Saint Julian streets next to City Market, where you can shop and eat to your heart’s content.
- Partake in Savannah’s culinary scene
Speaking of eating… whether you enjoy Southern comfort food or coastal seafood or anything in between, Savannah will not disappoint. The city is home to several notable and award-winning chefs.
Try out B. Matthew’s Eatery, which began as a deli and bakery and evolved into a full-service bistro in the Historic District. The modern chic décor of exposed brick walls and wooden floors highlight the two-story 1854 structure that once was a private home, a sailor’s boarding house, and a fruit market. Here, you can enjoy brunch every day. You can’t go wrong with the Chicken ‘n Biscuit (fried chicken, house-made pimento cheese, and homemade buttermilk biscuit topped with gravy) or the fried green tomatoes (hand-breaded with remoulade, garlic herb goat cheese and microgreens).
- Enjoy a historic museum
Among the many museums in Savannah is the William Scarborough House and Garden, a historic home constructed in 1819 and owned by the president of the Savannah Steamship Company. It now appropriately serves as the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum.
Visit nine gallery spaces, each containing maritime antiques, paintings and ship models representative of three centuries of ship building. The larger ship models include everything from colonial vessels and ironclads to the RMS Titanic.
- Walk through a cemetery
This is not a typical recommendation, particularly if you have only 24 hours in a city. But Bonaventure Cemetery is not a typical cemetery. Advertised as one of the world’s most beautiful cemeteries, it is a must-stop on any visit to Savannah.
Made famous by the novel and subsequent movie, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” the cemetery’s 100 acres have a charming haunting quality. Amongst the Spanish moss and azaleas, you’ll find some unique graves. Johnny Mercer, one of the most popular lyricists of the Great American Songbook era, is buried here. So, too, are generations of soldiers that fought in various American conflicts in the span of nearly 200 years. The cemetery hosts the second-largest area dedicated to those who were killed in the Spanish-American War.
- Visit a national park
Fort Pulaski National Monument should make the list of history buffs and national parks fans. The fort opened in 1829 and saw battle during the American Civil War. It also has been used in films, including Robert Redford’s “The Conspirator” and the action horror comedy “Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies.” Explore the area on foot. A number of trails meander through the tidal marshes and mudflats surrounding the fort.
By Shuan Butcher