Savannah, You Are Kinda Awesome

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Savannah, Georgia. Home to Southern charm, the Girl Scouts, and even Paula Deen. Boasting the claim of being the first planned city in America — and also one of the most haunted places in the country.

Yes, Savannah is pretty unique. And it's also pretty awesome.

Savannah

I visited Savannah for the first time about 7 years ago. It was just an afternoon trip from nearby St. Simon's Island, and we spent less than half a day wandering around downtown. It took less than an hour for me to start crushing hard on Savannah, though. And, by the time we left, I was already plotting my return trip.

Savannah City Hall

Yes, that return trip took a bit longer than I would have liked. But I finally got the chance to re-visit Savannah last month during a road trip through the Old South. My sister and I spent 3 days exploring Savannah slowly (VERY slowly some days thanks to the oppressive heat), allowing me to pinpoint all the reasons why I love Savannah.

So WHY is Savannah so awesome? Let me count the reasons…

The Green Spaces

Savannah is laid out on a grid system. But, unlike most other cities planned this way, many of Savannah's crossroads meet at leafy, moss-laden squares. Today there are 22 of these dotted around the city, each with a name and a story. They are great spots to catch some shade, and just sit back and watch a lazy summer afternoon go by. My favorite? Probably Chippewa Square, which is where Forrest Gump sat on a bench telling his life story while waiting for a bus.

Savannah
(Not Chippewa Square.)

It's also worth it to make a stop at Forsyth Park, which has lots of green space, a pretty fountain, and a nice cafe.

Forsyth Park in Savannah

The History

Savannah has centuries of history behind it. First settled by General James Oglethorpe in 1733, Savannah has weathered wars, hurricanes, and everything in between. One of the best ways to experience Savannah's history is to take a tour. Hop-on-hop-off trolley tours are very popular here, as are carriage tours. And, at night, you definitely should sign up for a ghost tour. Whether you believe the spooky stories you'll hear or not, a ghost tour is a fun way to learn about Savannah's most well-known legends.

Savannah Trolley Tour

If you have time, take a tour of a historic house, too. Savannah has a handful of historic homes that have been preserved and are now like mini museums. You can tour the home where Juliette Gordon Low (founder of the Girl Scouts was born), the Mercer-Williams house (of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” fame), and more. My sister and I toured the Owens-Thomas house. Built in the early 1800s, this home has a bridge connecting two parts of the upper floor, and had indoor plumbing years before even the White House did.

Owens-Thomas House Savannah

The Food

Savannah may not be on your foodie radar list. But perhaps it should be! While most people only associate butter-loving (now-disgraced) Paula Deen with the Savannah food scene, there are plenty of other amazing places to eat here.

Best pizza in Savannah
Pizza as big as my head? Yes, please!

Favorites usually include:

  • Mrs. Wilke's Dining Room — Traditional Southern dishes, served family-style at big 10-person tables
  • The Olde Pink House — More Southern fare served by perhaps the nicest staff I've ever experienced
  • Vinny Van Go Go's Pizza — Huge New York-style slices at City Market that go for less than $3 per slice
  • Leopold's Ice Cream — Named some of the best in the world

Leopold's Savannah

The Vibe

The thing I really love about Savannah is that it's a city without really feeling like one. There are no skyscrapers. You can walk just about everywhere. And tree-lined streets and leafy squares make it feel very relaxed. Savannah just has a good vibe.

Savannah, GA

And while Savannah IS a tourst destination, it doesn't ever feel like a crowded one. I think this is because all the “touristy” bits are integrated into the city and not separated from it. There isn't a designated tourist district (well, maybe River Street), and the historical areas aren't separated from the rest of the city like in other places I've been. City Market, for example, is touristy, but also a popular place for locals to grab dinner or catch some live music.

Savannah City Market

The Cemeteries

This might seem like an odd item to add to this list, but I'm a sucker for old cemeteries — and Savannah has its fair share of them.

Colonial Park Cemetery Savannah

Colonial Park Cemetery is located in downtown Savannah (you can walk there), and is actually almost park-like. Burials here date back to the mid-1700s, and include victims of Savannah's dueling era, as well as the city's Yellow Fever epidemic. The cemetery closed to burials before the Civil War, but still had a role to play. When General Sherman occupied the city, his troops used Colonial Park for their barracks. It is said that they emptied bodies from tombs, looted graves, and even altered headstones when they got bored. You can find evidence of this last part if you look hard enough.

Colonial Park Cemetery Savannah

Bonaventure Cemetery, meanwhile, is outside of the city, overlooking the Wilmington River. It is one of the most beautiful cemeteries I have even seen. Wander through the oldest sections for some truly stunning statuary and scenery. (More on this cemetery later!)

Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah

 

I can't say that there are a whole lot of cities in the U.S. that I would willingly go back to again and again. But Savannah? Savannah is one of those cities. There aren't a whole ton of attractions here. But the city is eye-catching and interesting enough on its own that it makes a great escape.

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Is Savannah on YOUR travel list?

 

 

*Note: Our stay in Savannah was sponsored by Visit Savannah. Big thanks to them for helping us truly experience this great southern city!

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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33 Comments on “Savannah, You Are Kinda Awesome

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  1. I fell in love with Savannah 10 years ago and I have a book that will be out in 2014.
    “A Cup Of Tybee” published by Tate Publishing.

    Hope you will read it!

      Awesome! Savannah is definitely an easy place to fall in love with.

    Glad you loved Savannah ~ we do too, so much. Not “Vinny”, actually Vinnie : )

      Thanks for the correction! And yes, definitely love Savannah!

    Beautiful pictures and great story. We love Savannah and Tybee and go each and every summer

      It’s definitely a place I would love to visit more often!

    Wow, Liz was just talking about how she wanted to visit Savannah one day. She wasn’t even sure why, she had just heard good things about it. That pizza looked yummy!

      Definitely worth a visit! Tell Liz her instincts are good!

    I’ve been dying to go to Savannah just for the haunted aspect, but also the food sounds absolutely delicious. I haven’t made a huge effort to get there yet but I’ll definitely get there at some point!

      Make sure you make it there eventually! It’s awesome. And if you like the haunted stuff, there’s PLENTY in Savannah!

    I’ve been loving these posts from the south! I’ll be going to Charleston and Savannah next spring. I was excited before but now I absolutely cannot wait! Your posts are making me impatient now. So thanks for that 😉

      Good to hear, Lauren! Charleston and Savannah are both awesome cities, and I’m sure you’ll love them!

    It’s such a fab city! I do have to say though that I’m partial to its competitor Charleston (I went to Uni there). Great shots!!!

      I really liked Charleston, too – both cities are so beautiful!

    It wasn’t on my list, but it sure is now! Those pictures have a warm, chill, welcoming vibe to them.
    It seems like a place where you just have to be relaxed.

      I think it would be definitely difficult to get stressed out while visiting Savannah.

    I loved this post!! I’m going to be making my second trip to the US next week, and will be heading for Hilton Head, SC before going onto New York City. We’re planning a day trip to Savannah from Hilton Head and, not really knowing too much about it, I’ve been researching furiously.

    It looks so idyllic, so quaint…you definitely sold it to me 🙂

    I’ve been trying to plan a trip with friends to Savannah for years now and they always back out at the last minute. I’m going this year & I’m planning to do it solo. If they wanna come along great, if not..their loss. This makes me wanna get there even faster!

      Go for it, Brandi! It’s such a cool and beautiful city – I’m already thinking about another trip there myself!

    I live just across the border in SC and wish I got down there more. There’s way more stuff to do there than my home town in Beaufort.

      Savannah is one of those cities that I always love visiting! It’s been a few years – I should probably plan a trip back soon!

    Hi Amanda! Your blog is always my primary source when I decide on a new destination. I am planning a 2 days trip to Savannah this fall and was wondering if I would miss out on much if I did not rent a car and just planned using my legs and public transportation within the city.

      You definitely can get by without a car if you stay centrally in the city! The only thing I recommend seeing that you can’t walk to is Bonaventure Cemetery, but you should be able to get there using public transport or maybe an Uber.

        Thank you Amanda – this is very helpful. I am looking forward to my visit.

    Wow. I was thoroughly enjoying your blog until I came across your reference to Paula Deen as “now disgraced”. I beg to differ, and, in fact, I think it’s just the opposite, thank you. Those vilifying her have disgraced themselves, revealing their own hateful nature toward anyone whom they don’t count as one of their own. As a former resident of the city (34 years), choosing it as a the place I wanted to raise a family, I just wish people writing about Savannah would leave their politics out of it. Your commentary sullies the city’s reputation, indeed.

      Sorry but no. Anyone who thinks it’s okay to still use racial slurs is the one with a “hateful nature.” If anything, it’s people who sympathize with racist statements that sully Savannah’s reputation.

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