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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40 Comments on “Savannah, You Are Kinda Awesome

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  1. Lived in Savannah for sixteen winters, on , The Landings. Grew up in Ohio, which is home but, Savannah is my true home. Love and miss the beautiful city and squares.

    I went to Savannah last weekend I really enjoyed myself I ate Paula Dean Restaurant the food was great!

    Savannah is a Beautiful peaceful place I try to visit at 3-4 times a year.

    Agree 100 percent about the attraction of Savannah. We have been to Savannah ten times and are anxious to go again next month. We love the city. Visiting and walking around the area never gets old. We also enjoy sitting along River Street watching the huge container ships.

    To your food tour list add Huey,s great food and reasonable

    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.

        I have to agree with the last responder. You probably have no idea what Paula Deen actually did that caused the media to try to ruin her. I too enjoyed the article until I saw how you tried to ruin and shame her all over again. Must you, really?? The woman said a word over 50 yrs ago after being accosted by a black person. She was honest about it in an interview when someone asked if she had ever said a racial slur. I’m sorry you feel the way you do, that if someone has ever said something, anything, years ago (I’m sure you never have) that they regret, they must be ruined and continue to be shamed. She’s actually a liberal Democrat which you probably didn’t know either. The plug for Savannah was nice but the double insult to Mrs. Deen was really low and I’m embarrassed for you.

          I’m entirely aware of “what Paula Deen actually did” – she basically said she was raised racist (and plenty of anecdotes from former employees suggest she definitely is), but was actually more disgraced by the fact that she was peddling ridiculously unhealthy food while hiding the fact that she had diabetes (until, you know, she got a sponsorship deal). This post was written in 2013 (right after the main Paula Deen drama), but there’s even less room for racism in 2020. In fact, I should probably update this post and not even mention Paula Deen at all!

    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.

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