Even if you are not interested in music, there is still plenty of reason to visit Savannah. It first got on my radar when I saw the film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. It’s always fun to read about a place while you are visiting so I bought a copy of the book in Savannah. I would highly recommend it. The book is far superior to the film and the author (John Berendt) provides a lot of insight into Savannah.
I had always envisioned Savannah as a grande dame of the mythical South, one of the few parts of the United States I had not yet seen. This is definitely Confederate country but Savannah is closer to Austin and Portland than to the old Deep South, at least the parts that I checked out.
I am very interested in history, architecture and all manner of artistic expression so the Historic District seemed the perfect place to hang out. It’s also where all the Savannah Stopover events occur. It’s a perfect place to play tourist.
What is astonishing and commendable is that this area actually exists in the grand form you will find it in 2018. Like most of North America, the 1950s saw young families rush for the suburbs using new highways and the historic centre was abandoned and the historic homes became rundown and the neighborhood’s crime rate rose. Many buildings were demolished.
Then, everything changed. Seven local women formed the Historic Savannah Foundation to purchase and preserve the Davenport House, saving it just 24 hours before the scheduled demolition. They mobilized others and saved and restored many historic homes. Most of them are now inns or tourist attractions. A few even sport ghosts. If you aren’t staying in a “ghost” inn, you can take a ghost tour.
While I wouldn’t recommend staying in historic inns while doing the Savannah Stopover as you miss some of the benefits, I would definitely recommend them when you have an easy schedule and can take advantage of all the extra amenities, which generally include breakfast, pre-dinner wine and appetizers and post-dinner port and dessert.
I stayed in two different inns and both were excellent but the offerings were a little different. At one, I had my own separate entrance. At both I had a large room filled with antiques and history.
The staff were amazing.
I think southern hospitality is a real thing. There was an extra level of charm to many of my encounters and the accent is seductive. The inns I stayed in were Eliza Thompson House and the Gastonian. Eliza Thompson House is closer to the action of the Historic District while the Gastonian is closer to Forsyth Park. The attractions of the Historic District are walkable from either inn.
There are some tourist attractions you can check out but it’s a small city so the prices for the small
museums seemed a bit steep and I was worried I would be disappointed so I spent my time wandering the streets from square to square. Savannah has a European feel and there are small squares every few blocks. They are filled with statues, flowers and benches and many are surrounded by stately mansions.
The most spectacular statue and flower place is Forsyth Park. If you read the book, you will also want to look for the Mercer-Williams House.
You can take a riverboat cruise but some other tourists at the inn said it was boring and I took a steamship up the Mississippi in New Orleans so I stayed on shore.
It’s not healthy to live in the past too much but Savannah allows you to indulge in a little nostalgia and spend some time pretending you lived in a different century (but with 21st century plumbing and food! 😉