After a trip last March to Charleston, my husband and I decided we hadn’t seen enough! For this year’s vacation, we added a few days in Savannah. The weather was perfect. The South Carolina part of the trip is on the Charleston forum.
We landed in Charleston, picked up a rental car, got some sandwiches near the airport, and made our way down US 17 to Savannah. It took just a little longer than two hours for the easy drive. We had never been to Savannah before, so we drove right to the Visitor Center and boarded an Ogelthorpe Trolley for a tour of the city. The tour was a great introduction, I learned a lot, and got a good “lay of the land.” It was a little corny. When we hit a bump, the tour guide said it was not her fault, it was not the driver’s fault - it was the asphalt. Groan! The cost was $15 per person, plus tip.
We stayed at the Hampton Inn on Bay Street. Typical Hampton (which is a good thing) with a nice breakfast and a great location. Our room was on the top floor, with a view of the river. If you like quiet, you may want to request a room on the back side. I could hear traffic all night (Bay Street is very busy) but it didn’t bother my husband. The cost was $172 per night total, including taxes, plus an additional $15 for parking each night. Thanks to Hilton rewards, we only had to pay for one night.
We had some time to kill before our dinner reservations, so we walked down to River Street and bought candy at River Street Sweets and Savannah’s Candy Kitchen. Dinner was at Olde Pink House, and I now understand why this place is so highly rated. Our waitress recommended the BLT fried green tomato salad, which was amazing. My pecan crusted chicken, sweet potato, and collards were just as good. I had never tried collards before but now I love them! A basket of mini corn muffins and mini biscuits accompanied the meal. I really enjoyed the biscuits - they tasted like they were brushed with just a hint of sweetness - really delicious. I had been looking forward to dessert, but I was just too full. Our waitress told us to feel free to look around the restaurant. There was live music in the basement, but it was very dark with more of a bar atmosphere. There is a lovely porch on the second floor, and outdoor seating is available along Julian Street.
I wanted to avoid the mid-day heat so we got an early start to Bonaventure Cemetery. Two police cars with lights were blocking one entrance to the parking lot, but once inside, it was very peaceful. I had picked up the Historical Society Guide at the office, but I wish I had had some kind of suggested route for a self guided tour. The brochure is helpful since it includes the plot addresses for famous citizens, including Little Gracie. We wandered around and stopped if we saw something interesting. There were some beautiful trees with what looked like big red roses; I found out later that these are camellias. Bonaventure is a lovely place, and worth the short drive from Savannah. We spent nearly two hours here.
Once we got back to Savannah, we headed to the Owens-Thomas house and bought the Telfair Museums pass. The cost is $18 with the AAA discount, and allows one admission (over a weeklong period, but we only had one day) to the Owens-Thomas House, Telfair Academy, and the Jepson Center. The Owens-Thomas House is beautiful, and we had a very knowledgable guide who shared lots of interesting facts.
While heading to lunch, we stopped at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist, a really beautiful church worth a visit.
There was a 45 minute wait for the Gryphon Tea Room, so we walked across the street to the SCAD store, which features artwork designed by SCAD artists. We spent a long time here. We also looked at the plaques by the Green-Meldrim Home and Madison Square, and admired the exterior of St. John’s Episcopal Church. Gryphon Tea Room was wonderful! I had the afternoon tea service with little chicken salad and cucumber sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and a variety of sweets and fresh fruit. The atmosphere is lovely, and we enjoyed talking to our waitress, who was a SCAD student.
Back to touring, and our next stop was the Telfair Academy, which is a traditional art museum in a beautiful old building. I enjoyed the special exhibit featuring works of native son West Fraser, and also seeing the Bird Girl statue. We spent an hour here, but realized that we need to move on to the Jepson Center across the street. I am not a lover of modern art, but I was enthralled here. I’d love to live in a space like this: white, clean, uncluttered, with lots of light streaming in. The Leo Villareal exhibit was mesmerizing. According to the museum website, he is “a pioneer in the use of LEDs and computer-driven imagery and known both for his light sculptures and architectural, site-specific works.” His works reminded me of light brite, the children’s toy. It was fun to be in the dark exhibit halls and see the colorful lights, some subdued and changing slowly, while others flashed wildly. There was also an exhibit on video games as an art medium, with opportunities to play! The 5 p.m. closing time came too soon - we could have spent a lot longer than an hour here. Of the three sites, this was our favorite.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at Wright Square Cafe, where we bought 5 pieces of chocolate from the display case. Really surprised at the price - $13. It was good, but way overpriced. We enjoyed taking a break on a bench at Wright Square to eat our chocolates after all the walking we had done. We also got a chance to wander around City Market and watched an artist paint as she talked on her cellphone!
In the evening, we had tickets for the Savannah Winds Symphony playing American Band Classics at the beautiful Lucas Theatre. This performance was part of the Savannah Music Festival. Savannah Winds is a community concert band consisting of locals from high school age up to musicians in their seventies. It is amazing to hear over 100 people playing on a stage before you. My favorite was when they performed Stars and Stripes Forever, and the director encouraged the audience to clap along. An enjoyable evening and just $18 for a ticket.
We had a late dinner at Saigon on Broughton Street. We weren’t too hungry, so we ordered summer rolls with a delicious peanut sauce, pot stickers, and fried bananas. Very nice, with friendly service, and only $17.
I felt sad when we left Savannah. It would have been nice to stay at least another day. I loved just walking around, seeing the squares, the shops, the azaleas, and the beauty of the city.