Last May my sister and I travelled from Washington state to Georgia to watch our brother graduate from basic training. After his graduation from Fort Benning he immediately had to head home back to Washington. Fortunately another sister lives in central Georgia so we had a wonderful few days hanging out with our sister, niece and nephew. The end of our Georgia trip concluded with a girls trip to Savannah for a night. We only had one day in Savannah, but it was enough to spark a love for it! I know it won’t be the last time I visit.
I used some points I had accrued through staying at Choice Hotels and we spent the night at Comfort Suites Historic District. The hotel was modern and updated and included a free breakfast as well. The location was at the base of Talmadge Memorial Bridge and close to River Street, although probably too far to walk to. The hotel does have a free shuttle though that will bring you to popular locations and it departs frequently. When you are ready to be picked up there’s a number you can call and the shuttle will bring you back to the hotel too.
Price: Free (if I didn’t have points though it would have cost us $127 for 3 people)
Fort Pulaski National Monument
It was too soon to check into our hotel when we initially arrived in Savannah, so we decided to make a trip further east to see this old Civil War fort. Fort Pulaski was sieged by Union soldiers in 1862 by use of cannons, you can still see some of the holes and destruction they caused. Now a days, a cannon is set off every so often, unbeknownst to us! We heard it before we could see it, which gave us quite the scare.
The fort is located on an island (Cockspur Island) and then there is a moat that surrounds the fort as well. It was unlike any old military fort I had seen before and it was well restored. It is on the list of National Register of Historic Places and has been filmed in a few movies as well.
Price: $7 per adult (Active duty military and under 16 yrs old are free)
Fort Pulaski is an easy and quick stop if you are making your way to Tybee Island, which was our final destination. I guess technically I had swam in the Atlantic Ocean in Puerto Rico, but I didn’t realize it at the time. So, to me, this was the first time setting foot in the Atlantic Ocean! Tybee Island is a cute beach town which would be fun to spend a few days relaxing. Parking was a bit full, but we managed to find a spot after awhile.
After spending a little time on the beach we took to higher grounds and explored the Tybee Pier and Pavilion. There were people fishing from the pier, what looked like a wedding reception being set up and a few places to grab a bite to eat. I can only imagine how beautiful it would be catching the sunrise here!
After Tybee Island we returned to Savannah to check into our hotel and get some food.
If you are in Savannah then River Street is where you want to spend your evenings! If you are looking for shopping, restaurants, cafes or bars then this is where you will find it. The street is along the Savannah River and is constructed with 200 year old cobblestones.
There was a seafood festival going on when we were there, so there was a live band playing and stands set up along the riverfront. There is only a 1-way street on River Street and it was really slow moving, and parking seemed to be greatly lacking. If it’s possible for you to walk to River Street or take a shuttle like we did, that would be best.
Most of the restaurants on River Street had extremely long wait times when we arrived in early evening. This is definitely a place you want to make reservations at if possible. The Cotton Exchange Tavern & Restaurant was recommended to us by the shuttle driver, and it had a short wait time so we decided to eat there. We certainly weren’t disappointed! The Cotton Exchange was a great opportunity to try authentic Southern cooking, and in the settings of what use to be an old Colonial cotton warehouse.
We tried fried tomatoes, fried gator and I had (my first!) shrimp Po’Boy sandwich. The cocktails here were really fresh and interesting as well. I would definitely recommend the Cotton Exchange if you are looking for some authentic Southern food on River Street. And while we found this area to be rather expensive, the prices here were quite reasonable.
Price: We paid about $15 per entree
Forsyth Park is the largest park in Savannah and is a social hub for the city. I can see why. The park is beautiful and peaceful, with Spanish moss covered oak trees lining the paths. At the heart of the park is a lovely fountain, Forsyth Park Fountain.
There is also a large Confederate Monument that was dedicated to all the men who died fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War. I had never been to a Southern state before this trip, so it was a really unique experience seeing historical sites from a different point of view. It’s easy to feel disconnected from history when you are reading it in a book. But seeing it in person it puts into perspective how heartbreaking the Civil War was, for both sides. A lot of sons, brothers, fathers and husbands died.
I don’t know if Savannah is a city that has a lot of festivals (like another favorite city of ours, Milwaukee) but we ran into another festival here. The Humane Society’s 15th Annual Doggie Carnival was going on at Forsyth Park, so there were adorable dogs everywhere!
Parking was limited around the park, so we ended up parking down a street lined with beautiful Victorian and Colonial style houses. We walked around the neighborhood for awhile just admiring the beautiful historic houses. Honestly, just walking down these streets was one of my favorite parts of the trip! These houses are incredible to look at.
The idea of visiting a cemetery while traveling sounded totally whacky to me, but it was rated high on TripAdvisor so we decided to give it a chance. What an eery and absolutely stunning place! The oak trees were somehow even taller here with even more Spanish moss hanging from them. We could hear crickets chirping and the air was slightly breezy, otherwise it was absolute silence here.
The cemetery started as a family plot back in 1802!! It officially was recognized as a cemetery later in 1847, and it has since been added to the National Registry of Historic Places. It’s amazing to think that some of the first men who were laid to rest here were affected by the American Revolutionary War. We don’t have this depth of American History in Washington state, aside from of course Native American history.
Have you been to lovely Savannah, Georgia before? If not, is it on your bucket list?