In early April, my husband and I took a trip to the South to visit Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia. We both went in thinking we would favor Charleston, but I left absolutely in love with Savannah. If you are ever looking for a romantic getaway, this is the place. I would venture to say it is one of the most underrated U.S. cities. It is very possible to achieve one or more free days in this special place and here’s how I did it.
We arrived early on a Saturday afternoon, peak hours for the hustle and bustle of the city, which is my favorite way to experience something new. We searched around for our Air BnB apartment (major money saver!) while trying to find parking and were completely caught off guard by how many small parks there were. At first, we thought we had scored the best location EVER because our front door was steps from a park. As we continued to search, we realized there were parks everywhere. We later learned there is a total of twenty-two throughout the historic district. If you ever get the chance to design a city, I suggest you take this approach. It provides so much character and beauty.
Let me start by saying that because of the parks, history and architecture, if someone told me that I couldn’t spend any money except for eating, I would still go. It is that breathtaking. I wanted to walk around everywhere I could all day everyday, but it rained on our second day. This wasn’t a huge bummer, only because we live in Southern California, so rain is always quite exciting. My only complaint is that the streets were quieter than the first day and I like it better when it’s busy.
Parts of Forrest Gump were shot here. It’s where Jenny lives at the end of the movie, and there is a scene showing her working in a diner. (I think I’m developing a Robin Wright theme on this blog.) The apartment we rented was directly above this diner and let me just say…they are very proud of being one of the shooting locations. It’s plastered all over the windows. I was very excited. It’s funny how we’ll go out of our way to see things from movies in other cities, but drive by similar things in LA without giving it a second thought. I don’t have any great photos of the park where Forrest sat on the bench and delivered his “life is like a box of chocolates” line. But just know that they removed the bench and it’s in a museum in town if you want to see it for $7.
The main street for shops was a Broughton, a block North of where we were, so we walked along that on the first day. Money saving tip: location matters! We did not have to use our rental car once our entire stay in Savannah, saving a lot on gas (and believe it or not Angelenos, meters are completely free on weekends). Try to book something that allows you to walk where you need to go. We stumbled upon this interesting store which can be best described as “Anthropologie on crack”. I don’t know if you knew this, but shopping is free if you don’t buy anything. There are a ton of storefronts and book shops in this city to explore.
Like Charleston, there is a lot of history in Savannah that you can learn about without having to pay for a tour. There is also a balcony where the Declaration of Independence was read. Flannery O’Connor grew up here and you can see her house, they also give tours, which we didn’t take. Apparently Walt Disney loved the look of the Hamilton-Turner Inn so much, he modeled The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland after it. The Mercer Williams House, featured in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt is also located here. We considered taking a tour, but heard it was disappointing for fans of the book and considered a rip-off by most. I do want to read the book and return someday to take it anyway. Lastly, for anyone who was a Girl Scout, or has an affinity for the organization, it was founded here. Shockingly, there is also a tour for this (I think there is a tour for everything in this city), if that’s your thing. We were quite satisfied with a photo-op on the outside.
Forsyth Park is the king of all parks in Savannah, probably the size of all the rest of them put together. There are Spanish Moss along the perimeter, which is the classic tree around these parts. The park is also surrounded by insanely gorgeous Georgian, Greek and Gothic Revival homes, to name a few. You could spend an entire day just exploring the architecture this city has to offer. I kept imaging what it would be like to live in one of those houses and look out on this picturesque scene from your fabulous window.
I would return to this city in a heartbeat if the cause arises. It is well suited for any age group and very affordable on a budget. There are so many wonderful free things to take in. And if you want to spend a little money, I highly recommend taking a trolley around the town and do not miss Planter’s Tavern beneath The Pink House. We went there twice because it was the most special place in town. There is also an entire Riverfront to walk along with pirate boats, candy factories and tourists galore. Savannah should be in everyone’s top ten list of U.S. places to visit. I will never forget the precious time I had there. I miss it just thinking about it!