When you talk about Savannah or Charleston, people tend to have strong preferences for one or the other, although the cities are somewhat similar. Although I loved Charleston like french fries, I think Savannah takes the cake in my opinion, largely because of the diversity available. It feels like several cities in one, which makes touring it twice as fun.
I mentioned all the squares of green dotting the city in my last post, and while they’re amazing, it gets even better. Savannah also has a couple bigger parks that you really need to check out.
Emmet Park is a long strip of green right above the riverfront. Stand at one end of it, and look down through the avenue of live oaks lining it, and be blessed. Or lie on the grass like we did, and look up into the trees and take a little nap, if you have extra time to kill. It’s a great place to stop and just be a while if you’re tired of walking, because it’s right in the middle of everything, and it’s such a restful spot.
We went to Forsyth Park Saturday morning and bought a bit of breakfast from the farmer’s market which we ate upon the green (and wet) grass. There’s not a big variety there, but the charm of the park and the deliciousness of our butter crunch lettuce with pimento cheese and spinach bread made up for that. This park is big, and there’s lots of room to join in a soccer game that might be happening, or to spy on the actors filming there who give you judging looks if you get too close, or to just walk and enjoy the plethora of blossoming trees and historic homes lining the park. There are nice bathrooms, statues and trees, wide walkways, and free public transport to take you back to downtown.
Colonial Park Cemetery
I may be on my own with my love of cemeteries, but I think anyone who remotely likes history would find this place enjoyable. This place is old, very old, and it’s just fascinating to me to read the headstones and give a moment of remembrance to people who are long forgotten. My favorite part was the back wall which is lined with ancient stones that have been misplaced, or maybe it’s from the graves they dug up to make room for more people. Whatever the case, it’s fascinating.
Savannah is built on a bluff, and instead of smoothing it out and building the town on a hill, the city planners took advantage of it, so the main part of town is about a story higher than the riverfront. You can access it from either end by a steep little road, by an elevator at one strategic spot, or my personal favorite- you can go down any number of crooked flights of historic steps and tada, there you are.
I couldn’t decide how to describe the difference in the main town and riverfront then, and I still can’t quite. If you’ve ever gone snorkeling, you’ll remember how when your mask touches the water, suddenly you feel like you’ve entered a completely different world. In the same way, descending those steps was the entrance into a completely different vibe.
The main part of Savannah is sprawling and grandiose, in a comfortable antique sort of way. It feels like the kind of town a classic southern belle would be quite at home in, hosting gracious garden parties and attending balls in her hoop skirts and golden hair. In fact, it would hardly feel surprising to see a scene from “Gone With The Wind” unfold before your eyes.
But go down the steps to the riverfront, and suddenly you’re in a bustling, crowded little street, with cobblestones and shops everywhere, the hustle and commotion of tugboats and freighters on the river, and plenty of wide-eyed tourists like yourself, taking in the sights with you. It’s gritty and a little dirty, and there is so much to see. Rosie recommended we be down there as the sun set, which was just the best idea- one I recommend you try too. Night falls and the street lamps turn on and fancy couples go by, dressed up for their riverboat dinner date nights. The mood shifts and if you’re anything like me, you could spend hours there, just watching people and soaking up the atmosphere.
Tips for You
To save money:
- Park for free on the street south of Forsyth Park, then take the free trolley up into town. You’ll save money, and the trolley really is fun to ride. It goes by every ten minutes or so, so there’s not too much waiting around.
- When you visit the riverfront, wait to eat till you get back to the main part of town. You pay a lot for the view there. Of course, if paying for a view is your cup of tea, be my guest!
- If you are as easily entertained as I am, you can ride the little ferry across the river for free. It goes in a triangle, so it’ll make two stops, then drop you back off at your original destination.
To fill your belly:
- Coffee- Savannah Coffee Roasters does things right, from the atmosphere to the drinks.
- Breakfast- Goose Feathers Cafe made a great eggs benedict on a croissant, I thought.
- Lunch- Joe’s Homemade Cafe is a bit outside of the main city, but the greek salad and almond cheesecake I had there were to die for, and the proprietor was as friendly as could be. Maybe you can hit it on your way out of town.
- Dinner- Savannah Seafood Shack is close to the riverfront, so if you watch the sun set there, you’ll be close by once you’re ravenous. It’s delicious.
- Feeling fancy- The Olde Pink House is a popular spot, and with good reason I hear. I was too cheap to eat there, but if you want a luxe night out, this is your place.
What you really ought to see:
- A freighter going by on the river. The size of them is incredible, and the low horn reverberates in your chest. Pretty cool.
- Savannah’s Candy Kitchen on the riverfront is pretty cool because you can watch them making candy, and besides, there are free samples. What’s not to love?
- Not to beat a dead horse, but Savannah Coffee Roasters, Savannah Seafood Shack, and Forsyth Park should be on the top of your list. Like I mentioned, you can ride the trolley up from Forsyth Park, but it’s also close enough that you can walk, and the walk is lovely. So many beautiful houses.
Have I persuaded you yet that you should visit Savannah? Or maybe you already have; if so, what was your favorite part?