Favorite thing: Parts of "Forrest Gump" were filmed in Savannah, much of the story takes place as Forrest Gump, played by Tom Hanks, sits on a bench in front of Chippewa Square telling his story. I'm sure there are many tourists wandering through the square looking for "the bench" but don't bother, the movie bench is housed at the Savannah History Museum and there is no bench at all where the movie was filmed, just some pretty flowers.
Favorite thing: It's almost a prerequisite that you have to read "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil", also known as "The Book", before heading to Savannah. I had read it many, many years ago and started to reread it before heading to Savannah, I didn't quite finish it but it was interesting to read in conjunction with the trip. I think the author may have taken a few liberties with the truth, in fact says as much at the end of the book. But it's still an entertaining look at some of the eccentric residents of Savannah and a murder. Or was it? That information died along with Jim Williams in 1980. Of course, "The Book" has been capitalized on in the form of tours featuring the sights in the book. I'm not quite sure where they take you but certainly the Mercer-Williams House where the murder takes place is on it. They may also take you by Clary's where Luther Driggers decides whether he is going to have breakfast, Club One where Lady Chablis still does her act, the Hamilton-Turner House, one of Joe Odom's many residences; and Bonaventure Cemetery which gives the book its title.
I've traveled to Savannah several times, and I have to say the historic district is a very safe place to walk and explore. Before my first trip, someone suggested when I go, to plan a walking tour by starting at Bay Street and walking south on Bull all the way to Forsythe Park. You get to experience lots of shops, and the beautiful city squares this way, and get a real feel for the historic district.
The Savannah History Museum on Martin Luther King Blvd. would be a great place to see some Civil War relics, and I HIGHLY suggest taking one of the many tours offered in town. The walking tours are lots of fun, but if you'd prefer not to walk, there are lots of trolley and carriage tours that will get you up to speed on some of the history about town.
The Lady and Sons is a good place to eat, as are many of the restaurants on River Street. Our FAVORITE is Mrs. Wilkes dining room on Jones Street. It is only open at lunch time (11-2 I believe) and only takes cash, but you'll get the TRUE Southern dining experience there. No menu, just pass around lots of good home cookin' at the table with others. Great way to meet people. We also like the Pirate House on E. Broad Street. They have a delicious buffet at lunch, and a very nice menu for dinner. We've also had a wonderful meal at Belford's in the City Market.
My husband's favorite haunt in town is the riverside. He loves sitting there watching the big ships come in and go out........and I get to shop at all the shops on River Street while he does that!
Be SURE to either take a tour to Bonaventure Cemetery, or drive out yourself. It's NOT to be missed!
Fondest memory: I just LOVE walking through the squares in town. It gives one the feeling of being a part of this old city.
With so much tree cover over the city, I imagine Tybee Island is a real treat for the people of Savannah. It's about a 20 minute drive outside the city...lots of summer homes, mud flats, and an entertainment strip...loads of hotels and motels.... typical summer playground.
The part we found the best was the beach. It's a beautiful stretch of sugary sand with dunes, a pavillion, a board walk and plenty of room to stretch out or skip through the water.
Unfortunately January isn't the best time to visit. Hot weather probably brings a zillion tourists and a lot of partying all over the island.
The sunset was excellent.
There is also a Tybee Island Lighthouse Station & Tybee Museum which might be interesting to see. We didn't take the time for it... the weather didn't lend itself to summertime actiivities.
Favorite thing: I was struck by the architecture of this temple.... Mickve Israel, founded in 1733. At home we seldom see a temple with this type of architecture. I wished I could have gone inside to tour it, but noone was there. The sign tells us that this is the oldest now practicing Reform Judaism in the U.S.
Favorite thing: There are loads of restoration projects going on all over the place in Savannah. We had the feeling it had fallen into a decline and was coming back up again. One street was going to become a string of condos behind the facade of several old business buildings including the old newspaper building. It's great to see such imaginative things happening in the reuse of old structures.
Favorite thing: There is a wealth of Greek Revival architecture here... but other styles are scattered throughout the district as well. If you are a lover of historic architecture you'll go bonkers trying to see everything. Better not be driving while you are looking. Best to walk and see it all.
Favorite thing: You couldn't take a picture of every beautiful example of iron work in Savannah. There are so many fabulous entrances, railings, scrollwork adorning more scrollwork. It's a pleasure to just walk the streets of the district discovering something beautiful everywhere you turn.
We marvelled at this tiny little house on Greene Square. It stood beside a much larger house which was approx. as old... and wondered if the little one was built for a foreman or sea captain while the larger home belonged to the master. ?? Fun to wonder about.
You can see from the side view that they have accomodated modern living with an air conditioner whose compressor fills the side yard.... and there is an extension on the back of the building to give a little bigger turning radius. Guess you couldn't be too much of a collector in this house. :-)
Named in honor of General Nathaniel Greene, an aide to General George Washington during the Revolutionary War, Greene Square is one of the most beautiful squares in Savannah.
Located in one of the oldest sections of the neighborhood... there are a number of tiny 1700's houses obviously owned by the less wealthy in the early years of the city. Because of their size, they don't accomodate today's living standards very well, so I suspect that is the reason most of them are not yet restored. They are marked with plaques, however, so I am hopeful that someone will realize the value of their history and care for them. One of them had a building permit posted which means they are planning to work on it soon.
In another tip, I'll give an example of a little house restored.
As I mention elsewhere the city seems to identify its neighborhoods by which square is the closest to it. In this case, we found several interesting shops and cafes near the Chippewa Square. There were coffee house frequented by lots of college kids, a cigar store, and I enjoyed the Savannah Art Works... where I found yet another pair of earrings to add to my vast collection. Everything was made by local artists... of which there are a zillion because of the art and design school which dominates the district.
This is the neighborhhod where you would find the little British Pub named Six Pence. (see my restaurant tips)
Incidentally, Chippewa Square is where Forrest Gump's bench was placed during the filming of the popular movie by the same name.
I don't really have a 'favorite' thing about Savannah. I really don't like the place. I go because I have to. I don't find the people especially friendly, it's too hot, it's rainy, touristy and getting around is a nightmare.
Fondest memory: Being with the ladies of Zona Rosa naturally.
At the restored Central of Georgia Railroad Station, you will find the Savannah Visitors Center. This is a great place to begin because it provides all that you will need to explore the historic district. You may wish to rent audiotape tours or do as we did and pick up free walking-tour-maps, metro-area maps and guides, lots of brochures, and discount coupons for attractions. For $1.00, you are able to see a very good slide show which introduces the city sights and the history of Savannah. It runs periodically throughout the day.
It's another place where the people are quite knowledgeable and willing to answer any and all questions if at all possible.
While you are there, go to the adjacent train shed to see the Savannah History Museum where you can see a multimedia presentation and an 1890 locomotive. Admission fee is about $3.00.
Fondest memory: I was quite impressed with the kindness of the people who worked at the Savannah Visitors Center. They never rushed us or acted impatient with our mundane questions.
It sets the tone of the city to be treated so well. The enthusiasm that was shown was also refreshing.
Address: 301 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. (formerly W. Broad Street)
Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church: On Calhoun Square at East Gordon and Abercorn this 1890 Methodist church commemorates John Wesleywho actually founded Methodism here in Georgia.
Christ Episcopal Church
Located on Johnson Square down from City Hall, this was the first church in the colony. Its current sanctuary was built in 1838.
Congregation Mickve Israel Temple
This imposing structure on Monterey Square is the oldest congregation now practicing Reform Judaism in the United States. It was founded in 1733 in Savannah by a group of Jews largely of Spanish-Portuguese extraction. The congregation built the first Jewish synagogue in Georgia in 1820, and the present synagogue in 1878 (this one is a former Christian church, which is ironic)
The First Baptist Church and First Bryan Baptist Church are two halves of the oldest African-American Baptist congregation in North America (1773).
The First Baptist Church (Montgomery St., facing Franklin Sq.; present building 1861) is thought to be one of the oldest black congregations in America. It was begun by a slave named Andrew Bryan in 1788. He was pastor until his death in 1812. Members who split from this church formed the First Bryan Baptist Church (575 West Bryan Street), and an original frame structure was replace in 1873 by the brick building of today.
Fondest memory: I like the fact that many of Savannah's congregations date back to the city's founding which was 1733. The ones that I have listed above still remain in use today...now that is amazing.
I found many places to learn more about African-American History and the Civil Rights Movement. You, too, might find them valuable as well as interesting.
A few blocks south of Savannah History Center on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard is a new museum called Ralf Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum. It's named after the long-serving preacher of Savannah's First African Baptist Church I found the reconstructed lunch counter from Levy's Dept Store (scene of boycotts and protests against the store's refusal to serve Blacks). They also have film footage of Civil Rights workers in and near Savannah.
460 MLK Jr. Boulevard
Beach Institute was established in 1865 by American Missionary Association as a school for freed slaves. It now serves as a museum of African-American art.
502 East Harris Street
The King-Tisdale Cottage is named after its owners, Eugene & Sarah King, and Sarah King and Robert Tisdell. The cottage is typical of an 1890s middle-class African-American coastal home.
Fondest memory: I loved this little Victorian house with its dormer windows, gingerbread woodwork, and lovely porch. The cpKing-Tisdell Cottage Foundation owns and operates the Negro Heritage Trail Tours, and the Cottage is part of that tour. There are films, lectures, oral history, publications, art, and history affiliated with the tour and the cottage.
At 41 M.L.King Boulevard is a three-story brick house in the Classical Revival style that for almost a century housed the West Broad Street School for African American Children. It was the first black public school in Savannah (1878).
All of these places and tours are quite worthwhile and open a visitor's eyes to the truthful history of the African-American in Savanna.