Savannah's Got Charm

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The Owen-Thomas House is one of Savannah's most popular historic homes.

Known for its rich history and Southern hospitality, Savannah is a quaint gem of a city located just a few hours from bustling Atlanta. Just a few months ago, this editor spent a weekend exploring Savannah’s culinary scene, savoring all of its Southern staples—including fried green tomatoes, grits, pecan pralines and more—which you can read all about in Recommend’s August issue. But besides some pretty delicious food, the city also offers some fun, interesting and even quirky activities definitely worth checking out.

For the History Buff Established in 1733, Savannah has a storied past—from its days as a busy port famed for exporting cotton, to its role in the Civil War— showcased through its  preserved centuries-old house museums, vintage storefronts, historic landmarks and other venues, including one of the oldest railroad repair facilities in the country and the oldest standing brick fort in Georgia.

A favorite way to see the city is by taking a tour. In fact, the city offers more than 20 tour companies specializing in everything from historic homes and gardens, to war landmarks.   During Recommend’s visit, we particularly enjoyed Old Savannah Tour’s Historic Overview On/Off trolley tour. Not only does this tour take your through popular spots such as the lovely historic squares, the Cathedral of St. John, River Street and City Market, with over 25 trolley stops, it’s also a convenient way to move about Savannah’s many boutiques, restaurants and museums.

Be sure not to miss a stop at Telfair Museums. Founded in 1883, it is the oldest public art museum in the South. Located in the heart of Savannah’s historic district, Telfair encompasses three buildings: the Telfair Academy and the Owens-Thomas House—two National Historic Landmark buildings—and the modern Jepson Center. The Telfair Academy, a former family mansion, was adapted into an art gallery in the late-1800s and now houses a vast collection of 19th and 20th century American and European art.

For more information, including museum hours and admission rates, visit telfair.org.

City Spooks Dubbed as “America’s Most Haunted City” by the American Institute of Parapsychology in 2002, Savannah has its share of ghost stories. The famous Sorrel-Weed house, for example, is one of the city’s first landmark homes and has been featured on TV shows about the supernatural, including SyFy Channel’s “Ghost Hunters” and “Taps.” The Pirate House restaurant—said to have been frequented by pirates in the late-1700s—is also well-known for legends and ghostly hauntings.

By foot, carriage or bus—even one by hearse—ghost tours in Savannah are plentiful and a must-do during your visit. The city has a number of historic cemeteries and slave burial grounds to explore, as well as well several other homes said to be inhabited by the paranormal.

Island Living After spending a few days in the city, we recommend a visit to Tybee Island. Situated just a few miles from Savannah’s historic district, Tybee boasts five miles of pristine beaches and a laid-back attitude where flip flops and bathing suits are the norm. Dotted with colorful cottages, local shops, eateries and art galleries, Tybee is quisentential island living.

North Beach is home to the Tybee Museum & Lighthouse—Georgia’s oldest lighthouse—and the North Beach Bird Sanctuary. South Beach, meanwhile, is where you’ll find surfers, the Pier & Pavilion and plenty of restaurants.

For more information on travel to Savannah, go to savannahvisit.com. And be sure to check out the article “Scrumptious Savannah,” appearing in the August issue of Recommend.