Georgia’s Oldest Jewel ~ Savannah

We have settled into Skidaway Island State Park, a convenient location for exploring historic Savannah.  Large pull-thru sites beneath arching canopies of live oaks greet you as you enter the campground and  seven miles of trails wind through maritime forests, a relaxing place to spend a week.  Just beyond the borders of the park, on the island, lie 40 miles of biking/walking trails, meandering through genteel southern neighborhoods, through forests of oak and pine, and past salt marshes.  While we have spent most days “spinning our wheels”, we set aside plenty of time to wander the historic streets of Savannah.

Savannah’s history began in 1733 when British General James Oglethorpe founded the colony of Georgia as a place to resettle Britain’s poor who were housed in debtors’ prisons.  His design for Savannah was patterned after a contemporary military camp, a central square surrounded by eight city blocks, which formed a ward.  This concept grew until there were 24 squares and of those, 22 still exist today, making Georgia’s oldest city a jewel unlike any other in the US.

All the squares are part of the historic district, encompassing a one-half mile radius, each serving as memorials, with statues or fountains surrounded by lush foliage.   Historic churches and 18th and 19th architectural styling of every kind can be found in the blocks lining the squares, along with azaleas and dogwood adding a breathtaking lushness to the ambiance.  These squares are the heart and soul of Savannah.   The streets surrounding the squares allow for a continual flow of traffic, at a nice pace, making this a pedestrian-friendly city. We chose to spend our days walking it but there is a trolley service available as well, allowing tourists to hop on and off at their leisure.

During one of our many strolls through historic downtown, we found ourselves in Washington Square, where the oldest homes in Savannah can be found. A smartly dressed man, walking a lovely little dog, proceeded to introduce himself as Fred and invited us to take a tour of a lovely historic home that dated back to the late 1700’s, still featuring the original hand-hewn oak walls and hardwood floors.  This historic home was where Fred, his wife Susan, talented artist and author, and adorable rescue dog Lucy live.  Susan was gracious and let us intrude on her day, and we walked away with an autographed copy of her book, Spirit Willing.  

Fred, Susan, and the lovely Lucy
Fred, Susan, and the lovely Lucy

Few cities with such a colorful past would be complete without sightings of restless spirits wandering the cemeteries late at night and Savannah is no exception.  Colonial Cemetery, the oldest in the city, is said to be one of the most haunted places in Savannah, where Voodoo ceremonies once took place in the wee dark hours.  This is the final resting place for many of Savannah’s earliest citizens and a signer of the Declaration of Independence is also buried here.

Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah’s most famous, thanks to being prominently featured in John Berendt’s best-seller Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, is also alleged to have ghostly sightings.  Bonaventure stands on the grounds of what was once a plantation.  Legend has it that the main house caught fire during a party and the host calmly suggested the guests pick up their crystal glasses and take them outside to continue the party.  As they watched fire consume the house, the partiers  smashed their empty crystal against an oak tree, and it is said that on quiet nights you can still hear the laughter and the shattering of crystal.

We can’t attest to roaming spirits, but the grounds where generals, poets, governors, and Academy award-winning lyricist Johnny Mercer lie in eternal rest are hauntingly beautiful.  Many elaborate crypts overlook the Wilmington River, with live oaks, azaleas, dogwood, and roses surrounding intricate headstones and life-size statues.

Since Savannah’s history is rooted in the American Revolution and Civil War eras, we decided a visit to Fort Pulaski National Monument was in order, a fort meant to guard the river approaches to the city.  We have seen many forts during our travels and I must admit to many holding little interest for me, but this one was  different.  Strategically built on Cockspur Island and named for Count Casimir Pulaski, Polish hero of the American Revolution, Fort Pulaski was thought to be impregnable.  However, during the Civil War a Confederate garrison was forced to surrender the fort when a Union army used rifled cannons during an attack (new military technology for that age), landing mortar dangerously close to the magazine storing 40,000 pounds of gunpowder.   The scarred wall of the fort remains today.

We were so impressed with Savannah’s quaint elegance, her azalea-lined cobble stone streets beneath emerald-green canopies, and her historied architecture.  Should you decide to visit, don’t leave without a stop at Leopold’s Ice Cream, ranked one of the top 10 in the world.  I leave you with a few other images of Savannah, as we say farewell to this fascinating city and move on to a sister city, Charleston, South Carolina.

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66 thoughts on “Georgia’s Oldest Jewel ~ Savannah

  • My goodness! That is certainly a place I would love to visit, especially this time of year. I love American history. I’m so glad that you allowed so much time to explore this area. Your photos and descriptions are wonderful, as usual.

  • Now that sounds like a place I would love to visit…. ghosts and all… I love the old historical places that have a strong story to tell, the fort looks well and truly bombarded .. lovely share LuAnn, thank you…

    • My pleasure Bulldog! Are you back from a prone position and ready to start capturing beauty with your camera? Hope you are well on the road to recovery.

  • The last time I was in Savannah was more than 20 years ago — I’ve been meaning to return ever since, and now know that I must go in the spring, because I have to be there when the azaleas are blooming. How beautiful! You really know how to capture the essence of a place, LuAnn.

  • From nature’s beauty, to creepy, then eeek place, and ending with some colors… I love it! The holes on the wall is so awesome. The bit of destroyer in me wants to do just that. Ooops. 😀 But I’d totally go for the ice cream place, you bet your bleep I would.

    • I am totally drawn to the paranormal and would love to take a tour of a cemetery at night, but not alone. That is the bit of coward in me. 😉 Those that restored Fort Pulaski did an amazing job and keeping the scarred wall intact was perfect for telling the story. Guess we need to keep you away from it, eh? 🙂

  • Wonderful tour of this beautiful city, LuAnn. I’m happy to see that you found The ‘Waving Girl’. 🙂 I think we need to spend more than one night, the next time we pass through, as there’s so much to see there.

  • What a lovely tour you’ve taken us on … glad you could stop your wheel spinning for a little while to take photos of this City . Love all the architecture, really does look fascinating Lu Ann.
    What a story of carrying on the party while the house burnt ….such decadence and folly Lol ..
    Those Fort WALLS … no wonder they gave in… too close for comfort with all that gunpowder within *kerboom vicinity !!

  • Your tour takes me back to this city I love. Great pics and post. Now, I want to return and see things through different, older, more respectful eyes rather than how I saw it in my 30s.

    • I know what you mean Rusha. Hubby lived here 40 years ago while stationed at Hunter Army Airfield and says he appreciated the city so much more this time around.

  • Savannah is a beautiful city. April is a great time to visit with much cooler weather and few tourists. Looks like you had a super place for your home and very nice days touring. We took a guided tour first, then went back and rode our bikes all over. It’s a very bike friendly town.

    How totally cool to get a special invitation into one of those gorgeous mansions and meet an artist/author:) Very nice parting gift, a signed book.

    Enjoy Charlestown, my birthplace!! I was only there as an infant while my father was in the service. Another important city to see in the cooler weather:)

    • We were so pleased to be staying in Skidaway, especially when we read about all the bike trails. The roads can be a bit tight so you have to be aware of the trees alongside but nothing to worry about overhead. Still quite doable with a big rig.

      I had no idea you were born in Charleston. Terry lived in Savannah while stationed at Hunter Army Airfield, long before our time together.

      We seem to be in Charleston for the Bridge Run, so some of the city is shut down today and it looks like rain is in the forecast after that, so we will see how much visiting can be done.

  • Savannah is one of all-time favorite places to visit. We found the people to be so friendly! I love the live oak trees.

    My goodness, what wonderful Southern hospitality. How lucky you were to meet two lovely people and get a peek inside their gorgeous home.

    Looks like you got a good taste of Savannah’s culture and beauty.

  • We love Savannah and you have captured them so well! And you arrived at the best of time with all those colors, that even Terry matched with Paula Deen’s green trimming. Leopold’s ice cream was certainly the best!
    Great Photos as always.

  • I have read a number of post about the city, Savannah is even more beautiful and fascinating through your lens and eloquent words. Thank you for giving us the historical background, it made feel like to plan a trip 🙂 Thank you for the enjoyable tour!

  • Thank you for this lovely tour of Savannah! What a fascinating city it is. We were there last weekend, spending time with family who met us there, on our sojourn north. It was synchronicity to see your review of Skidaway as we are planning to stay there next year.

    • We loved it! Large sites and although you could see your neighbors, we felt we had a lot of privacy. The only downsides are the trees lining the roads inside the park loops must be watched with big rigs and this time of year the oaks seem to be losing their leaves as they produce new foliage, but it is quite lovely. 🙂

  • What a beautifully written post LuAnn. This old Georgia gal gets a little sentimental about the history of her home state and the beauty it has! Savannah being at the top. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Skidaway several years ago.

    Can’t wait for your trip to Charleston!

  • A lovely descriptive post! Years ago we camped there at Skidaway….went kayaking in the canal next door, visited the old fort and drove out to Tybee Island to the light house, checking out the only campground (at that time).

    Spent no time in the city….now we’re motivated to return. Glad you are having a good time. Stay dry ….lots of rain here going your way.

    • Savannah is definitely worth exploring. We are now in Huntington Beach SP under tornado watch, with thunderstorms on the horizon. Can’t all be sunshine, can it?

  • LuAnn, thank you for this wonderful post about Savannah. Your photos capture the city beautifully. You picked the perfect time of year to visit. The azaleas will be dropping their leaves soon. I especially love your pictures from Bonaventure Cemetery. We were there on the same day. What a small world.

  • I love how you bring every place to life and always pick out its rich tapestry of history and sites. Once again the photos look beautiful and I have to visit another place…one of us needs to win the lottery my friend!

  • LuAnn, What a beautiful tribute to Savannah. I just love wandering the squares and checking out all the fascinating architecture. Gorgeous photos and some great history that fills in a lot of my knowledge gaps. 🙂 ~Terri

  • We, too, enjoyed our time at Skidaway Island State Park and beautiful Savannah. We found more of a connection there than in Charleston, although it was charming in its own right. Thanks for letting see it through your eyes.
    Sue

  • Hi, lovely account of your visit to Savannah. I was born and lived there until I was 27. I return at least annually to visit family. April is definitely the best time to visit when azaleas are blooming, but you couldn’t get me there in August when the air is humid as a steam bath. It has many charms, especially in the cooler months of the year.

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