A July 2001 trip
to Savannah by vampirefan
Quote: While visiting the breathtaking cities of Savannah and Charleston, we took in a couple of tours. Come along as I tell you about several of the tours you can take in the cities.
The carriage tours are 1-hour tours that take you through 25 to 30 blocks of historic downtown Charleston. Our driver was David, who has over 20 years experience, and our cute mule was Bessie. The company uses mules as opposed to horses since they are better cut for hauling and have more stamina. On the tour you get to see the abundance of beautiful, historical houses and buildings in Charleston. You are given information about the architecture of the houses and buildings. You are also provided with a history lesson on Charleston. They take you to some of the well-known tourist spots. You will hear stories and gossip about residents that are pretty funny. Charleston has been featured in many films, so you hear about that and celebrity gossip, all fun and entertaining. The carriage’s pace gives you plenty of time for picture-taking, and it even stops a couple of times for some of the most popular places, allowing for a better picture.
Your tour will bring you back to the big red barn. This is where the mules are housed. Inside the barn you will also find chickens and goats, a big hit with wee ones and animal lovers in your group. I am an animal lover and often worry about the treatment of the animals in these companies. But from what I observed, these animals are very well taken care of and loved. The carriages are handicap accessible. Inside the red barn you will find bathroom facilities. The also have a shop inside owed by the Mishoe family. Dorothy and her daughter, Carla, run the shop together. Here you will find cold beverages (which hit the spot in the Southern heat), snacks, and souvenirs. The company does offer carriages for rent for weddings and private tours. If you go on their website, you will find a coupon for $2 off for each person in your party and for free parking. Their website is www.carriagetour.com.
While here, make sure to take the time to head over to the Straw Market. This was once the market where slaves were brought and sold. Today, the area has become a thriving market offering local produce, handicrafts, and locally made specialty items. Here you have the chance to purchase straw baskets. These baskets are made by hand with local reeds. These beautiful baskets are a dying art and may not always be around. These baskets are durable and last forever. These intricate works of art are displayed in various art and history museums, including the Smithsonian in DC. While these baskets do not come cheap, it is will worth the price for a bit of local history.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 22, 2005
Palmetto Carriage Tour
40 N. Market
Savannah, Georgia 31401
Attraction | "Charleston Walks"
When in a haunted place, I take in a ghost tour. This time out we went with the Original Charleston Walks. There were about 20 people in our group. Which was a great size, not to big and not to small. Our tour guide was Patrick a local college student studying history. Patrick was very good, knew his stories well, and injected plenty of laughs too. The tour is 90 minutes and covers about 1.5 miles. The pace is easy, and there are plenty of stops along the way. Patrick told us about the Whistling Doctor, the Grey Man, and about Isaac Hayne’s (not Hayes) ghost! You will also hear about haunted inns, a local restaurant (Poogan’s Porch), and about the nearby Gullah culture, which practices a religion very similar to voodoo. The tour was quite fun and entertaining. Only the smallest of youngsters might be scared. If you would like to read more about these scary stories try "Charleston Ghosts" by M.R. Martine. You can purchase the book at local bookstores or at the tour office.
In 2005, Trae Rhodes and his guides celebrated 10 years of offering visitors many ways to see Charleston. In addition to the very popular ghost tour, they also have Civil War, Historic Homes (which include the Edmonston-Alstond and Nathaniel Russell home tours), Patriots of Charleston, Slavery and Freedom, Pirates and Buccaneers, and their award-winning Charleston Walks tour, which over a fantastic overview of this gracious city. The tours have been featured here on the Travel Channel, CNN, Discovery, History Channel, just to name a few. Their tours have been featured in countless national publications and they are considered one of the best tours in Charleston.
At their office, you can find restrooms and beverages available for purchase. Pets are allowed on the tours as long as they are on a leash (Jasmine enjoyed her tour). They offer their tours in French and German. The company tries to keep their tours to fewer than 20 people, allowing everyone in the group a chance to hear these fascination stories. They do offer private group tours and can customize them for your group. You can order your tickets online and save $3. Just head on over to www.charlestonwalks.com for more information or to purchase your tickets.
The Original Charleston Walks
Charleston, South Carolina 29401
Attraction | "Savannah Tours"
Greg Profitt, a former Coast Guard member, started the tour company. In addition to the History Walk the company offers a Jewish History Tour, an African-American History tour, the Creepy Pub Crawl, and the very popular Creepy Stroll Ghost Tour. And since this is the town where Girl Scouts got their start, they offer a Girl Scott tour for troops and offer a discount for Girl Scouts. They do offer special group tours and can customize your group. Pets are permitted, on a leash. You meet your tour group at the place specified when you purchase tickets. So make sure you find a restroom before heading out for a tour, and make sure to bring a beverage with you, especially in the summertime. The days here are miserable, and you will be glad you did. You can go to their website at www.savannahtours.com for more information.
Savannah Tours By Foot
527 East Gordon Street
Savannah, Georgia 31401
Our driver on this tour was Mark, and our very lovely horse was Lady. On this relaxing 60-minute carriage ride you will give a lesson on Savannah. You cover about 25-30 blocks in the historical district. You will hear about the history of Savannah and its place in the Civil War, you hear about such well know Savannah residents as General Oglethorpe, you will get a lesson on the famous Savannah squares, and of course you will hear all about the characters and places in the well know "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" and the Clint Eastwood movie of the same name. If somehow or another you have never read the book or seen the movie, you can rest assured that you can pick up copies of either all over Savannah. I have both read the book and own the DVD of the movie and I highly recommend both. The ride is pleasant and you get to see Savannah’s beautiful historical homes and historical places. The pace of the ride is nice and slow, allowing plenty of time for picture-taking.
The company uses Belgium or French Percheron Draft Horses, since they are made for pulling. The driver assured me that the animals are well taken-care-of. He told us they often rescue horses that have been neglected after breeding. Once they are too old for this job, they just get to quietly retire and enjoy their lives on the farm. You can ask at the time about pets on board. We took our little Jasmine who had a great time. Now she is a very small 10-pound lap dog, so I am not sure if that makes a difference. I just ask if it was ok and Mark said, "sure I don’t see why not". After the tour, you can pet the horses.
They do offer private tours and tours for weddings. You can go online for more information or to print up a $1 coupon. Their website is www.plantationcarriage.com. After your ride, make sure to enjoy the wonder city market area. There are several stores around where you can purchase a beverage before the tour. The summer sun in the South wreaks havoc on your throat, so make sure to pick up a cool beverage before boarding.
Plantation Carriage Tour
219 W Bryan St
Savannah, Georgia 31401
When in any city, one of the best ways to acclimate yourself is with a tour, especially a tour of the most local spots. Both cities are very similar in their geography and history. Both cities are perfect for walking. The weather here is perfect year-round, both offer relatively flats surfaces easy for walking, and most concentrate their most popular stops in a relatively small area, making both grand dames perfect for touring by foot. Just look up each city’s website, where you can find dozens of tour companies willing to offer you an assortment of walking tours.
Both Charleston and Savannah are amongst the most haunted cities in the country. Now it depends on who is making the list as to who has the most haunted city in America. Cities such as New Orleans, Salem, DC, Los Angeles, and even a tiny town called Atchison, Kansas, all compete with Charleston and Savannah for the title of most haunted. But no matter what, both cities are considered very haunted on any list. Just about every tour company has a ghost tour on their roster. In October you can often find package tours offering a stay at a haunted inn and a tour.
What makes these places so haunted? Well, the reasons are pretty much the same for both cities. Both played prominently in the Civil War, meaning plenty of blood has been shed here and lives taken. Both cities have rowdy pasts as port cities; both have survived fires, earthquakes, disease, and untimely deaths. Both cities saw no reason to be modern. They have a huge concentration of beautiful antebellum homes; why destroy these when you can renovate them and give them a second chance at life? Many times, when people renovate their homes, they find it awakens sprits that have stayed behind and have no plans of leaving. And all the sprits here are not necessarily the evil kind. Many people find themselves existing very peacefully with the former owners, who stay around just to make sure everything is kept perfect.
It was on my ghost tour in Charleston that I had a particularly odd event occur. We started down an alleyway, and as soon as we did, I got a sharp pain in my back, like I was being stabbed. Not thinking much about it, I had my hubby to rub my back. I figured I had just pulled something. It turns out this alleyway was a place where men often came to dual. In one case, when the gentlemen turned from each other to count their paces, one attacked the other, killing him by stabbing him in the back. The pain stopped as soon as we left! They will also show you a very unique photo taken by a couple visiting the Charleston cemeteries. They just took a random photo of a headstone and knew they were the only ones in the cemetery. When they got the picture back, there was a picture of a ghostly women over the headstone! It turns out to be the headstone of a child! I had seen this photo several times on TV, and the photo has been examined - there is no explanation of why the woman appeared in the photo.
When visiting these gems, make sure to take the time to stay for a few days and enjoy a tour or two. Most tours range between $10 and $20, and you get plenty of bang for your buck. The tour companies use only the best for their guides. These guys and gals know their stuff, and you often get to hear some great gossip. These tours will tell you which stars visiting these lovely cities are very nice (Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington always seem to be spoken very well of) and which stars are a pain in the butt (there is this one actress…well, I will let you take the tour and find out for yourself). If you are coming over the summer or during some of the more busy times, I would highly advise you to purchase your tickets in advance or make reservations when possible. Make sure to check out each city’s website and request your copy of the visitor guides. You will often find tour coupons in the visitor guides. Just one tour of one of these magnificent cities and you will want to come back for more. Just like the ghosts!
See www.charlestoncvb.com and www.savannah-visit.com.
Charlotte, North Carolina