The history of Savannah goes back to February 12, 1733, when English General James Edward Oglethorpe and 120 colonists arrived in Savannah and founded the 13th and last colony in the New World. The colony grew, and people from all over began to gather in this beautiful place. In 1793, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, and colonists began to make their fortune in cotton. Savannah became a major seaport, and soon wealthy colonist began to build lavish homes and nearby plantations. But Savannah soon found itself caught in the Civil War. In 1864, Savannah residents surrendered their city rather than see it destroyed. Yankee General Sherman found this city so beautiful that he never did torch it.
But after World War I and the collapse of cotton, the city began to languish. In 1955, a group of ladies were outraged that the Isaiah Davenport House was going to be destroyed. They raised enough money and brought the house and restored it to its modern-day refinement. This was the beginning of the Historical Society. Today more than 1,000 homes and buildings have been restored, and Savannah has the largest concentration of historical homes and buildings in the nations. Many of these homes are open to the public for tours, while others have been converted into bed-and-breakfasts. Many old buildings have new homes as offices and restaurants. The art and design school has bought a number of buildings and restored them to use for students. Several times of year, some of the grandest homes are open to the public for tours. Savannah is also the home of Juliet Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts, and is a place of pilgrimage for thousands of badge-wearing Girl Scout every year.
Savannah has further found fame as a backdrop for the many movies that have come calling. In 1994, John Berdendt wrote the book "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil", telling of murder in Savannah Society. In 1997, Clint Eastwood directed the movie and shot it on location. Both are recommendations on my list, and you can find the book and DVD all over Savannah. Movies such as Forrest Gump, Glory Days, and Forces of Nature have all used the beauty of Savannah. There are a number of tours highlighting the connection between Hollywood and Savannah.
Somehow, I am sure General Oglethorpe is looking down and seeing his beautiful city is still going strong. A visit to Savannah today is a reminder of what it was like several hundred years ago. On the outskirts, you will find malls and a more modern Savannah. But downtown, you will find beautiful tree-lined squares and some of the finest renovated historical homes in the nation, proving that many people still enjoy things as they once were.
There are plenty of touring companies, and you can tour by horse- or mule-drawn carriage, trolley, or motor coach. Savannah is one of the top ten walking cities, so you can find plenty of walking tours. Subjects from Civil War history and African-American history to historical homes and gardens and Savannah history can be found all over the city.
Savannah also ranks as one of the most haunted cities in the nation. Invading Yankees, fire, floods, and diseases have left their imprint on Savannah. Many businesses are proud of the fact they have a ghost and have no intention of trying to have them removed. In October, haunted bed-and-breakfasts give visitors a thrill, offering packages that include a haunted tour. Just about every tour company offers a ghost tour. One company even hauls victims (I mean visitors) around in a hearse!
Savannah also has a large number of bars and pubs. Tours of these are also on many tour rosters. Maybe that's why there is a large number of ghosts spotted here. In Savannah, as long as you have your drink in a to-go cup, you may walk around with an alcoholic beverage.
Since Savannah sits so close to the ocean, there is an abundance of fresh seafood. Savannah has a number of superb restaurants, giving visitors a dizzying array of dining options. Local specialties include seafood and low-country cooking, which gets it influences from the African and Caribbean cultures. Since the English founded this, you will find a number of English and Irish pubs. Churchill’s is one of my favorites.
Nightlife in Savannah is not a stoic as you would think. There are a number of bars and restaurants all over the place. Nightclubs can be found, especially away from downtown. Jazz, rock, and Latin salsa all can be found here. Savannah is also a pretty open-minded city and has a very large gay and lesbian community. If you would like to see Lady Chablis from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, then head on over to Club One, where you will find her shows. Their website is www.clubone-online.com.
From Savannah, there are a number of great places for day-tripping. The closest is the lovely Tybee Island. Located only 15 minutes away, it offers visitors sun and fun. The beautiful city of Beaufort, SC, is 45 minutes away. This city is often overshadowed by Savannah and Charleston but offers an equally impressive number of restored historical homes. It is also where a large portion of Forrest Gump was filmed. Charleston, SC, is 100 miles away. The sun-and-fun capital of Hilton Head Island is a little over an hour away. The Sea Islands, which include Cumberland Island, Jekyll Island, and St. Simons Island, are also 100 miles away.
Websites for these are:
Hilton Head, SC
I do encourage everyone to make a visit to Savannah. Her beauty and charm will captivate you. This Southern city is near and dear to my heart. I was stationed here in 1985, while I was in the army. I fell in love with her then and still keep coming back. This is one city that has never left my heart. For more information, go to www.savannah-visit.com.