For a few days over July 4th week, we decided to spend a few days exploring Charleston and Savannah. We arrived in Savannah at around 4pm and spent two nights at the Andaz Savannah, a very well-located hotel in the heart of the historic district. For many reasons, this trip was meant to be slow-paced and relaxing, so we didn’t want to cram our itineraries until we were sore in the feet. In fact, we stopped by the hotel several times throughout the summer hot days just to freshen up and take a catnap or two.
So what did we do?
4pm: Arrived at our hotel and spent a few minutes freshening up before heading to the hotel’s concierge for some local recommendations. We decided to do the hop-on hop-off trolley tour for quicker access to landmarks, and she gave us a two-day pass so we could do a loop around the city first.
5pm: Started our city tour loop with the Old Trolley Tour, which lasted 90 minutes. We wanted to try the whole tour without getting off and to mark the landmarks we wanted to stop at the next day.
7:30pm: Rest at the hotel. However, if you’re feeling hungry, Savannah has a lot of really good restaurants just within its historic district.
9:25pm: We walked a couple of blocks to the Savannah river walk and watched the Fourth of July fireworks with the rest of onlookers. Plan on visiting Charleston during Fourth of July? The fireworks are set to go off near the Westin, so I recommend setting yourself across the river from the Westin. The riverwalk was busy but not so busy that we felt like sardines. However, if you’d prefer to be away from the crowds, there are also a couple of rooftop bars that are ideal for fireworks watching, one of them being the Bohemian hotel.
10am: When we take a leisure weekend, our day starts pretty late. So at 10am, we make our way down our hotel to 22 Squares for a delicious and filling breakfast (read our review on Andaz Savannah for a review of their food). Savannah is full of great restaurants so you’ll have little trouble finding a breakfast spot. One of the best place to eat southern food is Mrs. Wilkies where the wait time can exceed one hour. So if you want to try delectable southern food, many people hit this place as soon as they open at 10am.
11am: We once again begin our hop-on hop off trolley tour with the Old Trolley Tour, beginning at stop 13, since it was right outside our hotel. Here are the stops we got off at:
a. Welcome Center: Everyone has to get off at this stop in order to transfer to another bus. However, if you wanted to take a photo of the bench that Forrest Gump sat on, this is the stop. You will have to pay and enter the Savannah History Museum where the replica bench is.
b. Chippewa Square: This square is also known as the Forrest Gump square because this is where Forrest (from the movie Forrest Gump) told his life story to a complete stranger. Right across the street is also the church steeple that you can see in the background of the opening credits when the feather started falling from the sky.
c. Forsyth Park: Compared to all the squares in Savannah, Forsyth is actually a park and boasts several monuments as well as a beautiful fountain. This is the location of many weddings, so you know it’s a picturesque location.
d. Cathedral of St. John the Baptist: Considered the most beautiful church in the area, we stopped by this church to admire its awe-striking interior and to catch a bit of air conditioning.
e. City Market: The city market covers a few blocks and hosts a wide range of little shops from small art galleries, souvenir stores, snacks and pubs. Just a street or two over is also where you’ll find your typical mall stores such as H&M, Free People, J.Crew, etc. Oh, and I’ve never seen this before, but the McDonald’s in this particular area has a ‘walk-by’. So it’s not a drive-thru, but it’s basically a window on the street that you can order from.
Visited the Prohibition Museum: located in the City Market is the Prohibition Museum, where we spent about an hour wandering the very well designed wax exhibitions that chronicled the prohibition era. We were quite impressed with the setup of the museum, and recommend taking this tour. There is a speakeasy type of bar towards the end of the museum where you can sit and order a drink before continuing on.
5pm: After the museum, we headed over to The Grove, a restaurant just a block or two away. The restaurant gorgeously decorated with white shiplap walls, white marble tables, and gold wall sconces, is quite well priced (my chicken burger, The Hudson, with an amazing side of fried brussel sprouts with bacon was a steal at only $11).
7pm: Once the sun wasn’t beating on our backs any more, we took a long and romantic stroll down the Savannah river walk, enjoying the paddlewheel boat floating by and watching the sun set along the Talmadge Memorial bridge. We popped our heads in a few of the stores along the way, one notably was the River Street Sweets, where we sampled some freshly made pralines and sipped on some milkshake. On our way back, we walked along Bay St. and stopped by any stores that looked interesting.
9pm: After a long day of walking and enduring the summer heat, we headed back to the hotel.
10am: Once again, we grabbed breakfast from downstairs at 22 Square. This time, it was not as good – the waitress said they had a different cook than the prior day.
11am: I headed over to the SCAD Museum of Art. This is not a well-renowned art gallery, but seeing as the Savannah College of Art and Design is so prominent in the city (they were one of the main reasons for the revival of the city, as they began to buy abandoned motels and various buildings and turning them into buildings for the college). The museum housed a few small exhibits, all of them contemporary, which isn’t quite my cup of tea to begin with. They were still interesting to see, but I was done with the museum within thirty to forty-five minutes. They claim to have a permanent collection, but there really wasn’t much in that department.
An alternative museum to visit is the Telfair museum where over 4,500 art pieces from around the world are housed in a historic mansion by a prominent figure from the golden days of Savannah.
1pm: We said goodbye to Savannah.