Old-Fashioned Travel: Savannah
I highly recommend winter vacation trips. Last year, my husband started our new tradition of taking a trip for my birthday in January. We can do this now, since our kids are grown and it’s a pretty slow time for the shop. It's also a real treat to escape the frigid weather and head south for a while!
Last year we went to Nashville for two days. His choice. This year I got to decide, and I picked Savannah. I highly recommend Savannah, especially if you love history.
In Savannah's Historic District, there are a lot of lodging options,
including lovely historical hotels. We chose Planter's Inn, built in 1812. Not only is it a lovely building, it's also supposed to be haunted — but aren't all old buildings? We didn't meet any spirits, but we did enjoy the complimentary wine-and-cheese reception daily at 5:30. It's fun to chat with other guests in their sumptuous lobby.
Planter's is located in the heart of the historic district, and we plan to stay there again so we can walk the neighborhood and see some of the sites we missed. It's also very convenient to a tour bus stop, and these hop-on-hop-off tours are the best way to see a city full of historic places. We did the same while visiting Washington, D.C., last summer.
No matter your religion, don't miss stopping by the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. The current cathedral was built in 1899 after a fire destroyed the original structure, which was constructed a hundred years before. This active Catholic church is breathtaking, containing over 50 stained glass windows.
In fact, Savannah is home to several historic churches. You could probably spend a whole day on just a tour of the churches. They include:
Trinity United Methodist Church, built in 1848
Wesley Monumental UMC, 1868
Unitarian Universalist Church, 1851. Its organist, James Pierpont, is credited with writing the song "Jingle Bells" in 1852.
Christ Church (Episcopal), 1838, once led by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.
Independent Presbyterian Church, 1891
First African Baptist Church, 1859, the oldest African-American church in North America
Historic Temple Mickve Israel, 1878
There's also St. John's Episcopal Church, built in 1853. We plan to attend services there next time we visit Savannah. In addition to the beautiful church, visitors can tour the Green-Meldrim House, which serves as its Parish House and is used for their coffee hour after service, along with other events. This Gothic Revival mansion was built in the early 1850s by Charles Green, a cotton merchant.
General Sherman's famous "March to the Sea" took place in November-December 1864. His "scorched earth" policy meant burning Atlanta and other Georgia towns and cities along the way. He ended in Savannah — and he found it completely without defense, open for the taking, so he spared it. Instead, his troops camped out in Savannah's Forsyth Park and village green-space squares.
Sherman accepted Green's offer of his home for the General's headquarters. If you visit, you can get a tour of the mansion, which is stunning. Civil War buffs will enjoy the chance to stand where Sherman stood and recreate this handshake between Sherman and Green in the drawing room:
There's so much to see in Savannah, one short blog post couldn't do it justice. Stick around for Part Two, as we venture away from Savannah toward Tybee Island and Old Fort Jackson.