The Best of Charleston & Savannah
Both Charleston and Savannah share an abiding respect for social manners and mores, for history, for making money, and for good food and strong drink. They differ in outlook: Charleston has one well-shod foot firmly in the global future, whereas Savannah tends to be more insular. The difference is also one of scale: Savannah’s downtown is bigger and has more room to breathe and stretch out, whereas Charleston’s charms are more compact and serendipitous. This “Best of” tour will allow you to come to your own conclusions.
Begin your journey in Charleston, the Holy City, named not for its piety but for the steeples in its skyline.
First, feel the pulse of the city by going to its bustling heart, Marion Square. Maybe do a little shopping on King Street and at Old City Market afterward. Take a sunset stroll around the Battery and admire Rainbow Row before diving right into a great meal at one of the city’s fine restaurants.
Today you put your historian’s hat on and visit one of Charleston’s great house museums, such as the Aiken-Rhett House or the Edmondston-Alston House. Have a hearty Southern-style lunch, then take an afternoon trip to Fort Sumter. After another fantastic Charleston dinner, take a stroll or carriage ride through the French Quarter to close the evening.
After a hearty breakfast, head over the Ashley River to gorgeous Middleton Place, where you’ll tour the gardens. Then stop at nearby Drayton Hall and see one of the oldest and best-preserved plantation homes in the nation. Head on into Beaufort and spend the afternoon walking around the beautifully preserved historic district.
Go over the bridge to St. Helena Island and visit historic Penn Center. From there drive on to nearby Hunting Island State Park, where you can climb the lighthouse and enjoy the beach. On the way to Savannah, make a late afternoon stop in Old Bluffton to shop for art, see the beautiful Church of the Cross on the May River, and have a light dinner. Check into a cute B&B in Savannah and relax for the night, maybe stopping in a pub for a pint or two.
Hit downtown Savannah hard today, starting with a walk down River Street. Then enjoy the aesthetic charms of the two adjacent art museums, one traditional and one modern, comprising the Telfair Museums.
Tour the exquisite Owens-Thomas House Museum and then take a walk through the squares, visiting the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Lafayette Square and the Mercer-Williams House on Monterey Square.
On your way out to Tybee Island, stop for a walk through amazing Bonaventure Cemetery and pay your respects to native son Johnny Mercer. Then hit scenic and historically important Fort Pulaski National Monument. Scoot on into Tybee and take a climb to the top of the Tybee Lighthouse before dinner.
Drive down scenic Highway 17 through the Altamaha River estuary and stop by historic Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation, an authentic glimpses at an old rice plantation. Head on into Brunswick’s Old Town Historic District and have a leisurely walk around. Go over the causeway and enjoy the afternoon at The Village on St. Simons Island.
This morning head to the Jekyll Island Historic District. Tour the grounds and have a lunch at any of the great restaurants on-site. Rent a bike and pedal up to the Clam Creek Picnic Area, checking out the Horton House Tabby Ruins along the way. Ride on the sand to Driftwood Beach and relax awhile.
This morning drive to St. Marys and have a walk around the cute little downtown area before heading out on the ferry to Cumberland Island National Seashore for a full day of biking or hiking the many trails among the ruins and dunes.
Make the drive into Folkston on to the Suwanee Canal Recreation Area at Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Take a guided tour up and down the blackwater canal, or walk the trails out to the swamp’s prairie vistas and drink in this unique natural beauty.
© Jim Morekis from Moon Charleston & Savannah, 4th Edition