We have recently spent 6 hours in Savannah Georgia on the return leg of our Boston-Florida roadtrip. This historic Southern city (founded in 1733) adorned with lush greenery and beautifully preserved architecture deserves a longer stay, but that should not deprive you from an exciting stopover on your roadtrip!
6 hours in Savannah give you enough time for a trolley tour of the historic center and a walk through your favorite areas afterwards (we walked from Chippewa Square to Forsyth Park and then all the way to Riverwalk), a quick bite (or two; but quick being an operative word) and even for some souvenir shopping. Here is how we spent our 6 hours in Savannah- roughly between noon and 6 pm:
Noon: Trolley Tour
We used free parking offered at the Welcome Center at the 234 MLK Jr. Blvd. near stop 1 of the 15-stop hop on/off Old Town Trolley Tour of Savannah and stayed for the entire 90-min duration of the tour to get the lay of the land. The trolley route takes you as far as the Forsyth Park in the South and River walk in the North and circles around ten historic squares and many beautifully restored buildings (Green-Meldrim House on Madison Square, Mercer-Williams House in Monterey Square and Davenport House on Columbia Square to name a few) while telling you the story of Savannah (via live narration).
Take a note: Savannah has the largest National Historic Landmarks District in the United States; the city’s over 700 preserved buildings were made possible in big part due to the efforts of Historic Savannah Foundation.
1:30pm: Chippewa Square; Lunch Break
After our Trolley tour ended we immediately boarded another Trolley but this time we hopped off at stop 2: Bull Street and Chippewa Square (see map of all stops here).
We chose to start our walk at Chippewa Square- where the famous “box of chocolates” scene was filmed for the Forrest Gump movie (note that the bench was facing Bull Street).
Walking Savannah’s squares was my favorite part of our Savannah experience: adorned with fountains and statutes, surrounded by beautiful historic architecture amidst lush greenery and moss-draped live oaks – they offer an oasis of calm and tranquility in the city.
As we started to make our way from Chippewa Square towards the Forsyth Park, we stumbled upon Gallery Espresso with good selection of lunch items to enjoy on their lovely outside tables – great spot to people watch with Chippewa in the background. Quick counter service worked well with our busy day.
Take a Note: Considered America’s first planned city, Savannah was laid out by its founder General James Oglethorpe in a series of squares and parks (he was the one who gave the 13th (and final) American colony its name (after King George II of England). There were 24 original squares, with 22 squares still in existence today.
3:30 pm: Forsyth Park
We continued making our way to the Park – about 20 min walk from the Chippewa Square, stopping in Madison and Monterrey squares on the way. The famous landmark is situated a bit further north from the other points of interest which means you have to backtrack your way into town. In hindsight, we probably should have hopped off at the Forsyth Park during our first Trolley Tour to partake in the Saturday market (closes at 1pm).
The Park is magical and we would have loved to spend more time there, relaxing, people watching and checking out the Saturday market.
Take a Note: Forsyth Park was designed after French ideal of central public garden with the fountain as its centerpiece- although the fountain is NOT in the center of the Park! Similar fountains could be found in New York and Paris.
As we backtracked our steps into the city, we passed Savannah College of Art and Design SCAD Museum of Art (Vivi scouted their art supplies store for souvenirs) and stumbled upon one of the oldest Jewish congregation in the US Temple Mickva Israel.
4:30: City Market
A couple of gorgeous squares later (and a busy Ogelthorpe Ave) we reached the boisterous City Market which ended up being my least favorite part of Savannah’s historic center (it was too loud and crowded for my taste but might be just right for yours!) My daughter enjoyed shopping at Byrd’s Cookies which is a local souvenir staple that is not to be missed.
5pm: Factor’s Walk, Riverwalk
On our way towards the river, we checked out the Factor’s Walk (historic cotton Exchange /commercial part of town) which we saw earlier from the Trolley.
We love waterfront boardwalks and took the opportunity to relax on Savannah’s lovely Riverwalk; we could have probably found something more authentic than a Starbucks- but they had nice tables right by the water and we were getting tired so that is where we positioned ourselves!
We caught the Trolley at the nearby Riverwalk Stop 10 near the Olympic Park and Waving Girl Statute (we got to hear her story one more time -you would have to wait until you hear it yourself!) before exiting the trolley (on Stop 15) and the city shortly after 6pm.
Take Note:The first stop on this trip was Marco Island Florida. We then started the drive back North via St. Augustine, Florida, (about 5-hr drive North) where we stopped for a week of “working vacation”. Stay tuned for our St. Augustine stories.