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Travel to Savannah: Insider Tips and Video Tour
Savannah is one of my favorite places on Earth. When I lived just an hour away, I made frequent trips there, and even now, I visit whenever I can. This is a true "Old South" location, with some 270 years of rich and colorful history. The best way I can think of to describe the city is as a more "genteel" version of New Orleans.
Based on my time spent in Savannah, I'll share a few tips with you that might make your visit more enjoyable.
Where to stay
You have to stay near River Street! Savannah is largely a walking community, and River Street is where most of the action is. My favorite place to stay is the Hyatt Regency. It's in the perfect location: its back elevator opens right in the middle of River Street, so you don't have to worry about driving or parking. If you want a cheaper room but still want to be near the action, try the Days Inn on Bay Street at Ellis Square. If you're going on a weekend, a room at the Days Inn will run about $150, while a room at the Hyatt will be about $189. In my opinion, the Hyatt is worth the extra $39. If, however, you can go during the week, the rates at the Days Inn drop to around $110 a night, while the rates at the Hyatt don't change. If I were planning a mid-week trip, I'd stay at the Days Inn. It's basically across the street from River Street.
Where to eat
The food on River Street is very expensive, especially at night. I suggest you leave the tourist area for most of your meals. You'll find plenty of restaurants on Abercorn that are affordable. There are a couple of places in the tourist area you must try! One is The Lady and Sons, Paula Deen's Restaurant. Located on Congress, Ms. Deen's restaurant is actually pretty reasonable at lunch. The all-you-can-eat buffet, including the salad bar and dessert is $13.99.
Another place you have to see is the Pirates' House, just a block from the river. This place began as a tavern for sailors in 1753, and it has 15 separate dining rooms. Some are spacious, and some are tiny and quirky. Go to the main dining room and see the "tunnel entrance." It's been closed up for years, but back in the days of old, patrons to the bar were drugged and shanghai'd through the tunnel to the docks and were forced to work aboard a ship. Plan your visit for lunch, where the buffet is only $13.95. If, however, you want the best chicken you have ever eaten, go for dinner and lay out $20 for their honey-pecan chicken. I think that's the only chicken in the world I'd gladly pay that much for - believe me, it's worth it!
What we usually try to do is have lunch on or near River Street, when the prices are usually much cheaper. Then at night, we eat on Abercorn or near one of the malls. We also discovered that the Hyatt's restaurant was much more reasonable at night than we thought it would be, so that's another option.
One of the best tours is the trolley tour. You'll see all kinds of interesting architecture and historical sites, usually with an amusing tour guide.
Another great tour is the ghost tour - not the walking tour, but the horse-drawn carriage tour. It's really fun and a little spooky, and it's like getting two tours for the price of one: a carriage ride and a ghost tour. Most of the tours pick up at the Hyatt - another reason I like staying there.
Of course, you'll also want to take your own walking tour of the squares and fountains. You'll see many antebellun homes and beautiful green areas. If you've seen Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Shopping on River Street
You'll love the shops on River Street, but there's a wide discrepancy with prices. For example, you might see something you like in a store for $50, and then you'll find the same exact item in another shop for $35. Shop around and compare prices before making a purchase. There are, however, many unique items that you won't find anywhere else, especially those crafted by local artisans.
Alcoholic Beverages and Nightlife
If you're looking for a classy bar with live blues or jazz, try Casimir's Lounge on Drayton at Forsyth Park. For a great Scotch, a cigar, or a pint of Guinness, head to Kevin Barry's on River Street. It has the feel of an authentic Irish Pub, and you can sit up top and enjoy wonderful views of the river. If dancing is your thing, try Club One on Jefferson. There's a large, busy dance floor, pool tables, and game machines. If you want an amazing frozen drink, you'll love Wet Willie's on River Street. One entire wall is nothing but "slushee" machines, only these slushees aren't for kids. A word of warning: the drink referred to as Call a Cab is named that for a reason!
Places to Avoid
Savannah has some unsavory areas. For the most part, the historic district is perfectly safe during the day, and River Street is safe both day and night. On the weekends, River Street is usually very crowded, and you might run into a pick-pocket or two, just as you would in any big city. Other than that, however, you shouldn't expect to encounter crime on this busy street at night.
Areas to avoid include the area south of Forsyth Park, the housing projects off Oglethorpe, Montgomery Street south of I-16, and East Broad south of Gaston. You'll also want to avoid homeless people who sell souvenirs of ask for bus fare. Many of these hang out in what's know to locals as "Bum Square," the square that's west of City Market.
Savannah has some lovely beaches, but be careful. Some areas, including Tybee Island, often have dangerous rip currents. In fact, my mother, an excellent swimmer, almost drowned in one. Heed any warnings and don't go out too far.
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