Savannah is the oldest city in Georgia, founded in 1733 by General James Oglethorpe who arrived with 120 settlers. His intent was to give a new start to England’s poor working class, and increase trade for the colonies. Oglethorpe planned the city in a grid structure around open, square public lots. Each square was divided into four tything lots on the north/south sides, each of which were then divided into ten residential units. The smaller east/west facing lots were called trust lots, and were designated for commercial and civic use. Four squares were built during Oglethorpe’s first year in Georgia, and more were added up into the mid 1800’s, eventually totaling 24 squares.
Today only 21 of the original squares remain. General Oglethorpe modeled Savannah after utopian ideologies, with an importance placed on equality. Today, Savannah is far from utopia, but it is one of my favorite cities in the United States, and here’s why…
A mix of historic and modern
Savannah has managed to keep much of its character and charm intact over the last few centuries. The city is a rich tapestry full of the past, entwined with threads of modern life. The Savannah College of Art & Design
(SCAD), has been another great asset to the preservation and revitalization of the downtown district. Students of the college add a significant and diverse, yet transient presence to the city population. SCAD’s campus is spread out over several buildings downtown, many of which are older structures with historic charm that have been rehabilitated to suit modern life and purpose. Below are pictures of SCAD’s student center which was originally a synagogue built in 1909. It was decommissioned in 1970, until SCAD reopened it in 2006 with state of the art technology and a modern take on the original, historic design details.
Savannah is one of only a handful of cities in the USA that have an open container law! This means you can take your alcoholic beverages to-go as long as they are in a clear plastic cup. This makes it really fun to walk around the downtown district because you can drink on the go! There are lots of fun bars to stop by- many of which have character of the ancient buildings they occupy- However, my favorite place to stop for a drink on-the-go is Wet Willy’s frozen daiquiri bar on River Street.
River Street is one of the coolest streets in the city. It was where merchants built their shops and goods were imported and exported. Wet Willy’s is a chain, and not exclusive to Savannah, but it is the best way to get your buzz on-the-go! They have a huge variety of frozen, fruity, slushy drinks, but the kicker is THEY ARE MADE WITH GRAIN ALCOHOL. Just be careful not to drink too many!
While you’re walking on River Street with your Wet Willy’s drink, stop by a little spot called Echo Square. It looks like a pretty unassuming spot, but within it lies a mysterious acoustic phenomenon that no one can quite explain. If you stand exactly on the X in the center and speak, you will hear everything you say echo back to you. No one else around you can hear it, and it cannot even be detected on recording devices. You just have to go and listen for yourself to believe it! Some believe that it is the formation of the bricks that creates this effect, while others believe there are more supernatural reasons behind it- Which brings me to my next favorite thing about Savannah…
Savannah is one of the most haunted cities in the world. With such rich history, it is not terribly surprising. If you like a good ghost story, or enjoy the unusual and mysterious, then Savannah is a wonderful destination for you to cross off that bucket list. There are several ghost tours you can take at night, where you and your group are escorted around some of the most notoriously haunted spots in the city. The giant oak trees, hanging Spanish moss, and the aged and beautiful buildings and streets make for an amazingly spooky backdrop.
There are lots of accounts of people who have had supernatural encounters, so if you’re looking for a thrill you just might find one here.
The cemetery became famous when it was featured in the 1994 novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (which was later adapted into a film
). If you enjoy the beautiful, historic, and mysterious, this is definitely a must-go-to place. Below are some pictures of the cemetery and some of the amazing gravesites you can see there.
So, there are some of my favorite things to see and do in Savannah, Georgia. I hope you get the chance to visit!
Y'all come back now!