I’ve been to a few places and I’ve seen a few things in the world. But, there’s none so beautiful as Savannah, Georgia. I’d even say it’s one of the most gorgeous cities in the United States. What’s not to love? Graceful weeping willows scattered sensuously throughout the city embrace the casual visitor. Savannah is blessed with gorgeous scenery, a crazy, rich history, and an extremely high creep factor.
Although Indigenous people lived in the area for thousands of years, Savannah’s official history began in 1733. When British General James Oglethorpe arrived near the Savannah River, he named the area after King George II. Thus, Georgia became the thirteenth original colony. Today, Oglethorpe is one of Savannah’s busiest thoroughfares.
Living in Atlanta, I appreciate Savannah’s stately old homes decorated with dual staircases leading to the front door. I’m a traditionalist and it’s hard to find pre-antebellum homes in Atlanta. This is mainly because General Sherman did a thorough job of burning down structures on his March to the Sea.
When Sherman reached Savannah right before Christmas in 1864, the Confederate troops that had been stationed there fled the city. On December 22, Sherman sent President Lincoln a telegram, “I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.”
Sherman was so overwhelmed with Savannah’s beauty, he didn’t have the heart to destroy the town. This was a good thing, too, because today we can bask in the scenic loveliness of this dynamic port city.
What’s bewildering about this most lovely of locations is that Savannah is considered one of America’s oldest, most haunted cities. But, that’s not why Savannah’s so creepy. Blame that on the pirates, the murders of slaves and native peoples and the Yellow Fever victims.
There’s simply loads of dead people in a fairly condensed area. You can even walk past crypts of historic figures in the middle of the parks in the Historic District.
The Pirate’s House is a must-see in Savannah. It was built in 1754. Robert Louis Stevenson used it in his masterpiece, “Treasure Island.”
Pirates would get so drunk at the bar that shady sea captains would “shanghai” the victims. A tunnel below the building wound all the way down to the pier. The sleeping drunk victims would awake only to find themselves out to sea — for years.
The upstairs in the Pirate’s House is the main part of the original structure. Apparently, there’s so much paranormal activity that the management closed the area off so staff won’t get hurt.
See, stories like these make Savannah so much fun — especially at night. I took the midnight ghost tour in a funeral hearse. That was so cool! Or, you can do a ghost tour that stops at an untold number of haunted bars like the Moon River Brewing Company. It’s been featured on the Travel Channel.
There’s no end to haunted houses in Savannah. But there’s also a rich and diverse history, as well. Take the First African Baptist Church. It’s considered to be the home of the oldest Black congregation in North America. It was a stop on the Underground Railroad. I couldn’t believe the breathing holes in the floor above the hiding places where slaves stayed. Next stop, freedom. Incredible!
But, I enjoy going to one of the best, cutting-edge jazz festivals in Savannah. What I love about this festival is you can check out up and coming artists in every genre of music. It’s a chance to enjoy more intimate venues to see world-class artists up close and personal. Catch the musicians who are generating a buzz before they get famous.
Aside from all that, there’s the mandatory stops along River Street. Get some salt water taffy, eat lunch at restaurants upstairs above the fray. Take a boat ride. Simple stuff. But, beware of ghosts everywhere in town.
One night, my cousin and I were walking back from River Street where we’d just dined. It was dark. After a time, my cousin, “Did you see that shadow that’s been walking with us?” I said, “What shadow?” She said, “the one that’s been following us since we left the restaurant?” I didn’t. But, River Street was one of the locations where slaves were housed above the shops and in spaces below. Maybe the ancestors were reaching out to us.
Above all, take in the Historic District. See where General Sherman and General Grant stayed the night. See the church where the Emancipation Proclamation was read for the first time.
Are you a fan of the films, “Forrest Gump” or “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil?” Sit on Forrest’s bench. Stroll through the park across the street from where the real murder took place in “Midnight.”
Check out the fountain in the park that’s colored green for St. Patrick’s Day. Enjoy all the bounty of this wonderful, amazing, and mysterious city — Savannah, Georgia.
Thumbnail Credits : Mick Haupt/Unsplash