Savvy Savannah

By Charlene & Richard Mixa An Alluring Southern City

Savannah's Historical River Street

Savannah’s Historical River Street

A vibrant city with a rich southern history and charm sits on the bluffs of the Savannah River. Georgia’s “First City” is dynamic as it entices and lures visitors to return again and again. Blending culture and heritage with the bizarre, Savannah is an exciting place to visit. Whether walking the beautiful squares, listening to music at Market Square, shopping in unique upscale shops in the Historic District, roaming large antique stores, strolling along River Street, taking a tour, or partaking of great southern food, Savannah is fascinating.

Forsyth Park Inn

Arriving on a Sunday evening at the Forsyth Park Inn we are graciously greeted at this circa 1896 Queen Anne Victorian bed and breakfast. Room #4 is a spacious parlor level suite with a queen size four-poster bed, private bath with traditional tub and shower. The cozy sunroom with comfy chairs opens up to a lovely courtyard view. After a day of driving, we relax in the Inn’s sitting room enjoying the tasty complimentary appetizers and wine. Forsyth Park Inn overlooks the largest most visited park in Savannah’s historic district, Forsyth Park. Just a walk across the street and it’s a leisurely stroll along tree lined paths, scented magnolias, an elegant fountain and a new amphitheater. Alluring Savannah has us ambling other squares with statues of heroes of the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, welcoming benches and live oak trees draped in Spanish moss, and admiring its many graceful mansions. Returning to the Inn, we relax in our sunroom as we sip tea and the Inn’s evening dessert.

Spanish Moss Treelined Path at Forsyth Park

Spanish Moss Treelined Path at Forsyth Park

In true southern style the morning starts with a delicious gourmet breakfast on the veranda as we watch Savannah “come alive.” An early morning walk in Forsyth Park has us wondering through the Fragrant Garden for the blind, taking in the fragrances and scents of various plants. With a full day of activities and sated tummy’s we set off. Crossing over the Savannah River to Hutchinson Island, nestled between the banks of the Savannah and Black Rivers, we locate The Club at Savannah Harbor. Home of The PGA Tours Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf Championship this 18-hole masterpiece was created and designed by renowned architect Robert Cupp in conjunction with the legendary “Slammin’ Sammy” Snead. With numerous accolades including Rated #3 “Courses You Can Play” in The State of Georgia by GolfWeek, we tee off on the first tee. Winding along coastal Georgia with its tidal marshes and abundant wildlife, the course is a pure golf experience. A tight course with many parallel fairways where an errant shot can end up in another fairway. The course boasts its unique complex greens that provide a tour-quality putting surface. Utilizing the Island’s spectacular natural setting, the course creates a premium on shot making. Only a few holes have water hazards but there is an abundance of bunkers and several marshes to carry or avoid.

Par 3 at The Club at Savannah Harbor

Par 3 at The Club at Savannah Harbor

Power drives are demanded Hole No. 3 a 248 yard par-3 (which is a long 171 yards for the ladies). Big Duke is a monster par-5 at 660 yards from the champion tees and even has a drink named for it at the Clubhouse. On several holes we stop to take in the unparalleled views of historic downtown Savannah. More perils are found on the back nine where good course management is required. A birdie! Finally on the 15th Hole, a par-3, I sink a long putt for a birdie and also par the 17th Hole another par-3. Richard is in his element scoring better on the back nine while the front nine is kinder to me. Terrific course! It keeps us on our toes with the variety of challenges and will definitely provide an exciting round of golf for all skill levels. We browse through the award winning golf shop and have a quick lunch at the club.

The Mercer House

The Mercer House

It’s all aboard the Old Town Trolley that features 15 “on and off” stops in the Historic District and is an excellent way to explore spectacular Savanah. The hometown conductors/guides inform and amuse us sharing captivating stories along with historical and humorous information. The city comes to life with the highlights of its past and present such as the Green-Meldrim House which served as General Sherman’s headquarters, the Juliet Gordon Lowe home and how she started the Girl Scouts, the beloved singer Johnny Mercer with his many hit songs, the stately churches, notable places to eat from Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House to Paula Dean’s Lady and Sons, and sites featured in the books/movies of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Forest Gump. A wealth of detail and information is shared, with each guide’s personality making it more unique. Hopping off, we wander through the St. John the Baptist Cathedral admiring its 50 Austrian designed stained glass windows, murals and gothic architecture. Next we board the Trolley to depart on River Street. A cobblestone thoroughfare, River Street is abuzz as tourists enjoy drinks in the many rustic eateries, sample fresh made pralines and fudge at the candy shops, or sit in the riverside park watching the boats cruise on the Savannah River. River Street flourishes as a tourist mecca with warehouses and Factor houses transformed to hotels, inns, shops, and a variety of eateries. Vic’s on the River is bustling this evening at their outdoor deck on Bay Street, the bar, and the restaurant. It’s Restaurant Week Summer 2013 so in addition to their usual menu, Vic’s has a special menu for $30 per person (+ tax) that includes wine, appetizer, entrée and dessert. Richard selects the Restaurant Week dinner with the Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Ravioli appetizer and an entrée of Crab Stuffed Atlantic Salmon with sweet corn cream sauce and grilled asparagus. My Mixed Seafood Grill is the chef’s choice of fresh seasonal seafood & sauce, served with grilled asparagus & roasted fingerling sweet potatoes. These mouthwatering dishes are superb. A true gentleman, Richard, graciously shares his scrumptious dessert of a Wild Berry Crisp with lavender honey ice cream. From our cozy table we look out over the river to Hutchison Island and watch the activity on the riverfront as we relish our dinners and recall our fun filled day in this intriguing, charming, and alluring southern city. If you go: We have traveled to Savannah many times and each visit we try a new venue. First timers will probably want to do a lot of the traditional tourist “stuff” so be sure to visit the Visitors Center with its wealth of suggestions. Forsyth Park Inn, 102 West Hall Street, Savannah, GA, 31401; 912.233.6800 or 866.670.6800; www.forsythparkinn.com Old Town Trolley Tours, 234 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Savannah, GA 31401; 912.233.0083; www.trolleytours.com; www.trolleytours.com The Club at Savannah Harbor, 2 Resort Dr., Savannah, GA 31421; 912. 201.2240; www.theclubatsavannahharbor.com Vic’s on the River, 26 E Bay St  Savannah, GA 31401; 912.721.1000; www.vicsontheriver.com

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About Charlene Mixa

Seeing new places, learning about cultures and seeing the sights has always been my dream. Growing up I was blessed with parents that enjoyed traveling and thought nothing of taking a family of seven on excursions. My career in Human Resources and later as a consultant for an international Human Resource firm offered some travel, but I knew as my husband and I approached retirement, my goal was to do more traveling and broader trips. The nine years since retirement has been filled with fantastic adventures from short local one day trips to several week excursions. Living in Florida, it is especially enjoyable to be away in the summer to cooler climates. Multi-week driving trips across the good ol' USA, settling in for a month in the mountains to explore the local area, or a combination of both fill much of our summer season. Our travels are predominantly self-orchestrated, bringing the fun and challenge of getting everything to click. It's all about doing and sharing! Experiencing a travel adventure is exciting. Reliving a special travel moment with a friend or family is exhilarating. I feel my heart race and pulse quicken, as I sharing that special moment. Thank you for joining in my travel adventures and allowing me to hear your stories.