By Charlene S. Mixa
A Stunning Southern City
A vibrant city with a rich southern history and charm sits on the bluffs of the Savannah River. Georgia’s first city is a dynamic town that entices and lures visitors to return again and again. Blending culture and heritage with the bizarre, Savannah is an exciting, fun place to visit. Whether walking the beautiful squares with their benches, listening to music at Market Square, shopping in unique upscale shops in the Historic District, strolling along River Street, taking a tour, experiencing the arts or partaking of great southern food, Savannah has it.
Savannah is a favorite city and we love visiting this fascinating town. On each visit we add a new activity to gain further insight. Tonight our treat is a show at the Savannah Theatre. Dinner at a tapas style restaurant at Market Square is perfect for sitting outside and listening to a band. On a leisurely walk along Bull Street, we admire the squares adorned by statues of heroes of the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, welcoming benches and live oak trees draped in Spanish moss. Savannah works her magic as we are immersed in her history. The Savannah Theatre is at Chippewa Square, where we relax on a bench before the show. Two tour buses pull up to the theatre. Is this a senior tourist group? No, it is a group of school children from Florida. Taking our seats, we enjoy the chatter of the kids as the show starts.
The Savannah Theatre opened its doors on December 4, 1818 and is the oldest operating theatre in the United States. Restored to its 1940’s Art Deco style the theatre’s current owners brought the theatre back on the scene in 2002. “Hurrah for Hollywood” is a fast-paced, high energy salute to 75 years of music from the silver screen. The show is awesome! The cast is fantastic! The show has an excellent selection of music, songs, staging, and costumes. The breadth of music touches all ages with a variety of hit songs including Singing in the Rain, Flashdance, Moon River, Ghostbusters, Shout, A Time for Us, Star Wars and the Sound of Music. The skits with audience participation are terrific, especially with the school principal “pulled” into the act. The kids had a blast! A “must do” for future visits to Savannah!
It’s all aboard the Old Town Trolley for a tour of the city. Conveniently located across from the Visitors Center, the Old Town Trolley features 15 “on and off” stops in the Historic District and offers free parking. The Trolley is an excellent way to see the city. The hometown conductor 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. We take advantage of the hop “on/off” for lunch and enjoy walking along the squares checking out the shops. We stroll through beautiful Forsyth Park, the largest of the squares, snapping a photo of its fountain, before catching another trolley.
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 for an afternoon beverage and a chance to do some window shopping. River Street is alive as tourists enjoy drinks in the many rustic eateries, sample fresh made pralines and fudge at the candy shops, or sit in the park watching the boats on the river.
The 4:00 PM Sightseeing Riverboat Tour is our final event of the day. We walk the gangway of the Savannah River Queen, a paddle wheel boat, going to the open-air third deck. From the deck, we have a fantastic view of the waterfront with the shops on the street level and the factory houses. Our captain gives us intriguing tales and historic facts about this beautiful city. Viewing the river and city, we see this is truly an active port city with large ships, barges and vessels coming in from the Atlantic Ocean. The captain points out the docks along the river where various products are imported or exported, the site where over 88 Liberty Ships were constructed in World War II and the silos of Jefferson Clay a primary ingredient in Kaopectate. The tour turns and head south down the river where we view the statue of “the waving girl” representing Florence Matus, as a lonely young girl waved a handkerchief to ships as they passed along the river. Florence continued doing this for over forty years and became known as “the waving girl”.
We enjoyed a fun and exciting day in this dynamic city. This visit gives us more ideas for exploring in our next visit.
If you go:
The Savannah Theatre, 222 Bull Street, Savannah, GA31401, 912.233.7764; www.savannahtheatre.com
Old Town Trolley Tours, 234 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Savannah, GA 31401; 912.233.0083; www.trolleytours.com
Savannah Riverboat Cruises 9 East River Street, Savannah, GA 31412; 912.232.6404; www.savannahriverboat.com