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Savannah Trip Review

Alaska
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Savannah Trip Review

My Mom, baby daughter, and I spent two days in the Savannah area at the end of April as a sidetrip from our mainstay in Charleston. We delayed our trip from Charleston to Savannah because of tornado warnings in the area. We finally arrived, just before dark, and found a hotel. We ended up staying about 15-20 min out of town on Abercorn St. There were many hotels in this direction which were much more reasonably priced. These hotels were half the price of those in the historic distric. It was a bit of a drive to the historic district, so not as suitable if you plan to spent all your time in the historic district. I do NOT recomment the Holiday Inn Express Savannah Midtown on Abercorn St. Housekeeping stole items from our room. Read my review.

On day 1, we began a bit late, about 11 am on a trolley tour. We found that Ogelthorpe was the least expensive trolley tour, and would have taken it, except you had to take a guided 1-1/2 hour tour without stopping before you could do the on/off rides. This was not practical for us, because I knew my daughter wouldn't want to sit on a bus for 1-1/2 hours. So we went on a more expensive (about $10 pp more) Old Town Trolley tour where you could get on and off at any time all day. Our first stop was planned at Forsythe Park. We were gazing at the gorgeous homes and were approaching our stop, when I looked down and saw that my daughter was missing a shoe. I looked all around the trolley and couldn't find the shoe. When we asked where the shoe was, she pointed at the window, and said "Uh-oh." Uh-oh was right because now, she was forced to stay in the stroller all day when her favorite thing to do is to walk. We took the stop just past Forsythe Park, and then we walked back to the previous stop, thinking that we might locate the shoe. I only brought two pairs of my daughter's shoes on the trip, and these were her very cute, expensive See Kai Run shoes. Of course, she had to throw one of the expensive shoes out the trolley window. We did not recover the shoe, though we wasted a good half hour looking for it. Forsythe Park was not remarkable. Most of it was a large lawn area, and one end had trees and a small courtyard. I would not recommend stopping there. Also, seemed to be a bit of a seedy area. There were a couple of large gangs (10+ ) of young men ages 18-25. They didn't appear to be tourists, and they made me nervous, though didn't actually bother us. I'm not used to seeing such large groups on the street.

We went to the Temple Mickve Israel, which I was really looking forward to, interested in the history of Jews in the deep south, and thinking it would be an old world experience. It was a disppointment. The entry was quite modern, and the sanctuary was a gothic cathedral. It just looked like a catholic church. The little museum upstairs had a few interesting items, though it mostly seemed like a few people had donated what was in their attics. The tour guide was a kind lady and did offer some interesting history. Overall, we felt like it was a waste of our time and that we would rather see other things.

We briefly stopped at the St John the Baptist Cathedral and also found it rather unremarkable. We briefly stopped at a cemetery near here and looked at some gravestones, but planned to visit Bonaventure later in the day.

We skipped lunch because we didn't want to waste the time. We enjoyed the rest of the trolley tour though we were afraid to stop because they kept warning us that they didn't pick anyone up past 4:30. We finished the tour and then drove to River St, where we found a great parking spot. We enjoyed walking about but found it horribly crowded. We bought some big caramel pecan candies (like turtles) at one of the candy shops. It was hard to find a restaurant because most were rather expensive and heavy on seafood, which I'm allergic to. We ate dinner here (can’t remember which restaurant), and had a wonderful waitress. I had a good chicken sandwich, and my daughter actually ate dinner. We were seated in the restaurant, but were right next to a large arched opening that looked out into the street so we could see the river boats and barges. We went to Huey's to get some to-go beignets for dessert. I'd never had beignets before but read the Huey reviews here on TA. They were good, though more like fry bread than the doughnut I was expecting. 3 were enough for the two of us (none for the baby), and they were good sized and very reasonably priced... like $2.95 or $3.95 for 3. Funny thing, while waiting for the beignets, I overheard the wait staff talking about how quiet the area was and wondering where all the people were. If that was quiet, I would hate to see River St when it was crowded!

The next morning we got a late start after the big hassle dealing with the hotel theft. We headed to Fort Pulaski, which we really enjoyed. It was very interesting. We didn't spend much more than 1-1/2 hours here. We didn't walk around much outside of the fort. They had a nice gift shop, and I got the cutest old fashioned baby bonnet for my daughter for only $7. We headed to Tybee Island.

We programmed our GPS w/ the Tybee Island Lighthouse. When we got there, I thought we missed it. The island is so overbuilt, that you can't even see the ocean from the lighhouse. It looked like an amusement park or miniature golf park to me. We went to the lighthouse gift shop, but did not tour the lighthouse because I didn't want to walk up the steps with the baby. We went to the downtown area, and the only place we could find parking was near an Arby's, so we ate there, even though I don't care for Arby's and hate fast food in general. It was my daughter's first fast food experience which was wonderful. I can never get her to eat meat, but she ate the chicken strips--all of them! And she loved it! And they had applesauce and milk w/ the kid's meal which she also ate. It was so nice to not have to fight her to eat. I think getting her to eat was the most difficult part of our trip.

I wanted my daughter to be in the Atlantic, so we tried to find a parking space at the beach. Parking was impossible. Finally, I took the camera and my daughter down to the beach, while my Mom waited in the car. She loved the seagulls, and we got our pics in the Atlantic and went back to the car.

Overall, I was disappointed with Tybee Island. It was so overbuilt, you couldn't tell that you were anywhere near the ocean, except that it was swarming with scantily clad teenagers. You couldn't see the ocean when driving to the island or on the island. There were just condos and tourist shops. I'm just not used to this on the west coast. Tybee did remind me of the overbuilt Myrtle Beach area that I'd visited a few years ago and forgotten.

We drove back to Savannah, and had ice cream at Leopold's which was fantastic! The baby was taking a nap in the car, so my Mom checked out the flavors, told me what she wanted, and I went in to order for both of us. I looked at the flavors and was going to settle for my general favorite coffee. I noticed they had a sign for coconut, though it was empty. While pondering, they brought in a fresh tub of coconut. I asked for a sample, and decided that it was the flavor for me. It was so extremely coconutty and quite refreshing. It was delicious. I would definitely recommend. It was a cute little shop as well.

We then toured the Telfair Owens Thomas House. We did not care for the tour guide here. She was the worst of any of our tours. She was rather aloof and didn't offer any extra info. She just seemed exactly like she was reciting a memorized script with unnatural pauses and inflection. Her narration was quite dry, and she did not answer questions well. We did enjoy the slave quarters painted with indigo paint. The house was ok, and the arched bridge was interesting. Overall, it was ok, though I think I would have preferred one of the other house tours in Savannah.

We drove around looking at the homes around the squares. We found the driving difficult because many of the streets did not have signs, and it was confusing when entering a square to find the right exit to leave because everything looked so similar. We then drove out to Bonaventure Cemetery. I think our GPS took us off the beaten path. We ended up seeing some fantastic homes... I believe the street was Victory Dr. When we reached Bonaventure, we found that it closed at 5pm. We were about a half hour late, and the gate was locked. It was still nice to look in and see the mossy oaks overtop. I get a little tired of reading many gravestones, so I wasn't terribly disappointed that we missed it. I don't remember what we did for dinner, but began driving back to Charleston this evening, and ended up overnighting near Hardeeville.

Overall, we did not enjoy our trip to Savannah, but that was mostly due to the hotel theft and my daughter losing her shoe and being unable to walk for one of our days there. This part of our trip was not well planned, and I should have known in advance which trolley tour to use, and which house to tour. I also was not well aware of the content of some of the tourist sites. We spent some time where we did not have much interest, and missed some things that would have been more interesting to us, like seeing more of the historic district. I think we would have liked more time to spend just driving around looking at houses.

My Charleston review is on the Charleston forum.

Illinois
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1. Re: Savannah Trip Review

I really enjoyed your trip reports since we have a similar trip planned. That is too funny about your daughter throwing her shoe out the trolley window! Thanks for posting.

Dallas, Texas
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for Boston, Orlando, Walt Disney World
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2. Re: Savannah Trip Review

Loved your TR glad you enjoyed Savannah.

Wilkesboro, North...
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3. Re: Savannah Trip Review

I read both reports and hate you didn't enjoy Savannah as much as Charleston. I'm completely the opposite as I probably won't ever go back to Charleston unless I can get a really good deal as the 3 times I've gone there I've had someone or something make me regret going. I think if you stay in the historic district of Savannah versus out on the outskirts and go at a different time, you'll have a totallly different experience. It's best to walk Savannah if possible and not try to cram everything in at one time. I do agree with you about the Owen Thomas House Tour Guides as I think they are taught to stick to the script but I wish they had more personality. If you can, give Savannah another try and stay in the historic district next time. Sorry about your daughter's shoe and the problem with the staff at the Holiday Inn.

North Carolina
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4. Re: Savannah Trip Review

Sounds like purchasing a pair of shoes for your daughter would have been a worthwhile investment. Really on St. John the Baptist Cathedral? I think it's amazing. First time I think I've ever seen Arby's mentioned in a review of Savannah. ; )

Edited: 12 March 2012, 15:43
Indiana
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5. Re: Savannah Trip Review

I have always heard your vacation time is what you make of it. If you go looking for the cheapest of things thats what you'll get. You cant see much of Savannah in a couple of days. Believe me I've tried. We have been there six different times for two to four days at a time and still havent seen everything we have wanted. The first time we stayed out on Abercorn never again it cost a little more to stay in The Historic District but well worth it. You can find some bargins if you look the second visit we stayed in a home on Perry Street in the slave quarters that they converted into an apartment for 120.00 a day. Really neat experience they use the home for filming The Conspirator

USA
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6. Re: Savannah Trip Review

Oh dearie me, it's very discouraging to have read so much negatavity in your trip report on Savannah - we're heading there next week :((

New Jersey
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7. Re: Savannah Trip Review

We're heading to Charleston (4 nights) and Savannah (3 nights) in April, and we're looking forward to visiting and enjoying both cities. I enjoy reading people's trip reports, and but they would never dissuade me from visiting a particular city or area because someone did not enjoy their time. Not everyone will enjoy New York City, San Francisco, or Maui.

Alaska
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8. Re: Savannah Trip Review

We would have bought more shoes, but shopping along the trolley route was scarce. We did find a little children's boutique near one of the stops, but they didn't have shoes:(

Loretta,

Just plan more than I did! Start your trolley tour early to make the most of it. We started much too late. Things I would do differently, skip St John Baptist, Temple Mickve & Tybee, tour another historic house, tour the first African church (we wanted to do this, but didn't have time), and do more walking in the historic area. Walking all the way around Forsythe a waste of time... not much to see on the far end, just a lot of walking. I wouldn't miss Ft Pulaski though. It was pretty incredible. I think we were there on a Saturday too, so they were doing a lot of demonstrations (cannon, etc.)

USA
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9. Re: Savannah Trip Review

Fishrach, thanks for the re-assurance, we are actually really looking forward to the entire trip as we are embarking on an adventure we have never done before. We are taking Amtrak from the East Coast, which should be heaps of fun, and we have rented an apartment within a stone's throw of the Historic District. We love history, we aren't renting a car, but walking as we love to explore as we go along. We are renting a car for just a day perhaps, but for most of the time we are exploring on foot. My husband does not like to indulge in too many "touristy" things like trolleys etc. We enjoy exploring on foot, so will def make the most of the gorgeous weather and vegetation. Thanks for the tip on the African church, that was on our list too. I've heard so much about Savannah, and having that touch of British really appeals to us, as have British in us. You were brave doing it with a young child. Anyway, I'm sure we'll have a wonderful time, weather permitting.

North Carolina
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10. Re: Savannah Trip Review

Before dismissing St. John the Baptist Cathedral, read the reviews on Tripadvisor.

Also, since you like to explore by foot, I recommend a self-guided walking tour book. It has 3 or 4 different walking tours of the historic district and the squares. Lots of great historical information about the city. It's about $6 in many stores and hotel lobbies.

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