Journeys: Savannah, Georgia

New memories are to be made in this antique city
home with large porch and trees around at sunset
Charming homes and palm trees abound in Savannah

Annelise Hanshaw

History meets hipster in a city full of Southern charm. Visitors of Savannah, Georgia, can expect lots of old-school architecture, fashionable brunch spots, and even a bit of horror. I hopped on a plane with very little idea of what to do in Savannah, but during my solo trip, I packed my days with the help of the best guides. That’s right; I let my Uber drivers plan my trip.

My first ride took me to the small Bull Street Taco joint, and the driver’s comments began a theme: Savannah is certainly cute but sits on a eerie past (or burial grounds, as many tour guides say). At the driver’s suggestion, I toured the Sorrel-Weed House at night. My guide had us take pictures in mirrors for a chance of seeing ghosts in them later. No specters made an appearance for me, but Syfy’s Ghost Hunters captured ghostly noises there in 2005. Haunted walking tours take visitors around the city, telling stories of unmarked graves and paranormal experiences under the many oaks and Spanish moss.

The Collins Quarter’s “avocado smash” makes a colorful plate and a beautiful bite.

Annelise Hanshaw

The supernatural claims didn’t take away from the picturesque strolls down brick sidewalks and quaint shops lining the squares in the area. There’s always something adorable around the corner, from antique shops to parks full of dogs. I walked eight miles most days, grabbing pastries and visiting museums. One of my favorite meals was brunch at The Collins Quarter, a cafe in the historic district. They serve colorful, Instagram-ready avocado toast and other brunch favorites.

There’s an overarching issue in Savannah—a history of slavery. Georgia was founded with utopian ideas and banned undesirable things like liquor and slavery. Eventually, the state succumbed to the allure of free labor. It felt glossed over in some locations. One driver even pointed out some underground tunnels labeled as used for food storage; he said it was storage for slaves. My favorite museum was the Owens-Thomas House because it highlighted the lives of slaves in this wealthy home. There was also a wall dedicated to the names of slaves a previous inhabitant owned or traded. It’s a somber but important fact of this former Confederate state.

After a climb up the restored lighthouse (right, with the keeper’s cottage), the view from the top of the restored Tybee Island Lighthouse shows the spring greenery.

Annelise Hanshaw

A $25 Uber away is Tybee Island, a step down from nearby Hilton Head. I was told Hilton Head was lush and more beautiful, but it was farther. Tybee Island made a great day trip and exceeded my expectations, especially impressing me with a historical lighthouse. The Tybee Island Light Station dates back to 1736 and has a restored lightkeeper’s cottage. Even though I walked with a limp and was dizzy, I trekked up almost 180 spiral stairs to the top of the lighthouse. The views were worth the climb, and I rested my legs on the beach afterward.

Large trees flank a dirt road
I walked one and a half miles down an arched pathway of oak trees.

Annelise Hanshaw

Perhaps the most breathtaking view was at the Wormsloe Historic Site. There’s a museum and little display of colonial life, but it’s best to treat the site like a park. The best part was strolling under the oaks and palm trees that overlook a marsh. I would’ve loved to picnic out there.

A white fountain at sunset
The fountain in Forsyth Park is painted white every year after green dye stains the finish in late March.

Annelise Hanshaw

Almost every Uber driver told me about St. Patrick’s Day. Apparently, it’s huge in Savannah. Irish roots are deep in Savannah, and they celebrate throughout March. While I’m not one to chug a green beer, I enjoyed watching a ceremony dye the fountain in Forsyth Park green. It ended my trip and began a large celebration in the cute Southern city. If I had stayed another week, I would’ve seen a parade and festivals.

I rarely splurge on travel, or really anything. But Savannah was worth it and provided a lot of value-packed experiences. I loved to stroll through the squares and capture pictures of all the cute homes and historic monuments. It worked out to not plan ahead because no matter what I chose, it was bound to be memorable.

three traditional Southern victorian houses
The architecture makes Savannah oh-so charming.

Annelise Hanshaw