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Countdown to Savannah: A City Best Viewed From Your Feet
Written by teaberry
In early 2007, we started our official Countdown to Savannah. Each Sunday, we posted a different topic about this special city where we met for our first Great Slow Travel Gathering in Spring 2008.
With 63 posts over 14+ months, we learned a lot about the many facets of this historic, hospitable and intriguing American city. Our weekly posts touched on Savannah's history, famous people, architecture, food, culture, surrounding area and much more. We hope this information acquaints you with Savannah, entices you to visit this historic city, and prepares you for a very memorable trip.
A Walker's Paradise
Established in 1733 and built in a grid pattern, Savannah is one of the great walking cities. In fact, it’s a walker’s paradise. It is perfectly flat, and planned with 22 landscaped squares, filled with live oaks, Spanish moss, beautiful ironwork and benches. In a city known for its history, architecture, stately mansions, monuments, museums, and cemeteries, it may be hard to decide just which part of the city to visit by foot. Savannah’s Historic District is a 2.5 square mile walking district full of bistros, quaint shops, green squares, and grand architecture.
A few of the on-foot tours are included in this article, with plenty of rest stops along the way. At the end of the page, there are several of many walking tour companies to be found in Savannah.
Take the First Step
Is history and culture your thing? You may want to take a walk starting with the Savannah History Museum, located at the Savannah Visitors Center on Martin Luther King Blvd. and Liberty Street. Just a few blocks away you will find the Roundhouse Railroad Museum on West Harris Street, where you can find several old locomotives and follow the course of the growth of industry in the city. Just a little further is Savannah’s fine art museum, the Telfair Museum of Art.
Continuing with history and culture, another direction you may want to go is to start your walk at the Davenport House, a Federal-style home museum, on East State Street. From there, practically caddy-corner is the Owens-Thomas House on Abercorn Street. Then stroll over to the Juliet Gordon Low House, birthplace of the founder of the Girl Scouts, on Oglethorpe Avenue. Just a few blocks south is the Colonial Park Cemetery, founded in 1750 and the burial place of many Revolutionary war heroes. A block south on Abercorn below the cemetery is the beautiful Cathedral of St. John the Baptist – not to be missed!
You may want to spend your day closer to the river, taking in the sights, smells, and specialty shops. Walk along the eastern end of River Street and that's where you’ll find the famous Waving Girl. Just south of River Street, on East Bay Street, lies Factors Walk - take in all the lovely shops along the refurbished alleyways and walkways. Stroll along bustling River Street, with its refurbished cotton warehouses. A few blocks further west on Jefferson Street is City Market, also known as the art and soul of Savannah, with its many restored buildings, restaurants, and galleries. And just across from Franklin Square is the First African Baptist Church, the oldest African American church in North America.
Maybe you’d like to immerse yourself in Savannah’s uniquely southern-style architecture? Anchored around historic Forsyth Park, and situated just south of the Historic District, you can find over 50 blocks of Victorian and Queen Anne-style frame homes. And Forsyth Park, at over 20 acres of land, is a splendid place to enjoy its elegant fountain and crowning beauty. There is even a garden for the blind there, too. Just above Forsyth Park you’ll find Mercer Williams House, on Bull Street at Monterey Square. Just a few blocks north near Madison Square, you’ll come upon the Green-Meldrim House and the Sorrel-Weed House, both beautiful examples of Savannah’s rich Gothic and Greek revival styles.
Or, perhaps you would love to visit some (or all) of Savannah’s 22 squares? Each one has its own special lure and beauty, replete with benches, fountains, wrought-iron grille work, and monuments. This grid of parks, throughout the city, at every two block intervals, purely caters to the pedestrian. Each square, with its canopy of trees with Spanish moss and invitingly landscaped green space, has been likened to a jewel, and is truly a treasure for Savannah. They are lovely places to stop and enjoy a picnic lunch.
There are hop-on/hop-off buses that can get you to and from practically all of your walk tours. You can find information about Savannah’s free transit system in the historic district here.
There is so much to see and do by foot in Savannah; these have just been a few guidelines. You can tailor your own itinerary, or maybe you might enjoy a private or organized tour to guide you to the city’s sights. Explore Savannah offers private walking from two hour walking tours to complete day tours customized to your interests of Savannah. No large group of strangers - just you and your guide exploring historic Savannah. Savannah Walks group is also a great choice to see the city by foot. They offer 3 types of tours including the popular historic homes tour. If these options aren't enough, don't forget the ghost and haunted tours here and here. And let's not forget the pub crawl tours, either!
All About Savannah: Links to many information pages about Savannah (where to eat, where to stay, places of interest, getting around town, and more)
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