Last week I wrote about the terrific walking tours we did in Savannah last Thanksgiving. And there was so much more! Here are just some of the highlights:
- Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum (41 Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard; ) at the William Scarbrough House and Gardens– If you like stories of the old sailing days and maritime disasters, as I do, this is your place. No sightings of Captain Jack Aubrey, but unbelievably gorgeous ship models, carvings, artworks, and short videos. Note: a lot of ships have been named Savannah!
- Inspired, we did the one-hour Savannah Riverboat Cruise of the harbor and from the water, you see the city differently. Savannah was a strategic port city in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and today is one of the nation’s largest seaports, with direct access to the Atlantic Ocean. Having taken a lot of riverboat tours, I can authoritatively say this was one of the best narrations ever. Interesting and informative. Located at 9 East River Street.
- Too much city prompted us to take the short drive to the 175-acre Oatland Island Wildlife Center, which is quite manageable for people of all abilities (strollers), and you see some pretty impressive critters up close (gators, mountain lions, buffalo, wolves, and much more) and in their natural habitats. There’s a boardwalk through the salt marsh and well-marked trails: 711 Sandtown Road; 912/395-1212.
- Congregation Mickve Israel on Monterey Square was founded in 1733 with the largest single migration of Jews to the colonies—mostly Sephardic Jews who’d fled to London to escape Portugal’s Inquisition. The sanctuary is in gothic style (consecrated in 1878) and its museum includes two 15th century deerskin Torahs.
- Being in town at Thanksgiving, we got to see the Christmas Lights Boat Parade on the Savannah River, with scores of boats “decked out” in lights, displays, Santas, music, and fun! We initially watched from the balcony of one of my favorite restaurants of the trip—Vic’s on the River (26 East Bay Street)—then from the esplanade.
On the must-see list (but too far out for the trolley tours) is Bonaventure Cemetery (330 Bonaventure Road), site of the unforgettable scene with the hoodoo priestess in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Alas, the statue of the “Bird Girl” from the cover of that book had to be moved to a more secure location. But there you’ll find an unforgettable southern gothic atmosphere, as well as graves of national treasures Johnny Mercer, whose tombstone inscription is “And the Angels Sing” and Conrad Aiken, whose reads “Cosmos Mariner, Destination Unknown.”
Not to mention Forsyth Park where the elaborate fountain reportedly came from a Sears, Roebuck catalog, the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum, the beautiful Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, the childhood home of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts . . .