November 26, 2012 was a gorgeous day, perfect for an excursion from Hilton Head to Savannah, Georgia. Settled in 1733, Savannah is renowned for its antebellum architecture and Southern charm. The city has one of the largest historic districts in the entire United States and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the American South. Given Savannah’s interesting history and stunning architecture, among the most popular things to do in Savannah are guided sightseeing tours, and that’s exactly what I was planning for today.
After about a 45 minute drive from Hilton Head that also took me over the iconic Talmadge Memorial Bridge, I arrived at the Visitor Center which is actually located inside the former Central of Savannah passenger railway station (built in 1860) which also holds a Railroad Museum and Children’s Museum. All the sightseeing trolleys depart in front of the Visitor Center, so that’s where I started my tour of Savannah.
The 90 minute sightseeing tour I took was a great introduction to Savannah. We covered the huge antebellum-era historic District with its pre-Civil War houses and buildings, including the Telfair Museum of Art, the First African Baptist Church and City Hall with its impressive gilded dome. We also had a look at the Savannah Victorian Historic District and the waterfront at River Street. The tour was a great way to get an overview of the beautiful City of Savannah.
We made one special stop during our Savannah sightseeing tour at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, the Mother Church of the Roman Catholic Diocese in the city. A congregation was formed as early as the late 1700s by French colonists while the current building was constructed between 1873 and 1896. The church was extensively restored in 2000 and is definitely one of the architectural jewels of this city.
Another thing that Savannah is famous for is its historic Savannah squares, and we drove by many of them. Starting in 1733, 24 squares were built in the city, 22 of which are still left today. Among the most famous squares are the first four squares, all created in 1733: Ellis Square, Johnson Square, Wright Square and Telfair Square.
The squares are anchored by historic monuments or fountains underneath a canopy of oak trees adorned with Spanish moss. Many of the squares have benches to take a rest and are surrounded by cozy cafes where one of the most enjoyable things to do in Savannah is to sit back, take in the beautiful surroundings and sip a leisurely coffee.