Savannah is known for it’s charm and great southern food. We were surprised to hear Georgia was the leading cotton producer in the country, and Savannah was one of the major cotton seaports on the Atlantic. By the 1880s the area was known as the “Wall Street of the South.” The Savannah Cotton Exchange stands as a grand reminder of cotton’s influence on this city. Built in 1886 by Boston architect William G. Preston, the Cotton Exchange was one of the first major buildings to be constructed entirely over a public street. Built of red brick with a terra cotta façade, iron window lintels and copper finials and copings, the building is one of the best surviving examples of the Romantic Revival Period.
One thing that makes Savannah so special is its “Squares”. During most of the development of the city, the squares were used for communal activities, such as gathering water, baking bread, celebrating holidays and victories, along with many other activities. They were also used as stock yards and gathering places for those from outside the city for protection in time of attack. The original plan of the city included 24 squares. Today there are 22 left – the other 2 were used for government buildings. Each square is named for various historic people with statues and beautiful shady gardens.
Savannah’s Historic District is one of the largest in the U.S. with thousands of architecturally significant buildings including examples of Federal, Victorian Regency, Greek and Gothic Revival, and Italianate architecture.
Savannah is well known for her magnificent ironwork. Beautiful scrolled designs appear on many of the buildings in cast-iron balconies, stair railings and window guards. Ironwork can be found in many of the squares and surrounding monuments and fountains.
We were also surprised to hear that the Port of Savannah is one of the busiest in the country. Between 2000 and 2005 alone, the Port of Savannah was the fastest-growing port in the United States. In response to the growth in traffic at both Savannah and the Port of Charleston, the Jasper Ocean Terminal, to be the largest port in the country when it is completed, is planned to be built upriver on the Savannah River by the mid 2020s.
And no visit would be complete without a boat ride.
One day we took a ride out to Tybee Island. Tybee Island is a barrier island and small city near Savannah, Georgia. It’s known for its wide, sandy beaches, including South Beach, with a pier and pavilion. In the island’s north, Fort Screven has 19th-century concrete gun batteries and the Tybee Island Light Station and Museum. The still-functioning 18th-century lighthouse has been rebuilt many times. We enjoyed the bike paths throughout the island with the pups.
We stayed at CreekFire Motor Ranch. It’s a new motorcoach resort and we stayed on a pretty lake front lot. The clubhouse was charming.
Next up we head north and are crossing the border into South Carolina visiting Hilton Head Island.