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Centuries of history, miles and miles of natural beauty and true Southern charm make Savannah my favorite destination

by: Wendy Vogeley

Southern Hospitality is not just a myth –just spend a day or two in Savannah and you’ll see what I mean. I visited Georgia’s oldest city for the first time a few weeks ago and was overwhelmed by the warmth and friendliness of everyone I met. The city itself will awe you with its magnificent beauty, the country squares, cobblestone streets, historic sights and attractions. If you’ve never been to Savannah, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Savannah Telfair Museum Savannah Historic Home

Magnolia trees and blooming azaleas, delicate Spanish moss dripping wildly from towering oaks–Savannah is aesthetically picture perfect. It’s like being transported into the pages of a fairytale.

In addition to its tranquil setting, there’s so much history and culture here you never run out of interesting attractions and sights to see. I loved the Telfair Museum of Art which is the oldest art museum in the South and is actually several museums in one. The main building, the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences, is a marvelous mansion that was built in the early 1800’s and is a National Historic Landmark Building. Its appearance is strikingly handsome and inside is a amazing collection of fine arts and unique exhibitions that span from artists and cultures across the globe. The Owens-Thomas House, also a National Historic Landmark; is truly a sight to see with its stately English Regency appearance and unusual design. When you visit these two antique buildings it’s hard not to feel moved by the past they represent and the stories of the people who lived in them and brought the Telfair Museum to life. The third building of the Telfair Museum is the Jepson Center for the Arts, which is a modern, state-of-the-art structure that fittingly hosts a vast array of 20th- and 21st-century art. If you enjoy any or all aspects of visual, decorative or architectural arts, a stop in the Telfair Museum will be well worth the time.

After touring the Telfair, I enjoyed strolling though City Market which is a charming open-air market thriving with activity. In 1755, this was the place where fishermen and farmers sold their wares and horse-drawn carriages carried folks to shop and socialize. Back then, it was Savannah’s social and commercial gathering spot. Nowadays, visitors to Savannah and locals enjoy dining in the restaurants, mingling in the pubs, and browsing through the chic shops, museums and galleries. In the evenings, there’s live music and entertainment in the courtyards. But the best part–you can still get a ride on a horse-drawn carriage and relive the nostalgia of the original City Market!

Now, if you like spooky stuff, you’re in the right place because Savannah is considered to be America’s Most Haunted City, as determined by the American Institute of Parapsychology. Several of the city’s historic homes have had reports of people hearing voices, seeing apparitions and experiencing other paranormal activity. The Sorrel-Weed House, is one such example, which was built in 1840 and was the first house built at Madison Square. It was the family home of Francis Sorrel and General Gilbert Mosley Sorrel, who was the youngest General in the Confederate States. The home is one of the first in Georgia to be made a state landmark and is a beautiful Greek Revival structure. Many famous and infamous people are said to have visited the Sorrel-Weed house, including General Robert E. Lee. And many believe the home is haunted. Guests reported hearing calls for help from spirits while touring the magnificent mansion. In October 2005, the home was featured on the TV show Ghost Hunters. Who haunts the house? No one knows for sure, but some say it’s the ghost of a former slave who died at the house, or Francis Sorrel’s wife who killed herself by jumping off the second floor porch. Take a tour and see for yourself–I had so much fun seeing the house and listening for calls from the beyond. If you love this kind of stuff there are a bunch of ghost tours that take you to the most haunted places in the city–from the Colonial Park Cemetery to haunted pubs and more, it’s a experience that you won’t forget.

I was in Savannah for few days and I saw and did so much–I haven’t even mentioned the cotton exchange buildings and factors walk, Johnson Square, which was Savannah’s first historic square, the Waving Girl Statue, River Street and the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, who was the founder of the Girl Scouts. Seeing all of the marvelously restored homes in Savannah’s Historic Colonial District was also a treat–did you know that it’s the largest Historic Landmark District in the United States? I didn’t-although I had heard about how spectacular it was–and it truly is a sight to behold.

I hope you get an opportunity to spend some time exploring all that Savannah has to offer–see the sights, meet the locals and discover the true meaning of Southern Hospitality as I did!

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