Like my previous post on the North and South Carolinas, I found I’d scheduled far too little time to enjoy the highlights of Georgia. I spent a mere morning in Atlanta at the impressive Aquarium, and then an afternoon and sleepy evening in beautiful Savannah. I was pretty exhausted from a lot of driving and trying to cram too many stops in! Despite the brevity of my experience, I’ve summarised the highs and lows:
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3 THINGS YOU REALLY CANNOT MISS:
ATLANTA AQUARIUM | is in the main plaza alongside Coca-Cola World. I spent half a day here before picking up a hire car: the whale sharks in the huge tank are breathtakingly beautiful in their grace, and the cheesy dolphin show is actually very impressive! There are also eerie white Beluga whales. I don’t know how cruel this captivity is versus other places, and it felt over-run with school kids, but I loved it.
SAVANNAH HISTORIC DISTRICT | this town is a real gem. The older part comprises of what would have been Savannah prior to the American Civil War i.e. the original town plan laid out in 1733. It’s easy to navigate, as there’s a distinctive grid plan, and beautiful architecture and green squares designed and built in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today Savannah retains much of the 1733 plan based on divisions, also called wards, squares, and ‘trustee lots’.
FOUNTAIN FORSYTH PARK | the thing that will strike you most about this park, and many of the beautiful spots in Savannah, is the romantic – or spooky? – hanging Spanish Moss that trails off the live Oak tree branches. Personally I think it’s gorgeous.
3 THINGS WORTH A SNOOP:
GINGERBREAD HOUSE | Savannah has so many photogenic houses. It’s a great place to get out a map and just walk from one to the other. The Gingerbread house is over a century old and considered one of the most outstanding examples of ‘Steamboat Gothic gingerbread carpentry’ in the US – who’d have thought that was even a thing! It’s one of the most photographed homes in Savannah, and has been featured in many films and publications.
RIVER STREET | runs right along the Savannah River and is also part of the Historic District. There is heaps of colonial charm in Savannah, and the riverfront offers a good stroll past shops, restaurants and old-time steamboats. It’s a little over-run with tourist-tat stalls though, which just ain’t that authentic!
SAVANNAH PENSIONE | this town does not cater for the budget traveller. I’m sure with airbnb and the like this has now – thankfully – changed, but when I visited in 2013 I was very restricted when it came to lower cost options. This place came with advance warnings about a strange owner! He was a little odd, but otherwise absent apart from our first meeting, and the private rooms have everything you would need.
3 THINGS TO STAY CLEAR:
OLYMPIC TRIBUTE PARK | I thought this space in Atlanta might have been really impressive, with its stronghold association with past Olympic Games. Nope. I was very underwhelmed by what for all intents and purposes is just your run of the mill squares of grass and trees.
CRIME REPUTATION | Savannah has a bit of bad rep for crime / safety, which from what I read seems to be largely referring to muggings and the common output when tourists with flashy wallets and iPads come in large numbers to an area with poverty issues. As a solo traveller, I kept to the Historic District and explored during the day (didn’t have any issues).
SCAFFOLDING | ah, these things can’t be helped! But it’s always so frustrating when some of the famous sights you make a point of seeing are closed, or covered with scaffolding, or just under-going some kind of refurb – which is what happened a little in Savannah.
1 THING I WISH I’D DONE:
CNN Centre | I gave this a miss when I was in Atlanta, but I actually think it would be really interesting to have a tour of the CNN newsrooms and studios. They also can do an Express tour to go behind the scenes of their acclaimed morning show, but isn’t every day so check the schedule.
AND KNOW THIS: Georgia is known as the Peach State, but it’s also the country’s top producer of pecans, peanuts, and vidalia onions. The state’s onions are considered some of the sweetest in the world. Nice breath.