Not a European trip report...but still

Hi all - I got back from my trip south (Charleston, Savannah, and St. Augustine) last week and just wanted to provide a quick report. Thanks to everyone who answered my questions about planning this trip! Charleston was my favorite city and it's hard to say why. There's an elegance and gentility to the city which I found appealing. Buildings are painted in Caribbean pastels and people are very nice there. I went to the Reform temple and the Coming Street Cemetery, a Jewish cemetery which dates back to the Revolutionary War. We ate at Hyman's Seafood Restaurant where the portions are insanely large and almost everything is fried - that's the southern stereotype! We rented a car when we left the city and stopped in Beaufort, which is very pretty; and we also stopped to see the Old Sheldon Church ruins. The church was destroyed once by the British during the Revolution and again by Sherman during the Civil War. The cemetery next to the church isn't in very good shape.

Posted by Sarah
Chicago (formerly St. Louis), IL, USA
1311 posts

Savannah is very compact and walkable. It has small squares with trees, commemorative statues, and plaques explaining all of the history that happened there. I visited the Reform temple and Colonial Cemetery, City Market, River Street, and Forsyth Park. We stayed for a night on Jekyll Island, which I loved. The whole island is a nature park. We went to the Sea Turtle Center which is geared towards kids but it was great to see all the good the center is doing to save sick and injured turtles. St. Augustine is very small, about 12,000 people in the city center, and of course very walkable. Daytona Motorcycle Week was going on and there were so many motorcycles everywhere, which I hated because of the noise. But I really liked the Spanish fort and the lighthouse. St. George Street is touristy but cute. We also walked through the older parts of town and saw the town's oldest house which dates from the early 1700s. I'm not a summer or beach person, but there's something about palm trees and water that gets me. Early March is a good time to go - the weather isn't too hot (or not hot at all) and the tourist season is just barely underway.

Posted by Linda
Seattle, WA, USA
432 posts

Sarah, I am so glad you posted a report of your travels to Charleston, Savannah and St.Augustine as I am doing a very similar trip in May. How about the parking in Savannah and St.Augustine? Was it challenging like so many helpline posters reported? Did you go to the pirate museum in St. Augustine? It is something I am considering but if it is way too silly, I might pass on it. For Savannah or Charleston, did you take any ghost tours. I am researching that now. Also, did you happen to check out the Savannah National Wildlife Park? I appreciate any insight you may have.

Posted by Sarah
Chicago (formerly St. Louis), IL, USA
1311 posts

Linda - parking in Savannah can be pricey. We stayed at the Country Inn and Suites - Historic District on Montgomery St. which charges $12 per night for parking and allows guests to use the Liberty Street parking garage next door. We didn't drive in Savannah at all, just in and out of the city when we arrived and left. Downtown where most of the attractions are is so walkable that we didn't need the car at all. In St. Augustine we stayed at At Journey's End B&B which offers free parking, and again we didn't drive within the town because it's so compact. We didn't go to the pirate museum because we thought it would be hokey, but if you're interested you should check it out. Same with the ghost tours - we didn't go but if you want to, you should. I was interested in the tangible historic aspects of the town - the fort, lighthouse, and old city center with Spanish buildings. We didn't go to the Wildlife Park. There's much to do just in the 450 miles between Charleston and St. Augustine that I'll have to return someday! How long is your trip? How much time are you budgeting for each city?

Posted by Linda
Seattle, WA, USA
432 posts

Sarah, it is good that Savannah and St. Augustine will be so accessible by foot. I don't plan on driving around much except to the wildlife park and to one of the plantations. My accommodations will have parking available. My trip is short - about 2 1/2 days for each city. Looking forward to learning about the area. I am a birder - that's why the interest in the Park. Hope to see some alligators too. Never been to this part of our country. Linda

Posted by Sarah
Chicago (formerly St. Louis), IL, USA
1311 posts

Linda - I forgot to mention that we went to Drayton Hall outside Charleston. It's a bit pricey ($17; $16 with AAA discount) but really cool. We took a tour of the house, which has no furniture but the tour provides an in-depth explanation of what each room was used for; and we stayed for the 45-minute talk about slavery and the traditions that the slaves brought with them. It takes about 20 minutes to get to Drayton from Charleston.

Posted by Jean
Mill Creek, WA, USA
84 posts

Hi, we just returned from a trip inspired from this entry in the RS postings. We spent two days in Savannah, two days at Myrtle Beach, and three days in Charleston - absolutely loved the trip! We stayed at the yellow Forsyth Park Inn B&B in Savannah - great breakfasts and beautiful location overlooking Forsyth Park. Sweet tea on the white porch was something I was anticipating! The whole historic district is very interesting - felt it was nicer than Charleston because of the different periods of homes and all of the park squares. Myrtle Beach was a fun destination - lots to do. We loved walking the whole historic James Island of Charleston. Made reservations on-line before our trip at Slightly North of Broadway (SNOB) - great meal! I also really enjoyed the first floor of the Gibbes Art Museum. Thanks again for the suggestion of Savannah & Charleston! Where to next?

Posted by Sarah
Chicago (formerly St. Louis), IL, USA
1311 posts

Hi Jean - glad to hear about your trip! That part of the country is beautiful and I found a new favorite city in Charleston. Savannah's park squares are so cool, I agree. But I think part of the reason I liked Charleston so much is because it's bigger than Savannah and feels more like a "real" city, and I also loved the Caribbean colors of the buildings. Charleston's waterfront area is nicer than Savannah's, in my opinion. We didn't go to Myrtle Beach - that's on my list for next time. Where did you stay there? Where to next? I'd like to rent a car for 2 weeks and explore the Chesapeake Bay area. I watched a program on PBS about it and found out about all these historic towns with lighthouses and gorgeous bay views.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1960 posts

We made the same trip a year ago starting in Orlando, and caught $7.50 per day Hertz car rentals. Hertz has a glut of cars leftover when the winter tourists leave for home and they want them delivered anywhere north of Florida. We drove up the coast to Washington, DC and left the car at the Baltimore Airport for a budget flight home. Savannah and Charleston are very popular places to go, and many Atlanta residents keep places on the coast. And they have some great restaurants.
Keep the Hertz deal in mind next Spring, as it's a great, cheap getaway.

Posted by Sarah
Chicago (formerly St. Louis), IL, USA
1311 posts

Thanks so much. Do you know the range of time when this deal is offered (i.e. early March through late April)?

Posted by Linda
Seattle, WA, USA
432 posts

Hi everyone,
Getting so excited about my trip coming up in just two weeks to Savannah, Charleston and St. Augustine It is going to be a mix of historic sites, plantations, nature study, eating what I hope will be scrumptious food and drinking refreshing sweet tea. I want to visit the tea plantation and perhaps a winery. I have been reading historical fiction about the Civil War and life during this period of time in U.S. history, as well as watching movies shot in and around Charleston and Savannah. In fact watching a DVD on the making of Cold Mountain tonight. I'll be sure to give a short trip report upon my return. Even though this is a European traveler Helpline, I think the influence of parts of Europe in the area I will be visiting counts for a posting. Linda

Posted by Linda
Seattle, WA, USA
432 posts

Update: Ha... Cold Mountain filmed in Romania! Gotta love Hollywood

Posted by Sarah
Chicago (formerly St. Louis), IL, USA
1311 posts

@Linda - never trust Hollywood. :) St. Augustine felt very "European" to me, because of the huge fort and the Spanish-inspired architecture. Some of the oldest buildings in town were actually built by Spanish settlers so there's a direct European connection. Charleston felt very Caribbean, I think because of the pastel colors of the buildings. The Battery is a beautiful waterfront and there are plaques all over the city which describe historical events. And Savannah felt very Old South, with the huge live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss and the gorgeous mansions. It's a college town and definitely feels like it, but the live oaks, palm trees, and architecture were exotic to my Midwestern sensibilities!

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

I just got back from Charleston (4th time) and have to really recommend Magnolia Plantation/ Gardens (which also sells tickets to the Audubon Swamp with wonderful wildlife - egret rookery, aligators, turtles, etc) and Cypress Gardens (north of Charleston around Monck's Corner - you can take a guided boat on the swamp lilly ponds for $5). Nearby Monck's Corner is the lovely Mepkin Abbey, also a great visit. Also, cross the Ravenel Bridge to Mt. Pleasant and take a stroll in Shem's Creek and Old Village. Below is a link to good maps in case anyone needs them... http://charlestongateway.com/map-guide/

Posted by Rebecca
Nashville, TN, USA
644 posts

"Where to next? I'd like to rent a car for 2 weeks and explore the Chesapeake Bay area. I watched a program on PBS about it and found out about all these historic towns with lighthouses and gorgeous bay views." Hi Sarah! You may want to include a swing by the James River area in Virginia also on your next trip. James River is where many of the old Colonial era plantations were, and a lot of early American presidents ancestors lived there. Beautiful places such as Berkeley Plantation, Sherwood Forest Plantation, and Shirley Plantation. Close by is Colonial Williamsburg.

Posted by Sarah
Chicago (formerly St. Louis), IL, USA
1311 posts

Thanks, Rebecca! I'll note that down.

Posted by Barbara
Houston
3 posts

I went to Savannah a number of years ago with my daughter and son-in-law. We did a Ghosts/Brewery tour that was fun. We went to B&B's, Restaurants, Bars and Breweries, all places that were reported to have ghosts and you received a beer at each location. My son-in-law loved the beers and my daughter and I like the walking and ghostly stories at each place we visited. We found the tour in a brochure on Savannah.

Posted by celeste
ATL, GA, USA
30 posts

I grew up about an hour from Savannah, close to the middle of nowhere. When in Savannah, eat at Mrs. Wilkes'. It's an institution. Avoid Paula Deen's place - it's not. :) If you'd like a less touristy beach than Myrtle, look at Isle of Palms, near Charleston. Lots of rentals on VRBO - we stayed at Wild Dunes (gated community with all levels of accommodation and very nice, quiet beaches) last summer and it was awesome. Close enough to drive over to Charleston to do the stuff there but still be at the beach. Best of both worlds. If you're headed down I-95 through Jacksonville on the way to St. Augustine and want some great Cuban food, stop at Havana Jax. Lived about 15 minutes from there for a number of years. Don't bother with Jacksonville Beach though - keep driving to St. Augustine.
Been lurking here reading up on our trip to Europe this summer and so happy I could finally provide information that could be useful to someone! Celeste