Heading southeast along Highway 16 from Atlanta may be one of the dullest drives in the state, but reaching the end of this uneventful road is a reward unimaginable. For if you’re seeking a perfect slice of small town charm with a heavy hint of elegance and grandeur, Savannah waits for you.
Four and a half hours after a late morning start, you’ll be in awe as the tall trees along the road start bleeding in rich Spanish Moss and an exit at a busy junction beckons you down directly into the heart of the Historic District. Savannah is an isolated city, but lonely is she not— time stands perfectly still here and livelier than ever in the hostess city of the South, noted by John Berendt when he wrote his colorful and thrilling book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil that other cities had freeways that moved travelers on to the next destination– “here, Savannah was the end of the road.”
And here you are, end of that road to reap the hospitality that awaits in its dwellers, and dwellings. The range of beautifully preserved homes throughout the town bring you back into the heyday of an Old South that doesn’t’ seem like it truly was ever really gone with the wind…from the infamous Mercer Williams’ decadent Italianate facade to the grand Corinthian columned porch of the veterinary hospital off of Forsyth Park, the inhabitants, businesses, and faces may change— the city itself, not so much.
With the change that does occur, we can enjoy modern cultural delights without the despair of what used to be. Broughton Street is lined in yogurt shops and quirky retailers of fine hats or hardware and even French decor and lavender iced tea from the Paris Market and Brocante. Step away a few blocks and you’ll want to gaze at the brilliant homes from the park squares, benches placed beneath tall oaks among azaleas and other lush flora that thrive under their cool canopies. And just a walk down to the graying River Street wind-beaten but bustling in candy stores and riverboat tours, it’s no wonder they still sing about Southern hospitality. No need to make room for better, for nothing new here is better, only offbeat. There truly is a sense of ageless wonder here.
That’s what draws you to Savannah, away from the modern metropolis of Atlanta or the wild sleepless hours of New Orleans. You come here for that front porch recline, a good conversation with a passerby walking their dog or tending their garden, for a soft, warm wind whistling through the big trees plentiful and untouched– you come here to escape for an absolute certainty of peace of mind, and not without your preferred drink in hand. Ever since it was rediscovered in “the book,” of John Berendt’s, the city has never been the same, but all the while never been revealing of its tricks even twenty years later and onward. In that, the real mystical charm of Savannah is in its sense of time— or lack thereof.
SIT A SPELL
SIGHTS OF THE SEASON
The haunting beauty of Bonaventure Cemetery
Mercer Williams House, Monterey Square
A stroll along Factor’s Walk in the rain
A show dedicated to the fabulous life of the Lady Chablis at Club One