Savannah, Georgia is a beautiful, historic city on the southeast coast of Georgia. It is known as the ‘sister’ city of Charleston, SC because of their similarities but Savannah has plenty of character to distinguish itself as a destination you will never forget. Between the deep history rooted here, delicious Southern food, and the famous St. Patrick’s Day Parade, you will never be bored visiting Savannah.
A city filled with history
Savannah is the oldest city in the state of Georgia and was founded by James Oglethorpe in 1733. During the civil war in 1864, General Sherman marched through the city and was planning to destroy it until local authorities surrendered so they could save their beautiful city from destruction. As a result of this peaceful negotiation, you can ride through the downtown area today, and see how the city is decorated with lovely old oak trees dripping with excessive Spanish moss. It looks like a painting because the trees are perfectly connected to each other along the streets and they provide shade on those hot musty days of summer. At first glance, you realize this city is different from any other city you have visited. The streets downtown are actually squares and there are a total of 22 squares. They were originally created to create space for military training and they still exist today as small parks for weddings or a place to eat lunch if you work in the area. They are one-way streets for cars so there is a lot of twisting and turning as you drive around the squares.
My family roots in Savannah
Savannah is a special place for me because my family has a deep history embedded in the city. My great-great-grandparents arrived in Charleston on a boat from Ireland and were married in Charleston before settling in Savannah. In downtown Savannah, there is an old historical church called the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and an all-girls high school called St. Vincent’s Academy that is connected to the church and has existed since 1845. The high school was originally an orphanage and boarding school for boys and girls during the Civil War. My great grandmother and my great aunt attended the school and my great aunt was in the first graduating class of 5 girls in 1919. My great Aunt’s picture of the first graduating class hangs in the hallway of the school today and we have kept her senior ring which is a treasure for our family. My grand-aunt and my mother and aunts also attended and graduated from St. Vincent’s Academy. My grandfather attended the all-boys school which was established later.
The annual St Patrick’s Day Parade
Even though I did not grow up in Savannah, my mother has made sure that this beautiful city has been a part of my childhood. Savannah hosts the second-largest St.Patrick’s Day Parade in the country and is a sight to see if you have never been to it. Everyone is Irish and wears green on St. Patrick’s Day. Schools and colleges have it marked on their calendar every year as an official holiday. My grandfather never missed a year of celebrating St.Patrick’s day and it was indeed his favorite holiday. He was a member of the Irish Society and would start the day with mass at Cathedral of St. John the Baptist with his green coat and tie on every year! Everyone would eat a huge breakfast with green grits to celebrate the day and the fountains in the parks would be dripping with green water. My grandfather walked in the parade every year with his buddies and would wave at us when he passed by in the parade. The music, bands, food, and family made this a day I would never forget.
Authentic Southern food
When most people think about southern food in Savannah, they immediately think of Paula Deen’s restaurant because of her well-known name all over the country. Since my mother is a native of Savannah, she would take our family to all of the local restaurants that are just as good if not better than Paula Deen’s restaurant. One of the most unique restaurants we visited was Mrs. Wilkes. She always has a long line waiting for her restaurant to open at lunchtime. Once you are lucky enough to get seated in this historical house, you are seated as if you are visiting your mom on Thanksgiving day. You sit at long tables with other tourists waiting for the southern food. There are no menus to order your food from as you are there to be served a southern meal cooked by this lovely lady. The menu is always roughly the same food. Southern fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, macaroni and cheese, fried okra, sweet potatoes, cornbread, and rolls. Of course without a doubt southern sweet tea for everyone! Mrs. Wilkes was once a boarding house that is now a restaurant for all to enjoy!
Another popular restaurant with authentic, southern food is the Pirate’s House. It is a southern lunch buffet that is served daily in the downtown area. It was first opened in 1733 as an Inn and then became a meeting point for pirates and sailors who would come from the Savannah River through a tunnel to this restaurant. Pirate’s House is known as being haunted by pirates from the past with noises heard in the kitchen as well as in dining areas. In fact, Savannah is known as the most haunted city in America. Several houses, bed and breakfasts, cemeteries and restaurants all have stories from the past. There are ghost tours and stories to be heard about this haunted city and it is a fun-filled activity to enjoy while visiting Savannah.
Before leaving this city, you should visit the historic cobblestone street known as “River Street” by the locals. It is a street on the Savannah River with cobblestones going down a hill and all along the river. These are stones from the Civil War days that make this street and city so unique. Cars slowly drive over them and it is not an easy task to drive as if you are living in the 1800s. Once you make it down the hill, there are many good restaurants, shops and candy stores to visit. The scenery is beautiful of the Savannah River and the ships coming into the port of Savannah. Before leaving river street and the beautiful scenery of Savannah, you must buy a mouth-watering praline to take home with you. The addiction is real and will be one of the main reasons you will return to this historical city very soon.