Things to know before you head to the Hostess City
Savannah, Ga., conjures images of spreading live oak trees draped with Spanish moss, picturesque cobblestone streets and old homes festooned with wrought-iron railings. Behind the city’s authentic charm is an urbane outlook on life. The city is home to the Savannah College of Art and Design, award-winning restaurants and hip brewpubs.
Q: What airport is near Savannah, Georgia?
A: Savannah Hilton Head International, about 10 miles northwest of downtown, is the closest airport to Savannah. Air Canada, Allegiant, American, Delta, JetBlue, Sun Country and United airlines operate at the airport, providing 22 nonstop flights and connections to major airports around the country and overseas. Disembarking passengers can rent a car, take a taxi, line up for a shuttle or hire a limo. Chatham Area Transit, or CAT, buses stop at the airport and serve most of Savannah’s neighborhoods. If you rent a car, the most direct route downtown is on Route 21 south to W. Bay St.
Q: What military base is in Savannah, Georgia?
A: The 3rd Infantry Division, based at Fort Stewart, about 40 miles southeast of Savannah, is the Army’s largest armor training base in the East. Hunter Army Airfield, part of Fort Stewart, is less than 10 miles southeast of downtown Savannah. Fort Stewart covers 280,000 acres, and Hunter has the longest army runway east of the Mississippi. Troops from the armored infantry and the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, deploy from the airfield. Together they house or employ 21,000 service members, almost 30,000 family members and 3,500 civilians. Almost 20,000 former service members have retired to the Savannah area.
Q: Where is Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah?
A: Bonaventure Cemetery, at 330 Bonaventure Road, gained notoriety when John Berendt’s novel, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” was turned into the movie of the same name in 1997. The 103-acre cemetery on the banks of the Wilmington River dates to 1846 when it was known as Evergreen Cemetery on the Bonaventure Plantation. In 1907, Savannah bought the cemetery and opened it to the public.
There are a number of ways to tour the cemetery. The historical society offers free tours on the second Sunday of each month. You can take a self-guided tour with a brochure from the society or with a mobile app, or you can arrange for a private tour.
Q: What is Savannah, Georgia known for?
A: Gregg Allman, founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, songwriter Johnny Mercer, whose hits include “Moon River” and “Days of Wine and Roses” and Flannery O’Connor, one of the South’s pioneering authors, called Savannah home.
Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day parade has been rolling since 1813. If you measure parade size by the number of spectators in relation to the number of residents of a city, Savannah’s would rank among the largest parades in the country. Visitors planning to attend should book well in advance a hotel room in the historic district with a view of the parade route.
Q: What are some good places to eat in Savannah?
A: Savannah’s cuisine combines low-country dishes from the Carolinas, traditional Southern cooking, the African-American Gullah community and European influences. Fresh seafood and local produce are the stars.
The upscale Elizabeth on 37th, located in a mansion in Savannah’s Midtown district, serves classic low-country dishes prepared with local ingredients. The restaurant is a good choice for a fancy date night. The wine cellar holds 10,000 bottles.
Consider a lunch or dinner cruise and combine a meal with a sightseeing adventure. Narrated tours last from 90 minutes to two hours and include a full meal, typically a buffet with Southern classics like shrimp and grits and fried chicken.
Q: What are some things to do in Savannah?
A: Walking historic neighborhoods reveals some of Savannah’s gems.
- Historic District. Laid out in a grid of streets lined with 18th- and 19th-century buildings, Savannah’s historic district encompasses the original city plan created in
- Many of the historic mansions and sites are open for touring, including the Owens-Thomas House, an English Regency-style home completed in 1819, and the Beach Institute, housed in the first school built for African-American children.
- River Street. The restored cotton warehouses on River Street house antique stores, restaurants, inns and galleries. It’s a popular destination for locals and visitors and fronts the Savannah River on the border of the historic district. Factors Row, overlooking River Street from bluffs, was the center of commerce in the city. Iron-work pedestrian bridges lead to the upper levels of the buildings.
Q: What movies were filmed in Savannah, GA?
A: To date, movies filmed entirely or in part in Savannah have garnered 10 Academy Awards. Joanne Woodward won an Oscar for “The Three Faces of Eve,” in 1957 for her portrayal of a woman with multiple personalities.
The bench at the bus stop that Forrest Gump narrated his tale from in the 1994 movie of the same name is now in the Savannah History Museum. “Forrest Gump” won six Academy Awards, including Best Actor and Best Director.
Parts of “Glory,” the story of the Civil War’s 54th Massachusetts Infantry, an African-American unit, were filmed in Savannah. The 1989 movie won Oscars for Best Actor, Best Cinematography and Best Sound.
“Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” released in 1997, didn’t win Academy Awards, but its Southern Gothic atmosphere aptly portrays the darker side of southern charm.