May 29 2009 by Sam Lowe
Three key words for anyone planning a vacation in Savannah - good walking shoes.
Although he probably didn't realize it at the time, Gen. James Edward Oglethorpe must have had senior travelers in mind back in 1733 when he sketched the original plans for this charming Georgia city. It is flat, it has more than 45 cultural attractions, it has massive oak trees with branches draped in Spanish moss. But most of all, it has 27 historic squares and each square is a thing of rare beauty.
Also vitally important to those of us who tend to seek out nice spots that don't require hours of vehicular travel to reach, it is among the most walkable cities in the entire United States. The squares are all within blocks of each other, and every one of them has breathtaking displays of foliage, statuary and landscaping, plus that most desirable element of all - good sittin' spots where one can linger while the Southern atmosphere gently soothes the mind and eases the body.
The city's historic district is one of the nation's largest, encompassing 2.5 square miles. Among its features are cobblestone byways that lead to River Street. There, the candy shops, art galleries and gift stores await to exchange treasures for dollars while paddle boats churn their way along the Savannah River as it glides its way to the Atlantic Ocean.
A couple blocks south, the City Market is a gathering place where visitors, locals, diners, street musicians, young people, old people, itinerants and merchants blend together to create a melange of color, charm and hospitality. But if people-watching gets tiresome, the market also features galleries, art studios and specialty shops. A short distance away, Bull and Broughton Streets are billed as "the heart of Savannah's antique district," where things we threw away decades ago are now on sale for much, much more than what we originally paid.
But if you go to Savannah, be aware of this:
Even by walking fast while shod in good footwear, you aren't going to see everything in one day. So take your time. Spend at least a couple of days and let the Old South filter your troubles away.
For information, contact www.savannahvisit.com.