If this is your first time here, you're in for a treat. If you're from here then perhaps we can reacquaint you with something truly special you might be taking for granted. Sometimes all it takes is a change of perspective. Really, perspective is what this city is all about. It's about slowing down and appreciating the beauty of a place and the water is a pretty good instructor for that.
If you're a student of history you may already know that the city itself, too beautiful to destroy by General Sherman's scorched earth policy, was presented to President Lincoln as a Christmas Gift. You might also know some other trivia such as Savannah being the first capitol city of the state of Georgia, or as America's first "planned city" separated into city block grid work. To this day there are 22 preserved squares and Savannah contains one of the largest contiguous historical districts in the United States, including the City Market which is a thriving center of commerce, art, and eateries today.
A Rich Maritime Past
Downtown Savannah is filled with history, food, entertainment, art, and culture. It is situated along the Savannah River running along the appropriately named River Street. This is where shipping played a major role in the economy of the city, as it does today. though with the commercial docks located further upriver one would never know that the port of Savannah is the nation's fourth largest.
Connecting many of the frontage buildings of River Street are suspended walkways, known as the Factor's Walk, where purchasers could look down on the merchant ships and see their goods unloaded immediately prior to purchasing the textiles and commodities being shipped in from around the world, back when the wharfs were teeming with multiple masted wooden ships.
Rivers run all along the coast and into Georgia's interior. Accessible and protected, these make for some excellent opportunities to explore waterways often overlooked and are a great way to get out onto the water. The marshlands are home to a great spread of biodiversity including local crabs, birds, and fish that depend on this unique habitat.
Further out the coastline is broken up into numerous barrier islands starting in the Carolinas and extending all the way to Florida. Essentially massive sand dunes formed into islands, these have long been a rich resource of food and plants both for the natives and later the colonists and their descendants who farmed the area for rice and cotton. Today it is home to locals who stay for the rich beauty and island lifestyle tucked away into beach communities like Tybee Island or the also-accessible Hilton Head and Golden Isles along the coast.
Best Kept Secrets
Some of the treasures of the coast are, in fact, only accessible by boat, such as the inhabitants of Daufuskie and Sapelo Islands. These descendants of slaves are curators of their own cultural heritage, the Gullah. Then there are the wild horses of Cumberland Island to the south who live on a nature preserve. Efforts to maintain the natural beauty of Cumberland and Little St. Simon Islands don't deny the interested tourist from seeing things up close; both places offer cottages and overnight accommodations coupled with exquisite farm-to-table food. But there are still no roads, signs, or bridges. You have to chart the course.