Let me start out by saying that I do not have a great relationship with the outdoors. Mother Nature and I? You can call us acquaintances at best. She is like that one friend you text every so often and declare, “OMG, we have to hang out soon!”, but then you almost never do.
Admittedly, I would like to keep it that way.
There are lot of trails in Jacksonville. We have visited a good number of them, but they do not propose much of a challenge. The land here, much like a 9 year old girl still begging Mom for a training bra, is flat…flat…flat. However, our neighboring state of good ol’ Georgia had much more to offer us. So my boyfriend and our two friends headed out to conquer the Georgian trails.
Panther Creek is about an hour away from Athens, Georgia (home of the acclaimed Georgia Bulldogs, if you like college football). When it comes to parking, it is easy and cheap to get a spot. You leave your money envelope in a payment box by the entrance. The lot is only across the street from the trail, so you simply have to cross to begin your hike.
I had never been on a real hike before. You might be able to tell that by my lack of hiking boots (I wore my brand new Nike Frees, which I totally clayed up by the end of the trip) and my flimsy blue backpack from college containing only two bottles of water. Can I get a #n00B??? I would definitely make different choices if I could go back in time. Like, maybe not wear all black in the middle of a humid Southern summer…
I stayed at the back of the group the whole time, as I did not want to get in anyone’s way. “I’m slow,” I would say, as I ushered them in front of me. While everyone was marching forward, I was lagging behind, filming things and taking in all the sights. There was a lot to see! Along the way, we came across various plant life, moving creeks, small-scaled waterfalls, and people’s campsites (ugh, people actually sleep in the wild?). Even the occasional scary looking bug and evil looking snake. Typical nature stuff…but definitely not something you see everyday. Unless you live in the woods…which my boyfriend was planning to do…
It was a 3.5 mile trek to our destination, which was this beautiful waterfall. I was getting really tired of going uphill then downhill, around the corner, under this log, all while holding on for my dear life and avoiding getting bit by mosquitoes. So seeing this natural oasis was a huge relief for me (and my poor feet). A lot of people were lounging around, swimming, enjoying snacks – and I was more than happy to join them.
Playing around in the waterfall was definitely the highlight of the trip.
The moral of the story is that, even though I successfully completed my first hike, I am completely out of shape. The walk back (another freaking 3.5 miles) was BRUTAL! I clearly remember screaming expletives when we took a wrong turn and had to backtrack by literally climbing up a freaking 10 foot dirt mound. I am getting angry thinking about it again! LOL. I honestly do not even remember how I got back to the car. Miracle. Alien abduction. Who knows?! I was just relieved to be sitting down again.
CLICK THE PICTURE ABOVE TO SEE A VIDEO ABOUT OUR HIKING ADVENTURE!
I was happy we got to experience this with our friends. Would I do this again? Yes. No. Maybe so. I’ll let you know when the time comes 😛
It was news to me that Savannah is only two hours away from my home in Jacksonville. My lack of geographical sense was made transparent when I admitted that I thought Atlanta was actually closer. As always, you’re wrong, Tiffany. Atlanta is really about 5 hours away. I will buy a map one day, I promise. Armed with this new knowledge, I suggested a weekend trip to my boyfriend. The plan was set…
I have always wanted to visit “The Hostess City of the South”. My imagination took me to a place that was a combination of St. Augustine and New Orleans. After walking those wobbly streets myself, I can say that I was not far off in my assumptions. The rounded corners of the architecture reminded me of the those standing in The French Quarter. The grey beards of Spanish moss hanging off the haunting branches of Savannah’s trees resemble those planted on St. George Street. It made me happy to see pieces of these two places I love waiting for me in a new location.
But do not me wrong, readers! Savannah is in a league all her own. Keep reading if you are interested in seeing how we spent our weekend in the good ol’ south!
In my opinion, the best way to see this city is on foot. Parking isn’t as bad as other places I have been before. But to make it easier on yourself (especially for those who cannot parallel park – *raises hand*), I say to either stay somewhere in the heart of downtown or Uber from your hotel in Midtown. You also have the option of hailing a pedicab, who I have heard have great personalities and unique local insight, or hopping on a trolley to enjoy a day-long tour. But I still stand by my recommendation of going about it all on foot. Each street and square has a personality of its own. After doing some research, I learned that Savannah’s buildings canvas different styles of architecture: Gothic (my favorite), French, Italianate, Grecian, and, of course, Georgian. I found that to be surprising and beautiful! No two buildings look exactly alike.
The picture above is the route we took on foot! Did you know TripAdvisor can track your movements like that in a Travel Timeline?! Kind of creepy, but kind of awesome!
1) Forsyth Park (Drayton St & East Park Ave, Savannah, GA 31401)
Who doesn’t love a good fountain? You can find this one on the perimeter of Forsyth Park. We actually made this the starting point of our journey. We parked in a neighborhood near by and began walking from there. This park is big! It is the site of many couples having picnics on the grass, families going for a weekend stroll along the moss-canopied sidewalks, and tourists coming to take the typical fountain picture. Here I am in this picture trying my hardest not to look like one those tourists…But it’s not working with that blue backpack on, is it?
2) Historic Downtown
As stated before, the architecture of Savannah is a mixing pot of different cultural influences. As you can see from the picture above, each house takes on their own character. It is like a free museum of houses for the curious passerbys. I can only imagine the interesting people who live in them too! Because of course only the most sophisticated, artistic, and compelling people can inhabit them, right? Or, you know, it could just be your Grandpa Joe…but he is cool too.
Chippewa. Wright. Pulaski. Madison. Chatham. All interesting names for five out of 22 (there used to be 24!) squares you can mosey upon. They all have similar feels with the looming trees and park benches to rest on. But they all have a different focal point. It could be a statue of a famous historical figure (don’t ask me their names!) or the site of a classic movie (does Run! Forrest! Run! ring any bells?). They make for great meeting spots! “See you at Franklin Square at 4?!”
4) Colonial Park Cemetery (201 Abercorn St., Savannah, GA 31401)
Ignore that huge wedgie in the picture. Did I just bring attention to something I shouldn’t have? Yeahhhh, let’s bring our attention to the headstones. Eyes up! This is a famous cemetery that is usually a pit stop on most Savannah ghost tours. It is closed at night, so I would make a visit when the sun is out. Its inhabitants include some famous historical figures (who are you, Nathanael Greene?) and victims of the Yellow Fever outbreak in the 1800’s. On any tour you take, you will learn that Yellow Fever has a lot to do with Savannah’s deadly history. Stupid mosquitoes!
5) River Street
It is a collection of touristy gift shops, bars, and restaurants – all with a view of the Savannah River. I liked the rustic architecture that surprisingly homed all these commercial stores! This was my favorite part to walk around during the day. Lots to see and find. I honestly do not know if there are people who live in those upstairs quarters or not, but it appears to have habitable balconies (someone let me know if you have the answer!). Fair warning that it gets a little rowdy at night. I would keep this in mind if you are traveling with the youngsters. Open container policy + belligerence do not equal an attractive outcome.
6) Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
(222 E Harris St, Savannah, GA 31401)
Awestruck! This is THE most beautiful Catholic church I have ever been in. It is adorned with masterful works of art. Even if you are not a religious person, you cannot help but be moved by the sheer magnificence of it all. Feel free to take pictures of the architecture, but just be respectful of those adorning the sacrament. I attended Sunday mass at 11:30am – there were lots of people in attendance.
7) Boneventure Cemetery
(330 Bonaventure Rd, Savannah, GA 31404)
Have you ever been to a cemetery and gotten lost trying to find a specific grave? You might think any cemetery is big, but I have one for you that will trump the rest. Boneventure Cemetery is located about 20 minutes away from the historic district, adjacent to the Wilmington River. I recommend first stopping at the visitor center to get yourself a map! Yes, a map of the cemetery. It is so big that they even have an electronic registry that documents every single plot in this location! The place is huge, to say the least.
Although picturesque, the statues and monuments can only be inspiration for any frightening nightmare. They may be pleasant in the morning, but I can only imagine the sinister glances they give you when the sun sets. It is so inspiring that the classic book The Garden of Good and Evil used this cemetery as a setting for its story. But if you are looking for the famous “bird girl” statue from the book’s cover, you will not find her here. She is located in a art museum now!
My coworker, who is originally from Savannah, suggested this one. She mentioned that there are two separate locations: a sit-down version and a take-out one. The update, which we quickly discovered, is that the sit-down restaurant is officially closed. Located near Oglethorpe Square is this self-proclaimed “eclectic takeaway” food joint. The long line outside snakes into a tiny room where there are workers taking your order deli-style. They are famous for their sandwiches here. So I suggest giving that a try! I got “The Conquistador” with smoked sausage and was really happy with my choice. Some advice would be to get the special sauce on the side. It is a big sandwich so it might take you a while to finish it. If you get the sauce on the side, you decrease your risk of a soggy sandwich. Learn from me!
There is a covered, outdoor seating area around back.
Side note: Cover your kid’s ears, parents! Shouts of “Shit yeah!” fill the air. What’s a motto with you?!
We attempted to eat at this place twice! I was trusting the TripAdvisor reviews and very eager to eat somewhere trendy and new. The first time was on Saturday night, after fighting our way through drunken patrons of the various River St. bars. The wait was 45 minutes and we could barely fit through the door. You know what that means? “You want to go to McDonald’s?”. We tried again the next afternoon around noon.
When my order of “Treylor Park Nachos Grande” came out, my eyes went big! If you see the picture, you can easily tell that this is a small order of fries for a giant! It was a mountain of french fries topped with sprinkles of eternal happiness (and carbs). Oh, and I freakin’ love truffle sauce… I ate it by myself because I am a glutton, but I highly recommend sharing that with a friend. Other suggestions would be to get the Grilled Cheddar Cheese with a spicy coleslaw or the Ahi Tuna pizza!
Is a Ghost Tour worth it?
Still here? Not enough of an explanation? Haha! Alright, alright, I’ll explain…
Let me start out by saying that I am an avid believer in the paranormal! I am no skeptic and will gladly entertain any ghost stories you have to tell (everyone has one, right?!). Despite my enthusiasm, I was disappointed with the tour I went on. Don’t get me wrong, this is not because of the tour guide or his efforts. I just … wasn’t scared. I knew we wouldn’t be going inside any of these haunted locations, so I don’t know what I was really expecting. If you are a follower of shows like Ghost Adventures or Celebrity Ghost Stories, you are already familiar with terms like “EVP” and “anomaly” and “voice box”. You’ve been creeped out enough by their stories! I guess what I need is just to do my own investigations of known local haunts…but God knows, I am too chicken to do that!
At places like the Colonial Park Cemetery, there is a possibility you will run into other ghost tours trying to see the same thing your group is. I can imagine the competition felt by all the tours offered in town! It is a bit annoying when two tours are trying to talk over the other one. If you still want to experience it for yourself, I would recommend Afterlife Tours over all the other ones. No costumes. Just a normal (as normal as a paranormal investigator can be haha) guy, his iPad filled with paranormal evidence, and knowledge that you might not have about Savannah and its ghostly past. He said that soon his tour will offer the chance to spend a night at the haunted brewery! So that sounds like a cool option for future visitors!
Download the Savannah ePass to get some $$$ off this tour!
What I Wish I Had Done:
Wormsloe Historic Site: I am a huge fan of picturesque areas with borderline creepy trees. Wormsloe fits the bill on this front. Unfortunately, we didn’t make this place a priority because 1) it was a bit too far out to fit into our schedule and 2) there is an entrance fee. We went to Boneventure Cemetery instead.
Stayed in Historic Savannah: Our hotel was in Midtown, about 10 minutes away from historic downtown. This is very convenient (and cheaper, I’m sure)! But
Taken a Pedicab ride: I’m the first to admit it: I’m lazy. Walking around Savannah takes it toll on you, alright? Taking a pedicab would have been a nice relief on the soles. I heard the drivers are incredibly entertaining too.
Tried Huey’s On The River: I love seafood. Love it! But my boyfriend? Nope. “It tastes like the sea,” he says. *shake my head* Huey’s has amazing reviews, as it mixes New Orleans style cooking with the delicacies from the ocean. I wish I could have indulged!
SCAD Museum of Art: Art is an important part of Savannah’s culture. You see SCAD’s name plastered on almost every street downtown! But I never got to visit the actual museum. Maybe next time!