Savannah at Sunset – Visitor ToursOctober 5, 2011 No Comments
This year, our family made a stop in elegant Savannah, Georgia as a part of my daughter’s marathon music tour from Boston to Ft. Lauderdale. We arrived fairly late in the day, having made a pit stop at the tourist trap that is South of the Border – and therein lies another tale. After a late afternoon gig for her, we were ready to enjoy the beauty of this southern town, its mansions, squares, fountains, and river front – after dark.
Small children love the quiet, post-sunset. And as long as your tots are well fed and napped, you’ll all enjoy exploring this hauntingly lovely town when the temperature drops to a cool mid- 70′s in the summer.
Mansion at Forsyth Park
We stayed this trip at the Mansion at Forsyth Park. This dramatic hotel houses a modern wing modeled after antebellum architecture where the rooms, pool, bar, and much art abounds. Adjoining this structure is the cooly modern restaurant – modern on the inside; the building itself once served as hospital, funeral parlor, and of course, mansion.
The small pool is elegant and relaxing, and the perfect spot for a dip in the late afternoon or early evening. The halls are great fun for children to wander – accompanied by an adult, of course, or pushed in strollers. Why? Because they’re full of colorful, unusual art – some modern, some impressionistic, all vibrant and displayed along the halls in gallery style. Faux candelabra and sconces add to an eclectic and fascinating environment . The rooms feature extra large bathrooms and art and ornamentation that mirrors the lobby and hallways. Small children will love the cushy arm chairs positioned by the windows, many of which face Forsyth Park.
Come morning, children and adults will all greatly enjoy having breakfast in the opulent dining room. We loved the friendly wait staff and the option of seating in the enclosed sun room which looks out on the hotel property. We feasted on home cooked oatmeal and fresh fruit smoothies; there’s a fine selection of eggs and southern grits too, if the spirit moves you. Service is stately but on the slow side – still, little ones won’t be restless with the cool mix of modern lights and fixtures and old fashioned marble floors and architecture. If they are restless, take them for a stroll outside – across the street the lush park with its fountains and curving pathways awaits. And just in front of the hotel there’s statuary and flowers.
Forsyth Park and Ghost Tour
Once a parade ground, Forsyth Park also served as the garden for colonial era settlers, the campground of Union soldiers during the Civil War, and the site of push-mobile races at the start of the 20th century. Today, the towering oaks and historic statuary make a stroll mandatory at any hour.
The welcoming and unique hotel was a good – and quiet, being near the park, rather than downtown restaurants or bars – base to explore the city after dark. We took a ghost tour in a hearse located at 412 East Duffy Street that lasted almost 1 and a half hours. To make reservations call 912-695-1578. Now will little children enjoy this? Yes, they will. The guides are fun and fast talking, the hearses are open air, with seats high enough that you are above the driver and street level, affording a great view of all the historic sites Savannah has to offer. The stories are spooky without being scary for children old enough to understand; very small children will simply enjoy the warm night air and view of marble monuments in tree filled squares.
You’ll also get a look at the home of the Girl Scouts’ founder, Juliette Gordon Low. Her birthplace, is Savannah’s first Registered National Historic Landmark, and during day light hours you can take a guided tour of her family’s home. The first Girl Scouts headquarters is also in Savannah. Our hearse tour took us along the river front, with its historic buildings, and gave us a good look at the boats sailing along the waterway, as well as at mansions edged with gardens and Spanish-moss-hung trees. The river front is lively with vendors, buskers, and tourist-centric shops open late, if you’re strolling rather than riding by in a hearse. The river front is also a pleasant place to watch the sunset, although frankly, it would be difficult to find a spot in the city’s historic core that isn’t rather magical at twilight.
Horse & Carriage and Walking Tours
Ghost tour not for you? Try a pleasant horse and carriage ride with a little history thrown in. The Historic Savannah Carriage Tours run 7 days a week including holidays. The horse and carriage tour lasts about thirty to forty minutes and they offer 4 different authentic Eurpoean carriages that will transport you back in time. You can pick up all of these tours at any of the river front hotels, or ask the staff at the Mansion at Forsyth Hotel to arrange one for you.
Along with a tour, we simply enjoyed walking the peaceful streets. Seeing the gas lamps come on, looking at the historical markers and statues bathed in white moon light was a pleasure for adults and children of all ages. You can locate the bench made famous by Forrest Gump, and the setting for the novel and film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. If you prefer a walking tour to taking your own stroll, one of the most renowned is Southern Dan’s. Like all tours of down town Savannah, ghostly or not, this one focuses on the decidedly picturesque and green squares. No matter what tour you take or what walk you shape for yourself, you’ll love spending sunset in Savannah with children in tow.