This is cheating a bit, as it’s combining two ’24 hours in’ blogs into one. It’s 24 hours in Savannah, followed by 24 hours in Charleston… but the cities are close enough together geographically and culturally that we can combine them into one. Oh and we’re lazy and this is easier for us. So without further ado!
These South-Eastern coastal cities are far enough away from most other major US attractions that we may very well never have visited them without this trip. There are other Southern cities that are bigger, better connected etc etc. However, their history and character were appealing enough for us to take this chance to visit them on our drive up from Miami, and we’re extremely glad we did. We spent 2 nights in each city and made the most of our limited time, starting with…
Take a trolley tour of the old historic district. Old Savannah has 24 squares as well as the large Forsyth Park, and the trolley will take you around the best of them with a guided tour and actors providing light-relief in the form of guest appearances. You can hop-off and on as you please, and we would recommend Forsyth Park and the River Street as two particular places to stretch your legs and enjoy your surroundings. From Forsyth Park you can also walk down East and West Jones St where there are some beautiful historical townhouses. The phrase “Keeping up with the Joneses” was apparently coined here and when you see the houses, you’ll know why!
Grab something sweet. The aforementioned River Street is filled with all things sweet. Multiple candy stores make, sell and provide free samples ranging from candy apples to saltwater taffy, and you can spend a happy hour popping in and out of the stores rotting your teeth.
Drive out to Tybee Island. Weather dependent, there are some beautiful beaches 20 minutes from Savannah and Tybee Island is the most famous. It’s a cute seaside town with a long white beach dotted with rocking benches the whole way along. If you go between May and October, you might even see some sea turtle rescues happening as the turtles nest on the beach and are protected by local volunteers.
From Savannah, it’s less than a two-hour drive into South Carolina to make your way into:
Visit an old plantation. We recommend the Magnolia plantation, not just for the estate’s beauty but for their frank appraisal of the huge place of slavery in their history. Other plantations offer this too, but many do not. This is also on the way in from Savannah, so makes sense to visit in between the two.
Walk around the old historic district. Visit the famous Rainbow Row and the country’s oldest liquor store, in an area filled with more grand houses and an equally pretty seafront.
Learn about Charleston’s grim history. The Old Slave Mart museum is only small, but does a fantastic job of recognising the realities of slavery in the USA (and elsewhere) through the eyes of both the enslaved and the slavers. The museum is set on the site of the only surviving slave market in Charleston.
Eat some delicious Southern food. Charleston has a reputation as a bit of a food Mecca – and it’s not all fried! We ate at Butcher and Bee, a Mediterranean/Southern fusion and it was delicious: try the Israeli take on fried chicken.
Check out the “Brewery District”. This is a bit of a locals secret in Charleston. We stumbled into it by accident and then got chatting to some locals who told us we were onto something! Some great places to visit are Revelry Brewery for some rooftop pints (dog friendly too) and Edmund’s Oast Exchange for Friday night jazz and wine tasting. The selection in both is fantastic and all the staff are happy to give tastings and advise on what you might like. We wanted to buy so much wine!
These are two special, beautiful cities that are well worth even a short visit. Let us know if you have any questions!