Savannah and St. Augustine are two of the most historical cities in the United States. While road tripping my way to Key West (Florida), I spent two days in these Southern cities and discovered how uniquely charming they are. Here, I share my guide to a weekend getaway in Savannah and St. Augustine.
Bonaventure Cemetery – I never thought I would visit a cemetery while vacationing but I was pleasantly surprised with this one. The cemetery is located on the outskirts of Savannah along the Wilmington river which makes for a peaceful setting. The cemetery is lined with live oak trees and moss hanging over the roadway. The graves go way back in time and there are some intricate statutes and mausoleums. I found the cemetery hauntingly beautiful.
The cemetery is open to the public daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The property is huge (around 100 acres) and is divided into sections. We preferred to walk but you can drive through the cemetery.
Next head to the Historic District where you will see many public squares. These public squares are decked with sculptures, statues, fountains and gardens. You can start with the Lafayette Square where you will find the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist on Harris St. Make sure you go to Forsyth Park which is perhaps the most popular among all the squares. I loved driving through the district and stopping at these charming squares.
End your day in Savannah with River Street located in the historic district. The cobblestone street runs along the Savannah river and is lined with pubs, restaurants, souvenir shops, ice cream and fudge shops. It was raining when I visited River Street but it did not stop me or other people from strolling down the street. I did not fancy the shops much but the view of the river was beautiful and relaxing and plenty of sculptures to view.
- River street is best during the evening when the street lamps are lit and the street is bustling with people.
Next day drive to St. Augustine which is the oldest city in the USA. My first impression of the city especially the Old Town was that it did not feel like America. The architecture of the buildings and houses resemble that of the Spanish colonial-era. Some of the landmarks are the Lightner Museum, Flagler College, the Villa Zorayda, Casa Monics hotel all located on King Street.
Park at King Street and walk up to St. George Street which is open to pedestrians only. It is interesting to see how these old Spanish buildings are now home to specialty shops and restaurants. Make sure you explore the nooks and alleys. Castillo de San Marcos, one of the oldest masonry forts is located not far from St. George Street.
Right off St. George Street is Aviles Street, the oldest street in the USA. The narrow street will take you through old Spanish homes now restored into museums, art galleries and fine restaurants.
- You don’t need a car in the Old Town as everything is in walking distance.
- If walking is not suitable to you, there is the option of tram and trolley buses.
- Wear light clothing as St. Augustine can get very hot and humid, especially during summer. I went in April and found St. Augustine to be much hotter compared to Savannah.
Both these places exude charm while maintaining their history… While people might perceive them as cities with old lanes but there is more to them than just that. It is the feeling of surprise that enchants you when you see a version of America that differs from your preconceived notions. And as a traveler the element of surprise should never go away.
I hope you will be drawn to these cities like I was.