Along the busy riverfront stands a captivating city — a haunting mirage punctuated with a shiny gold dome, ornate church spires, Spanish moss-draped squares, architectural showpieces and sparse traffic that creeps along cobblestone streets as slowly as horse-drawn carriages.
This is Savannah, Ga., America’s first planned city, built high on a bluff in 1733. Ever since early settler Gen. James Oglethorpe first asked chief Tomochichi permission to build a city here, planners have fervently guarded his grid system of squares, guaranteeing Savannah’s enchanting charm. To this day, the city continues to lure the adventurous, the curious and countless eccentrics, many of whom visit and never leave.
With a population of just 147,000, this easy-to-navigate oasis along the Georgia coast has become such a hot destination that nearly 14 million visitors sampled its Southern hospitality in 2016.
But hold on to your barbecued chicken leg and pass the fried okra. You won’t see all those people on the street at one time. Due to the comfortable year-round climate, visitation is staggered throughout the year — with the exception of the city's raucous St. Patrick’s Day celebration, one of the largest in the country.
Savannah is dreamy and Oz-like with a small-town feel, where you’ll enjoy a whole lot of porch sitting, storytelling, ship watching, libation sipping and devouring of good vittles — as they say in the South — without the citified rush. So pull up a rocker and sit a spell.