There may not be a prettier downtown in all of the US. The romantic antebellum architecture and sleepy sweetness of its many squares actually saved Savannah from being torched during the Civil War--or so the story goes. What's for sure is that Savannah's 2.5-mile Historic Downtown District, a National Historic Landmark, oozes a Spanish-moss-laced Southern charm like no other.
The Downtown/Historic District runs from River Street on the North to Gwinnett Street on the South, and from MLK Boulevard on the West to Broad Street on the East. Due to concerted conservation efforts, much of the romantically lovely area remains as founder General John Oglethorpe planned it in 1733. Oglethorpe laid out the city in a neat, militaristic grid of wards, each centered around a square. Today, one of Savannah's best delights is soaking in the ambiance of its historic squares; hours will laze past as you stroll through or simply sit in one of the 24 shady squares, home to bronze statues, memorials, plaques and those stunning signature trees.
You can get your history fix at a variety of Downtown museums, including the Mercer Williams House
, setting of the classic book and movie "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." There's Gothic and Greek Revival architecture aplenty in the Historic District, including the US's only Gothic synagogue, Congregation Mickve Israel
. You can get a taste of Federal architecture, and Savannah's passion for restoration, at the Davenport House Museum
. The area is also home to Colonial Park Cemetery
, Savannah's oldest cemetery.
More than just a hotbed of history, cultural activities and restaurants abound in Downtown. Most of Savannah's many festivals are held in the Historic District, including the Savannah Black Heritage Festival
and the Savannah Jazz Festival
. You can window-shop along Broughton Street
, and dine at Italian hotspot Il Pasticcio
, Southern Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room
, or plenty of other great restaurants.