NEW YORK (Money magazine) -
At twilight in Savannah, the stately antebellum mansions bathe in the glow of street lamps and lawn lights. The squares, under a canopy of expansive live oak and Spanish moss, turn ghostly.
This is the perfect time for a drive -- when the clip-clop of horseshoe on pavement resonates on empty streets.
|Where to stay†||Ballastone Inn†|
|Where to eat†||Elizabeth on 37th |
|Don't miss†||An evening carriage ride†|
Anywhere else an interlude in a horse-drawn carriage would be just a tourist contrivance, but few American cities live so rapturously in a languorous past as does Savannah. One imagines the rules of polite society are still enforced behind old oak doors flanked by Greek columns.
Public squares, 21 of them, interrupt the avenues every few blocks, but few people seem to mind decelerated driving. Indeed, though Starbucks and other trappings of our big-bandwidth culture have made inroads, life in Savannah moves at a leisurely pace.
Enjoy it, then, as a native might. Leave the rental car at the airport.
You could spend days touring all the old houses, the art museum and the redeveloped shopping streets, but don't over-schedule. Pack a picnic lunch and linger in the shade of a square on Bull Street or by the fountain at Forsyth Park. And one night, when it's time to go to dinner, don't call a cab -- hire a carriage.
SLEEP, EAT More than 40 of Savannah's old mansions have been turned into inns or B&Bs, with rates for good rooms from $150. (Avoid the cheapest, typically dark and cramped, "garden-level" accommodations.)
|The Ballastone Inn
The Ballastone Inn, an Italianate mansion dating from 1838, is the most opulent of the lot. Its 16 guest rooms are lavishly furnished--fireplaces and four-poster or canopy beds are de rigueur (double rooms from $215; 800-822-4553; ballastone.com).
Reserve a month in advance for dinner at Elizabeth on 37th, a Gothic Revival mansion in the Victorian district where southern classics like okra, crab and black-eyed peas get gourmet treatment (dinner for two, $100; 912-236-5547; elizabethon37th.com).