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Suggestions for St. Augustine, Savannah, & Charleston

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We're flying into Jacksonville early evening on October 18, returning home on a noon flight on October 29, and our plan is to visit the above cities. We're two retired educators (ladies) interested in culture, historical sites, gardens, and whatever else might give us insight into and a feel for the areas we'll be visiting. Long story why we won't be doing an open jaw with the air. We'll essentially be doing a loop--JAX-JAX.
We're just getting our itinerary together. We'll be picking up a car at JAX. If any of you have suggestions for an itinerary which would make the best sense, we'd welcome your input. Do we go south directly from JAX to the area around St. Augustine where we would spend two nights? This would give us a day and a morning to take in some of the St. Augustine sites and also the opportunity to meet friends living in Palm Coast for dinner. Or do we go north first and save St. Augustine for last? Our primary interests are Savannah and then Charleston. so we'd like to give emphasis for those cities. Would three nights in Savannah be enough and two in Charleston? If so, we'd have a couple of extra days to play with. What stops would be good on the stretches between the cities? There've been some interesting posts on Beaufort so we're folding that in. What about some of the islands? We're not into the beach scene in and of itself, but if there are houses or gardens or other areas of interest, we'd like to give them some consideration.
We've enjoyed reading posts on lodging and restaurants and city tours in the major cities. As always, these boards are invaluable.
Any thoughts? We like to travel comfortably without pinching pennies, but would prefer that this trip be casual without breaking the bank.

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