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Suggestions for St. Augustine, Savannah, & Charleston

Suggestions for St. Augustine, Savannah, & Charleston

Old Jul 26th, 2011, 12:47 PM
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Suggestions for St. Augustine, Savannah, & Charleston

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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Old Jul 26th, 2011, 02:33 PM
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I've been to all three cities you listed, and if you're thorough I'd allocate 3 to 4 days of sightseeing for Charleston, 2 to 3 days for Savannah, and ca. 3 days for St. Augustine. Depends on how much time you have, where else you want to visit, and what you want to do in these cities, of course.
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Old Jul 26th, 2011, 03:42 PM
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I can't argue with bachslunch's schedule. Where you begin your loop doesn't matter.

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Old Jul 27th, 2011, 07:29 AM
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Hi, bachslunch--We have 10 days, not counting flying days. Your reply surprised me a little. From my reading in preparation for the trip, it has been my impression that Savannah would merit more time than Charleston. If you have a moment, I would love to kinow what it is about Charleston that especially draws you in, that is, why you would devote more time to it than Savannah.
Regarding where else we'd want to visit--we're pretty much keeping to the three cities listed with less emphasis on St. Augustine than on the other two. We've added St. Augustine mainly because we want to connnect with friends who live in that area. Our question concerns things we might detour to on those long stretches between the cities. I've already mentioned Beaufort, but we're wondering what else, not necessarily for an overnight, but for an interesting stop along the way.

@ Orlando-Vic--Thank you, too, for your reply. I imagine it sounded a bit--stupid, I guess, for lack of a better word--asking about the loop the way I did. You're right. A loop is a loop. What we were trying to figure out is with a 5:30 PM arrival at JAX, would we be better off time wise to go south immediately and spend our fly-in night around St. Augustine (a shorter drive), or do we pick up the car and go directly to either Savannah or Charleston (much longer drives). That travel day will be no use to us in any case when it comes to settling in and enjoying the area. So, unless there are real points of interest to be visited on the longer stretches, maybe we should just head north right away and work our way south, ending up at St. Augustine which would be closer to JAX where we would fly out at noon on our last day.
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Old Jul 27th, 2011, 07:46 AM
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Please read" Mrs Whaley's Charleston Garden". I am sure it will add to your enjoyment of Charleston! Have a great trip.
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Old Jul 27th, 2011, 09:43 AM
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cmcfong, Thank You for the recommendation. For me, one of the most delicious facets of a trip is the preparation. Just finishing Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil now and am ready for more. Following your recommendation, I went on Amazon and ordered Mrs. Whaley's book along with Very Charleston by Diana Gessler. Beyond that, though, I've spent part of this morning with you. I was interested in so many of your former posts. Gave special attention, of course, to your Beaufort post as well as Jekyll Island but also wandered into other areas. Especially enjoyed and deeply touched by your post sharing how your mom and dad met and finally your mom's memorial service and the beautiful tribute that was given. Also, as for getting a second dog, please do. We have three rescue dogs and it breaks my heart to think that had we not been there for them, they might have been put down. If you're looking for a companion for Tyrod--he's probably an alpha male and a female would be best because she would not be a threat to his dominance. Good luck with that...and I plan to go back a read more of your posts. I enjoyed keeping company with you this morning.
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Old Jul 27th, 2011, 12:54 PM
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I am so pleased you found my trip reports helpful. Thank you for taking the time to read them and let me know. I especially appreciate your comments about my mom's memorial service.

I believe after reading "Mrs. Whaley's Garden" you might decide you want to read "Mrs. Whaley Entertains". These are delightful books and offer some wonderful insights into Charleston society.

As for a tour, consider the Gullah tour of Charleston, a different view of that city's extraordinary history. Check for posts from suewoo, she is a resident and has many good suggestions.

Now, about the dogs. I was endorsing the adoption of a second dog by another poster....I have six rescue pups. Five of them are certified therapy dogs. I use their therapy work as a platform for adoption of adult, mixed breed dogs on death row. And I usually add a few shots about spay/neuter, too, while I am at it. These dogs have done more for people than I can ever put into words and I am so grateful their lives were spared. They all live exceptionally well now! Thanks for saving yours.

I look forward to reading your trip report when you return home. Safe travels.
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Old Jul 27th, 2011, 03:00 PM
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Bo2642, the rationale behind more time in Charleston vs. Savannah has to do with the number of attractions and how long it takes to see what's there. Note that I like full sightseeing days, often done to the exclusion of a sit-down lunch.

I spent two full days in Savannah as follows:

-Day 1. (morning) Savannah History Museum, Telfair Mansion and Museum, Juliet Gordon Low's Birthplace tour, (afternoon) Davenport House tour, Owen-Thomas House tour. Explored the River Street/Factor's Walk area in the evening. All done on foot.

-Day 2. (morning) Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum, Andrew Low House tour, Green-Meldrim House tour, (afternoon) First African Baptist Church tour, Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum, Forsythe Park walk-through. All done on foot.

While walking between the various sights, I also got to see nearly all the squares in the historic area.

Had I had a car, I would have considered spending a third day seeing Old Fort Jackson, Fort Pulaski, and Fort McAlister, all located a short distance away but definitely not within walking distance.

"Garden of Good and Evil" based sights are on some folks's must-see list here, but I had different priorities.

One thing that helps keep things to two days in the historic district is that the Telfair and Ships-of-the-Sea museums are not large. The house and church tours took about an hour. The civil rights and history museums were a little larger.

For Charleston, I did the following:

-Day 1. (morning) Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, Nathaniel Russell House, Heyward-Washington House, (afternoon) Edmonston-Alston House, walk around The Battery, Gibbes Museum of Art, Old City Market, city bus to and from campus of The Citadel. Otherwise all on foot.

-Day 2. (morning) Drayton Hall, Middleton Place, (afternoon) continued Middleton Place, Magnolia Plantation. Done using shuttle service via Charleston Chauffeur Company.

-Day 3. (morning) South Carolina Aquarium, Ft. Sumter, (afternoon), Aiken-Rhett House, Joseph Manigault House, Charleston Museum. All done on foot except water shuttle to and from Ft. Sumter.

The Charleston Museum is large and can easily take a few hours to experience. The three Ashley River Road plantations definitely take a day. The house tours took about an hour each. The Gibbes Museum is not that large, but has a much better collection than the Telfair.

I did not get to explore some of the other outlying attractions, such as Boone Hall, Cypress Gardens, Charles Towne Landing, the H.L. Hunley Submarine, or Ft. Moultrie.

In short, there were just more things I wanted to see in Charleston.

Do a search under my name to find a detailed trip report I did earlier this year on a St. Augustine visit.

Hope this is helpful.
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Old Jul 27th, 2011, 03:24 PM
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http://www.lakesidepress.com/Charleston-Savannah/
Charleston or Savannah? Above is a good starting point for info.
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Old Jul 27th, 2011, 04:08 PM
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@ bachslunch--The time you took to post your Savannah and Charleston itineraries is much appreciated. Also, I just read through your restaurant reviews for St. Augustine. Made me hungry, and it's still several hours before dinner here in California Like you, we generally put in full sightseeing days, and it's especially useful to see how you budgeted your time.
I also just re-read your St. Augustine trip report. I came across it a few days ago when we were just thinking about this trip, but it was more meaningful now that I know we are actually going. I really like that you adressed the "must nots" along with the "musts".

@Savannahoaks--what a great website. Many thanks for this wonderful resource.

@cmcfong--about the dog thing. I was evidently so into your posts that when I came across Janet's, I assumed that you were the original poster rather than she. At any rate, it warmed my heart to learn that you have 6 rescue dogs--and therapy ones at that! And I'm with you on the spay and neuter thing. If more $ were directed to free or very low cost clinics, fewer $ would need to be spent on "taking care" of unwanted pets. IMHO.

Yes, I will write a trip report. Mine usually get so wordy that I don't post, but I'll try to get control of that.
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Old Jul 27th, 2011, 08:21 PM
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"What we were trying to figure out is with a 5:30 PM arrival at JAX, would we be better off time wise to go south immediately and spend our fly-in night around St. Augustine (a shorter drive), or do we pick up the car and go directly to either Savannah or Charleston (much longer drives)."

In that case, going to St. Augustine first makes sense. Use Hwy 9A instead of I-95 all the way (until it reconnects with I-95 well south of downtown Jacksonville). You'll go faster without the downtown bottlenecks.


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Old Jul 27th, 2011, 08:33 PM
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You might want to take a look at my trip report; click on my name to find it. Because there are more plantations outside Charleston to visit than outside Savannah, you may want to devote more time to Charleston.
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Old Jul 27th, 2011, 09:28 PM
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"plantations to visit outside Charleston etc."
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Old Jul 28th, 2011, 09:09 AM
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Orlando_Vic--Thanks for the driving tip.

Michael, thank you, too, for the reminder about your trip report. As with bachlunch's, I had read through it when our trip was still just a maybe, and now that our plans are definite a careful re-read is a great help as we firm up the things we'd like to see and do.

I enjoyed your personal take on the Charleston architectual tour guide, and I love that you didn't skimp on your descriptions of the Aiken-Rhett mansion, Middleton Place, and Boone Hall. In planning I've come across a term new to me, Gullah, and would like to learn more. So the Boone presentation you've described seems as if it would do much in that regard.

Also it was fun to look through the Husk menu.

I see that you've endorsed Savannah Rambles. It has also received high marks from other posters, and I'm certain we'll be contacting Dirk Hardison.

As for the Jepson Center for the Arts, you've no doubt saved us precious time.

Many thanks to you and to all for taking time to share experiences and endorsements.
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Old Jul 28th, 2011, 01:48 PM
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Take Alphonso Brown's Gullah Tour. It's really special.

There's a restaurant in Mt Pleasant called Gullah Cuisine. I'm not usually a fan of buffets, but the lunch buffet there will give you a chance to taste different Gullah treats and the price is right.
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Old Jul 28th, 2011, 03:38 PM
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suewoo--Many thanks for recommending Alphonso Brown. I've just spent time on the website (gullahtours.com), and I'm excited about taking this tour.
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Old Aug 5th, 2011, 06:13 AM
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Don't miss sapelo Island. Last sea island of Gullah culture. State tours for $10 (includes ferry ride) are available Wed. and Sat. Tour departs the mainland 8:30am Wed. and 9:00am Sat. you will return on the noon ferry. Private tours with local residents are also available.
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Old Aug 7th, 2011, 05:29 AM
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Savannah is a wonderful city but the historial section is in pockets not connected like Charleston. As a result Charleston is a more walkable city and seems safer. If I were choosing I would add to day to Charleston rather than Savannah.

Some of the Savannah atractions that I would add would be the SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) gift shop and bookstore. If you like art supplies it is heaven. Since you have a car I would go out to Bon Adventure cemetery to walk.
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Old Aug 7th, 2011, 09:27 AM
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we enjoyed a walking tour of savannah that centered on the cities squares.fun and informative.
http://www.savannahdan.com/
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Old Aug 7th, 2011, 05:03 PM
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Thank you all so much for helping us plan our time. So far we have the framework:

Fly into JAX from our home in Los Angeles on Sept. 18. 5:10PM arrival, so by the time we pick up our car, it's essentially a lost day. We're staying at the Courtyard St. Augustine I-95--any recommendations for dinner around there? It'll be an early evening for us, but early the next morning we'll head to St. Augustine for the day. Bachslunch's detailed St. Augustine report is wonderful and will help us set our priorities for the short time we'll have in that city.

Toward evening, we'll go on down to Palm Coast for dinner with our friends who live there. Then back to the Courtyard for the night.

We know that the Courtyard on I-95 is a bit far afield from St. Augustine, but it's not a huge distance fron the airport for our first night, and its location to the north of St. Augustine will give us a jump start as we begin the main part of itinerary--Charleston and Savannah.

We weren't sure at first how we wanted to organize our itinerary, but since we'll be flying out of JAX at noon on our return home, we decided to visit Charleston first--a long driving day, but we can take our time without feeling pressed to make a flight.

We have booked the Mills House for 3 nights--Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (9/20-9/21), checking out on Friday 9/22. We have taken everybody's advice and added our extra day in Charleston rather than Savannah, but the Mills House had no vacancies for Friday and Saturday night, so we took the three nights which were available, and because we want to visit Fort Sumter and two or three plantations, we booked a hotel in Mount Pleasant for Friday and Saturday night, 9/22 and 9/23. We have learned that we can take the ferry to Ft. Sumter from Mt. Pleasant as well as from Charleston proper.

We should have two full days--Friday and Saturday for Ft. Sumter and the plantations.

We could book a morning tour to Ft. Sumter. I'm going off the top of my head right now, but I think the earliest we could book would be a 10:30 departure and a 1 or 1:30 return. That would make for a short plantation visit in the afternoon. If we left the Sumter tour directly, would we have time for, say, Boone Hall? It closes at 5:00, but we would want to explore it without feeling rushed.

The next day (Saturday) we would like to visit Drayton Hall (we're interested in its history) and either Magnolia Plantation or Middleton Place. We, of course, would like to do everything, but if we have to choose between Magnolia and Middleton, do any of you have any feelings?

On Sunday, we would head down to Savannah.

But getting back to our first three days in Charleston--we're working on what we'd like to see and do.

And wouldn't you know, someone is at my door, and I wish I could keep writing but I can't right now.

Bottomline, thanks again for the suggestions which have come forth, and anything else you can think of would be appreciated.

I need to put this aside right now, but when I can get back to it later tonight, I'd like to run some things by anyone out there who's still reading this.
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