This year we’re embarking on an epic RV tour of the eastern U.S. From Florida to Maine, we’re hitting up as many of the places on our east coast bucket list as time allows.
Two of the places high on this list are Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina. These southern cites are known for splendid architecture, romantic gardens, and copious amounts of southern charm. They’re also close enough together on the map to make visiting both in a short amount of time completely possible.
SEE ALSO: Exploring Florida’s Panhandle: 3 State Parks Along The Emerald Coast
Which is exactly what we did. Over the course of one week we visited Savannah and Charleston, and immediately fell in love with both cities. From the moss-draped trees adorning the historic squares in Savannah to the spectacular old mansions that line the waterfront in Charleston…we were smitten.
The best part is that both these cities are incredibly pedestrian friendly. So friendly in fact, that we declined all forms of transportation in favor of roaming around on foot. After a quick stop at the city visitor centers to procure maps and advice, we set out for day-long self-guided tours of what are undoubtably the southeast’s most charming cities.
Here are the highlights from our tours of both Savannah, and Charleston.
Savannah, GA: The Squares
One of the features that makes Savannah unique is the layout of the historic district, a grid pattern of public squares surrounded by houses and commerce buildings. The squares are filled with statues, memorials, and fountains set amongst a backdrop of mossy trees and blooming flowers.
During our visit we walked through nearly all of the twenty-two squares. Since it was already spring, an explosion of blooming azalea bushes and colorful flowering trees made the place look like a movie set.
Savannah, GA: Old Cemeteries
Savannah is famous for its historic cemeteries. The most famous is Bonaventure Cemetery. We had this one on our itinerary, but since it’s located on the outskirts of town, far from the historic district, we never made it over there. However, we did randomly stumble across Colonial Park Cemetery.
Founded in 1750, this is the second oldest cemetery in the city. It was closed for new burials in 1853, and reopened by the city as a park in 1896.
Many famous citizens and war heroes are buried here. Some of the more notable include Button Gwinnett, who is known for being one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Archibald Bulloch, first President of Georgia, and Joseph Habersham, Postmaster General under three U.S. presidents.
Many historical plaques dot the cemetery, so you don’t need to do any research ahead of time.
Savannah, GA: Forsyth Park
In the heart of historic Savannah lies Forsyth Park. This 30 acre green space is filled with open fields for sunbathing or frisbee throwing, tennis and basketball courts, several playgrounds for the kids, and wide, tree-lined paths. On the day of our visit, the sun was shinning and the park was alive with activity.
Aside from places to play and relax, the park hosts a white, cast iron fountain, a Spanish-American War memorial, and an imposing monument to the Confederacy built in 1875. Forsyth Park is also well-known as the filming location for famous movies such as Forest Gump and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Savannah GA: RV Parking
Cities and RVs don’t always mix, but Savannah has taken the extra step to make RV parking easy. On the northern edge of the historic district you’ll find the city Visitor Center.
Not only is the visitor’s center a great place to begin your tour of the city, as they have all the maps and guide books you could ever want, but it’s also the starting point for a number of trolly tours.
Best of all though, the visitor center has a large parking lot with eight sites designated for RVs. They charge $1 per hour to park, or if you want to spend the night you can purchase a 24 hour pass for $7, or a 48 hour pass for $12.
The sites are only about 30 feet long, so if you have a large RV you might not fit (we saw a few 35’ RVs with their back ends hanging over the sidewalk). For those with smaller RVs, or trailers that they can unhitch, this parking option is convenient and affordable.
Charleston, SC: Architecture
There’s no better way to get to know a city than by learning about its architecture. Charleston is a fascinating city for anyone with even the tiniest bit of interest in handsome old buildings.
During our self-guided walking tour of Charleston we spent hours wandering up and down the streets. We marveled at the stately Colonial and Federal style buildings, oohed and aahed over the Victorian style mansions, and puzzled over the traditional Charleston Single House with its long narrow layout and entrance door that opens directly to the front porch.
Through it all we were taken in by the variety of styles and impressive gardens outside the houses around the historic district. When it comes to architecture, Charleston is a true gem.
Charleston, SC: Southern Food
It’s impossible to visit Charleston and not indulge in some incredible southern cooking. After spending hours walking up and down the streets of Charleston we decided to treat ourselves to some classic southern style cuisine at Jestine’s Kitchen.
We stuffed ourselves with crispy fried chicken, gooey mac n’ cheese, and tender collard greens. To wash it down, we sipped large glasses of sweet tea while nibbling on our complimentary bowl of fresh sweet pickles. Oh yeah, this was a meal we’ll savor for a long time!
Charleston, SC: Historic Forts
The southeast is a history buff’s dream come true. Especially for those interested in the Civil War.
Charleston has a number of museums that tell of its role in the Civil War. There’s The Charleston Museum, the Confederate Museum, or the American Military Museum.
But the very best place to explore and learn around Charleston and the Civil War is by visiting one of the nearby forts. The first is Fort Sumter. This is where the first battle of the Civil War began. Located a mile and half offshore, the fort (which is now designated a National Historic Landmark) can only be reached by boat.
For this reason we skipped over Fort Sumter this time around, instead deciding to visit Fort Moultrie. The fort is located on land an easy 20 minute drive from downtown Charleston.
Fort Moultrie is also part of the national park system, and for just $3 per person (free with your National Park Pass) we spent hours wandering around the grounds, exploring the tunnels and bunkers, marveling at the giant cannons on display, and gazing across the water at Fort Sumter in the distance.
Charleston, SC: RV Parking
Charleston is another city that offers parking specifically for RVs. Not at the visitor center itself, but just next door in a large parking garage located at 63 Mary St. Here you’ll find 10 sites designated for RVs. The fee is $1 for 30 minutes, or $14 for 24 hours.
These sites are around 40 to 45 feet long, and plenty big enough for most RVs. The maximum height of the garage is only 12’ 8” though, so double check how tall your rig is. You don’t want to end up with your A/C getting scraped off.
Savannah and Charleston: Plan Your Visit Now!
Both of these southern cities were a delight to visit, and we hope to make it back someday for a return trip!
Note: In addition to the convenient RV parking in the downtown areas, there’s also a number of nearby RV parks to choose from:
Savannah RV Parks:
- Skidaway Island State Park
- Red Gate Campground & RV Resort
- Biltmore Garden’s RV Park
- Savannah Oaks RV Resort