The tourists have thinned out and the weather should be cooling soon. It might be time to visit our neighbors next door. Savannah is a perfect day trip from Bulloch County. If you want to stay away from downtown prices and congestion, there are many places in Savannah that walk you through history without fighting parking and people. There are two locations that take you back in time and keep the trip cost primarily in gas.
My favorite obscure location is situated in a secluded area in the city of Thunderbolt. Bordering the intercoastal waterway, Bonaventure Cemetery has been a world-famous tourist destination for more than 150 years. If you enjoy strolls through history and ghostly tales, it is worth the time. Some interesting graves include the songwriter Johnny Mercer and poet Conrad Aiken. Corinne Elliott Lawton’s statue is also a famous gravesite and probably one of the most photographed in the cemetery.
If you have the opportunity to visit Savannah in the spring, your stroll will include massive blooming azaleas and Spanish moss any time of the year. The site of the cemetery was formally home to Bonaventure Plantation. The ghost tales which accompany the cemetery include the sounds of party guests carrying on as they watched the plantation house burn.
The entrance to the cemetery is located at 330 Bonaventure Road and is the largest of the municipal cemeteries containing more than 100 acres. The cemetery is open to the public daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Continue east on Highway 80 and you will have opportunities to stop for lunch if you didn’t pack it. One of my favorites in Thunderbolt is Chiriya’s Thai Cuisine. If you’re ready for more southern style seafood, try Tubby’s Tank House. Another excellent choice is further east. Head over the river and a couple more miles will bring you to Flying Fish Bar and Grill, a laid back, salt life environment where you will definitely get some low country boil or southern seafood that suits your taste. It gets four stars on Trip Advisor.
After lunch, keep heading east on Highway 80. You’ll come to another favorite spot of mine, Fort Pulaski. I spent gobs of time here with my children when they were small. Along with a wonderful history lesson, Fort Pulaski is one in a series of forts that protected the Atlantic coast shores and kept military powers such as England and Spain at bay. Ironically, it would not be until the American Civil War that the fort would experience battle.
The fort is an excellent place to explore with children. Other than the slim possibility of them falling in the moat, there isn’t much damage they could do!
If the family is split between pausing at each historical marker and walking off your excellent lunch, there are plenty of trails throughout the property. My favorite is the Lighthouse Overlook Trail. Hikers can stroll along open marsh as well as a forested environment offering views of the Savannah River. The ¾-mile trail also offers the island's best views of the historic Cockspur Island Lighthouse. Originally built between March 1837 and November 1839, the lighthouse marks the South Channel of the Savannah River. In 1958 the Cockspur Lighthouse was transferred from the United States Coast Guard to the National Park Service. You will get some great views across the north end of Tybee Island and if you’re lucky, see a few dolphins.
Of course, this itinerary could be switched where Fort Pulaski is the first stop. Get there early enough and you could catch the sunrise!
There are plenty of activities and places to visit in Savannah however, there are many off the beaten path and a lot more relaxing if you don’t rush through them. Take your time and explore!
Fort Pulaski National Monument is open year-round from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Visitor Center is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Eastern National Bookstore (located inside Fort Pulaski) is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Fort Pulaski Entrance
Fee (16 years and older): $10
For a trail guide:
More information on the monument: