Thursday, August 26, 2021

Savannah Bus Tour


When I visit a city for the first time, I find that taking a hop-on/hop-off bus tour is a great way to orient myself. It allows me to identify the places I want to visit during my stay, along with some ideas about how best to get around.

On the Bus

Savannah, Georgia, has several choices for tours. I decided on Old Town Trolley tours. They are a national company, with a great reputation and a high rating on several different travel web-sites. They also offer free parking if you get there before their lot fills up. Their buses wind their way through Savannah’s Historic District, making fifteen stops along the way. One loop of the tour takes approximately one-and-a-half hours, and it passes by fourteen of Savannah’s twenty two shaded squares, and about a dozen of its historic homes. The Old town Trolley Tour also offers combination tickets with the Prohibition Museum, and other local attractions. 

I arrived early, and scored a coveted indoor spot, really important on a day when the temperature crashed into the 90ยบ’s. Catching the first bus of the day was also my goal, as it would give me more time to explore the city. Our driver gave a running commentary of the sights we passed, from the famous houses to the churches, museums, and beautiful squares. I enjoyed the ride, and began planning my day.

After completing my first lap on the bus, I decided to head to the American Prohibition Museum. It is at the City Market at Ellis Square, the only open space that is not tree covered. The old market served Savannah for many years, but was torn down in 1954, and replaced by a parking garage. In 2005, the garage was replaced by an underground facility that restored a public space above. Today, the area around Ellis Square is home many shops and restaurants that cater to Savannahians and the tourists that visit.  


The American Prohibition Museum offers a look at a truly unique time in U.S. history. It explores the forces and movements that led to the country banning alcoholic beverages. The museum uses posters, wax figures, displays of old newspapers, and news reels to bring that history to the present. The journey through the museum ends at a speakeasy, where period cocktails are available for purchase. 


Leaving the American Prohibition Museum, I took a 0.75 mile stroll through town as I headed to the Andrew Low House. This wonderful little museum, on Lafayette Square, was built in 1849 by local business man Andrew Low II (1812-1886). Andrew was born in Scotland, and, following in his father’s footsteps, started a dry goods business in Savannah. By the 1840’s he was one of Savannah’s largest store owners and importers of dry goods. His household included five children, from two wives, and the enslaved family of Thomas and Mosianna Milledge. The Low family is probably best known for Andrew’s daughter-in-law,  Julliette Gordon Low (1860-1927), the founder of the Girl Scouts. The house remained in the family it was bought in 1927 by the National Society of Colonial Dames of America in the State of Georgia. As a result, most of the Low family belongings are still present, giving an authentic look at life in the mid-19th century.    

Coconut Cup

Bed steps with Chamber Pot

In Lafayette Square

After this very busy morning, I went to J. Christopher’s on Liberty St. for lunch. J. Christopher’s is a Georgia chain that serves breakfast and lunch. I enjoyed an excellent Bistro Salad with grilled chicken.

I spent the afternoon at the Davenport House Museum, on Columbia Square. This 1820 federal style house was built by Isiah Davenport who owned a local construction company. When he died in 1827, he left his family with a mountain of debt, and his wife, Sarah, turned to house into a boarding house. She sold the building in 1840, and over the next 115 years it served as private home, and then again as a boarding home. In 1955, a new owner planed to tear it down to build a parking lot. This prospect, so soon after losing the City Market, galvanized a number of important locals. They formed the Historic Savannah Foundation, and raised the money to buy and preserve the Davenport House, opening it as a museum in 1963.

A hop-on/hop-off tour is a great way to explore a new city. It offers a way to find out what a city has to offer, and to help decide what you might was to see.

Nuts and Bolts:
Old Town Trolley Tours: 7 days a week, from 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM. Adults $37.40/ Children $15.20. On-line discounts are available.

American Prohibition Museum - every day: 10:00 AM - 4:15 PM. Adults $16/ Children $10.70. Speakeasy cocktail. -$10

Andrew Low House - Mon-Sat 10 AM - 4 PM, Sun 12 noon - 4PM. Adults $12/ Seniors $11/ Students $10

Davenport House Museum. - Mon - Sat 10 AM - 4 PM, Sun 1 PM - 4 PM. Adults $10/ Children $5.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Sea Pines Resort, Hilton Head SC


It is hard to spend time among the Sea Islands of South Carolina without visiting Hilton Head Island. Hilton Head is about halfway between Beaufort SC and Savannah GA. It is one of South Carolina’s major vacation destinations.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, Hilton Head Island was home to several plantations, mostly growing sea island cotton. During and after the Civil War, the area was part of the Port Royal Experiment, and became home to hundreds of freed African-Americans, who could buy land and send their children to schools. The area became on center of Gullah-Geechee society, and remained so for one hundred years as access was limited to private boat and ferry service. In 1956, a two lane bridge was built to the island, and so did the Sea Pine Resort, Hilton Head’s first tourist destination. Today, Hilton Head has numerous developments, both resorts and year-round residents.

Stoney-Bayard House - via Wikicommons

Development on Hilton Head has been done under the ecological supervision of the local government. There are mandates to the height and size of buildings and amount of trees and green space required to be included. There are several public parking lots for beach access, and plenty of shopping and restaurants opportunities. I stopped at the tourist information office, and a trip to the Sea Pines Resort was suggested, so off I headed.

One reason for this choice was a chance to visit The Sea Pines Forest Preserve. This nature preserve was created in 1970, and offers hiking trails, horse trails, guided boat tours of the lakes and fishing piers. I drove to Fish Island, where there was parking available, along with picnic tables and shelters. Fish Island is fairly center to the preserve, and sits between Lake Joe and Lake Thomas, two of several lakes you can visit. The fishing piers here are a great place to enjoy watching some of the local wildlife. Who knows, you might even spot one of the alligators that lives here. There are plenty of trails to walk, through sea forest, swamps and marshes. It is a nice place to enjoy some time with nature.


Fish Island Piers




My other destination in Sea Pines was Harbour Town. Set around the Sea Pines yacht basin, Harbour Town offers a wide selection of stores and restaurants. It is the place to come for fishing and dolphin watching excursions. It is also home to the Harbour Town Light House. First, I chose the Harbourside Burgers and Brew for lunch. This outdoor grill gave me the chance to people watch as I enjoyed my repast, and my seat at the bar (it was a crowded Monday in May) allowed to talk with other vacationers.

The Harbour Town Light House and Museum was final destination in Sea Pines. The light house is privately owned and operated. It was built in 1969, and become an iconic symbol for Hilton Head Island. Its tower is 90 feet tall, and you can climb to the top for a great view of the marina and surrounding area. As you climb the light house you walk through a museum of local history and coast guard memorabilia.

The truth is, much of Hilton Head Island does not feel welcoming, if you are just coming in to visit for a day. Almost all of the developments are behind locked gates. But dig a little bit under the surface, and there is a great time to be had.

Nuts and Bolts:

Getting There - Take US 278 south from I-95. US 278 becomes a toll road on Hilton Head Island. Business 278 is a free alternative, although a slower one.

Sea Pines Resort charges a $9/car entrance fee for day visitors.

The Harbour Town Light House has a $4.50/person fee to climb the tower.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Eating in Beaufort SC

Bluffton marina

Spending a full week visiting a city allows a person to explore its dining establishments.During my trip to Beaufort, South Carolina, I had the chance to eat at several excellent restaurants.

Hearth Wood Fired Pizza:


From Hearth Wood Fire Pizza from

I am a firm believer that New York City is home to the best pizza in the U.S. from top to bottom. Hearth Wood Fired Pizza would fit in with New York’s best. Located on Bay Street in historic Beaufort, Hearth has the feel of an upscale tavern, without the sports tvs. The pizza here is wonderful, with a crispy thin crust. I had the Meat Pizza, which was covered in sausage, pepperoni and ground beef. It was cooked perfectly, and the sauce was just right, not overly acidic. While not romantic, Hearth is a great place for families and groups to come and enjoy a great meal at a reasonable cost.

Herban Market and Cafe:


photo from

If you are looking for a place to pick up a healthy breakfast or lunch, I recommend Herban Market and Cafe. They offer sandwiches, wraps and baked goods, but I came in for a breakfast smoothie one morning. My choice was the Zenergy, with kale, fresh fruit, yogurt and protein powder. Sitting in their courtyard, enjoying a cool breakfast drink was a great way to start the day.

McKinnon’s Seafood, Wings and Gullah Tingz:


I was looking for a Low Country place for lunch, and I was directed to McKinnon’s, across the Woods Memorial Bridge from historic Beaufort. Sitting in an extremely nondescript strip mall, This is hidden gem of a restaurant. I sat down and ordered Capt. Crip’s Gullah Boil. Sausage, shrimp, potatoes, eggs, corn, and crab legs boiled together with their “special sauce.” It was a great meal, and the small was more than enough for one person’s lunch.

Capt. Crips Gullah Boil

Dukes BBQ of Beaufort:


Dukes BBQ is one of over twenty restaurants that are individually owned by members of the same family. They all use the same original recipe, and have agreed to open businesses at least 30 miles apart from each other. The restaurants serve an all you can eat buffet of down home southern cooking. The meats include pulled pork and fried chicken, along with gizzards and livers. Side offer Mac ‘n cheese, baked beans, greens, okra, and a whole lot more. They also sell a wonderful ribs plate (not part of the buffet). I had ribs, sides and cornbread. All were delicious and prices are very affordable. The only issue is that Dukes is open only on Thursday and Friday.

Photo from

Bluffton Family Seafood House:


A twenty minute drive south of Beaufort is the town of Bluffton. Here you will find the Bluffton Family Seafood House, run by the Toomer family. They been harvesting oysters on the May River for over one hundred years, owning the Bluffton Oyster Company. Their raw oyster were excellent. Their main courses come with southern flavor and sides. I had the broiled scallops and their hush puppies. It was all wonderful.  

Photo from