The Independent

2011’s tourism hotspots – what to do in Savannah, Georgia

The city of Savannah in the southern US state of Georgia is fairly old by US standards, founded in 1733, and today the town still retains much of its historical charm.

It was the first planned city in the United States and 22 of the 24 squares that city planners drew up in 1733 are still in existence, a constant reminder of the long history of one of the US’s most underrated tourist destinations.

Selected by Lonely Planet as one of the top ten US cities to visit in 2011 and rapidly building a name for itself as a southern cultural hub, Savannah offers much to first-time visitors, including plentiful seafood, 150 festivals a year and a surprising number of ghosts (it’s said to be one of America’s most haunted cities).

The city’s sense of style has been boosted by the opening of several new hotels offering a very different vibe to the city’s traditional institutions, with the new-ish AVIA Savannah (opened in 2009) already scooping several awards and new properties from Hampton Inn and Hilton joining the club last year.

So what can visitors do in a city so beautiful that General Sherman offered it to Abraham Lincoln as a Christmas present?

Walk. Savannah is the largest registered Urban Historic Landmark District in the US, offering over a thousand historically and architecturally significant structures in an area 2.5 miles squared.

Sit. Savannah’s squares are celebrated areas of the city’s downtown, each with a unique character and history, along with shady spots from which to admire the city’s Southern charm.

Party. With over 150 festivals every year, Savannag is rightly regarded as a celebratory capital, with just about every cause serving as an excuse for a city-wide party.

Ghost hunt. Savannah’s longevity and colonial past have helped cement its reputation as a center of paranormal activity. Take a ghost walk with a local guide for the authentic ghost whisperer experience.

See tomorrow’s art today. Savannah is home to one of the largest and most prestigious art schools in the US, the Savannah College of Art and Design, and students’ work, exhibited all over the city, is not to be missed.

Go to the beach. Only 20 minutes outside of Savannah is Tybee Island, a resort popular with day-trippers and overnighters which offers wildlife, accommodation, sea and sand.

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