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Bainbridge Island

Charleston, Savannah

Suggestions for a Mother/Daughter trip to Charleston and Savannah?

Any recommendations for first-timers to Charleston and Savannah? Which to see first? Best time of year to go? Places to stay and eat? My daughter is in her 20's, I'm in my 50's. We both love great food, shopping and performing arts. We'd also like to throw in some art galleries and some history. Should we rent a car? Is it better to fly into Savannah or Charleston? Our city of origin will be either Los Angeles or Seattle. Thanks, all!

5 Answers

answered by
Rachel from Hawthorn Woods, Illinois

My mom and I did a similar trip last October. I'm in my late 20s, she's in her late 50's. We flew into Charleston from Chicago, spent 4 days there and it was absolutely wonderful! We stayed at the Meeting Street Inn (very historic, great location, affordable & haunted!) They have complimentary breakfast & cocktail hour/snacks every day and super friendly, knowledgeable staff. We rented a car for our last day and a half in Charleston as you'll need one if you want to visit any of the nearby plantations. You don't really need a car otherwise, everything in Charleston is very walk-able. 

Some places we went that are definitely worth checking out:

  • Old City Market- a must! Lots of local vendors & artisans. Great food & snacks here as well. Perfect place to pick up souvenirs & gifts. 
  • Blues, Booze & BBQ Sunset Sail - I can't recall the company that ran this but it was so much fun! Live music, amazing BBQ and great views of the Charleston harbor at night.
  • Shopping on King Street - lots of great little boutiques & antique stores.
  • Cru Cafe - we had an awesome dinner here one night. Probably one of the best meals my mom and I have ever had. Ask if you can sit at the chef's table overlooking the kitchen, we were on first name basis with the entire kitchen staff, laughing with them and getting free samples of lots of different dishes!
  • Boone Hall Plantation - beautiful property, The Notebook and many other famous movies, tv shows have been filmed here. 
  • Middleton Place - also very beautiful property with lots of history. The gardens here are absolutely magnificent!
  • Old City Jail - do a night time tour of the jail! It is absolutely haunted and if you enjoy that kind of thing, you will love this tour. 
  • Horse-drawn Carriage Tour - the guides on these tours are fantastic and they give you some really fun and interesting facts about all different facets of life in Charleston and its history. I grew up riding horses and I must say, they take wonderful care of the horses used for the carriage rides. 
  • We also did a half-day at a spa one morning. We went to Earthling Day Spa & Pilates and had the most amazing facials. We also got manicures and pedicures, but they weren't really anything out of this world compared to the facials we had. 

I haven't been to Savannah yet, but I hope this is a good start for Charleston! I planned most of our trip using TripAdvisor but when you're there, the locals are very eager to share their recommendations as well. 

Have so much fun!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Meeting Street (attraction)
  2. Old City Market (attraction)
  3. King Street (attraction)
  4. Cru Cafe (restaurant)
  5. Boone Hall Plantation (attraction)
  6. Middleton Place (restaurant)
  7. Old City Jail (attraction)
  8. Earthling Day Spa & Pilates (attraction)
2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Polly from Washington, DC

I've heard other people rave about Charleston, but on my two visits, I never really felt that excited about it. It sounds like a great place to live, but I feel like Savannah is fun to visit as a tourist. You'll find plenty of galleries and historic buildings in both.

In Charleston, I'd second the horse-drawn carriage tour and Historic Charleston City Market, which was neat but smaller than I'd expected.

In Savannah, I enjoyed walking around the different squares and Forsyth Park. We were there in the spring and everything was in bloom - gorgeous! Factors Walk Horizontal Propertyand River Street have a fun, vaguely pirate-y atmosphere at night. On a Christmas road trip, we stopped at The Pirates House Savannah GA to eat - touristy, but I thought the shrimp & grits and fried green tomatoes were amazing. Definitely visit Bonaventure Cemetery - it's still the prettiest and most interesting cemetery I've ever seen.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Charleston (city)
  2. Savannah (city)
  3. Historic Charleston City Market (attraction)
  4. Forsyth Park (attraction)
  5. Factors Walk Horizontal Property (attraction)
  6. The Pirates House Savannah GA (attraction)
  7. Bonaventure Cemetery (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Erica from Kansas City (Missouri)

My mother and I took a trip to Savannah this past May. We really enjoyed it! We are 35 and 65. The weather was ideal. We stayed at the Forsyth Park Inn, which is a B&B along the edge of Forsyth Park. We stayed in the The Cottage room, which is a little back house with a daybed in the main room, and a full sized bed in the bedroom. It was nice as it gave us a little privacy.

We took several tours, and the ones I would recommend are:
Savannah Bike Tours (, where we visited each of the squares.  I would recommend that tour on the first day, then you can re-visit the areas you find interesting.
Owens-Thomas House
Green-Meldrim House
Sorrel Weed House

One afternoon we stopped at the Gryphon Tea Room, and had some scones, tea, and tea sandwiches. It was a fun experience.

We also rented a car from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which was in walking distance from our B&B. We went to Bonaventure Cemetery, and Tybee Island. We just made a day trip of it. I recommend both. Tybee is a great place to grab souvenirs, and try a low country boil.

Savannah is very laid back. We chose to go there because we could go our own pace. We booked only a few items that we knew we would want to do – then planned our days based on landmarks we noticed on the bike tour. Additionally, the tour guides and B&B hosts were always open to suggestions. It made for a great trip.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Forsyth Park Inn (hotel)
  2. Forsyth Park (attraction)
  3. Savannah Bike Tours (attraction)
  4. Gryphon Tea Room (restaurant)
  5. Enterprise Rent-A-Car (attraction)
  6. Bonaventure Cemetery (attraction)
  7. Tybee Island (city)
1 thanks

answered by
Janelle from Charleston

Tina, how long will your trip be?  I'm biased because I've lived in Charleston since I was 10 and I think that of all the places in America my parents picked to emigrate to they picked the best place of all.  I personally am no huge fan of Savannah.  I think it's touristy, tends to be overpriced and commercialised, and is just not as genuine a representation of the American South as Charleston.  I think Savannah can be done in a weekend, but Charleston needs at least 3-4 days to do it any justice. 

As far as getting in, I know Alaska now flies nonstop to Charleston from Seattle, but Savannah requires a change of plane somewhere.  It takes about 2.5-3 hours to drive between the 2 cities. 

Both cities are great year-round, but if it's the beach or outdoor activities you want then obviously winter wouldn't be the best time to go.  If you care more about food, shopping and culture then winter is a great time because it's off-season, hotels are cheaper, restaurants less crowded and the theatre is in season. 

I'd definitely recommend staying in Historic Charleston.  You pay more, but it's worth it.  If you want a smaller place I'd recommend the Andrew Pinckney Inn and if you want a large full-service hotel I'd recommend the Francis Marion Hotel.  For dining I'd highly recommend Husk, although reservations are difficult to get.  Other go-to spots are Bowen's Island Restaurant for oysters, McCrady's (Husk's fancier sister restaurant) and Gaulart & Maliclet Fast & French Inc. for breakfast or an inexpensive but elegant lunch.  For a great meal of cheap crap that you'll think is delicious but regret having eaten it the next morning don't miss Melvin's Legendary Bar-B-Que.  For sights I'd recommend touring some of the old historic homes such as the Edmondston-Alston House and definitely take a ferry out to Fort Sumter National Monument.  I'd avoid Charles Towne Landing because it's touristy, not all that authentic and full of school kids on field trips.  Sullivan's Island and Folly Beach are better beaches than Isle of Palms. 

OK, now for Savannah.  I'd recommend staying in Hilton Head Island instead, and then making a day trip to Savannah (about 30-45 minutes).  Hilton Head is an upscale place to just chill for a few days.  There are great beaches, tennis courts and golf courses.  I'd recommend the Hilton Head Island Beach & Tennis Resort.  It's a great place but it's not branded, so prices are lower than at the Marriott or the Westin.  Hilton Head Island Spa & Wellness is where my mum and I go for our spa fix.  We've been going there for years and it's worth driving an hour and a half for.

In Savannah, I'd recommend Forsyth Park and a walk through Bonaventure Cemetery Tours By Day & By Night.  Also go to some of the small squares in the historic district such as Calhoun SquareOglethorpe Square and Crawford Square.  Stay away from City Market a new and overcommercialised development full of chain restaurants and stores that sticks out like an out of control zit.    If you read or saw "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" you can take a guided book tour, which is touristy but worth it.  If you eat at one place in town, go to Wall's Bar-B-Que.  Forget Paula Deen's Lady & Sons or Mrs Wilkes' Boarding House - they're overpriced, mediocre tourist traps.

1 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Hazel from Port St. Lucie

The Slave Market in Charleston is the most unique place to shop anywhere. I bought a needle point of the Color Row Houses there. Charleston is considered to be one of the best cities for Libras to visit because of it's beauty. It will draw you back. Has an inspiring Drive up the Coastline to Hilton Head Island.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Slave Market (attraction)
  2. Hilton Head Island (city)

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