If you ever take the I-95 road trip on the east coast of the U.S., one of the most interesting cities to visit is Savannah, Georgia. Georgia was the 13th and last colony named after England’s King George. No place compares to this historical, picturesque, friendly southern city.

Established in 1733 on the Savannah River, Savannah was the first American planned city with 24 public squares in a a grid formation. Most of the squares are still standing today and provide peaceful shaded parks with plants and statues.

The trans-Atlantic slave trade brought many African-Americans through the port of Savannah to work the cotton fields on southern plantations. River Street with its cobblestones and old buildings is often said to be haunted. Warehouses along the river stored the cotton to be shipped out and held the slaves shackled together to be sold right there along the river.

River Street, Savannah

Ghost tours are popular in Savannah. Stories of seeing shadows along the dark alleys of River Street or hearing chains rattling are common and tours are provided with visits inside the warehouses and to haunted homes.

My first winter as a widow, my colleague and I took a road trip to Hilton Head, South Carolina for spring break. She had been very supportive of me after my husband died and even joined me as we visited psychic mediums in an effort to communicate with my dead husband.

Savannah is a short drive from Hilton Head so one night we decided to have a night on the town. After some exploring we signed up for the ghost tour which started in a dark warehouse with a pirate. Next we boarded a trolley where previously witnessed ghost sightings were pointed out. The trolley stopped at a haunted house: 432 Abercorn Street. We were encouraged to take photos and promised, if we were lucky, could score a photo with an actual orb in it. I took a photo of some creepy old dolls, but no orbs appeared in my photos that night.

creepy dolls at 432 Abercorn Street

If you have no luck communing with the dead on the ghost tour, it is a thrill to visit one of the beautiful old cemeteries in the city. Spanish moss hanging from the old oak trees provide a spooky, eerie image any time of day or night.

Last month on our visit south we brought our Yorkie Harry along. On the trip from New York to Florida we planned one night in a $65 Comfort Inn along the side of the highway in North Carolina. For New Year’s Eve we splurged on a luxury boutique hotel called The Drayton Hotel. One lesson I have learned in my travels is that location is key to a good visit. This hotel is located right in the middle of Savannah, across from the famed River Walk and has easy access to streets with shops, dining and bars.

We enjoyed a delicious dinner in the St. Neo’s Brasserie located next to the hotel lobby and were given complimentary tickets to a New Year’s Eve party at the rooftop bar. I was a bit surprised that the upstairs party was serving platters of appetizers on a table and that people were mingling about without wearing masks during this time of COVID-19 pandemic. After checking out the scene we took our free drinks to our room and waited until 11:50pm to head back upstairs with Harry to watch the fireworks and join in the countdown to 2021. He wasn’t too happy with the party so we did not stay long.

Our visit to Savannah was great. The weather was beautiful. The shops and outdoor dining establishments welcome dogs. People are friendly and the charming character of the buildings and city squares are enchanting.

The biggest surprise for us was finding out that not only was the fee for parking $35 but in addition for bringing our dog to this particular hotel we were charged $150 additional per night. Many hotels have a cleaning fee of 25-50 dollars for pets so their fee was exorbitant! Since we had not been informed of it in advance and Harry is an emotional support dog we were able to have the fee waived but it took a bit of effort. Cautionary tale for my dog traveling friends.

Savannah is a beautiful city to visit with such history and visual highlights. Be sure to keep your camera with you and look for those orbs of souls who lived here before and remember to check the pet fee before booking your stay.

Dogs welcome at outdoor dining