Using the mystical and gothic southern Georgia city of Savannah as a starting point, traveling to the Georgia Coast can be both riveting and relaxing. Known for its timeless villages and pristine seashore, the Georgia Coast holds historical importance to Civil War buffs, automobile historians, gourmands, golfers, marine biologists, linguists, botanists and lovers of the Southern way of life. Natives from the region speak their own sort of language; Henry Ford built a winter home for his adored wife; General Sherman ended his March to the Sea there; and the gulls and fauna indigenous to the region form a sort of American Galapagos that would have kept Charles Darwin occupied. Add on a dash of celebrity -- Bennifer bought a mansion there, JFK Jr. married there -- and you have something that even a teenager can relate to.
Beginning from Savannah, www.savannahvisit.com has comprehensive listings to all things Savannah, including hotels, events, restaurants, walking tours, history, geography and planning meetings and vacations. The site provides to links to Special Packages (tel. 866/327-8661; www.savannahpackages.com) but the search engine was hesitant to give prices unless you order a certain number of tickets to activities. Packages include Historical Savannah that includes carriage tours of the city, haunted tours of the city and a tour of the great mansions of Savannah. There's also a romantic package to the city. All packages give you a choice of hotels ranging from Best Westerns to bed and breakfasts. If the price isn't available, call a Savannah Package representative who can give you a quote over the phone.
Travelocity (tel. 888/872-8356; www.travelocity.com) offers last minute trips to Savannah that likely departs from your closest major airport every weekend. From New York, we found a Friday to Sunday trip for the weekend of November 18, 2005 starting at $264 per person that includes airfare and accommodation. Hotel choices include centrally located Holiday Inns and La Quinta Inns all in walking distance to midtown Savannah and many of the parks and Southern-style buffet restaurants such as Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House (tel. 912/232-5997; www.mrswilkes.com), known for its huge plates of fried chicken and heaps of fresh vegetables and macaroni and cheese. The Georgia Sea Islands such as Tybee Island are only about a twenty-minute drive. If you want to stay on the Golden Islands, Travelocity also has packages to those destinations. A three-day trip with accommodations on the beach at the Holiday Inn Jekyll Island (you'll likely fly into the Jacksonville Airport) starts at $260 per person for double occupancy accommodations.
Jekyll Island (www.jekyllisland.com/index.html) is a quiet seashore escape especially beautiful around the holiday time when ice skating and winter wonderlands are enjoyed by both kids and adults. With sea turtles, nature walks and bird watching, nature lovers can disappear on trails and dunes along the coast. Located on the south end of the island, the hotel is near a boardwalk that makes seaside walks accessible to couples with small children and newborns. A Christmas Lights Tour that takes you through the island's historical district is available from November 26 to December 30, 2005. The Jekyll Island site also offers packages such as a $135 per night special available from November 22 to December 22, 2005 that includes daily breakfast and a Christmas stocking filled with local goodies.
For detailed information on maps, events and sites on the Georgia Islands, check out www.coastalgeorgia.com. The site gives you directions to such sites as Fort McAllister where General Sherman ended his devastating March to the Sea, Henry Ford's winter mansion, and the many churches, cemeteries and golf courses in the region as well as most of the Low Country restaurants serving such delicacies as Shrimp and Grits. You can find information to Brunswick, St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island, St. Mary's and Darien. The area is small enough for you to visit most of the major destinations within three or four days. You will, however, want to take in the natural wealth of the area and visit the beaches and national parks. Temperatures right now are in the mid-70s and it's always pleasant and breezy. The area is rich in Colonial American history but has modern twists such as the Georgia Island Factory Shoppes (tel. 888/545-7224, www.horizongroup.com/centers/darien.htm) in the town of Darien. Who wouldn't take advantage of solid shopping deals after touring Civil War and colonial sites?
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