April 02, 2023

The Quiet Side of Savannah

Before we get into today’s post (the first of two about our adventures in Savannah), I have news to share about National Park Week 2023.  This year’s event will be celebrated from April 22nd to April 30th.  Entrance fees will be waived on April 22nd to kick off the week of celebration for anyone who would like to enjoy our National Parks in person.  If an actual visit isn’t an option, you can easily follow along via social media.  Find the links to the National Park Service’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn and YouTube accounts on the NPS website (link here).  Our amazing, educational, magnificent and spectacular National Parks properties truly are National Treasures that add extraordinary enjoyment and enrichment to our lives.  Don’t miss out!  And don’t let your kids and grandkids miss out either!    

Savannah was founded in 1733 and is the oldest city in Georgia.  Due to its charm and hospitality, it was nicknamed the “Hostess City of the South.”  In 1966, the city was designated a National Historic Landmark District – one of the largest in the country.  Cobblestone streets, a vibrant riverfront, amazing architecture and beautiful, park-like squares ensure that Savannah will remain a bucket list destination for romantics, historians and adventurers for many years to come.

Alan and I were eager to explore this lovely southern city, but we’re definitely not your typical tourists.  Personally, I think we’re a bit odd in our approach to exploration.  (I didn’t say we’re odd people, just odd in our approach when visiting a destination.  There’s a difference.)  We’re generally not interested in organized tours (such as the popular trolley tours in Savannah) or in spending much time in museums – although we do occasionally partake and enjoy.  Instead, we prefer what I’ll call a scavenger hunt.  My pre-trip research often produces a copious number of activities, attractions, oddities (there’s that word again) and regional specialties that I know we’ll find enjoyable and educational.  That list often includes stunning examples of architecture and construction, quiet places in which to enjoy nature and her wildlife, delicious samplings of regional cooking and the quirks and eccentricities that make a particular destination unique and fascinating.  While our itinerary may not be that of a typical tourist, it works perfectly well for us, and it usually leads to fun-filled days and memorable expeditions.  Here’s what we found “scavenger hunting” in Savannah . . .

First up on our list, was a quiet date with nature.  Skidaway Island State Park was less than 10 miles from our mid-town hotel, but a world away in ambience.  After paying a $5.00 day use fee, we entered the park, and decided to check out the State Park Campground first.  Alan and I agreed that it would be an excellent home base for us if we returned to Savannah in the future with our travel trailer in tow.  (We’re not the only camping tourists who scout campgrounds while we’re traveling, are we?)  Then it was on to the small, but interesting, Visitor Center and, finally, a walk along the Sandpiper Trail Loop.

Has anyone seen Gilligan?

This short, one mile loop trail was a delight, and took us over salt flats and tidal creeks and through maritime forests.  Actually, in the forest with Spanish moss draping the branches of many of the trees and few people around, it really felt like Alan and I were castaways on our own little island.  Thankfully, we didn’t see the S. S. Minnow run aground anywhere, and we were never really far from civilization.  The best part of this peaceful little trail was the huge number of fiddler crabs on the flats and along the creek.  I found them to be captivating, and I was quite content to lean on the rail of the boardwalk and watch them going about their business on a beautiful blue sky day.  Skidaway Island State Park would definitely be on my “return to” list – whether to camp or to spend a day exploring its trails.

This little guy was just fiddlin' around in his front yard.

Since we had hit the road to escape the cold, wintry weather in the northeast, we decided that a beach visit was a necessity on this trip.  Tybee Island was less than 20 miles from our hotel, and offered a number of beach choices – North Beach, South Beach, Mid Beach and Back River Beach.  We avoided the South Beach, staying well-clear of the restaurants, bars and hotels on the Island’s busiest beach.  Instead, we chose the North Beach due to its quiet reputation and proximity to the Tybee Island Light Station.  It felt like the best fit for us and, indeed, it was a good choice.  Mid Beach seemed like a blend of North and South Beaches which, in my mind, just muddied its personality.  If we return to Savannah (and I’m thinking we might), I’d head for the Back River Beach to enjoy the solitude.

North Beach, Tybee Island, Georgia

Parking at North Beach was easy but not inexpensive at $4.00 per hour; there is no admission fee to access the beach.  A clean public restroom was available, the beach was relatively empty and a squadron of pelicans diving for fresh seafood treats provided steady entertainment.  The rhythms of the natural world never fail to quiet my mind and recharge my internal batteries.  I don’t know how much time we spent at North Beach, but isn’t that the point?  To immerse yourself so deeply in an experience that time seems suspended and contentment fills your soul?

Pelicans.  A lot of pelicans.

The history of the Tybee Island Light Station dates back to 1736.  That’s when construction began on the first day-mark (a “lighthouse” without a light).  Since then, the Light Station has been rebuilt and/or renovated several times, making it the oldest and the tallest (at 145’) lighthouse in Georgia.  Nearby are three of the Light Keepers’ Cottages and the Tybee Island Museum.

In 1790, ownership of the Light Station was transferred from the colony of Georgia to the federal government, and the United States Lighthouse Establishment took over the day-to-day operation of the day-mark.  The Light Station became a lighthouse in 1791 when it was lit with candles, and it received a first-order Fresnel lens in 1867.  At some point in time, responsibility for the Light Station was transferred to the National Park Service.  Full ownership of the Tybee Island Light Station was conveyed to the Tybee Island Historical Society in 2002 as part of the NPS National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act Program.  The Tybee Island Light Station remains active, and has been safely guiding mariners to the entrance of the Savannah River for more than 280 years.

The end of our first day in Savannah feels like a good place to pause.  In the next post, I'll share with you the adventures we enjoyed the following day in the "Hostess City of the South."

A word of welcome to our new subscribers!  The RV and camping lifestyle is chock full of warm and wonderful people, and I’m happy that you’ve decided to join our little community here at Reflections Around the Campfire.  Thank you for your interest in our adventures – enjoy the ride!



  1. Mary, Savannah is one of our favorite Southern towns! We've been several times and have always stayed at Skidaway State Park. I'm so glad you checked out the park for a future visit. I know you would love staying there! We always enjoy our time wandering around in Savannah. I'm looking forward to your next post to see what you discovered in your scavenger hunt. :-)

    1. Thanks for passing along the endorsement of Skidaway Island, Laurel. If you and Eric were happy there, I'm sure we would be, too. We only have one camping experience in Georgia State Parks. That was at Crooked River State Park in St. Marys, and we immediately added it to our "return to" list. I'll definitely keep Skidaway Island in the back of my mind. In retrospect, I think we would have been happy with two, or maybe even three, more days in Savannah. I should have known better. We ALWAYS find extra things to see and do!

  2. Mary,
    We camped at Tybee Island a few years ago in a campground within walking distance of the lighthouse. I can't remember the name, but it was nice. Helen and I both love Savannah and usually camp at nearby Parris Island. I'm glad to know about Skidway, so thanks for sharing. Your pictures are great! Joe

    1. Joe, now I'm curious about Parris Island. I'll have to take a look. I'm finding that there a lot of folks who really like Savannah. So many, in fact, that now I'm wondering why we didn't visit sooner. Please say hi to Helen for me, and travel safely!


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