While Savannah and Charleston are gorgeous in Photos, it’s when you’re really there that the cities come to life. When the Spanish Moss covered trees are blowing in the wind, when the fountains are gently bubbling water as a jazz musician plays a sweet tune in the air, those are the moments that make the South feel like another world. So since you couldn’t all come on our trip to the South with us, here’s a little video guide of Savannah and Charleston so you can feel like you were there too!
Prague has been on my travel list for a long time now and while I haven’t been able to make it work so far on our travels through Europe to explore this ancient city, when I was approached to share more about it, I couldn’t pass up the chance!
Walking the streets of Prague, one marvels at the astonishing architecture spanning centuries of history; from Gothic, Baroque, Art Nouveau and modern Art Deco architecture side-by-side, Prague is a wondrous sight. So, if you’re planning to travel to the Czech Republic, here are six landmarks in Prague which you must visit.
The Old Town Hall and Astronomical Clock
The most recognizable icon in the city, this Gothic structure dates back to the 14th century and houses a beautiful mechanical clock. Crowds gather hourly just to see and hear it chime and marvel at its beauty and wonder. Canadian Traveller states the astronomical clock was a collaboration between clock maker Miklaus of Kadane and Jan Sindel, professor of mathematics at Charles University. It remains one of the most incredible inventions of the medieval world and has survived revolutions and uprisings.
One of the most architecturally beautiful and largest coherent castle complexes in the world, Prague Castle was founded in the 9th century during the Premyslid Dynasty. It features in the Guinness Book of World Records, as the castle spans across 18 acres thanks to several expansive courtyards, according to PartyPoker’s article ’10 Fantastic Things to Do in Prague’. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the castle comprises palaces and ecclesiastical building of varying styles and ages; from the Romanesque style buildings of the 10th century, through Gothic modifications of the 14th century. Unfortunately, it is also a no-fly zone, so drone videographers will have to make due with ground level photography.
Also known as Jerusalem Synagogue, due to its location on Jerusalem Street in Prague, it is situated outside the Jewish Quarter and was originally built in 1906. Designed by Viennese architect Wilhelm Stiassny in honor of the silver Jubilee of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, the synagogue reflects a unique synthesis of styles, including Moorish architecture combined with Art Nouveau. It is characterized by large central arch frames and rosette window with the Star of David in the middle.
If you’re a lover of asymmetric modern architecture, the world-famous Dancing House is the symbol of modern architecture in Prague. Designed Canadian-American architect Frank O. Gehry, it was finished in 1996 and was inspired by the dancing duo Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Originally construction was met with a heated debate as many did not see it fitting in with Prague’s overall architectural design, however, when it was finished it received Time Magazine’s Design of the Year Award.
The famous historical fort is one of the most significant National Cultural Monuments of the Czech Republic and today shelters many architectural treasures. This extensive complex spreads out on a high promontory overlooking the Vlatva River and contains the famous Vysehard Cemetery, Slavin Tomb and the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul. The hill-fort was founded in the late 10th century during the reign of Boleslaus II the Pious. Throughout the centuries it became a seat of power, notably of the King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV.
St. Vitus Cathedral
Perched up high on Castle Hill, the cathedral and its high spires are an important symbol of Prague. Thought Co’s article ‘Prague Architecture for the Casual Traveler’ discussed that it is a masterpiece of Gothic design and took almost 600years to complete with construction beginning in the mid-14th century. However, for centuries it sat unfinished and it wasn’t until the mid-19th century that it was started again and finally completed in 1929. The harmonious combination of five centuries of architectural designs make it a uniquely beautiful and timeless structure.
After our first day in Savannah, we felt like we had explored most of the city on foot and were looking for a spontaneous day trip somewhere in the area to explore a new area for the day. Initially my thought was Hilton Head, South Carolina, however upon further research most people suggested that Hilton Head is great for a vacation but not necessarily a day trip – they did recommend however the cute little South Carolina town of Beaufort. So upon a couple quick image searches to see what it looked like and seeing the incredible little town full of old houses and Spanish Moss, we jumped at it and headed to Beaufort, South Carolina for the day.
We started our day with a drive through the Old Point neighborhood stopping at every chance we got to gawk at the incredible old Southern houses and amazing oaks lining the streets covered in hanging Spanish moss. Beaufort is the Southern small town of your dreams and that’s no exaggeration – it’s gorgeous.
After an hour or so of driving and stopping, driving and stopping in the neighborhood, we headed for the main street in town on Bay Street. We parked the car and wandered up and down the street, popping into the stores and buying a few things. Finally we headed to Q on Bay for some lunch and had amazing Southern food, including my final indulgence of shrimp and grits of the trip.
Only about an hour from Savannah and an hour from Charleston, Beaufort is the perfect day trip if you’re in either city and looking to explore more of the area. This little magical town was a treat and we were really glad we gave it a chance on a spontaneous decision!
Kimpton Brice Hotel – Savannah, Georgia
601 E Bay St, Savannah, GA 31401
When we were looking at our time in Savannah and planning our trip, I looked to see if there were Kimpton properties in the area. Usually, Kimpton’s are my go-to hotel chain wherever we travel so I check them first and low and behold, up came the Brice in Savannah and the rest is history!
Location – While the location of the Brice initially seemed far from everything when we were driving into town, we quickly realized that while it may be one of the last hotels on the strip of hotels near River Street in Savannah, it actually was only a 10 minute walk to everywhere in the historic district of Savannah.
Decor – Like all Kimpton’s, the decor of the hotel is great. It’s modern and fun and has lovely touches everywhere you look.
Quick Valet – Anytime we needed to get our car in and out of valet, it was super fast and easy.
Restaurant Design – We didn’t eat at the restaurant at the hotel, but it looked super cute and fun!
Price – We stayed the weekend a couple days after Valentine’s Day and so the rates were fairly high (even with my professional discount) and unfortunately I was under the impression that the rate quoted to me included taxes and fees when in reality it didn’t and that added a lot more to the price. I don’t really think the price we paid was worth what the hotel offered.
Hotel Layout – The hotel looks like it used to be an old motel and so it’s a huge property with winding corridors and weird fire doors in odd locations. In the update, it looked like the updated all the aesthetic finishes but didn’t do much for the layout of the hotel and building itself which still seems a bit odd and outdated.
Old Bathrooms – While the bedroom of our room was updated and modern, the bathrooms didn’t make it into the renovation budget it seems and were really old and outdated.
NOTES TO KEEP IN MIND
It’s not in the main hub of hotels near River Street, but close – East Bay Street is a long stretch of hotels and restaurants across the street from a park and River Street in Savannah and while the Brice is still close to everything, there are a number of hotels closer to the main hub of the area.
Valet Parking – Valet parking will set you back about $40 per night.
All hotel photos via.
Land of Marvels was welcomed to the Brice at a discounted rate however as always, all opinions are my own.
Ghost City Grave Tales Ghost Tour – Savannah, Georgia
While in Charleston, one of Nick’s colleagues from the area recommended for us to a ghost tour while in Savannah, as it’s known as the most haunted city in the USA. He recommended Ghost City so we went with them, but there are a lot of companies that do these tours so you could look into other options too. I love supernatural natural stuff like that and have always been sensitive to the supernatural in my personal life, so this was right up my alley. We actually booked only a day in advance and even though last minute, it was one of our favorite parts of our time in Savannah!
Tour Guide – We had KB as our guide and we loved her! She was the perfect mix of great story telling and information along with great insider knowledge of the city.
Tour Route – We did a big loop around the downtown area of Savannah and got to see some spots we hadn’t seen during our day wandering around the city which was nice. It’s a nice couple hours of getting to see the city and understand it better.
Meet Up Organization – We did our tour on a Saturday night and they had a lot of different groups going and where we met in Johnson Square there were a ton of people and it got a little chaotic. I wish they would have told us to go to a specific corner of the square or something to meet as it got a little crazy before we got going. They did do their best to manage it, it just was a lot of people!
Group Size – I’d say there were probably 12-15 people in our group and I wish there had been about half that so we got a little bit more of an intimate feel. It wasn’t a huge deal, but if I did it again, it would be nice to have a smaller group.
NOTES TO KEEP IN MIND
Wear Comfortable Shoes – It’s a 1.5-2 hour tour so wear comfortable shoes to walk around that whole time!
If you’re supernaturally sensitive, be ready for some weird vibes – I’ve always been sensitive to the supernatural and since I was little have always felt supernatural presence around me in certain locations so if you lean that direction, just be aware that I definitely got some weird vibes and feelings in certain locations on this tour. One square in particular (the last one on the tour), gave me a really negative feeling and presence and I was really ready to get out of that location, so just know that if you’re sensitive to it, you will definitely feel it on this tour. Just be ready for it so it doesn’t throw you off. And if you aren’t sure if you really believe in the supernatural (like Nick), don’t worry either, you’ll still have a great time and learn a bunch of history of Savannah.
Upon arriving in Savannah, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t super thrilled with the city. First off, it was completely different than I was expecting in my head which always throws me off. It also seemed a little gritty for me and a bit more of a party city than I generally like. But I will admit, after spending 2 days there, by the time we left, it had really grown on me. I came to love the old gritty-ness, the historic mansions, the tiny squares within each little neighborhood full of old oak trees and Spanish moss. I came to love the history of the city and the spirituality of the most haunted city in the US. I came to love the old brick warehouses by the river and appreciate the history of this part of the world. I came to really like Savannah when we finally headed back to Charleston, I had really come to appreciate the city.
Savannah is best explored on foot to be sure to park your car somewhere and just wander. There aren’t a ton of true tourist spots, instead what makes the city so unique is how it’s laid out with old historic neighborhoods and their subsequent little squares full of trees. You can’t really go wrong just wandering the city for hours and taking it all in.
- River Street – Down on the water in Savannah is this old waterfront area bordered by old brick warehouse buildings and a main promenade. This spot is amazing to wander at sunset!
- Forsyth Park – This big city park is a lovely spot to stop and rest on a park bench and just watch the world go by.
- Colonial Park Cemetery – This old cemetery dates back to the Colonial war in the 1700’s and has a ton of old rich history – it’s also said to be haunted so you might see a ghost or two!
- Historic District – There is a group of historic blocks in downtown Savannah full of old homes dating back to the 1800’s. And within each grouping of a few blocks, each has it’s own square filled with old trees and Spanish moss. Each square is different than the next so you could wander through these for hours!
- Broughton Street – This main stretch of the downtown area of Savannah is full of shops and restaurants to explore.
I won’t lie – I’m a huge fan of Southern food and always have been. I’ve also leaned in the direction of this type of food for comfort in my life and I’ve long sought out Southern restaurants in Portland to get in my cravings. We’re actually really lucky to have a few great Southern restaurants in my home city but there is nothing quite like the real thing when actually in the South. So if you’re like me and crave comfort Southern food – don’t miss the foods on this list while you’re in the American South!
There is nothing better than Southern Fried Chicken and while totally unhealthy, it really is so incredible and tasty.
Shrimp and Grits
I could not stop eating Shrimp and Grits while in Charleston and Savannah and this amazing meal quickly became my go-to while in the South mostly because I don’t get much of this in the NW. I bought some Southern grits to bring home with me to replicate at home but it tasted so good while on our trip.
There is nothing quite like a down home Southern biscuit. For some reason, this easy little morsel if often really done horribly but in the South, the buttery biscuits are one of a kind.
Perhaps my favorite food on the planet, okra is really hard to get here in the Pacific North West. My dad used to make it for us growing up and while it’s not a widely used vegetable in my neck of the woods, I crave it a lot! And nothing is better than fried okra which you’ll find on a lot of menus in the South.
Ahh this post is making me hungry and thinking of hushpuppies is making me hungrier. These little fried dumpling type things are delicious and easy to just snack on for a while.
And while not a type of food, Waffle House is a Southern tradition and shouldn’t be missed while in that part of the country! It’s your typical diner but oh so good and oh so Southern!
Immediately upon arrival in Charleston I knew I was going to love it. In truth, Charleston has been at the top of my US travel list for a long time and for whatever reason, we just never could make it work. So when we worked it into our travel calendar this year, I was super excited. I had big expectations for Charleston and in person, this city did not disappoint. From the colorful houses to the charming narrow cobblestone streets, this city is everything and more that you expect it to be.
We spent 2 days in Charleston at the front of our trip and then headed on to Savannah before returning for a day at the end, and while our time there was short, we had enough time to really get a lay of the land and explore the city. From amazing food to serious charm everywhere you look, I loved Charleston and can’t wait to head back!
- Callie’s Hot Little Biscuits – this little tiny biscuit shop is a MUST in Charleston. The blackberry biscuit was incredible!
- King Street – This long stretch of shops and restaurants is a hub in the downtown area of the city. You’ll find everything here.
- East Bay Street – This is another long stretch through the city and is lined with restaurants of all kinds.
- PawPaw – We ate here for lunch and it was one of the best meals of our trip. Head here for authentic Southern food – try their Shrimp and Grits!
- White Point Garden – This beautiful garden is filled with rows of old oak trees and Spanish moss and is right on the water.
- Downtown Charleston Historic District – I could have wandered this area for days! Picture old row houses painted in all pastel colors and brick mansions that didn’t feel real. Couple that with cherry blossoms popping up and cobblestone alleyways and you get the picture!
- City Market – This old market full of stalls selling everything from artwork to jewelry was a favorite of ours. We brought home a watercolor of Charleston and some jewelry from local vendors.
- Rainbow Row – You can’t go to Charleston without seeing Rainbow Row – a collection of rainbow colored houses near the water.
- East Battery – This waterfront area of the city is beautiful with old houses on one side and the open water on the other.
- Angel Oak – While this isn’t technically in Charleston, it’s about a 30 minute drive out of the city, but it was well worth seeing this ancient 500 year old oak tree. They do close the site at 5pm though, so plan around their open hours.
Before our recent trip to Charleston and Savannah, two cities that have been long been at the top of my travel list, I was feeling a bit uninspired, a bit down and a bit just overwhelmed with life. And for months I’ve been attempting to slow down, to take each and every day and live in the moment, to lessen my long list of responsibilities and to start saying No to more that I really don’t need to say Yes to. And so, this trip came perhaps at the very perfect moment in my life. The American South is known for its slow leisurely pace, romantic whispy oaks full of Spanish moss just gently blowing in the breeze and sipping sweet tea on porches. It’s known for its hospitality and charm and that was exactly what I needed as we landed in Charleston and started to explore South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia. I needed slow, I needed a romanticized version of every day, I needed a serious change of scenery.
This wasn’t my first foray into the American South, and in actuality I spent a decent amount of time as a kid in Mississippi where my grandparents lived for a while and where we had family. Nick and I also traveled to New Orleans a few years ago and while it wasn’t our favorite spot we’ve visited, after this trip I’d actually like to visit again and do the city differently. But long story short, I have family from the South and I’ve always gravitated toward Southern Food – so I think this trip just pulled out what is already somewhat in my blood.
But this trip, it was different than any I’ve had for a long time. This trip was slow and leisurely, it was eating amazing food and wandering charming historic towns and learning their histories. It was sitting on benches in parks and lingering for hours. On this trip to Charleston and Savannah, I fell hard in love with the South. I fell in love with the diverse groups of people, the architecture, the incredible food. I fell in love with the idea of a part of my own country that I left this trip knowing so much more about. As a West Coast-er, we often sometimes forget the deep and immense history on the East Coast of the US. And while it’s not all good and wounds are still healing from the atrocities done before, during and after the Civil War, we must learn the histories, we must see it to fight to make sure that inequality and abuse never happens again.
All in all, at a time in my life when I desperately needed something different than I see everyday, our escape to the South was exactly what I needed and I fell hard for this part of the country. This trip also was a good reminder that you often don’t need to go far to completely envelope yourself in a different place, and while I often crave an escape outside the US, there are so many amazing places within my own country that are still worth exploring. I left this trip inspired so see more of the South and to keep my mind open to places that I might not immediately think are worthwhile to explore. So if you’re looking for a place to inspire you and don’t want to leave the US? Head to the American South and I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
Renaissance Charleston Historic District – Charleston, South Carolina
68 Wentworth St, Charleston, SC 29401
When we were looking at heading to Charleston, I knew I wanted to be in the heart of the historic district to really take in all there is to offer in the city. Plus we wanted to be able to walk around and see the sights, so the Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotel ended up being the perfect spot for us!
Location – The location of this hotel is fantastic. Right on King Street where a ton of shops and restaurants are, and only a quick 10 minute walk to Meeting and Bay Streets and the famous Rainbow Row, we were super happy with the location of the hotel. It was easy to walk wherever we wanted to go.
Staff – From the moment we pulled up, the staff was fantastic. I think this has a lot to do with the “Southern hospitality” in this part of the country maybe more so than the hotel itself, but either way, the staff were super kind and helpful the whole time.
Room Decor – The decor was fun, modern and chic…. the perfect combo!
New – The hotel seems fairly new and while I’m not sure when it was built or renovated, it seemed super up to date and hardly run down at all which is always a plus.
Restaurant – We arrived on Valentine’s Day in the afternoon and while we had a dinner reservation later that evening at another restaurant, we were a little bit hungry when we checked in the hotel. We opted for a glass of wine and a couple appetizers at the hotel restaurant and the food was incredible! Their fried Brussel sprouts were the best we’ve ever had and we love our Brussel sprouts!
Parking – You have the choice for either valet parking or self parking here and we opted to save the money and park our rental car ourselves. And it’s super easy to do so! The parking lot for the hotel is right across the street and super easy to find and utilize.
Nothing! – There was seriously nothing we didn’t love about the hotel and had a fantastic stay!
NOTES TO KEEP IN MIND
Great larger hotel with amenities – If you’re looking for a small boutique stay, this probably isn’t the hotel for you but with a larger hotel, you do get access to all the amenities that come with a chain property. We loved this spot for our stay even though it was bigger than we usually liked.
Self Park or Valet – Be aware that you’ll save a decent amount of money if you self park for $20 for self park verses $36 for valet. But either way, they make it easy!