A charming 1968 tour book I recently was given begins thus: Savannah is a lady. A lady is gracious, a thoughtful gentlewoman who keeps her treasures polished for the pleasure of her guests. A lady never shouts. Savannah speaks in a soft Southern murmur. Listen closely. She has marvelous memories to share.
This gracious lady also has a million ghost stories to share. Listen closely. Just about everyone you meet will have his or her own version of the paranormal. Revolutionary soldiers still battling it out on moonlit nights over at nearby Skidway Island...Francis Sorrel’s wife, who killed herself by jumping from the second floor of the Sorrel-Weed House...Danny Hansford, a local male prostitute, who was murdered at the Mercer House, popularized by author John Berendt in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The hoodoo notion of midnight refers to it as the time for good magic, as well as evil magic.
Much evil magic was afoot in The Pirate’s House, one of Savannah’s most haunted places--now a favorite local restaurant. Bloodthirsty pirates who sailed along the coastline would gather here to drink and talk and drink some more. Robert Louis Stevenson, in Treasure Island, said, Old Captain Flint, ‘tis said, died at the Pirate’s House in an upstairs room. Waiters frequently use the staircase to the storage room, where they swear the ghost of Captain Flint lives on. Some staffers entering the storage room have encountered flying objects sailing off the shelves, and patrons in the small dining room report hearing footsteps overhead.
One of my personal favorites is the motorcyclist ghost, seen often along Eisenhower Drive wearing a leather jacket and glow-in-the-dark tattoos all over its arms and neck. He or she has even been known to drive right through an oncoming car.
Even ghosts have to sleep (I think), and the Ballastone Inn, a luxurious 1838 bed and breakfast, is one of my favorites. Equally luxurious and quite romantic is The Gastonian Inn. For a restored historic stay, try Planter’s Inn on Reynolds Square. And perched above the 18th century cobblestone streets paralleling the Savannah River is the contemporary-styled Bohemian Hotel Savannah, with chic design and exceptional guest rooms. The property is a charming addition to the cityscape.
Even ghosts have to eat (I think), and some of my favorites are: The Olde Pink House, for Southern charm and cuisine; Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room, for fried chicken and banana pudding in a boarding-house setting (long lines and no reservations); Local 11 Ten, a beautifully decorated Savannah gem; 17hundred90 Inn & Restaurant, fine dining in a 1790 mansion; 700 Drayton Restaurant, where modern sensibility and great fried green tomatoes meet; and Garibaldi's Café, a quirky local hangout housed in an old fire station.
There’s much more to Savannah than ghosts, of course, but it is Halloween, after all. So, for the brave, here’s a list of ghoulish tours: Old Savannah Tours, Hearse Ghost Tours, Blue Orb Ghost Tours, Sixth Sense Savannah and Creepy Crawl Haunted Pub Tours. At All About Savannah Tours, Kathy Moore, a walking encyclopedia of Savannah lore, will hold your hand as you walk through Colonial Park Cemetery and the garden of good and evil.
This gracious lady, Savannah, still has many polished treasures to show you any season of the year. Stroll through the enchanting city squares and savor the endless restaurants and historic homes. Just be careful when darkness sets in, and watch out for floating luminescent orbs of every color, the motorcyclist ghost and things that go bump in the night.