Two hours south of Charleston, Savannah has the largest urban National Historic District in the United States. Nearly two dozen public squares highlight the 2½-square-mile preservation zone, most of these miniature parks studded with flowering shrubbery, magnolias and statuary commemorating the city's historic figures. Fronting these pockets of greenery is an endless procession of homes, churches and commercial buildings constructed in an array of architectural styles ranging from Colonial, Federal and Georgian to Gothic, Greek Revivial and Victiorian.
Take a leisurely stroll along Bull Street to fully appreciate the city's graceful layout, the pretty thoroughfare linking five celebrated garden squares to the verdant expanse of Forsyth Park (above), where fountains play amid gnarled trees draped in Spanish moss.
Most residents trace the beginning of Savannah's preservation efforts to 1955, when seven redoubtable ladies mounted a successful campaign to save a Federal brick mansion known as the Isaiah Davenport House. Thus was born the Historic Savannah Foundation, ultimately responsible for the heroic restoration of almost 1,200 buildings. Many of these venerable structures are open to the public, and every spring dozens of private residences also become available during the Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens. For ticket information, visit www.savannahtourofhomes.org.