Arrive Savannah, Georgia
Your Southern Charms journey begins at 6:00 PM at The DeSoto. A transfer is included from Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport to The DeSoto, located in Savannah's historic center, just a few blocks from the bustling waterfront. Join us this evening for a welcome reception at your hotel in the heart of the city's National Historic Landmark District, followed by a welcome dinner at the renowned 45 bistro in The Marshall House, a restored 1850s inn.
Savannah's historic treasures
Surrounded by beautiful landscaped gardens, magnificent homes, and architectural gems, your hotel in the historic heart of Georgia's First City offers a mix of warm Southern charm and modern style. Start a day of exploration in Savannah with a visit to the Massie Heritage Center. Originally founded as the Massie School for needy children in the mid-1800s, the historic institution is now an interactive museum preserving Savannah's rich cultural heritage and a living history resource for adults and children alike, featuring a 19th-century classroom exhibit. Next, engage in a hands-on culinary demonstration focusing on dishes representing the unique cuisine of the coastal Low Country region, followed by lunch. On an afternoon sightseeing trip of Savannah aboard a touring trolley with a local guide, admire the city's elegant architecture and geometric city design, featuring 24 park squares highlighted by live oaks draped with Spanish moss. One of the first planned cities in America, Savannah's National Historic Landmark District is the largest in the nation, and features more than 1,000 architecturally significant buildings. Return to your hotel and spend the rest of the afternoon and evening as you please in what's considered one of the country's most graceful cities.
Discovering the coastal Low Country
Today you'll embark on a guided excursion through the Low Country region along the Georgia coast. Begin with an opportunity to experience firsthand the unique Gullah / Geechee culture that developed in the wetlands approaching the outlying Sea Islands of Georgia at the Pin Point Heritage Museum. Occupying a former oyster and crab processing factory in the community of Pin Point on the banks of the Moon River south of Savannah that offers amazing views of the wetlands, the museum's exhibits and multimedia presentations interpret the oyster fishing traditions and folkways of the residents of Pin Point - which for nearly a century survived as an isolated, self-sustaining Gullah / Geechee enclave founded by first-generation free people of color, whose lives were deeply connected to the water. Continue through the marshlands and past old Spanish fortifications to Wormsloe State Historic Site on the outskirts of Savannah, where a winding rural avenue lined by more than 400 live oak trees leads to the remains of Georgia's oldest plantation and its original "tabby" house, now complemented by a museum, theatre and Colonial Life area. Return to Savannah for a free afternoon, followed by two Tauck Exclusives. The first is a celebration of the city's Madeira wine traditions at the Davenport House Museum, featuring a tour and a tasting in the historic home's private gardens. Then enjoy Tauck's exclusive after-hours admission to the National Museum of the Mighty 8th Air Force for a private tour of its exhibits chronicling the famed US Eighth Bomber Command's contributions to the Allied victory in World War II and beyond, and a private dinner in the museum's reception hall.
Fort Pulaski & on to Hilton Head Island
Visit Fort Pulaski National Monument, site of a key Civil War battle. Although the fort was thought to be invincible, the Union's new artillery breached a wall, leading to an unexpected Confederate surrender. After lunch at a local restaurant, set out for Hilton Head Island and an overnight stay at a seaside resort. Dine at your resort.
Back in time in Beaufort & Charleston
Take time for an early morning walk on Hilton Head's pristine beaches if you wish before setting off for historic Beaufort, where you're joined by a local Gullah resident and guide for an in-depth look at the unique culture and heritage of the Gullah people on a tour of the nearby islands. In Beaufort, "Queen of the Carolina Sea Islands," you'll view the timeless architecture of its National Historic Landmark District. Head to Charleston, the lovely and historic first capital of South Carolina. An exclusively chartered private boat cruise of Charleston Harbor this afternoon imparts a wealth of information about the city's centuries of maritime history. Your home for the next three nights is an elegant 150-year-old hotel, The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel, at the center of Charleston's historic district - and within walking distance of many of its architectural treasures. Dinner tonight is at your choice of several fine Charleston restaurants.
Charleston... Past and Present
A local guide takes you on a tour of Charleston to see centuries-old cobblestone streets and well-preserved homes representing a range of architectural styles from the Revolutionary War period to Antebellum mansions - classic Georgia, Federal, Adamesque, Greek Revival, Italianate and Victorian. Many of these homes surround very pretty "secret" walled gardens; additional highlights of the city's 789-acre historic district that you'll see include the famed military school known as The Citadel, and the Battery. The rest of the day is free to do as you please; Charleston is a great city to explore by foot, or you might decide to see it by horsedrawn carriage; other ideas are visiting the Gibbes Museum of Art, or Fort Sumter National Monument, where the first shot of the Civil War was fired in 1861. And of course there are many restaurants and cafés at which to enjoy the easy living this city is so well known for.
Grand plantations and gardens
Explore Magnolia Plantation and Gardens today aboard an informative nature train, then hop off to stroll through the gardens here, regarded as among the most beautiful in America. A visit to 18th-century Middleton Place follows and reveals one of the grandest of the notable Ashley River Plantations. Tour the mansion and stable yards and walk around its meticulously landscaped grounds. Return to Charleston and join us for a farewell reception and dinner at your hotel tonight.
Tour ends: Charleston. Fly home anytime. A transfer from The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel to Charleston International Airport is included. Allow two hours for flight check-in.