The wintery weather made our time in the Carolinas brief, but from that short introduction to the south, we had a pretty good feeling that we were really going to enjoy Georgia. Winter weather made us bypass this lovely state on our way south, but Savannah was a city we knew we had to go back for and we’re so glad we did. Savannah, even on a grey, gloomy day is still an absolutely beautiful city. Steeped in history and full of green-space, this city goes out of its way to welcome tourists. The Welcome Center, located right in the heart of the historic district, allows for overnight and all day parking for the tiny price of $14 for 48 hours. Well-lit and patrolled during the day, this gave us a prime starting point to leave the van and take off to explore the city. Map in hand and dogs in tow, we spent a couple of days wandering the city, marveling at the many squares and fountains and taking in the architecture and preserved buildings, all blanketed under the canopies of moss-covered oak trees.
After a couple of fun days of city exploring, we made one last stop at a great little vegan café called the Fox & Fig for a delicious breakfast, before heading off to tour the Bonaventure Cemetery.
The remainder of our time in Georgia included some pretty unique spots – the Vidalia Onion Museum in Vidalia and Expedition Bigfoot in Cherry Log. The Onion Museum was a small, but informative and likely far more interesting if you visited during onion season. Expedition Bigfoot was a fantastic roadside attraction that we came across on the website Atlas Obscura. Even if you’re a skeptic like us, you have to appreciate how much effort went into creating this place. The owner was incredibly friendly, welcoming all visitors with free coffee and cookies with your admission. He outlines the self-guided tour and is available for questions, offering answers and stories with unfaltering enthusiasm. We love stopping at quirky attractions that are off the beaten path and this one was definitely that.
From Georgia, we made our way to Birmingham, Alabama following part of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail. Only a few days away from Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we felt making the journey to some of the key locations in this part of history was incredibly important. Our first stop was the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, a multi-level museum dedicated to the people and events that took place during this turbulent and monumental time in history. Across the street from the museum is also the 16th Street Baptist Church (site of the 1963 bombing) and Kelly Ingram Park (prominent site for many civil rights protests) which is also the home for many other famous sculptures including ‘The Foot Soldier of Birmingham’ and ‘The Four Spirits’ (a heartbreakingly beautiful memorial to the four girls killed in the bombing at the adjacent church).
From there we followed the trail, driving from Selma to Montgomery, the route taken by civil rights activists marching for their right to vote in 1965. Many of the key sites involved in this movement can be found along this route including the Edmund Pettus Bridge (the site of Bloody Sunday), the Little Brown Chapel (the starting point for the Selma to Montgomery marches) and the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church (where MLK helped organized the Montgomery Bus Boycotts).
It’s almost overwhelming to visit places that played home to history in such powerful ways, but we always find experiences like these to be the ones that stick with us through this journey and make us more grateful for many of the privileges we often take for granted.