Itinerary in brief:
- 3 nights Charleston
- 2 nights Jekyll Island
- 3 nights Savannah
Day 1: Arrive Charleston
On arrival in Charleston, you will pick up your rental car and make your own way to the hotel, where you will check in for three nights.
Days 2 & 3: Charleston
Charleston is a small city of cobblestone streets and colonial mansions, where southerners know their neighbours and greet people on the street. Wander through Waterfront Park with a coffee, taking in the views, before strolling over to the City Market for lunch, which has been serving customers for over 200 years. Take a carriage ride through the city to Rainbow Row, a series of colourful buildings, and continue to admire the colonial architecture before enjoying a delicious seafood boil, made of ruby red crayfish and bright yellow sweetcorn.
On your second day, you can venture out to Mount Pleasant and explore Boone Hall Plantation, one of the oldest in the area, with rows of oak trees covered in Spanish moss and a huge house to explore. You can learn about the slave trade here, as well as the Gullah culture which rose from the African slaves. It’s a fascinating insight into a horrific era of history.
Day 4: Hunting Island State Park
Today you’ll drive south past Savannah to Jekyll Island. On your way, why not stop in at Hunting Island State Park, with endless sandy beaches and twisting nature trails tempt. The historic lighthouse here is the only one open to the public in South Carolina, with idyllic views over the Atlantic from the top. Nearby, you can visit the ruins of Old Sheldon Church, a chapel that was supposedly burned by the British during the revolutionary war, before driving on to Jekyll Island, where you’ll check into your hotel for two nights.
Day 5: Jekyll Island
The furthest south of the Golden Isles, Jekyll Island is a gorgeous little spot to explore between the big cities of Charleston and Savannah. Take a boat tour to spot dolphins, ride a horse along the beach or just take a long hike on the 20 miles of trails through the protected island. One highlight is the George Sea Turtles Centre, where you can fond out how the locals protect the turtles that lay their eggs here and meet rescued turtles.
Make sure you spend some time on Driftwood Beach, where the north end of the island has eroded into the sea, leaving the beach littered with gnarled ancient oak trees. These look incredibly beautiful as the sun sets behind them – perfect for photographs. Finish your time on the island peeling and eating fresh shrimp overlooking the river.
Day 6: Drive to Savannah
After a couple of days at the beach, you’ll make the short 1.5-hour drive to Savannah, checking into your hotel on arrival for three nights.
Days 7 & 8: Savannah
Savannah is made for strolling, thanks to its colonial architecture, big squares and pretty parks full of oaks draped in Spanish moss. Wander along River Street to Johnson Square and have lunch at the City Market before spending the afternoon at Forsyth Park and the Cathedral of John the Baptist or taking a riverboat cruise along the river. Savannah is world famous for its delicious southern food so make sure you try Mrs Wilkes fried chicken and a slice of peach cobbler for dinner.
On your second day why not take a ghost tour to learn about Savannah’s haunted history before visiting the Bonaventure Cemetery outside the city to see the ornate graves. After all this time in the city you’ll be craving the beach again, so why not finish your time here by driving 20 minutes out of the city to Tybee Island, where you can watch the sky turn pink as the sun sets.
Day 9: Depart Savannah
On your final day, you’ll drive to the airport in Savannah in time to drop off your rental car and catch your onwards flight.