Fort Pulaski National Monument#9 in Best Things To Do in Savannah
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Named for Revolutionary War hero Casimir Pulaski, this 19th-century fort was originally constructed to defend Savannah from coastal attacks. Notably, it was here that General Robert E. Lee was first assigned after graduating from West Point. During the Civil War, it was occupied by Confederate troops until being surrendered to Union forces in 1862.
Fort Pulaski was also a safe haven for enslaved people as part of the Underground Railroad. Union Maj. Gen. David Hunter issued an order in April 1862 stating: "All persons of color lately held in involuntary service by enemies of the United States in Fort Pulaski and on Cockspur Island, Georgia are hereby confiscated and declared free." As such, many enslaved people came to Fort Pulaski and once on the island, began a free life on the Georgia coast. Meanwhile, others joined to form one of the first colored troops divisions in the Civil War. Hundreds of enslaved people were granted freedom as a result of Hunter's order.
Today, you can explore the fort's colossal ramparts, intimidating stone towers, drawbridges and moats. Frequent reenactments allow you to see what life in the fort was like back in its heyday. After you've gotten your fill of Pulaski, head to the nearby Tybee Lighthouse (situated about 5 miles east of the fort) for some fantastic views of the coast and a stroll along the barrier island's 5-mile-long beach.
Recent visitors said the fort is a must-visit for history buffs and strongly recommended taking one of the ranger-led tours. Fort tours, which usually last 45 minutes to an hour, are offered daily 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. If you're unable to tag along on a ranger-led tour, you should make time for the 20-minute introductory film, "The Battle for Fort Pulaski," which is shown in the fort's visitor center and museum. Travelers said watching this short movie prior to touring the fort made a visit to the grounds more meaningful.
The Fort Pulaski National Monument is located on Cockspur Island about 15 miles east of central Savannah along U.S. 80. The fort is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., although hours may vary slightly depending on the season. A $10 entrance fee, which covers all areas of the fort, is required for all visitors 16 and older and is valid for seven consecutive days. For more information, check out the National Park Service website.
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#1 Forsyth Park
Go to this 30-acre park in the heart of Savannah's Historic District to relax after a long day of sightseeing. Keep your camera ready, though, as there is plenty to see here as well. Stroll past the stunning white-stone Forsyth Fountain, memorials dedicated to the Confederacy and the Spanish-American War, the Fragrant Garden for the visually impaired and the 300-year-old Candler Oak tree. From the park, you can see several historic sites within walking distance, including Hodgson Hall (home to the Georgia Historical Society) and the old Poor House and Hospital, which was used to treat wounded soldiers during the Civil War.
Recent visitors noted the park's urban cosmopolitan vibe, with locals and tourists alike picnicking, dog walking and even painting. They also say that street parking nearby the park is free on Sundays.
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