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Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.
Activity note: Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m.
Afternoon: Program Registration: 5:00-6:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table across from the front desk in the lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing the up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.
Dinner: In the hotel meeting room, we’ll have a plated dinner including salad, entrée, side dish, dessert, and beverage choices of coffee, iced tea, water.
Evening: Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will have an expert local historian as our primary lecturer and educational resource. We will do a lot of walking in this program and use a trolley that has four steps up/down. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.
Activity note: Getting on/off a trolley. Walking up to 2 miles; periods of standing, climbing one flight of stairs, uneven terrain.
Breakfast: In the hotel meeting room, choose what you like from the breakfast buffet with juice, coffee, tea, water included.
Morning: Our Group Leader, who is also a local expert, will provide an overview of Savannah with emphasis of Christmases past. In 1864, one of the most extravagant Christmas gifts given in local history occurred when General Sherman presented the surrendered city to President Lincoln. Like so much in Georgia’s oldest city, the pace of Christmas celebrations is more relaxed than in colder climes. The author of “Jingle Bells” moved here from chilly Massachusetts. The season is a time when historical heritage and contemporary festivities meet and mingle with lovely displays, bright lights, delicious foods, and traditional Southern conviviality.
Lunch: At a charming local restaurant in the Historic District, we'll enjoy a light plated lunch that includes an entrée and dessert as well as iced tea, coffee and water.
Afternoon: We will explore the Historic District with our local expert by motorcoach and on foot. One of the highlights is the Green-Meldrim House, an outstanding example of Gothic Revival architecture and a National Historic Landmark. General Sherman used it as his headquarters during the Civil War when the Federal Army occupied Savannah. We’ll learn about many of the fascinating aspects of Savannah’s history with special emphasis on Christmases past and other celebrated holiday traditions.
Dinner: At a restaurant within walking distance of the hotel, we’ll enjoy a plated dinner with choice between three entrée selections, a side dish, dessert, and beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other specialty beverages will be available for individual purchase.
Evening: Immediately after dinner, we'll ride together from the restaurant via trolley a few blocks to the Johnny Mercer Theater for a special holiday musical concert by Savannah's own Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra!
Activity note: Getting on/off a trolley. Walking up to 2 miles; climbing steps and/or flights of stairs; periods of standing, limited restroom availability. Private homes not handicapped-accessible; wheelchairs not permitted.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: We’ll walk together to the childhood home of beloved Savannah author Flannery O'Connor, considered one of America’s greatest writers of fiction. We'll have a private visit led by local onsite experts and learn about this talented writer.
Lunch: Hotel buffet.
Afternoon: Now one of the city’s most popular and prestigious events, the “Holiday Tour of Homes” began when notable Savannahian, Jim Williams — of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” fame — opened his lavish home in 1974. The event has since expanded to include a variety of houses, each decorated according to the owner’s personal preferences and traditions. This “intimate visit with residents of Savannah’s Historic District” will take us inside private residences not open to the public at any other time. We’ll walk as a group to several of the homes for self-directed explorations of the interiors and gain an appreciation for Savannah’s other nickname, Hostess City of the South.
Dinner: We'll enjoy a buffet dinner in the hotel meeting room together with a choice between two entrées, assorted side dishes, and dessert along with coffee, iced tea, and water.
Evening: We’ll walk a few streets over from the hotel to attend a long-running holiday show at the Historic Savannah Theatre. We’ll enjoy classic holiday favorites performed by an award-winning cast of singers and a live band in a 2-hour show that features dancing reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and even Santa and his elves.
Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles; 2 flights of stairs at Davenport House, uneven pavement.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: We will take a walking field trip to the Isaiah Davenport House, a historic museum home where interpreters in period costume will lead our exploration to see and learn about holiday customs in early 19th century Savannah. The house was on the verge of being demolished in 1955 when concerned citizens banded together to save it — the first preservation effort of the Historic Savannah Foundation. We’ll see the house decorated simply but elegantly as it would have been during a Christmas season long ago. At the conclusion of our field trip, we will walk back to the hotel with our Group Leader. You are welcome to stay on or go exploring independently.
Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.
Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You might like to visit River Street or City Market with its regional arts and crafts exhibitors and local entertainment.
Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.
Evening: At leisure. Want to see more of the Historic District? Consider a carriage ride to enjoy all of the outdoor holiday decorations on display. Or just relax and enjoy the company of fellow Road Scholars.
Activity note: Getting on/off a trolley. Walking up to 1.5 miles; uneven pavement.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: We'll walk a few blocks from the hotel to explore some of Savannah's diverse houses of worship, starting with the awe-inspiring St. John's Cathedral, seat of the Diocese of Savannah since 1876, followed by Independent Presbyterian Church, established by the first Scottish settlers of Georgia in the earliest days of the colony.
Lunch: At a popular restaurant in the Historic District, we’ll enjoy a plated meal featuring a selection of sandwiches, soups, and salads as well as a non-alcoholic beverage of your choice.
Afternoon: After lunch, we'll continue to explore more of Savannah's culturally and historically significant religious institutions on foot and via trolley with the Group Leader. Our first visit will be to First African Baptist Church, which traces its roots back to 1773 as one of the earliest African-American congregations in the country. Finally, we will visit Congregation Mickve Israel, another colonial-era-established religious institution; an added bonus to this location is the fact that our program occurs just following Hanukkah this year.
Dinner: We'll ride together via trolley to a restaurant located on Savannah's storied River Street, overlooking the impressive Talmadge Bridge for our farewell plated dinner with a choice between two tempting entrées plus salad, a side dish, dessert, and beverage choices of coffee, iced tea, water.
Evening: We’ll linger over our last dinner as a group as we share favorite experiences and say farewell to new Road Scholar friends. Returning to the hotel, prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.
Activity note: Hotel check-out 11:00 a.m.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: In the hotel meeting room, we’ll have a final presentation by a professor of History on a group of early Savannah settlers, the Moravians. We’ll learn about their Christmas customs, some you may have heard of but never realized their origins. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!