loading spinner
21715
South Carolina/Georgia

The Best of Charleston and Savannah: A Tale of Two Cities

Discover the charms of Charleston and Savannah with plenty of time on your own, and learn about basket weaving, explore plantations, visit Civil War forts and enjoy local cuisine.
Rating (5)
Program No. 21715RJ
Length
8 days
Starts at
2,499
South Carolina/Georgia

The Best of Charleston and Savannah: A Tale of Two Cities

Discover the charms of Charleston and Savannah with plenty of time on your own, and learn about basket weaving, explore plantations, visit Civil War forts and enjoy local cuisine.
Length
8 days
Starts at
2,499
Program No. 21715 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
Plan ahead.
What kind of weather can you expect? Take a look!
itinerary
Please Note:
The itinerary for this program is different on certain dates.
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 2 - May 9, 2021
Small group
Starting at
2,899
May 16 - May 23, 2021
Starting at
2,499
May 30 - Jun 6, 2021
Starting at
2,499
Itinerary Note

On this week, participants will attend a Spoleto Festival USA event in Charleston, South Carolina. Event to be announced closer to date.

Oct 3 - Oct 10, 2021
Starting at
2,599
Oct 17 - Oct 24, 2021
Starting at
2,599
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 2 - May 9, 2021
Small group
Starting at
3,799
May 16 - May 23, 2021
Starting at
3,299
May 30 - Jun 6, 2021
Starting at
3,299
Itinerary Note

On this week, participants will attend a Spoleto Festival USA event in Charleston, South Carolina. Event to be announced closer to date.

Oct 3 - Oct 10, 2021
Starting at
3,349
Oct 17 - Oct 24, 2021
Starting at
3,349

At a Glance

Charleston and Savannah — the grand dames of the antebellum South. Journey from one to the other as you learn about Southern culture at plantations, Civil War forts, Lowcountry landmarks and landscaped gardens. Hear tales of centuries past and experience elegant architecture and culinary delights in these waterfront cities where cobblestone streets and historic homes spill over with history and charm.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Walking up to three miles daily on a mix of concrete paths and uneven terrain; stairs at museums, historic houses, restaurants; getting on/off buses and trolley.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Walk the grounds of Charleston’s Middleton Place, an 18th-century plantation that has survived revolution and civil war, and hear the cannons firing at Savannah’s Old Fort Jackson.
  • Savor the diverse Lowcountry flavors of both cities.
  • Witness the art and learn the history of sweetgrass basket weaving as demonstrated by a local Charlestonian, and learn about the Gullah culture through music.

General Notes

Select dates are designated for small groups and are limited to 24 participants or less. Program includes independent time to explore the city and several meals on your own. Group Leaders will provide directions for self-directed excursions. Suggestions for free-time activities provided in preparatory materials.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Tom Murray
Tom Murray is a graduate of San Jose State University but is a Southerner by choice, having spent more than 45 years in the South absorbing the culture, customs and history of the region. Tom specializes in coastal history with an emphasis on the sea islands of Georgia. Few people know and love beautiful Cumberland and Amelia islands better than Tom. He has spent 25 years lecturing and leading Road Scholar groups to sites from the mountains to the sea.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Al Miller
Al Miller received a bachelor’s degree in English, speech and drama from Baptist College — now Charleston Southern University. He is a recognized historian specializing in local, black history with emphasis on the Gullah-Geechee culture. He brings his musical talent to his lectures for a unique perspective. Al enjoys leading educational excursions, is a licensed real estate agent, as well as a historian and lecturer on black history. He is also a member of numerous organizations, including the Choraliers Music Club of Charleston, Alpha Phi Fraternity and St. James A.M.E. Church.
Profile Image of Darryl Stoneworth
Darryl Stoneworth View biography
Darryl Stoneworth, along with wife Angela, has been selling home-crafted sweetgrass baskets in the Charleston City Market since May 2009. If you happen by his stand, you'll know Darryl by his omnipresent smile. The couple is also constructing their first roadside basket stand along Highway 17N in Mount Pleasant, N.C. The town has renamed and dedicated this stretch of the highway in tribute to the hamlet's sweetgrass basket makers.
Profile Image of Georgia Murphy
Georgia Murphy View biography
Georgia Murphy grew up in a small middle Georgia town, but has called Charleston home for the past 37 years. She has been a licensed excursion leader for the City of Charleston for 28 years, and considers sharing the beauty and history of Charleston and the Carolina Low Country as one of her greatest joys.
Profile Image of Katherine Owens
Katherine Owens View biography
Katherine Owens was born in Baton Rouge, La., and graduated from Louisiana State University. She moved to Savannah, Ga., in 1986 and has led groups on city explorations of Savannah since 2001. Katherine is also a docent at the Isaiah Davenport House, an 1820 home that marked the beginning of Savannah’s historic preservation movement.
Profile Image of Tom Murray
Tom Murray View biography
Tom Murray is a graduate of San Jose State University but is a Southerner by choice, having spent more than 45 years in the South absorbing the culture, customs and history of the region. Tom specializes in coastal history with an emphasis on the sea islands of Georgia. Few people know and love beautiful Cumberland and Amelia islands better than Tom. He has spent 25 years lecturing and leading Road Scholar groups to sites from the mountains to the sea.
Profile Image of Ruth Miller
Ruth Miller View biography
Ruth Miller, a graduate of Duke University, has lived all over America and journeyed throughout the world. As a Charleston historian and excursion leader, she enjoys tying local history into the American story and worldwide events. Ruth is the author and co-author of numerous books, including “Charleston Charlie — A Family Activity Book for Kids of All Ages,” “Touring the Tombstones,” and “The Angel Oak Story.” She is a member of the South Carolina Historical Society and the National Trust.
Profile Image of Jamie Keena, Period Music
Jamie Keena, Period Music View biography
Jamie Keena loves to sing old songs, including folk songs of America and the British Isles, patriotic airs, and “songs written to order” by Tin Pan Alley composers. With a bachelor’s in music from the College of William and Mary, Jamie accompanies his singing with guitar, banjo and ukulele, and also plays the fife, hammered dulcimer and concertina.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Complete Stories: Flannery O'Conner
by Flannery O'Conner
Native Savannian who won the 1971 National Book Award for Fiction. Thirty-one tales depicting the humorous, of near tragic conditions of life in the Deep South during the fifties.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
by John Berendt
Referred to in Savannah as "The Book"-non-fiction, adult language-account of a local antique dealer, Jim Williams', four (!) trials for the same murder in the 1980's-also a Clint Eastwood movie released in 1997.
Touring the Tombstones
by Ruth Miller
A series of guide books to Charleston's 18th century graveyards.
A Black Woman's Civil War Memories
by Susie King Taylor Weiner
Reissue of a 1902 book by a nurse/teacher/former slave-memoirs of a black woman around the time of the Civil War.
The Angel Oak Story
by Ruth Miller and Linda Lennon
The Angel Oak is a Southern live oak tree located in Angel Oak Park, in Charleston, South Carolina, on Johns Island, one of South Carolina's Sea Islands. It is estimated to be 300-400 years old, stands 65 ft (20 m) tall, measures 28 ft (8.5 m) in circumference, and shades with its crown an area of 17,000 square feet. This book goes in depth regarding the history of this mighty tree.
South of Broad
by Pat Conroy
Against the sumptuous backdrop of Charleston, South Carolina, South of Broad gathers a unique cast of sinners and saints. Leopold Bloom King, our narrator, is the son of an amiable, loving father who teaches science at the local high school. His mother, an ex-nun, is the high school principal and a well-known Joyce scholar. After Leo's older brother commits suicide at the age of thirteen, the family struggles with the shattering effects of his death, and Leo, lonely and isolated, searches for something to sustain him. Eventually, he finds his answer when he becomes part of a tightly knit group of high school seniors that includes friends Sheba and Trevor Poe, glamorous twins with an alcoholic mother and a prison-escapee father; hardscrabble mountain runaways Niles and Starla Whitehead; socialite Molly Huger and her boyfriend, Chadworth Rutledge X; and an ever-widening circle whose liaisons will ripple across two decades-from 1960s counterculture through the dawn of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. The ties among them endure for years, surviving marriages happy and troubled, unrequited loves and unspoken longings, hard-won successes and devastating breakdowns, and Charleston's dark legacy of racism and class divisions. But the final test of friendship that brings them to San Francisco is something no one is prepared for. South of Broad is Pat Conroy at his finest; a long-awaited work from a great American writer whose passion for life and language knows no bounds.
A Short History of Charleston
by Robert N. Rosen
A concise small history of Charleston that is easy to read and enjoyable.
Civil War Savannah
by Derek Smith
Glimpse into the lives of the men and women who forever will be associated with Savannah through the wartime deeds.
A Witness to History: Charleston's Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon
by Ruth Miller and Ann Taylor Andrus
The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon in Charleston, South Carolina, is one of the great buildings of Colonial America. Serving as city hall, customs house, post office and prison; as the British Headquarters during the occupation of Charles Towne and then host to a great ball honoring George Washington, the Exchange has been an eyewitness to America’s history. This stoic building-—designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975—-has been described as the best example of the dignity and ornament of the traditional English “exchange-town hall” design of the eighteenth century built in the United States. From within its Great Hall to deep below in the Provost Dungeon, the Exchange has played a vital role in American history. Andrus’ and Miller’s fast-paced and readable survey of the history and significance of the Old Exchange Building will appeal to visitor and serious historian alike.
Allegiance: Fort Sumter, Charleston, and the Beginning of the Civil War
by David Detzer
An original and deeply human portrait of soldiers and civilians caught in the vortex of war. So vividly does Allegiance re-create the events leading to the firing of the first shot of the Civil War on April 12, 1861, that we can feel the fabric of the Union tearing apart. It is a tense and surprising story, filled with indecisive bureaucrats, uninformed leaders, hotheaded politicians, and dedicated and honorable soldiers on both sides. The six-month-long agony that began with Lincoln's election in November sputtered from one crisis to the next until Lincoln's inauguration, and finally exploded as the soldiers at Sumter neared starvation. At the center of this dramatic narrative is the heroic figure of Major Robert Anderson, a soldier whose experience had taught him above all that war is the poorest form of policy. With little help from Washington, D.C., Anderson almost single-handedly forestalled the beginning of the war until he finally had no choice but to fight. David Detzer's decade-long research illuminates the passions that led to the fighting, the sober reflections of the man who restrained its outbreak, and individuals on both sides who changed American history. No other historian has given us a clearer or more intimate picture of the human drama of Fort Sumter.
Print All
Map details are not available for this location.
View Map
Expand All
8 days
7 nights
15 meals
7 B 4 L 4 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Charleston, SC
D
Francis Marion Hotel

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 5:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table in the lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation 6:00 p.m. 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. Periods in the schedule labeled “Free Time” and “At Leisure” offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable while going out to explore on your own, engaging in available activities independently, making new friends among fellow Road Scholars, or simply relaxing. The Group Leader will always 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.

Dinner: At the Frances Marion in a lovely private room for our group, choose what you like from the grand Southern style dinner buffet that also includes coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: ORIENTATION: You'll have an informative overview of the program to come plus an opportunity to meet the program staff and your fellow participants during an introductory get-acquainted session. We’ll review the updated schedule, answer any questions you may have, and cover responsibilities, safety guidelines, and emergency procedures. (If you arrive late, please pick up your packet at the hotel front desk.) The remainder of the evening is yours to begin getting to know one another, walk around the neighborhood, or relax in the hotel. You are about to embark on a very special learning adventure, seeing first hand how history lives on in the present, from stately homes to extraordinary Lowcountry plantations in historic Charleston. Known as the “Holy City” because of its many houses of worship, this was one of the few cities in colonial America to protect religious diversity. You'll explore and learn about magnificent dwellings, often adorned with graceful gardens, and the lives of the people who lived and worked there in two of the most popular historical cities in the USA, Charleston and Savannah.

DAY
2
Charleston & Lowcountry, The Battery, Gullah Culture
Charleston, SC
B,L,D
Francis Marion Hotel

Activity note: Walking around the Battery approximately .5 miles on paved and some uneven terrain. On/off motorcoach.

Breakfast: At the hotel enjoy a breakfast buffet with choices such as toast, eggs cooked many different ways, bacon and sausage, fresh fruit, milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: PRESENTATION: A local historian will provide an introduction to Charleston and the Carolina Lowcountry. This introductory history of Charleston will prepare you for the field trips we will take during your stay starting with the first field trip through historic downtown Charleston after lunch

Lunch: Celebrate Charleston's contributions to art, history and culture, from the 17th century to the modern day at a popular local restaurant. Beverages to include coffee, tea, and water. Alcoholic beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll set out with a local expert on a field trip by motorcoach through the Charleston Historic District. This is truly one of the most historic cities in America, with a deep and rich cultural heritage. We will be getting off at the Battery where our historian will accompany us and point out historically significant locations with commentary. Then we’ll travel to The Citadel, one of the six Senior Military Colleges in the United States, where we’ll explore the campus with our expert. The Citadel was established in 1842 and was originally located on Marion Square in beautiful downtown Charleston, SC. Today the picturesque campus, which was moved in 1922 to the bank of the Ashley River, is home to 24 major buildings and over 3,400 men and women enrolled in over 20 full and part time graduate and undergraduate programs. While here, we’ll enter a non-denominational church and enjoy a lecture before continuing our field trip through campus via motorcoach with commentary provided about the history and significance of The Citadel.

Dinner: At a popular restaurant, we will explore some of the area's distinctive coastal cuisine with a plated meal featuring signature Lowcountry dishes served with coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Our special presentation this evening features a live performance. The Gullah people, descendants of slaves, are a distinctive group of African-Americans living in the Coastal regions of South Carolina and Georgia. Because of their isolated community life, the Gullah have retained more of their African cultural heritage than any other group and speak an English-based Creole language that retains many elements of African language and culture. In addition to their informative presentation, we’ll also enjoy a selection of songs performed by our local expert that will entertain and delight us with insights into Gullah culture.

DAY
3
Sweetgrass Baskets,Taste of Charleston,Free Time
Charleston, SC
B,L
Francis Marion Hotel

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day; culinary field trip will last about 3 hours, including stops.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: At the hotel, we’ll be joined by a local expert who will tell us the history of sweet grass baskets. We’ll also observe a demonstration and see finished baskets. Next, we’ll set out walking on a culinary field trip to visit several different well-known local restaurants and taste samples at each one. We’ll also see renovated buildings that have been transformed into popular restaurants. When we finish, we will have had our lunch! This is a great way to experience several of the city’s top restaurants.

Lunch: Our lunch today consists of the movable feast we experience during our culinary discovery field trip.

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. You might like to visit the City Market, another historic home, or explore the Charleston Museum. There are numerous possibilities throughout the Historic District.

Dinner: 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. There are a number of restaurants near the hotel noted in your Welcome Packet.

Evening: At leisure. The Group Leader as well as the hotel concierge will be happy to offer suggestions for an evening on your own. Or simply relax at the hotel.

DAY
4
Middleton Place & Magnolia Plantations, Lowcountry Buffet
Charleston, SC
B,L
Francis Marion Hotel

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles total; about 1.5 miles each at Middleton Plantation and at Magnolia Plantation; climbing 10-12 steps, getting on/off a tram. Getting on/off motorcoach; driving approx. 45 miles throughout the day; about 1.5 hours total, with stops.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Our local expert will provide commentary en route to and at the plantations. Middleton Place is a National Historic Landmark situated on the Ashley River, a carefully preserved 18th-century plantation that has survived revolution, Civil War, and earthquake. During our field trip, we’ll learn that it was the home of four important generations of Middletons, beginning with Henry Middleton, President of the First Continental Congress; Arthur, a signer of the Declaration of Independence; Henry, Governor of South Carolina and an American Minister to Russia; and William, a signer of the Ordinance of Secession. We’ll explore the gardens, and the plantation stableyards, as well as seeing rice fields.

Lunch: In the Middleton Place restaurant, choose what you like from the delicious Lowcountry buffet.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll ride to Magnolia Plantation. Founded in 1676 by the Drayton family, it has survived the centuries and witnessed the history of our nation unfold from the American Revolution through the Civil War and beyond. It is the oldest public site open to visitors in the Lowcountry, with the oldest public gardens in America, opening its doors to visitors in 1872 to view the thousands of beautiful flowers and plants in its famous gardens. We’ll learn about Magnolia’s vivid and complex history as we experience the beauty of the house and gardens. While riding through the landscape on a tram, we’ll see sights that evoke the plantation’s past such as a row of slave cabins, 19th century rice ponds, and a Native American ceremonial mound.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure. Bid farewell to the “Holy City” then prepare for check out and transfer to Savannah in the morning.

DAY
5
To Savannah, St. John Cathedral, Forsyth Park, River Street
Savannah, Georgia
B,L,D
Hampton Inn Savannah-Historic District

Activity note: Activity Notes Have luggage down to the lobby for motorcoach loading by 8:30 a.m.; porters will load luggage. Drive to Savannah is about 107 miles (172 km), approximately 2 hours. In Savannah, getting on/off a trolley; walking up to 1.5 miles, city streets and sidewalks.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: En route to Savannah, we’ll stop in Beaufort, South Carolina, about 1.5 hours from Charleston. We’ll have some time to explore the tiny village before continuing on our ride to Savannah.

Lunch: At one of Savannah’s most popular restaurants, situated in an 18th century mansion on the square behind our hotel, we’ll have a plated meal; coffee, tea, water included, other beverages available for purchase. The building’s distinctive pink color was originally the result of red brick bleeding through white stucco that covered the surface; now it’s painted the same shade of pink. Construction on this beautiful Georgian mansion began in 1771 and was not completed until 1789. It is one of the few buildings that survived the fire of 1796, and local legend says it’s haunted!

Afternoon: Boarding a trolley, we’ll depart on an expert led field trip to see some of Savannah’s highlights. We’ll see and hear about aspects of its fascinating history, getting on and off the trolley for close up looks and entrances into historic sites.

Dinner: At a popular seafood restaurant located in a restored 18th century cotton warehouse on River Street, we’ll have a plated and served dinner with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase. Watch ships pass by as we dine.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Andrew Low House, Isaiah Davenport
Savannah, Georgia
B
Hampton Inn Savannah-Historic District

Activity note: On/off motorcoach.

Breakfast: At the hotel, choose what you like from the breakfast buffet including milk, juices, coffee, hot tea, water.

Morning: Field Trip: We will visit the Andrew Low House facing Lafayette Square that provides a look at the life of Savannah’s gentry in the 19th century. Low, born in Scotland in 1812, arrived in Savannah at the age of 17 and went to work for his uncle’s cotton export company. A few years before the Civil War, he had become the richest man in the city. His house was designed by one of the leading New York architects of the day in neo-Classical style with Italianate exterior features. The interior was opulently decorated. It remains one of Savannah’s foremost house museums. We’ll explore with a local expert. Our next stop will be the Isaiah Davenport House. Built in 1820, this Federal-style home marked the beginning of Savannah's historic preservation movement.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity to see and do what interests you most, whether exploring independently to see more of Savannah’s historic homes, gardens, and famed squares, spending time with new Road Scholar friends, or just relaxing.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like, whether with other members of the group or individually. You might like to try one of the many popular restaurants near the hotel. The choice is yours.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Fort Jackson, Wormsloe Historic Site, Free Time, Farewell
Savannah, Georgia
B,D
Hampton Inn Savannah-Historic District

Activity note: Walking at Old Fort Jackson; uneven surfaces. Walk up to 2 miles at Wormsloe Historic Site over some uneven terrain. On/off motorcoach.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll begin the day with a field trip to Old Fort Jackson, dating from 1808. This beautifully preserved fort along the Savannah River is Georgia's oldest standing brick fortification and a National Historic Landmark. We will enjoy the view from the strategic location. Our next stop will be Wormsloe Historic Site. The site was once an estate of Noble Jones, one of Georgia's Colonial founders. Drive down a 1.5 mile entrance of over 400 stately live oak trees and experience the ruins of Jones' fortified house built of tabby and museum.

Lunch: On your own.

Afternoon: Free Time. Be sure to rendezvous back at the hotel in time for our farewell dinner.

Dinner: At a popular restaurant near the hotel, we’ll enjoy some of Savannah's distinctive coastal cuisine. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends at our farewell dinner.

Evening: We’ll be joined by one of Savannah’s finest musicians, who will give us a presentation on music of the Civil War era and demonstrate instruments from that time. Then prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
8
Program Concludes
Savannah, Georgia
B

Activity note: Motorcoach transfer will depart at approx. 8:30 a.m. for a maximum of about 110 miles; approx. 2.5 hours. Stops will be made at Savannah Hilton Head International Airport (about 1/2 hour), Charleston International Airport and Francis Marion (about 2.5 hours) for anyone who needs to retrieve a car. Hotel check out by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will then depart from the hotel via motorcoach, going first to the Savannah Hilton Head International Airport, Charleston International Airport, and then the Mills House. This concludes our program. 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 another rewarding program in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Your Well-Being is Our #1 Priority

We’re committed to making your experience as safe and enjoyable as possible.

See Our Safety Roadmap
Click here to provide website feedback
Website Feedback