To tell the heroic tale of the Mighty Eighth Air Force requires more than a simple history book or channel can handle. At the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, displays of tangible, lovingly preserved relics preserve the harrowing and inspiring stories of the Eighth Air Force's greatest achievements, paying respect to those who risked, and often lost, their lives. The exhibits narrate how the Mighty Eighth earned its nickname as the all-time largest air armada for its role in World War II, and a combat gallery of scale models and authentic flying machines, including a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber that's now being painstakingly restored, allows visitors to nab up-close views of the planes that made it all happen. Other exhibits detail how the men and women of the Eighth helped repel the Nazi menace, while the memorial gardens and Chapel of the Fallen Eagles salute all of those in the armed forces from WWII through today.
As a kid, Shannon Scott wasn’t interested in Disney World; he wanted to vacation in Colonial Williamsburg. He had an unabashed love and voracious appetite for history, preferring the drama of true stories to that of fairytales. Since 1995, he has translated that passion into a viable career sharing the rich history and lore of Savannah.
Mounted atop a fleet of two-wheeled city seers, Savannah Bike Tours' groups glide past scenery on two-hour guided tours. Cruising at an easy pace through Savannah's quiet side streets, broad boulevards, and picturesque historic district, city-licensed guides answer questions and expound upon architecture, botany, local history, and glory tales of the bicycle's predecessor—the gravy train with biscuit wheels. As the tour rolls by points of interest, such as the emerald landscape of Forsyth Park, stops are made to accommodate the numerous photo opportunities that present themselves. Helmets and bicycles are included in the cost of the tour, though tourers can choose to bring their own pedal-powered two-wheeler and hollowed-out coconut shell.
The Savannah Walks leads newcomers and locals alike through the shadowy, moss-laden squares of Savannah’s historic colonial district during informative guided tours. Each outing provides a unique twist on the city and its unmistakable charm, covering topics such as Savannah during the Civil War, historic fine homes, majestic gates and gardens, and local pubs. Tour guides all boast scholastic bona fides, including among them three published authors and three college professors. The Savannah Walks easily accommodates school groups, civic organizations, corporations, celebrities, and animals standing on each other's shoulders under an overcoat.
The Shoemaker clan has been sailing around the East Coast since the 1600s, making the family as native to South Carolina as the state's alligators and seaside bluffs resembling John C. Calhoun. After inheriting an in-depth aquatic knowledge from his father, who spent 25 years as a commercial fisherman, Captain Chris Shoemaker—a Coast Guard–licensed captain—conveys that love of the water to even more generations by leading fishing, shrimping, and crabbing excursions on his 24-foot Carolina Skiff boat. Collectively known as May River Excursions, Captain Chris and his crew make twice-daily trips to Daufuskie Island, a rustic, historical idyll with a single schoolhouse, dirt roads, and wild bald eagles, armadillos, and alligators that still comprise the island's local constabulary. The guides also lead regular 90-minute tours along the May River in search of ospreys, egrets, and dolphins, always including a history lesson about the country surrounding the towns of Bluffton and Hilton Head.
The salty sea sprays behind Captain Michael’s boat as he veers into the ocean near Hilton Head with his trusty first mate—a great dane named Dozer—by his side. As captain and owner of On the Water Hilton Head, Michael guides kayak trips through Lowcountry salt marshes and tidal creeks, and leads boat trips to view dolphins and seabirds in the waters around Pinckney Island and Port Royal Sound. Michael also runs water-taxi rides, charters fishing trips, and encourages visitors to take to the water themselves with kayak, standup-paddleboard, and jet-ski rentals.
In 1820, an upwardly mobile carpenter named Isaiah Davenport designed a 6,800-square-foot Federal-style home to live in with his wife, children, and slaves. After his death, Davenport’s wife turned the stately brick house into a boarding house, though it later devolved into a run-down tenement—until the Historic Savannah Foundation saved the landmark when it was threatened with demolition in 1955. The organization’s award-winning preservation, their very first effort, jumpstarted an organized preservation movement that spread across the entire port city.
Today, the Davenport House Museum’s rooms are filled with antique furniture from the 1820s, acquired after careful research relying on estate inventories and detailed artist renderings of long-ago games of musical chairs. These period-accurate tables and chairs join ceramics, textiles, and books to form the museum’s collection of about 500 historical items. Behind the home, where a carriage house, garden, and privy once stood, a garden designed by renowned landscape artist Penelope Hobhouse flourishes. After walking among its flowers, visitors can drop by the museum shop to pick up jams and jellies, books about Savannah, and reproductions of early 19th-century items.