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Retreats on the Cheap

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March/April 2009

Online Only, posted 2.18.09

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Savannah, Georgia
From William Makepeace Thackeray to Flannery O’Connor to Conrad Aiken, writers over the centuries have been influenced and charmed by the “Hostess City of the South.” Home to one of the largest landmark historical districts in the United States, Savannah provides plenty of locales for both writing time and literary inspiration at little to no cost.

Stay
There are plenty of motels outside of Savannah in the $60 to $80 range per night. Savannah itself offers many more expensive options, such as the historic bed and breakfasts the Eliza Thompson House ($199 a night) and the Olde Harbour Inn, overlooking the Savannah river (starting at $179 a night).

Literary Destinations
After spending a few hours writing in Forsyth Park, take a walk along Savannah’s streets lined in Georgian and Victorian architecture and moss draped oak trees. Be sure to stroll past 1973 Georgia poet laureate Conrad Aiken’s row house (230 East Oglethorpe Avenue), which sits adjacent to his childhood home. Visit Bonaventure Cemetery and take a break on Aiken’s bench tomb, made famous in John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. (free)

Stop off at the neoclassic Live Oaks Public Library (202 Bull Street); built in 1918, it’s one of Savannah’s oldest buildings (free)

Located on Lafayette Square is the Andrew Low House (329 Abercorn Street), where Thackeray stayed during two of his visits to the United States and where he described Savannah, in a letter to his friend Kate Perry, as “a tranquil old city, wide stretched, tree-planted…and leisure all morning to think and do and sleep and read as I like. The only place I stay in the United States where I can get these comforts.” The desk where he worked is still on display. (The Andrew Low House was also the home of Juliette Gordon, founder of the Girl Scouts of America) ($8).

Just around the corner from the Low House is the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home Foundation (207 East Charlton Street) where O’Connor lived until she was twelve. The backyard of this house is referenced in her essay “The King of Birds" ($5).

Food and Drink
For some coffee with a little entertainment thrown in, stop by the Sentient Bean (13 East Park Avenue), a coffeehouse the New York Times calls “a haven for indie film, live music, and literary readings” ($5 to $10).

Reader Comments

  • carolynzukowski says...

    Sheesh! You forgot about hostels. Forget the "youth" hostels of yesteryear...the new, independent hostels offer clean and tidy accommodations to hip people of any age. They also offer private rooms, free internet/wifi access, communal spaces, kitchens, and are often set in travel-worthy inspirational locales. I understand your focus is on the United States, but a great place to stay (though I'm slightly biased on this!)is at Krumlov House, in the beautiful village of Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic www.krumlovhouse.com or, Have a look at the LODGINGS section at www.literarybohemian.com , which features worldwide budget accommodations with up to the minute reviews. At Literary Bohemian, you'll find links to US and International writing retreats as well as "must-see-ums" (museums) of writing. Happy Trails! Carolyn

  • WordBird says...

    You are right on about Milwaukee. Woodland Pattern is a must stop. The Poetry Marathon the last Saturday in January is magnificent. If you want nature, travel to Door County 150 miles north. The South Nest Retreat is a three bedroom house in the boreal forest. Rents are reasonable and by the room or whole house. mrsticket@dcwis.com or 920-839-2191

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