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Springtime in the Gardens of Savannah and Tybee Island

Savannah's Forsyth Fountain
Savannah’s Forsyth Fountain

Seductive Savannah, Georgia’s first city, beckons with sophisticated stature: iron fences and balconies adorn stately antebellum mansions; renovated townhouses abut cobblestone streets; green squares blossom and aged live oaks drip with Spanish moss. She flaunts mystery with tales of murder and ghosts.

Neighboring Tybee Island, a 20-minute drive, bespeaks an altogether different aura; she tempts visitors to tiny raised cottages, marsh grass, tidal beaches and sea breezes. Where Savannah oozes Southern charm and elegance, Tybee prefers laid back relaxation. Both vacation spots offer ideal springtime getaways.

Savannah‘s historic district is divided into a grid. Walk or hop on a tour bus to review her past and visit high-end antique shops, quirky boutiques or art museums. Fans of John Berendt’s, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, will enjoy touring sites from the book, including the Mercer Williams House and serene Bonaventure Cemetery.

Mercer House
Mercer House

Make sure to dine at Paula Deen’s The Lady & Son’s Restaurant, probably the most sought out reservation in town or Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room, a former boardinghouse that dishes a lunch that lasts all day. Another favorite, The Pink House, serves elegant southern cuisine. If you want to splurge on lodging, check into The Mansion on Forsyth Park or consider numerous bed-and-breakfast inns at www.historicinnsofsavannah.com.

Cross the causeway and let your hair fly. Tybee Island’s claim to fame is Fort Pulaski, where a famous Civil War battle occurred, and Tybee Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in Georgia. Sign-on for deep-sea fishing charters, perhaps a dolphin cruise, rent a bike or kayak, bird-watch, surf or simply rest on her shores. The beach is perfect for weddings and many couples choose to wed along the five miles of sandy dunes

Island shopping offers beach-themed kitsch, bait and tackle shops, and art exhibits. May 15th is the date for the 21st annual Beach Bum Parade. Spectators line the parade route armed with buckets, squirt guns and hoses. What results is an all-out water war.

The Savannah Beach Inn on Tybee, offers lodging in a restored 1898 Victorian house. The owners prepare a luscious gourmet breakfast, featuring Bananas Foster French Toast, host daily wine and cheese receptions and leave bedtime, milk and cookies.

For dinner try the famous Crab Shack for seafood low-country boil or catch a sunset meal at a local’s favorite, A.J’s Dockside Restaurant.

Give yourself a springtime fling in one of America’s loveliest cities or interesting islands.

For more information on Savannah’s events, please visit www.SavannahVisit.com, for Tybee Island: www.tybeevisit.com.

Recommended Restaurants in Sea World Orlando

Sitting in Shark's Underwater Grill
Gazing into the Shark Tank at Sharks Underwater Grill

Over the years I’ve learned a day at a theme park is improved when my group takes time to sit down and eat in a restaurant versus snacking at fast food. So, when lunchtime rolled around on our first day at Sea World, we chose Voyagers close tothe sea lion and otter stadium.

My grandchildren naturally wanted the kid’s meal; one chose chicken fingers which came with French fries; the other wanted macaroni and cheese with baby carrots. Both included a little box of raisins and a blue Shamu souvenir lunch box. Price $8.00 (I think?)

I ordered baked barbeque chicken, which was yummy.My son ate pizza and his wife had a wrap.All the plates were filled high and the food appeared fresh and healthier than expected.

Soon we were exploring the park again and ran into Shark Encounter- a 700,000 gallon aquarium containing a walk-through acrylic tunnel for viewing. Gulp.

One wall of the huge tank adjoins Sharks Underwater Grill, an upscale restaurant with a good bite. Dim lighting, coupled with illumination from the fish tank creates an eerie atmosphere, not to mention the flashing teeth on hundreds of sharks.

We stopped and  made reservations, returning at 6:30 PM to dine eye-to eye with the scary demons of the deep.

Seems rather astonishing, but upon entering the room a quiet and unrushed feeling prevails; enough to make you forget the frenzied theme park outside the door.The swaying movement from the array of creatures is mesmerizing.Many of the predators swim rapidly back and forth while others, a saw tooth shark, for example, arose from the deep only occasionally. A mammoth grouper seemed to hover near our table.

If you arrive early, check out the sleek bar– another living seascape.The lobby contains a glowing glass cylinder filled with small neon fish that propel themselves forward or float backward.Do fish ever get dizzy?

The menu touts “Floribbean-style” food, a blend of fresh Florida and Caribbean fare.I ordered salmon filet and was extremely pleased with a tangy yet sweet sauce over the fleshy serving.A spicy side of peppery mashed potatoes and fresh vegetable medley completed my plate.

My husband enjoyed the Citrus Caesar salad, which surprised me, as he is finicky about his choice of dressing.He was disappointed, however, in the Steak en Croute, which he said lacked punch and tasted too much like hamburger.

Sea-World_-Restaurant r
A Gummy Shark

The grandkids, ages 4 and 6, ordered popcorn shrimp and fries from the children’s menu. A large gummy shark adorned their dinner plates, a cute touch.We paid $2 extra for a shark cozie to surround their juice glasses–a real hit.In fact, I almost purchased a few of these clever drink coolers for an at-home pool party!

I admit I wasn’t expecting gourmet food but our dinner turned out to be the catch of the day. The food was delightfully tasty and certainly the surroundings produced an unforgettable thrill. If you go to Sea World, you owe it to yourself to dine with sharks at, none other than Sharks Underwater Grill .

Day Two

We ate a hearty breakfast at our hotel before returning for day two at Sea World, hence were able to bypass the Cypress Bakery- which smelled divine. We didn’t even feel hungry at lunch time. Instead, the kids had an ice cream at the Polar Parlor — a dolphin- shaped treat.

Of course, a bit later my teenage daughter was “starving,” so I took her into the Seafire Inn for a Greek salad.It was big enough to share.

And that’s it for our dining!  I’d like to commend the management for offering Mama’s Kitchen Healthy Alternatives a cafe serving whole-wheat bagels, turkey chili and sweet potato chips.

Overall –A thumbs up for food in the theme park.