Monday, November 3, 2008

Don't take your wheelchair to Savannah

Plenty to do in Savannah, GA for a weekend or longer.

In researching this post, I found it referred to as "New Orleans Lite," a comparison I had made myself (less elegantly) when I described it to a friend as New Orleans without the debauchery.

Think Branson:Las Vegas as Savannah:New Orleans

But please be physically fit. Savannah is begging for an ADA Lawsuit.

Just in time for Disabilities Awareness Month, October 2008, I visited Savannah, GA and the Southeast ADA Center began a report on 2 Georgia cities. Quoting the report:
In these two communities [Athens and Savanna], the research teams visited and evaluated the accessibility of information, the physical accessibility and the services provided at the City Hall, a library, a civic center, and a park. They also evaluated the ability of the police to provide information about emergency evacuation services as well as the accessibility of public transportation services.
The evaluation was conducted by a team of 5: 3 with disabilities, 2 without. Results are still being analyzed, but I can save you the wait. Savannah has a long way to go.

The historical district, where we stayed, is a beautifully picturesque minefield of uneven sidewalks, slippery cobblestones, narrow winding staircases, and historic homes whose guided tours are likely to include grand ballroom staircases and servants' stairs, and unlikely to include a chair or lift. Please do not lean on the walls because they are also historic. Just stand there and pant.

Before you fall for Walking magazine having once named Savannah one of America's best walking cities, remind yourself that this is Walking magazine. Not AARP, Mobility, or even Southern Living. There may be more than one reason Walking is no longer in publication.

Believe instead Insider's Guide: Savannah and Hilton Head, which advises:

All these stairs are old, and many aren't particularly easy to navigate, such as narrow slate steps curving a long a stone wall with an aged metal railing. The steps tend to be beside the ramps that carry traffic to River St. Be extremely careful, and if you want, walk down the ramps that cars use to get to the river.
Although you can avoid the tricky stairs this way, you won't avoid the cobblestone ramps, another potential pedestrian pitfall. the cobblestones are very beautiful and not as steep as the stairs, but beware walking on them with any type of heeled shoe.

The city has put in an elevator to the waterfront, and the tour guides recommend that you use it. If you do happen to tumble in the sidewalk (for example -- I'm not saying it happened, but for example) you will be nowhere near a CVS. Carry your own first aid kit.

Hotels do not have shuttle vans to the airport. The taxi cartel is a fleet of shared van services, though we were never asked to share. They are your standard mini-van affair, which is to say 3 feet off the ground without running board. Ask for the step stool.

The trolley tours are charming -- Savannah Tours boasts the most personal/unscripted experience, but there are several to choose from. All will lack assist-steps and seats wide enough for the average American party of 2. Strictly a no-wheelchair/no-guide dog situation.

Disclaimer: the photo below is not from Savannah. But doesn't your heart break for these poor put-upon creatures? Special dog heaven for the Assistants.

I am still recommending Savannah. It is fairly inexpensive, historically/artfully/artistically interesting, a good slow pace with fun for the whole family (kids under 10 might find it totally beat, but your Girl Scouts will dig the pilgrimage). Nearly all the shops and restaurants are local establishments (disregard the Outback across the street from our hotel), the SCAD vibe keeps it current; the low country vibe keeps it gothic. Spanish moss is real. Southerners are friendly.

And where else would I have seen this:

It is a Thomas Kincaid
Of a NASCAR race
Featuring an Air Force flyover and fireworks

ye-haw, ya'll.


  1. Savanna in a nutshell!! Well done. M

  2. that painting is too much, cuz. stop it right now!!!


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