So my plan for this post was to continue with the whole 2-days-in-one-post thing as Days 3 and 4 were still largely our road trip down to Disney. But once I started writing about our drive from Virginia Beach to Savannah, I realized we did A LOT on Day 3 and adding Day 4 in would have made this post like the War and Peace of blog posts. You know, cuz War and Peace is really long. And this post would seem as long as that super long book…
“And just as boring!”
Wait, did I just get heckled on my own blog? By myself? Man.
But this post should hopefully keep your interest. We have our longest drive of the trip and we did a good deal of stuff in Savannah. But, if you don’t like it…
I mean, it’s not like any of you PAY me to write this stuff.
Day 3 – Virginia Beach, VA to Savannah, GA
We wanted to get Day 3 off to an early start, for a few reasons. For one, we had like a 7-hour drive ahead of us from Virginia Beach to Savannah. And since we had reservations that night (which I will get to later), we wanted to leave a little time to relax and explore beforehand. But more importantly. MUCH more importantly. We had DONUTS.
And many of you know – we take our donuts seriously. We even have a hashtag – #GoodyDonutChallenge – on Instagram to track all the donuts we try on our adventures. And in Virginia Beach? There was one we were DYING to try – DUCK DONUTS!! And while I know there are quite a few Duck Donuts locations, there are none near us so we were pretty excited. We kind of go nuts for donuts.
So yeah, we were sort of up at what the kids call “the buttcrack of dawn.”
Myles wanted to join me on my early morning donut crusade so we were up and out the door by 6AM. Now, we weren’t 100% on where Duck Donuts was. And I guess I could have used Google Maps, but instead I asked the guy at the front desk where it was. Big mistake. To set the scene, here is how our exchange went:
Me: Hi, do you know where Duck Donuts is?
Guy at the front desk: Sure, you go out the door, take a right and its down two blocks on the left. It’s pretty small so definitely keep your eye out for it.
Me: Oh are you sure? I could have sworn the guy yesterday said we should take a left out the door and it was near the BP station?
Guy at the front desk: No no…that’s the Starbucks.
Simple enough right? Guy seemed to know what he was talking about so Myles and I were off.
The streets were completely empty. Like literally, we were the only people out there. So we walk on. And it was a fun walk. Myles was legit excited for these donuts so we were laughing and walking and having a grand old donut-anticipation-fueled time. We walk the couple of blocks, take the left and look down the street to see…
Yep, dude thought we said “Dunkin Donuts.” Gah.
Anyways, it was now time to use Google Maps. Which told me it was in the opposite direction. Only 9 minutes away, but still. I needed my donuts. So we walked back, past our hotel and there it was, two blocks down, next to the BP…AND THE STARBUCKS. We found it though. And we were excited.
So the deal with Duck is that they custom make the donuts for you on the spot. You can go with one of their signature creations or you can create one with your own mixture of coating, topping, and drizzle. Then they cook it all up on the spot so the donuts are super warm and fresh. All of their creations start with their signature vanilla cake donut.
Myles and Owen each wanted two – Myles got a glazed and (I think) a powdered sugar vanilla, and Owen got a cookies and cream and a vanilla frosted with sprinkles. Nickie opted for a maple bacon while I did a create-my-own – peanut butter coating, crushed Oreos, and marshmallow drizzle.
We also grabbed two chocolate milks and two coffees. Oh, and they sold rubber ducks so I mean we had to buy these two little chunker-monkers.
And to finish up my story about Front Desk Guy, as I was walking in he saw my box from Duck Donuts and said, “Oh, looks like you didn’t find it but at least you still got some donuts.”
To which I said…
We brought the donuts and drinks (and ducks) back to enjoy in the room before taking off.
Now, we have eaten a good deal of donuts in our lives. But these may be THE. BEST. DONUTS. WE. HAVE. EVER. HAD. Seriously, they were so warm and fresh and full of flavor. It was interesting because it was a cake donut but because it was made fresh, it still maintained a really light, airy texture. Well, maybe “light” isn’t the right word, but you get what I’m saying.
I am looking forward to trying some more donut spots on our CA road trip next summer, but for now Duck Donuts legit owns our souls.
After all that deliciousness, we packed the car up and took off for Savannah. Now, like I said before, this drive was the longest of our entire trip. We were driving through the rest of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and into Georgia.
Being that it was so early, we sort of just drove through North Carolina. The boys kept busy in the backseat with their phones for a little bit, we listened to some music, and I think they each watched some Simpsons episodes on their DVD players. And we spent a lot of time trying to complete our Highway Quest:
It was a long drive until our first stop (a little over 4 hours) but it got us over halfway to our ultimate destination in Savannah, GA.
I will say we saw a good deal of cotton fields on our drive. And cotton fields > corn fields for sure. They made for a pretty drive. I mean, at least I thought so. But I’m just a cotton-headed ninny muggins.
But as we made our way through North Carolina, we did start seeing some signs beckoning us to stop just beyond the border between North and South Carolina. A place that has obviously brought joy to traveler upon traveler. A place that promises fun around every corner and a smile on every child’s face. I mean, it has to right? With that many signs, this place has to be amazing.
Yup. South of the Border. THE definition of false advertising. In no way possible has South of the Border ever lived up to its self-created hype. But seeing the first sign (I think we were at about 140 or so miles out) did also signal something else:
A new goody bag for the boys! This one had more of those fake candy Disney apple things, some car games like Hangman and Tic-Tac-Toe, a couple more Parkbound (https://www.parkboundbuttons.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html) buttons, lollipops, and some of those glasses to turn Christmas lights into little reindeer and gingerbread men. Yeah I know. We ARE the best parents.
But as I said, those signs. I mean you kind of HAVE to stop. Pedro said. So yes. We stopped.
If any of you do make this stop, try and use Google Maps to do so and have the audio turned up. Google Maps welcomes you to each new state as you cross the border. And this place is so close to the border that you cross into South Carolina on the highway but when you take the exit, you cross back into North Carolina and then back into South Carolina again right before hitting the parking lot. So you totally feel like you’re driving the Google Maps lady insane. Welcome to South Carolina. Welcome to North Carolina. Welcome to South Carolina. AHHH THE VOICES ARE TELLING ME TO KILL.
It’s a good time.
Also a good time? The kids DID NOT want to stop at South of the Border. Myles and Owen both thought this place was some sort of dank pee-pee soaked heck hole.
I’m not sure where their presuppositions came from, but I think it has a lot to do with them being spoiled Disney brats maybe? Regardless, Myles was not happy…
But at least Owen was putting on a brave face…
Nickie and I have been here before – separately as kids and once together on a road trip to Myrtle Beach – but I had really hoped to explore a little more than we got the chance to. I at least wanted to see the Reptile Lagoon. But instead we were relegated to one gift shop.
But eh, while we didn’t get to see everything we wanted, we did manage to snap a few fun pics.
It was pretty obvious the boys were definitely not going to tolerate lunch at such a place so we travelled a bit more down the road (about a half hour) to introduce the boys to the glory that is…
Ah, Waffle House. Being a northerner, we don’t get to experience Waffle House as much as we would like so stopping here seemed a good bet. Plus, Owen is a severe waffle-holic. And we are severe waffle-enablers. So we stopped. And it seemed to make everyone happy.
It had a jukebox, which is always a plus for Myles. We got treated to a nice medley of Vampire Weekend, George Michael, Queen, and erm…more Vampire Weekend.
To eat, both Myles and Owen just got waffles. Nickie got this hash brown breakfast bowl thing (which she said was pretty good…but nothing special):
I ordered the All-Star Special (waffle, 2 eggs, sausage, toast, and I replaced my grits with hashbrowns peppered and covered). I thought it was delicious. Seriously, I haven’t had much Waffle House sober but it was still good.
After lunch, we were back on the road towards our ultimate destination – Savannah, GA. The drive ahead of us was about 2.5 hours but with like 4.5 hours behind us, that felt like nothing. We continued our Highway Quest and the kids watched a couple more Simpsons episodes. And we arrived at our next hotel – The Hilton Garden Inn Savannah Historic District – at around 3:45 PM.
We checked into our room…
…grabbed some drinks from the bar downstairs, and headed straight to the hot tub. Which was def welcome after a 7-hour drive. I have no pics of our drinks nor do I have any of the hot tub. But I do have this. Which works as sort of a dramatic recreation of what was going on.
Edit: I did find a picture of the hot tub but I still obviously wanted to leave Will Ferrell in there. Obviously. Anyways, here:
We had a ghost tour/dinner scheduled for that night so we spent only 15-20 minutes at the hot tub before toweling off and heading back up to the room to change. We wanted to explore a little bit of Savannah before our tour.
Our hotel was right across from the City Market so we walked over there to check it out. Also, we heard there were a lot of free samples. And as I said, with Disney approaching, we had to get as much “free” in as we could.
Our first stop was the Savannah Candy Kitchen.
And yep, there were free samples. And these particular free samples were of the praline variety. So, obviously we had some.
And man, these were good. At first I was all, “What’s a praline” and then I was all, “I like pralines” and then I was all, “gimme more pralines” and then I was all “unhand me, I should be able to have as many free samples as I want.”
Annnyways. Our next free samples were here:
And as you can see, the girl behind the counter could tell right away we were alcoholi….er, I mean….fans of frozen drinks. I had two samples, one was the Call-A-Cab and I can’t remember the other one because the first one was the Call-A-Cab. That thing was strong.
Nickie had a couple samples too, but we both felt like any more frozen drinks would have resulted in a brain freeze related 911 call. Just wasn’t feeling the frozen. Instead, I ducked into a bar and grabbed a Bud Light for Nickie and a whiskey for myself to walk around with. Oh, did I not mention that? Yeah, you can walk around outside with your drinks.
And this brings me to my assessment of Savannah. As you will see, there is a lot of beauty to Savannah. And some great food. But there is also a lot of drunk. Like…A LOT. We literally saw two people fall out of their chairs while we were walking around the market. It just felt like…”ahhh now I get why we can’t walk around Boston with drinks in our hand.” Like I said, we were walking around with drinks as well, but the amount of drunk we saw at 5:00PM was daunting. Even for us. And it definitely made the kids a bit uncomfortable.
But that isn’t to say that I didn’t like Savannah. I mean, once we were out of the market, the rest of Savannah was great. The squares, the river, the food…all good stuff and I am definitely glad we went.
But I am getting ahead of myself….let’s talk about what we did after the market. Cuz it was super spookytown.
EEK, I mean not THAT spooky. But still spooky. We had a reservation for a combination trolley ghost tour/dinner reservation with Vacations Made Easy, which we were really looking forward to as a way to not only experience the paranormal but also get a good look at Savannah in a short amount of time.
The trolley picked us up right outside our hotel
And was hosted by this “dead” lady. But between you and me, I don’t think she was really dead. Nor do I think she was really British. Actually, I know this as she revealed she was a theater major from Boston at the end of the tour. Regular Sherlock Holmes I am.
The tour took us through some well-known haunted spots of Savannah and our guide told us some pretty grisly stories of murder and adultery and what not. And along the way, we picked up some other theater major….erm, I mean…spirits that told us stories of their demise.
And we got to see a lot of Savannah though taking pictures was a challenge in a constantly moving trolley.
And of course, there was some Disney in there – both suspect and confirmed bits. At one point in the tour, we drove by the Hamilton-Turner Inn, which our tour guide told us was the inspiration for the Haunted Mansion.
However, it seems this may just be an unsubstantiated rumor according to sites such as MiceChat. In fact, that article actually references the Old Savannah Tour Company – the same company that ran this tour – as one company that still propagates this rumor.
But the other bit of Disney we saw was pretty cool. Our trolley drove by this one square that appeared to be covered in snow and film equipment.
And our guide informed us they were filming the live-action Lady and the Tramp remake. Which was both exciting and terrifying. On account of I looovvvvveee Lady and the Tramp. I wasn’t aware they were making a live-action version so I wasn’t sure if this was a good thing (like Cinderella) or a bad thing (like Beauty and the Beast.) Disney has a so-so record when it comes to live-action so I am a bit hesitant. The fact that is going straight to their streaming service did nothing to bolster my confidence. But I am going to try and be optimistic. I heard the dogs were cute…and cute dogs can go a long way.
Regardless, it was cool to see.
The tour portion of our experience was about an hour and 45 minutes or so. The trolley then brought us to The Pirates’ House, which is famous for both its food and its history. I’ve always preferred food to history, but I guess it’s nice to have both.
We were brought through the restaurant, which is really unique – lots of uneven floors, small rooms, exposed brick, and cool little nooks and crannies. Definitely had the right ambiance for the whole ghost thing.
Our dinner was served in the back room, which felt a lot like a function room. And our food was served buffet-style. We had fried chicken, tilapia, pulled pork, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, green beans, and corn. They also served this honey pecan sauce with the chicken that was DELICIOUS.
We were kind of bummed to not be eating in the main restaurant. It sort of was all served in this room in metal serving containers. Looked like break time at a conference. And given the presentation, we weren’t expecting all that much. But surprisingly, the food was very tasty. The fried chicken was the standout for sure but the pulled pork placed a close second.
We also ordered drinks (which we had to pay for separately of course). Nickie got a rum and Coke while I ordered this lovely:
This was a Chatham Artillery Punch. Super good – rum, bourbon, cognac, sparkling wine – it was just lovely. AND it came in a souvenir glass. Which I thought was cool. Until I saw they also had one that came in a skull mug. You need to tell me these things up front, Pirates’ House!
After dinner, we were led down to their rum cellar by our tour guide.
Alas, no actual rum for tasting down there but we were treated to another spooky story. During prohibition, they used to run barrels of liquor through this tunnel here:
No not that tunnel. The tunnel they used was actually blocked up around here:
And in addition to this, this place used to be frequented by pirates looking to recruit men for their crew. And when someone would turn down the invite, the pirate would slip something in their drink. The lucky ones would wake up the next morning on a ship, now part of the crew. The not-so-lucky ones ended up…dead.
And so as to not distract from the charm of the place, they disposed of the bodies in said tunnel. The one that was blocked. To refresh your memory, here are a couple of pics of my kids posing in front of the dead body disposal tunnel.
The tour guide told us to snap as many pictures as we could to try and capture some paranormal activity and I mean, I didn’t see any legit Caspers but I did see notice this little guy in my earlier tunnel picture
Oh, also this.
So I mean. Ghosts.
Then, and this is actually true, the tour guide said she was going to turn off all the lights while we just stood there for 3 minutes. In the dark. With ghosts. It’s a good thing I was drunk. Or I totally would have been scared.
After that, we were back on the trolley, which dropped us off at our hotel. The whole experience was pretty great. Our tour guide was informative and fun and the dinner was much better than anticipated.
We had planned on going out for ice cream at Leopold’s but we were exhausted. I mean, give us a break. We drove 7 hours AND totally saw dead people. Thankfully though, our hotel lobby had pints of Leopold’s so we got a few:
And that peanut butter chippy stuff was no joke my friends. Really good stuff. I can only imagine getting it fresh at the shop would have put me into some sort of happiness-induced ice cream coma. So eh, probably best we didn’t get it. I still had to drive to Disney the next day.
So that’s Day 3, folks. See ya on Day 4!