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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Uncover the New South in Old Savannah


5. Oddball Day

Bonaventure Cemetery is a sprawling property where generations of Georgians have been laid to rest.  

Test your nerves by tempting Savannah’s many resident ghosts. Start your exploration after lunch at the Mercer Williams House ($12.50), famous not just for its connection to local hero Johnny Mercer’s great-grandfather but also for its role in the murderous events chronicled in John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Next, take a short taxi ride to Bonaventure Cemetery (open daily, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; free admission), which once housed the “Bird Girl” statue made famous on Berendt’s book cover. (It has since been relocated to the Telfair Museum of Art.) Between the ubiquitous hanging moss and misty, somber atmosphere, this 160-acre public cemetery is Southern Gothic at its finest. Notable residents include Johnny Mercer, novelist Conrad Aiken, and thousands of deceased Georgians who, for nearly 150 years, have called Bonaventure their eternal home. For dinner, ask a local for directions to Wall’s barbecue joint (515 E. York Lane, no phone; closed Sundays), a hard-to-find back-alley shack whose slow-cooked ribs and tangy slaw are legendary ($10 for one main with sides). Afterward, fill your to-go cup and join a Haunted Pub Crawl (912-604-3007; $15). The two-hour walking tour starts at 8 p.m. at Moon River Brewery, whose abandoned second floor is said to be one of Savannah’s most eerie spots. Then it’s on to nearby stops in the Historic District, including a sports bar that was formerly a slave quarters, a Scottish pub where a murder once took place, and a trendy college bar that used to be a hanging site.

Published on Feb 17, 2011 as a web exclusive.

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