Believe it or not, the occasional parlor game is still played in the drawing rooms of the classic homes of Charleston  and Savannah . And one of the most popular games is comparing these two great old cities — so alike in so many ways, so unalike in others.
Stereotypes abound, such as the famous adage “In Charleston they ask what your mother’s maiden name is, and in Savannah they ask what you’re drinking.” But the truth is that Savannah can be just as obsessed with arcane genealogy, and anyone who’s ever spent a weekend night in downtown Charleston knows that city is no stranger to a carousing good time.
The key differences are physical. Charleston’s charms are more serendipitous, its architecture more Caribbean. The compact, winding downtown means that a new surprise awaits you around every corner. That’s the magic of Charleston.
Savannah, with its more spacious downtown, has more room to breathe, to walk, and to stretch out. And there are those matchless, tidy squares, still studied as marvels of urban design. Savannah’s classically Anglophilic architecture tends more toward the stately.
While both cities love a good time, Charleston — with its vast selection of nationally renowned restaurants — is definitely more of a foodie’s paradise. Savannah, on the other hand — with its unusual “to-go cup” law  allowing open containers of alcoholic beverages on the street — loves nothing more than a boisterous party.
One thing the entire area shares in common is a rare natural beauty. The South Carolina Lowcountry  and the Georgia coast comprise the largest contiguous salt marsh in the world and one of the most unique ecosystems on the planet.
Kayakers are at home paddling in the blackwater of the ACE Basin  or the vast Okefenokee Swamp. Beachgoers are often amazed at the underrated quality of the area’s serene strands.
Most of all, however, the greatest treasure of this region is its people. Whether a native with a meandering Southern accent, or a recent transplant who fell in love with the area and decided to stay, the folks down here love a good story, a good conversation, and a good laugh.
Indeed, it’s one of America’s enduring ironies that deep in the heart of our most conservative region lie some of our most fun-loving cities. New Orleans heads the list, of course, but Charleston  and Savannah  are hard on its heels. It’s not just the fabled Southern hospitality. It’s a joie de vivre born out of great weather and proximity to the ever-invigorating water of the rivers, marshes, and ocean.