Hardin County, Tennessee, about a two-hour drive east of Memphis, is filled with shops, restaurants and deep history as it was a substantial trade hub thanks to its location on the Tennessee River. Towns like Savannah preserves that history through museums and historic homes while celebrating its culture with a wealth of festivals and events. Here’s how you can spend a day exploring some of what Savannah has to offer:
Start the day on the right foot with a melt-in-your-mouth donut from Savannah Donuts. Blueberry cake, apple fritters, cinnamon rolls and glaze donuts are just waiting for you to sample. They have an array of breakfast items as well including bagels, croissants and biscuits that can be topped with bacon, sausage, egg, cheese and more.
Tennessee River Museum
Explore the vast history of Savannah and the Tennessee River Valley at the Tennessee River Museum. Interactive and educational displays tell stories of paleontology and the Civil War that are suitable for all ages. Stories are told of various cultures called Mound Builders during a 5,000-year period who constructed mounds for ceremonial, religious, burial and residential purposes. You can see these mounds at the Shiloh National Military Park, about 10 minutes from Savannah.
Savannah Historic District Tour
The Savannah Historic District Tour starts with the Cherry Mansion, a circa 1830 house, was built by David Robinson that was later expanded on by his son-in-law William H. Cherry. The home would eventually become headquarters for Federal Major General C.F. Smith during the Civil War. While it’s not open for tours, it is located on the tour that includes 41 other historic homes in the area. The two-mile, self-guided tour shares stories about the privately-owned homes along with the Savannah Theater, Savannah Cemetery and Main Street.
Hagy’s Catfish Hotel
Savannah, Tennessee is known as the “Catfish Capitol of the World” so it’s no wonder one of the oldest family-owned restaurants in the U.S. is Hagy’s Catfish Hotel. Enjoy hearing the restaurant’s full history that includes Civil War Union soldiers, while feasting on catfish, grilled salmon, baby back ribs or shrimp tacos. But, save room for dessert like the white chocolate banana cream pie, German chocolate pie and Jack’s caramel pie.
If you just can’t get enough catfish after your visit, mark your calendar for the 2018 National Catfish Derby/World Championship of Catfishing Oct. 6, 2018 at Wayne Jerrolds Park. Here, you’ll find a fishing contest with hourly derby weigh-ins, kid’s activities, live music, a catfish cook-off and, new this year, a kayak race.
Hardin County Civil War History
See the battlefields of one of the bloodiest battles from the Civil War at Shiloh National Military Park in Shiloh, approximately 10 minutes south of Savannah, Tennessee. The park not only preserves the battle history, but it’s also a U.S. National Cemetery with 4,000 soldiers and their families. Shiloh is considered one of the best preserved battlefields in the U.S. Currently the park spans 4, 200 acres which includes a visitor center that houses many Civil War artifacts and an historic demonstration video of the battle of Shiloh for guests to get a better understanding of it importance.
The largest river that flows into the Ohio River, the Tennessee River is 650 miles and is as deep as nine feet. There are many marinas located on the Tennessee River that can assist with all your boating and floating needs. Catch some fish of your own along the Tennessee River that flows into the Pickwick Dam which is south of Pickwick Landing State Park. The waterways are a heavenly fishing escape, housing fish ranging from stripers to smallmouth bass and, of course, catfish. Take a kayak or canoe on the river or simply have a picnic along the shoreline. At the state park, there’s hiking, birding and boating available for guests.
If you want to stay on land, head to Savannah’s Main Street where you’ll find antique and apparel shops lining the road. Make your way to Junk in the Trunk Vintage Antique Mall. The indoor flea market and consignment shop is home to 40 booths that carry items like home decor, glassware, novelties, furniture and much more. You can find antique furniture, homeware items, and quirky unique pieces you may not be able to find elsewhere at Antiques & Ideas. Main Street is also home to a variety of boutiques that carry shoes, fashion and jewelry.
Make time to see the Guinn Alley Art Gallery that has original art and decor for visitors to browse, buy and enjoy. The gallery is also a spot for regular live music.