You are probably thinking: why would anyone visit a cemetery while on holiday? But Bonaventure Cemetery is unlike any other cemetery. It is a hauntingly beautiful burial area in Savannah, Georgia, with a history as unique as each grave in the cemetery. It’s not your typical tourist attraction where everything is fun and amazing. This place will remind you of how temporary life is, and the passing of time. It’s no surprise that the cemetery’s intriguing beauty has captivated the hearts and imaginations of many local and international artists. Don’t know where to start your adventure in this 100-acre (40.4-hectare) site? Here is a guide to Bonaventure Cemetery to help you plan your visit here.
Things to do / Highlights
Visit the graves of famous individuals
Bonaventure Cemetery is the perfect holiday destination if you’re looking for a getaway that doesn’t involve exhausting things to do. The cemetery is a renowned tourist destination mainly due to its secluded beauty and beautiful sculptures. After one of its sculptures was featured on the cover of a novel by John Berendt, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, the number of visitors increased rapidly. However, if you come here solely with the intention of taking a picture with the statue, you will be disappointed because it was removed from the site and shipped to a museum in Savannah.
Don’t be disappointed though, because there are plenty of other things worth seeing here. One of them is the grave of Conrad Aiken, an American poet who won a Pulitzer. Perhaps the most iconic thing about this grave is the headstone-shaped bench installed by Aiken himself in the Bonaventure Cemetery family plot. On the bench are these words: “A Cosmos Mariner - Destination Unknown.” Visitors will find his grave in Section H, at Lot 78.
Other than checking out famous people’s graves, visitors can also learn about the history of Savannah, which is just as interesting as the cemetery itself. Arrange your trips to coincide with the free guided tours that are held every month. For the schedule of the tours, check out the official website of Bonaventure Cemetary. Even if you can’t catch the free tour, you can still from a third-party website or travel company.
What to eat
Tired after all the walking around the cemetery? Recharge your energy at Coach’s Corner. Conveniently located just 0.8 km (0.5 mi) from the site, this humble sports bar serves freshly prepared American dishes. Enjoy a plate of juicy buffalo chicken wings - deep-fried wings with bleu cheese - and a glass of beer. There are also lots of televisions tuned in to sports programs all day. Make sure to try one of their burgers then wash it down with a pint of stout.
Book a tour
It is highly recommended that visitors take a tour to explore the area. This is because the site gets quite monotonous if you have no one to tell you about the interesting stories behind all the statues and graves. Also, if you’re on tour, the tour guide will usually take time to show you some of the lesser-known spots of the cemetery that are actually just as beautiful as the popular ones.
This will be a big relief for those who have mobility issues because most of the paths are accessible by a wheelchair. Even so, please keep in mind that some areas are sandy or pebbly. Expect a bit of a bumpy ride in some parts, but for the rest, the ground is quite level.
How to get there
Though the site can be reached by public transportation, it is the least recommended mode of transportation because most of the services take a long time and can take even longer on holidays and weekends. Nevertheless, if you don’t mind waiting, take the bus from route 10, 12, and 31. These three buses will stop 1.6 km (1 mi) away from the cemetery, so for the rest of the journey, you will have to walk to get there.
By far the fastest and most convenient way to reach the cemetery. Depending on traffic conditions, the journey from the center of town to the cemetery should take approximately 15 to 20 minutes. The same goes for taxi rides. Drive to 330 Bonaventure Road or key it in to your GPS. An alternative to driving or renting a car is booking a guided tour of the cemetery - some of them should have transportation and pick-up services included.
There are plenty of parking lots available at the cemetery. These lots get filled up pretty quickly during peak season. Visitors may also park their cars along the roads within the cemetery, as long as they don’t park in a position that potentially causes damage to the gravesites. Also the parking fee is waived here.
Bonaventure Cemetery information
Address: 330 Bonaventure Rd, Thunderbolt, GA 31404, United States
Opening hours: 8am - 5pm (daily)
Official website: Bonaventure Cemetery
Department of tourism: Visit Savanna
News & updates for Bonaventure Cemetery: Bonaventure Cemetery visitor parking to be restricted during restroom construction | Worth the Trip: Haunted Savannah
Duration: 2 hours 45 minutes
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