Imagine that you wrote a book of great tips for traveling to a cool city and experiencing all the restaurants, shops, galleries and tours that were offered there. Imagine you included experiences, such as festivals and concerts.
Now imagine that once your book was published and it was just starting to get into the hands of the people, an alien swooped down and denied entry to every one of the activities you carefully described, complete with suggested itineraries and seasonal guidance.
That would be a bummer, wouldn’t it?
Well, that’s almost exactly what happened to Lynn and Cele Seldon of Beaufort – except the alien was the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The writing couple were fortunate to have had two books published March 1, “100 Things to Do in Charleston Before You Die” and “100 Things to Do in Savannah Before You Die.” But their excitement was squelched when the country – and the world – started shutting down restaurants, bars, retailers and nearly everything else.
“It’s a great time to specialize in cruise travel and culinary tourism,” Lynn quipped sarcastically, “and to have two books come out that have ‘Before You Die’ in the titles.”
But, as summer approached, some activities, tours and restaurants began to open up. The Seldon’s publisher had an idea to promote day-trip travel ideas for these uncertain times.
“The angle from our publisher, and how we feel about it, is that people are bored, and people need a change of scenery,” said Cele. “From the Bluffton and Hilton Head area, you can go to Savannah or Charleston as a day trip, and there’s still plenty to do. Out of the 100 things in each book, we estimate that perhaps 70% are still doable.”
The two books – a second edition for Charleston and an all-new book for Savannah – are organized by type of activity, numbered, indexed and suggested by season. Contact information is given for each entity or activity.
The couple is now suggesting day-trippers focus on outdoor activities, including some unusual choices. For instance, cemeteries. Savannah has Bonaventure Cemetery (No. 69), and Charleston has Magnolia Cemetery (No. 68).
“Both are history laden, and beautiful areas to walk around, though a cemetery is a bit macabre,” Cele said. But, “they are beautiful examples of the foliage of the area, and the history of both areas.”
“And,” Lynn chimed in, “you get to visit both cemeteries before you die!”
Actually, the idea of checking off bucket list items has become popular with folks fearing the worst in this pandemic. “There’s more of an urgency to checking things off and doing things, before you die sooner or later,” Lynn said.
The Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens (No. 57) and bamboo farm is outdoors, as is the Charleston Tea Plantation (No. 10).
The Savannah National Wildlife Refuge (No. 60) offers walking, cycling and driving self-guided tours, though the visitor centers isn’t fully open, Lynn said.
You can stop and smell the roses (in season) at Charleston’s Hampton Park (No. 59) and visit the natural arboretum, another great spot for a picnic.
In both cities, the Seldons noted, museums had shut down, but many are now open with contact-free visits. Telfair Museums in Savannah (No. 78) and the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston (No. 74) are welcoming visitors with reduced hours and limited guest capacity.
Both books include many other options, such as carriage tours, historic sites, parks and the like.
Even some eateries are open, many with limited hours and capacity. “It’s never going to be less crowded than it is right now,” Lynn said. Even at the popular Leopold’s Ice Cream in Savannah (No. 13) – “Typically there’s a line down the street to get into Leopold’s, but right now there are no lines,” he said.
The Seldons encourage folks to always check websites and call ahead for the most up-to-date information. “Call ahead, be flexible – and understand some places might have reached their maximum,” Cele said. “No one can predict what might happen. You’ve got to be a flexible traveler right now.”
The books are available at the bookstores featured in both editions, online at Amazon and other book sites, and at SeldonInk.com.