Back in November, we took a break and headed to Florida to catch up with family. Not before stopping in Savannah, Georgia on the way. We're so glad we did. Not only was it a great way to break up the drive from Toronto, but we were instantly charmed by this sweet and romantic city. We only had 2 days, but we'll be back again (when can I move?). It's just too lovely not to. Plus, it's home to SCAD, which I love (being a designer, myself). Here's a quick guide to the city if you have the chance to visit. Hopefully, you'll have more time!
Southern hospitality will welcome you with open arms as you get lost in this historical city. After all it is the "Hostess City of the South". Talk about warmth. From the people to the sunshine. This city just embraces you in a way that's truly unique. It's a little city, with big heart.
WHAT TO EAT
MRS. WILKE'S DINING ROOOM
I don't think a first visit to Savannah would be complete without a visit to Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room for good old-fashioned Southern cooking. Be warned, you'll likely have to wait in line for at least an hour, but it is WELL worth the wait. Bring $20 cash per person and you'll enjoy the best fried chicken dinner (all you can eat) of your life amongst the company of others (happy, but hungry strangers) family style. Sides include cornbread, mac n' cheese, collard greens, squash, sweet potato, multiple types of beans, mashed potatoes, creamed corn... it goes on, and on. It's deliciously overwhelming.
You may not be able to eat everything, but you can certainly try. Wash it down with sweet tea and top it off with banana cream pie or a peach cobbler. Forsyth Park is a few blocks away, and the Downtown Design District is around the corner. So, wander the streets and walk it off. mrswilkes.com
LEOPOLD'S ICE CREAM
If you're shopping along Broughton Street, be sure to pop into Leopold's Ice Cream for a sweet treat. It's a Savannah tradition since 1919. This lovely soda shop is a pleasant stop on a warm day. Or, any day for that matter. Treats can be topped with Georgia's famous pecans amongst other goodies. Yum! leopoldsicecream.com
GRYPHON TEA ROOM
A former apothecary turned tea room, is a magical place to spend an afternoon. It's quaint and warm, and offers a mosaic of loose teas. They offer a traditional tea service in the afternoon, but you can also visit for brunch and lunch. Operated by SCAD, you'll often be welcomed by students who are carrying on the tradition of Southern hospitality in this beautiful and historic space. When you're on the move again, visit the Shop SCAD boutique across the street! http://web.scad.edu/experience/gryphon/
You are down south, so you have to try some Southern BBQ while you're in Savannah. Head to Angels BBQ for traditional, but casual fare including pulled pork, chicken and brisket with mouthwatering and memorable (you can take them home) BBQ sauces. There are veggie options too. Get messy and enjoy! angels-bbq.com
WHAT TO DO
Get familiar with the city quickly with a bike tour of Savannah. Sit back in a bicycle powered rickshaw as your guide gives you an informal, but informative tour of the city that's design has been acclaimed since it's inception. Or, you can grab your own set of wheels to take to the streets. If you're looking for a themed bike tour, they have those too! From haunted, historical, art to pub crawls. There's something for everyone. The city is definitely a manageable size to see by bicycle, or even foot.
CITY SQUARES & FORSYTH PARK
The city is comprised of 24 squares carefully planned by the city’s founder, General James Oglethorpe (you'll hear his name often). The squares are surrounded by historic homes, churches and buildings. Visit as many as you can as you meander through the streets of the Historic District. You'll be in awe with the beauty and abundance of architecture (second to Chicago in the US) and history of this loveable city. And yes, it's true. One of the squares appeared in the movie, Forrest Gump.
Forsyth Park is a beautiful green spot to enjoy with its live oak and Spanish moss trees. Stroll past the fountain as you listen to musicians playing, and as your peer at students' sketchbooks while they practice drawing. There are two new, lovely playgrounds if you're traveling with kids. Ours had a grand time in this park.
River Street, paved with 200-year-old cobblestones, runs along the length of the Savannah River. Once lined with warehouses, it is now a hub for tourism hosting restaurants, shops, galleries and inns. Head down the original staircases from Bay Street and you'll feel like you've stepped into the past. There's also an elevator for accessibility. A lovely street that's worth a stroll. Stop into River Street Sweets and Savannah Bee Company.
Since the early 1700’s, City Market has been the commercial and social centre of historic Savannah. Located on the original site of the market used by farmers and traders, City Market offers the best of old and new. Comprised a four-block area of restored warehouses, you'll find an array of restaurants and shops to enjoy. It's also adjacent to the newly restored Ellis Square.
WHERE TO SHOP
THE PARIS MARKET
This shop on Broughton Street (shopping district) is gorgeous and eclectic. A passion for world travel is combined with a whimsical and nuanced design style. It houses a large collection of vintage and new finds from markets around the world (Paris to Cairo). You can also grab an espresso at their lovely cafe to enjoy inside or out. theparismarket.com
ONE FISH, TWO FISH
Located in the Downtown Design District amongst a handful of adorable shops (and around the corner from Mrs. Wilkes), One Fish, Two Fish is a fun shop to visit. Filled with delightful and unique home decor, jewelry and furniture as well as stationery. onefishstore.com
AROUND THE CITY
The live oak-lined drive (longest in the world) to this 1700s-era plantation is definitely worth a visit. As you head down the drive you can stop at the interpretive centre and walk the grounds through a system of beautiful and serene trails.
SKIDAWAY ISLAND STATE PARK
Hike this breathtaking barrier island on Moon River, made famous by the song. It's right by Wormsloe Plantation, so enjoy both outdoors beauties in one trip. There's much to discover so close to the centre of Savannah.
Head 20 minutes east of Savannah and you will find a beautiful little barrier island community with relaxing sandy beaches. Tybee is a fun spot to get away and enjoy great food, shopping and beach life. It really deserves its own guide.