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Travel Thursday: Savannah

As I sit here watching more snow accumulate outside my window, I cannot help but think of warmer times. Where would I rather be besides Boston? Pretty much anywhere right now. One of my favorite mother-daughter trips was to Savannah, Georgia where the sun beamed down on us for three whole days (what I would give for that right now!).

Smaller than its big sister Charleston, and much less well-known, Savannah charms the socks off of you from the moment you arrive. The pedestrian friendly streets make it incredibly easy to get around and you will want to walk all day to take in the historic buildings and the 22 squares throughout the city. The imposing oaks in Forsyth Park make it obvious why General Sherman chose not to burn Savannah on his march through the South in 1864 – it was too beautiful.

Fountains in Forsyth Park

Fountains in Forsyth Park

Before you go: Read “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” by John Berendt

This best-selling nonfiction story is based on events that happened in Savannah in the 1980s making it a must read before you visit the city. The twists and turns make this murder case suspenseful and as an added bonus you can tour the Mercer Williams House where the story takes place.

When to Go: Spring and Fall are the best time to go because the air is cooler, but temperatures are still warm. St. Patrick’s Day is another popular time to visit, as the city hosts one of the biggest parades and celebrations in the country.

Fall is the perfect time to visit!

Fall is the perfect time to visit!

WHERE TO EAT:

One of my favorite parts about visiting the South is the food! Southern cities sure know how to welcome visitors with their cuisine, and Savannah is no exception. There is simply not enough time to try it all!

Best Overall: Olde Pink House

Chances are if you are visiting Savannah, someone has recommended for you to try the Olde Pink House. It is the number one recommendation I give to anyone visiting Savannah. This historic pink mansion provides Southern food at its finest and the charm to go along with it. The rooms are quaint and the menu is authentic – the hardest part is deciding what to get.

Best Splurge: Elizabeth’s on 37th

My mom and I stumbled across Elizabeth’s on 37th by chance and thank goodness we did. Recommended by a Savannah native, Elizabeth’s is also housed in an old historic mansion and exudes charm (what doesn’t in Savannah?) in the small, homey rooms. The wine list is impressive and the seafood is incredible – the place to go for a classy dinner in Savannah.

Best Family Style: Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room

You cannot make reservations at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room, but waiting in line is part of the experience. The line forms hours before it opens, and when you are finally ushered in, you are seated at tables of 16 and served family style. The food is not light, but it is truly Southern with grits, biscuits and macaroni and cheese being a few of the table favorites.

Best Pizza: Vinnie Van Go-Go’s

I’m a pizza girl through and though, so whenever I visit a new city I tend so seek out their best pizza place. In Savannah, Vinnie Van Go-Go’s is it. The slices are delicious (and huge!). 

Vinnie Van Go-Go's is the place to go!

Vinnie Van Go-Go’s is the place to go!

Best Ice Cream: Leopold’s

This old-fashioned ice cream parlor will make you feel as if you are in another decade. Seasonal ice creams change with the seasons (if you visit in the fall, the pumpkin is the way to go).

Pumpkin Sundaes at Leopold's

Pumpkin Sundaes at Leopold’s

Best Spot for Drinks: Top of the Bohemian Hotel

With views overlooking the Savannah River, the Bohemian Hotel is the obvious place for drinks and live music!

What to Do: Full of charming mansions and green squares, Savannah has plenty to keep visitors busy; however, it is not too overwhelming. You will not leave feeling like you have only scratched the surface. If you have read “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” The Mercer Williams House is a great place to start. The famous statue on the cover is at the Telfair Museum of Art, along with other great Impressionist works. Another historical home is that of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts. The truth is you have your pick – there are many that are not as famous, but just as beautiful. A walk through Forsyth Park to view the oaks and fountains is one of the quintessential experiences, as is walking through some of the 22 green squares scattered throughout the city. Bonaventure Cemetery is famous for it gothic and haunting appearance.

DSCN1357

Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace

 

What to Skip: The ghost tours came highly recommended and since Savannah is voted one of the most haunted cities in America and we were visiting Halloween weekend, it seemed like an obvious thing to do. The truth is, neither one of us believed the tales (or enjoyed them), and we ended up skipping out halfway through the tour.

Where to stay: Mansion at Forsyth Park

Location across from its namesake, Forsyth Park, this boutique hotel is in the downtown area and accessible to restaurants and places of interest. The rooms are spacious and beautiful and the art collection throughout the hotel makes it feel like a museum.

Mansion at Forsyth Park

Mansion at Forsyth Park

If you have visited some of the larger Southern cities, but have not yet made it to Savannah, this is the city to head to now. Besides being charmed by the architecture and cobblestone streets, the atmosphere of the city and the friendly people will have you wondering why you do not live here yourself.

Savannah is only a short drive from Charleston, which allows for surprise visitors!

Savannah is only a short drive from Charleston, which allows for surprise visitors!

Have you been to Savannah? Is it somewhere that you would like to visit?

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17 Comments Post a comment
  1. Just returned, and your pictures make me want to go back. You saw many places I missed, so maybe I HAVE to go back, right? Love your photo of the fountain in Forsyth Park and the Mansion there. Would love to get as close as you did. Only saw the fountain from a fast-moving shuttle. Someday, I’ll get there and take pictures. One of my fave places.

    March 4, 2015
    • Thanks, Burt & Rusha! You absolutely have to go back, I agree 🙂 I’m thinking of going back soon myself, it has been a couple of years and I just could not get enough of the city! I love how walkable it is and there are things I missed as well and think more exploration is required.

      March 6, 2015
  2. southernbgmn #

    What to Skip: The ghost tours came highly recommended and since Savannah is voted one of the most haunted cities in America and we were visiting Halloween weekend, it seemed like an obvious thing to do. The truth is, neither one of us believed the tales (or enjoyed them), and we ended up skipping out halfway through the tour. I guess you did not take the best Ghost tour, you can not judge them all by just one.

    March 4, 2015
    • Yes, that is true! I may not have been on the best one.

      March 6, 2015
  3. D Green #

    No no no – the Mansion may be beautiful, but the best places to stay are the private homes/ turned vacation rentals. Have stayed in several – it really makes you feel like a local. There is nothing quite like a carriage house from the 1850’s.
    Regarding the ghost tours – agree that most are pretty cheesy. But the Blue Orb Tours are in a class by themselves.
    Best places to shop -Paris Market on Broughton, One Fish Two Fish on Jones, and Parkers Market on Drayton is a must see.

    March 4, 2015
    • How did I miss this?? You can bet that the next time I return, I will be looking into the private homes for sure. That is one of my new favorite ways to assimilate myself into a city! Also, I did not make it to any of the resturants and markets you mentioned, so they will definitely be on my list when I return.

      March 6, 2015
  4. Looks like a lovely place for a quick weekend getaway! I’m a Pizza girl too and those slices look delicious!

    March 4, 2015
    • It is perfect for a quick getaway, Upasna! You do not need more than a weekend to get a feel for the city (you will want to stay longer though). Ah, Vinnie’s was the best, a must try if you make it to Savannah!

      March 6, 2015
  5. Joanie #

    Great post Bridget! Savannah has so much to offer with its history, architecture, culture, performing arts as well as its southern charm and hospitality. Elizabeth on 37th is my favorite restaurant! I would like to return and stay in one of the private homes.

    March 5, 2015
    • I agree, Joanie! The private homes will be on my list next time as well. There is a charm and southern hospitality that you just don’t find in other parts of the country. I’m itching to return!

      March 6, 2015
  6. Uncle Michael #

    Hey Bridge,

    Congrats to you and Max on the honeymoon plans.

    As for Savannah, I cant say enough. We’ve had great luck staying at the Hilton Garden and Comfort Inn & Suites both in the historic district, with attached parking. The $20.00 1.5hr trolley ride is a great deal and it gives a fantastic overview of what can be seen. I recommend you do it first thing upon arrival. Renting bikes is the best way to see all 22 parks in a single afternoon. For the adventurous, drive about 10 miles toward Tybee Island and eat at The Crab Shack. It is where “The Elite Eat In Their Bare Feet”. And don’t forget to ask for a to-go-cup while strolling the waterfront & historic districts. Gotta luv southern hospitality.

    Peace & Love,

    Uncle Michelle

    March 5, 2015
    • Thanks, Uncle Michelle! True to form you made a girls weekend in Savannah a lot better 🙂 I’m jealous that Savannah is right at your fingertips! I would be going a couple of times a year if I was in driving distance. I love your renting bikes suggestion – that will go on my list of things to do next time I visit. I did it in Berlin, and it is my favorite way to explore a new city! The to-go cup, how could I forget to mention that? One of the few cities that allows it!

      March 6, 2015
  7. Now Savannah is someplace I would love to go! I am heading to Charleston for the first time in April with my husband and daughter for five days, and I know there is lots to do there, but am considering going to Savannah for at least a day. Or I will have to plan a separate trip!

    March 14, 2015
    • Have the best time in Charleston! It is my favorite city in the US – the history, the food, the people – it is all magnificent! Savannah is very similar, but on a smaller scale I think. It is a quick drive so if you have the time you may want to do a day trip to Savannah; however, it will be VERY hard to pull yourself away from Charleston! Enjoy whatever you do, I am quite jealous!

      March 18, 2015
  8. Bernie #

    Hey Bridget, finally went to Savannah! Beautiful parks, stopped in at the magnificent St John the Baptist. Church and the Low house. Lot to see there so an afternoon was not enough for us. Maybe again another visit. BTW, I was not prepared for the bridge over the Savanna River! I was the co-pilot but was in such a panic state, we missed the exit and ended up in an industrial area. A littl scary but found a nice man in a great big wharehouse who put us in the right direction. Thanks for the tips in this blog! Bernie & David

    March 10, 2017
    • Oh no! Glad you finally got where you were supposed to go. Yes, there is a lot to do there, but glad you got a taste of it. You can always return 🙂 Can’t wait to hear about your trip!

      March 12, 2017

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