A Weekend Guide to Savannah
If you've been anywhere near a travel magazine in the last couple years, you've probably seen Savannah, Georgia continuously popping up as one of the hottest destinations to visit right now. Maybe you've seen those inviting pictures of their colorful streets aligned with the curvaceous Live Oak Trees and strands of Spanish Moss dripping from the drooping branches. Or perhaps you've even read a couple of rave reviews for the countless new and trendy restaurants that are opening up all over the city.
Any combination of great food, eclectic architecture, and charming streets is enough for me to get off my couch, hop on a plane, and explore somewhere new. It's finally time for this city girl to get a taste of what "The South" has to offer, and I'm taking you all to Savannah with me! Use this weekend guide to Savannah to see where you can eat, play, and sleep on any budget during your visit.
Oh my goodness... The FOOD in Savannah... Where do I even begin?! I had heard great things about the food in the South and I was ready to dig in and try real, authentic Southern food for the first time! *Like, for real, I had never even tried grits before! It was like the scene out of 'My Cousin Vinny.'
In Savannah, you'll find true, Southern comfort flavors, incredibly fresh seafood, desserts that will knock your socks off, and so many other types of cuisines that you maybe wouldn't expect from a city in the South. The food scene in Savannah really crushed and exceeded every expectation I had of what the food might be like. When you come to visit, I promise you won't be going home with an empty stomach.
Here are some places to check out:
- Cafe M, $, 128 E Bay St -- A lovely little piece of Paris right in the heart of Savannah. Great spot for a quick breakfast, coffee, tea, or some baked goods.
- Mirabelle Cafe, $, 313 Abercorn St -- A waffle lover's dream! This cafe has an amazing assortment of sweet and savory waffle treats among other things on their menu. The Croque Monsieur was my favorite.
- The Collins Quarter, $$, 151 Bull St -- Lively restaurant (especially Wednesday's when they have live jazz music) with incredible food and an even better coffee menu. Don't leave Savannah without trying their Lavender Spiced Mocha!
- Treylor Park, $, 115 E Bay St -- Very hip spot with a quirky menu and cool outdoor patio. You can indulge in some PB&J Wings, Grilled Apple Pie Sandwich, or Chicken & Pancake Tacos!
The Grey, $$$, 109 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd -- This popular spot is an old Greyhound Bus Station turned diner, and the menu does not disappoint. The food is absolutely incredible and it's served in perfect portions for sharing or having your own feast. There is also a cocktail lounge in the front of the restaurant in case you want to just grab cocktails or a drink.
Soho South, $$, 12 W Liberty St -- Trendy spot in the middle of town with a very eclectic, industrial vibe and gorgeous decor. The menu has lots of classic favorites, including their famous tomato basil bisque.
The Public Kitchen & Bar, $$, 1 W Liberty St -- This is a sister restaurant to Soho South and also has quite a trendy, lively vibe to it with beautiful modern decor. You'll find lots of comfort foods here, as well as some good spots for people watching around their patio.
Leopold's Ice Cream, $, 212 E Broughton St -- A trip to Savannah isn't complete without stopping by this popular downtown institution. Leopold's is home to Savannah's best ice cream and you'll find an incredible assortment of flavors. Good luck choosing just one...
- The Olde Pink House, $$$, 23 Abercorn St -- You'll find classic Southern food in this upscale dining establishment. Just the house alone is worth taking a look at, but you won't be sorry for sticking around for the food. If you're in the mood for a delicious, hearty, Southern meal, this is a great spot. *I actually tried grits for the first time ever here! :)
- Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room, $$, 107 W Jones St -- Another Savannah institution with true Southern comfort foods. A few things to note: 1) It's cash only; 2) There is always be a line, so be prepared to wait (you'll likely see the line wrapped around the block every day); 3) Everyone will tell you that the wait is worth it. You're basically eating family style in this dining room, so you might even leave with a new friend or two at your communal table!
- Goose Feathers, $, 39 Barnard St -- Great cafe for a quick breakfast or sandwiches
- Green Truck Pub, $$, 2430 Habersham St -- Best known for their amazing burgers
- Zunzi's, $, 108 E York St -- Best known for their massive hoagies and sandwiches, which could easily count as 2 meals. The most popular ones are the Conquistador and Godfather.
- Sweet Spice, $, 5515 Waters Ave -- Great spot to curb your Jamaican/Caribbean food cravings.
- CO, $$, 10 Whitaker St -- If you're looking for some excellent asian fusion or sushi, this spot will have everything you're looking for. Make sure to stop by the cocktail lounge, Savannah Cocktail, which is just upstairs from the restaurant!
- Lulu's Chocolate Bar, $$, 42 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd -- Drinks, chocolate, and all the sweets. Save room for dessert wherever you're having dinner and make a stop here on the way home!
Also try: Alligator Soul, Flying Monk, Chive Sea Bar & Lounge, The Florence, Wyld Dock and Bar, Cotton & Rye, Jazz'D Tapas Bar, Back in the Day Bakery, Circa 1875, Garibaldi Cafe
Bonus: Places to Grab a Drink
*I don't normally include a list of places to drink in my city guides, but Savannah's options were just way too good to pass up. Here are my favorites:
- Artillery, $$$, 307 Bull St -- Another trendy, hip spot that is right in the heart of downtown. Unique cocktail list and bartenders who know how to put together a mean concoction
- Jen's & Friend's, $$, 7 E Congress St -- Lots of unique and dessert-y type martinis. Great place for a girl's night
- Top Deck, $$, 125 W River St -- Great rooftop bar to watch the sunset over Savannah
- Gryphon, $$, 337 Bull St -- Old apothecary turned modern tea room. You feel like you're stepping back in time when you walk into this space. Make sure to take a look at the old shelves that still have the original drawers and labels on them.
- Crystal Beer Parlor, $$, 301 W Jones St -- Large draft beer selection and great menu if you're in the mood for some Southern pub food at the same time
The Boutique Hotel
- The Kimpton Brice Hotel, 601 E Bay St
Located right in the heart of the Historic District, The Brice really encompasses the best of both worlds: old, Southern charm and modern, eclectic luxury. This hotel almost makes it hard to leave with how much they offer guests right on site (including a daily happy hour with free cocktails and snacks!). Guests can enjoy the outdoor pool, fine Italian dining at Pacci, rentable bikes, and a great location that makes it easy to walk anywhere in town. The Brice is my preferred accommodation in Savannah because of all it has to offer.
Also try: Andaz Savannah, Hotel Indigo Savannah, or The Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront
- Hamilton-Turner Inn, 330 Abercorn St
Savannah is home to some of the most charming Bed & Breakfasts in the US, so it's really difficult to choose just one to recommend. The Hamilton-Turner Inn stands out the most to me because of it's incredible history, architecture and design, and close proximity to everything in town. Fun fact: It was actually the first home in Savannah to have electricity in the 19th century! People from all over town used to come and stand out front of the house to watch it light up at night time.
Also try: The Gastonian, Eliza Thompson House, Catherine Ward House Inn, or Zeigler House Inn. There are really too many great B&B's in Savannah to choose!
The Luxury Mansion
- Mansion on Forsyth Park, 700 Drayton St
If major Southern luxury is what you're going for on your trip, then look no further than the Mansion on Forsyth Park. You don't even have to look past the facade to see how incredibly opulent this hotel is. It's close proximity to Forsyth Park makes this an ideal accommodation for people looking to have a quieter stay away from the hustle and bustle of downtown. In addition to the exquisite guest suites, they have many on site amenities to keep visitors entertained. Guests can enjoy a Marble Garden Courtyard and pool, cooking classes at 700 Kitchen Cooking School, the Grand Bohemian Gallery, the hotel's cocktail lounges, the Carriage Wine Cellar, and even an on site spa.
Things to do in Savannah:
- Visit Forsyth Park, especially at either sunrise or sunset. This park is known for the iconic fountain shot that you'll see off the entrance of Bull and Gaston. Fun fact about the fountain: it was actually purchased from a catalogue in the 1800s and spray painted to be what you see today. You can walk through the park, sit down for a picnic, visit the rose gardens, play some tennis, or attend a concerts and other events that happen from time to time around the park area.
- Walk around the downtown Historic District to marvel at all of the gorgeous homes and mansions. All of the tree lined streets with Spanish Moss on them are simply breathtaking. Make sure to visit each of the city's squares to see each of the different statues, sculptures, and center pieces.
- Take a trolley tour of the city. Savannah has a few hop-on hop-off trolley tour options for people who like to see a lot of the city in a short amount of time. I personally love these as they are a great way to know where you're going and know what you might want to go back and see later. There are day time tours and night time tours for people of all ages.
- Sign up for an evening Ghost Tour. You may not know this, but Savannah is said to be one of the most haunted cities in the US. Naturally, because of this, there are quite a few ghost tours that operate throughout the city. Check out tours like Blue Orb (most popular), Ghosts and Gravestones (family friendly), or the Boos and Brews walking tour (for those who want some adult beverages with their ghost stories).
- Shop local around Savannah. There are so many incredible places to shop around Savannah that are unique to the city. Make sure to stop by The Paris Market, Savannah Bee Company, Chocolat by Adam Turoni, E. Shaver Booksellers (as well as their adjacent tea shop), One Fish Two Fish, Shop SCAD (where you can shop local SCAD student's artwork), as well as tons of shops along Bull Street and Whitaker Street. There are seriously so many amazing shops and boutiques that you can make an entire afternoon of just stopping in different places.
- Stop by Wormsloe Historic Site on your way in or out of the city. It is a short drive away from the downtown Savannah area, but it is worth stopping by to at least catch a glimpse of the beautiful entrance. You can also go into the property and take tours or walk around.
- Spend a night or two in Tybee Island. Tybee is the perfect lazy beach town escape and it's also just a quick drive outside of the downtown area. Definitely worth spending a night or two if you have the time. Check out the Tybee Island City Guide right now!
- Check out some local museums, such as the Telfair Museums or SCAD Museum of Art. Savannah is a very artsy and eclectic town with a lot of history, so make sure to check out some of the city's museums if you're interested in exploring that deeper.
- Walk through the Bonaventure Cemetery and/or Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. I know it seems like having a cemetery and church on this list is strange, but it all goes hand in hand with the history of Savannah. The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is very opulent and beautiful inside, while the Bonaventure Cemetery (made popular by the novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) is full of historic significance and beauty.
- Hang out around the open air City Market. This area is home to tons of local shops and restaurants and gets very lively throughout the afternoons and weekends. Make sure to stop by Byrd's Cookies to try their sweet and savory delights.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO SAVANNAH? WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE THINGS TO EAT, PLACES TO STAY, OR THINGS TO DO? COMMENT BELOW WITH MORE RECOMMENDATIONS!
Thank you to Visit Savannah and Visit Tybee for hosting my visit to Savannah. All opinions are my own.