Planning a quick getaway to any city always brings up one issue: how to get the most out of the little time you have. For a visit to Savannah though, do not fret. This Southern gem is a walkable locale with most of the city’s finest stops just mere footsteps from each other. While this cuts down on your travel time, you still need to know where to go, so here’s my guide to spending two perfect days trekking around the coastal town (with a car trip thrown in for good measure).
Start day one in Savannah with a cup of 100 percent organic coffee at The Sentient Bean. If you need something other than caffeine, the breakfast burrito with two eggs, cheddar, spinach, salsa and black beans will hit the spot. Now with an extra spring in your step, walk through the Spanish-moss-covered paths of Forsyth Park. Stop and appreciate the central fountain, modeled after one in Paris’ Place de la Concorde. Once you hit the edge of the park, it’s just a few blocks until you reach the famed Mercer-Williams House Museumthe setting of the movie Midnight in the Garden of the Good and Evil.
By the time you finish your stroll in the park and tour the museum, it’ll be time to satiate your appetite. Walk up Whitacker Street and grab a “faux boy” sandwich with blackened shrimp, slaw, remoulade and tomato at The Public Kitchen. Couple it with a ginger-infused bourbon cocktail for a playful take on a traditional Southern lunch.
After you refuel, it’s time for shopping. Continue north until you hit West Broughton Street – the best place to quench your material thirsts in Savannah. Get some bath fizzies at Nourish (go for the hibiscus or Savannah garden scents) to enjoy in your hotel room later. Fashion fiends need look no further than ARCa trendy boutique that carries women’s blouses by Mink Pink and Maison Scotch, men’s shirts from Life After Denim and stylish reads like A Brief History of Curating. Pick up some frozen yogurt, like the sweet and tangy mango, at La Berry for a post-browsing snack.
Now that your wallet has had some exercise, it’s time to focus on your mind. First stop: Telfair, the oldest public art museum in the South. Designed in the Regency style, the museum lines its walls with art from the region’s storied history. After that, it’s time for something more current. Skip the polish of the SCAD Museum of Art, and instead head to the school’s Alexander Hall Gallery (open only on weekdays) at the edge of town by the river. Browse the raw works of aspiring artists still in incubation. View Cory Cameron’s “Schrödinger’s Nyan Cat,” a lithograph of the Internet meme as filtered through philosophy, and realize that though it may be reductive, it’s of-the-moment. Wander the halls and peek in at different classes working away. It’s a great opportunity to witness the process behind the work – something you do not get at your average gallery.
For dinner, try Planters Inn’s Olde Pink House, but look out for the ghost of its original owner, James Habersham. The staff can regale you with plenty of stories. Of course, the restaurant is good for more than just spooky tales. Order the grilled portobello mushrooms with blue cheese and truffle oil and the filet mignon with a peppercorn demi glace in a setting of chandeliers, fireplaces and period paintings. Everything about the experience is classic – ostentatious in just the right way. However, if you’d like your first dinner in Savannah to unfold without any hauntings, slip into the subterranean Alligator Soul and order anything featuring the restaurant’s namesake, like the bayou gator, and couple it with a Soul Sazerac, mixed with organic dark rye whiskey, absinthe, angostura and creole bitters, simple syrup and a lemon twist.
Still want more? Head to Seed Eco Lounge after midnight for trendy cocktails – like organic gin mixed with elderflower liqueur – in a hip vibe, and dance the night away with the area’s vivacious twenty-somethings. Aside from being a popular late-night spot, Seed Eco Lounge also is conscious of its carbon footprint: True to its name, the eco-friendly bar has bamboo bar tops, recycled cushions and compostable to-go cups.
After a good night’s rest, grab an egg dish at Goose Feathers Cafelike the Eggel Bagel (scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese on a bagel), and wash it down with a dark cup of its house-blend coffee.
Hit up City Market afterward and browse shops like All Things Georgia, Byrd Cookie Company and Scents of Savannah while wandering through the open-air space that nods to the city’s past through such touches as wooden carriages filled with potted plants.
And do not dare leave City Market for lunch. In the far corner, you’ll find one of the best pizza places in the South: Vinnie Van Go Go’s. The cash-only eatery offers limited hours, sparse seating and custom-made Neapolitan pies. Throw one together with anchovies, black olives and feta cheese – or choose among many other possible combinations. For dessert, leave the market and head to Leopold’s for ice cream. The shop harkens back to its 1919 founding with a black marble soda fountain and a wooden phone booth. Try one of the more inventive seasonal flavors like eggnog, Japanese cherry blossom or a Thin Mints and cream option that references another of Savannah’s home-grown organizations – the Girl Scouts.
Tired of walking? Get into your car and escape to Wormsloe to see the ruins of the oldest-standing structure in the city. The site played host to military drills in the 18th century, which you can see reenacted daily in the Colonial Life Area of the park.
Just below Forsyth Park lies one of the best restaurants in Savannah. Aptly named Local 11 Ten for its address, the eatery boasts locally grown foods and seasonal ingredients. Order the Asian pear salad with bacon, toasted pecans and beet vinaigrette; coq au vin with housemade bacon; and beignets with pear jam, peanut butter ice cream and peanut brittle. Enjoy an evening of upscale epicurean excess while admiring hints of the restaurant’s former life as a 1950s bank. Traveling with a group? Reserve the semi-private vault room in front of the Old Savannah Bank’s historic safe.
Afterward, trot on over to a far end of West Liberty Street to the Distillery for an extensive selection of beers, including a malty Allagash Curieux and raspberry-flavored Lindemans Framboise, plus fun infusions like a coconut-pineapple-honey rum. Then head back to City Market for a raucous end to your trip listening to live music at the Jinx.
Photos Courtesy of Telfair Museums, Nourish, SCAD and Local 11 Ten