Outdoor markets, warmly lit downtowns, cozy restaurants, cheerful locals... there is something special about American…
I love any place that seamlessly melds art, history, culture, food and style. That’s precisely why I’m drawn to Savannah, Georgia. From incredible architecture to its storied squares (there’s 22 in the city) and supernatural residents, Savannah has it all. Here’s how to spend a long weekend in Savannah, Georgia.
The Basics on Savannah
Best Known For:
Its roots as one of the original 13 colonies and the oldest city in Georgia, with the antebellum architecture and historical sites to prove it.
Where to stay:
With so many historic old homes, you can’t go wrong with a B&B. The Galloway House dates back to 1895, and has been everything from a private home, funeral parlor, and now bed and breakfast. Guests receive a complimentary bottle of wine on arrival, something you may need on hand if you happen upon one of the alleged ghosts that hang out on property.
Of course, many bed and breakfasts have age restrictions for kiddos, so if you’re traveling with younger ones or just prefer a hotel experience, check out the DeSoto Savannah. It’s stylish, centrally located, has a lovely pool terrace and boasts a bourbon bar (which is needed especially if you’re traveling with kids).
Where to eat
The headline should really be where not to eat, because there’s so much great grub in this town! The biggest name you need to know is Chef Mashama Bailey, the woman behind The Grey. Housed in a renovated bus station, this place celebrates southern cuisine with a modern twist. Great oysters; blue crab; smoked lamb with roti and tzatziki sauce; grits and gravy and more. Her other spot, the Grey Market, is a lunch counter-meets-bodega, with yummy items for there or to go. Think bagels, coffee, and eggs for breakfast; tuna salad, burgers; classic soda fountain drinks, beers and cocktails the rest of the day.
Looking for old school charm? Visit Elizabeth on 37th for a special night out. For nearly 40 years, this upscale restaurant does seasonal menus that change regularly—think Bluffton oysters topped with Georgia caviar; and parmesan-dusted local flounder over spiced quail hash. And maybe the best part is the space—a 1900’s Southern Mansion with stunning grounds and décor.
I love ice cream, but ice cream with a side of history really does it for me. Open since 1919, Leopold’s is an institution. Go for soda fountain classics, like banana split, hot fudge sundae, ice cream sodas, and regular old scoops (their signature flavor is Tutti Frutti, rum ice cream with candied fruit and fresh roasted Georgia pecans). Plus, every spring, they do a special Thin Mints flavor—did you know Savannah is the home the Girl Scouts?
Where to shop
In 1978, the Savannah College of Art and Design opened its doors. Since then, the city has exploded with creative businesses. Shop SCAD’s unique retail gallery, featuring everything from bags and prints to fine art and jewelry—all from students and alumni.
It’s no secret that I love paper products. Stationery, notebooks, nice pens—I can’t get enough! I think Emily McCarthy and I might have that in common. Her namesake shop on Abercorn Street is filled with this stuff, plus fun accessories, home goods and more.
Explore Savannah’s History
Mingle with the locals…. sorta:
It may sound weird, but I love touring a cemetery when I travel. Think about it—what better way to soak up local history, enjoy beautiful landscaping and design, all while getting a little exercise? There’s no more notable cemetery in Savannah than Bonaventure Cemetery. Founded in 1846, this 100+ acre graveyard is recognized as one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world. There is never an admission charge, and free tours are offered one weekend every month.
Walk the Historic District
They call themselves Savannah’s first luxury, artisanal walking tour. In this case, they’re not just buzzwords. Genteel and Bard created an interactive walking tour, complete with discreet earbuds that allow you to hear your guide, snippets from storytellers, and digital photos and videos to help explain things along the way. The journey starts at Collins Quarter Cafe before traveling by some of Savannah’s most stunning downtown locations, including The Green-Meldrim House, Colonial Park Cemetery, Jones Street, and LaFayette Square, just steps from The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
History with a side of chills:
It’s said that Savannah is the most haunted city in America, and I know better than to argue with ghosts. There are many ways to learn about (some of its supernatural residents. Go all-out with Savannah’s Hearse Ghost Tour, where you and your best buds get to ride around atop an actual hearse (you can’t make this stuff up).
Ghost City Tours does an adults-only dead of night tour, where gruesome details and very dark ghost stories are told sans filter. Oh—and did you know Savannah allows you to drink while you’re out and about? Yep, this tour is booze friendly!
Traveling with kids? The Grave Tales Tour is open to all ages and is definitely on the tame side.
And if you just want to dip your toe into the ghostly pool, here’s a few haunted spots your can tour on your own.
Have a Beach Day
Just 20 minutes from downtown Savannah you’ll find Tybee Island. It’s the perfect little beach town, with cozy cottages, a bustling pier, seafood restaurants (the Crab Shack has live baby alligators on the property!), ice cream shops and fun ways to get out on the water (rent a kayak or paddleboard, or book a sunset cruise). Of course, you really don’t need much other than towel, a good book and a little sunscreen to enjoy this Atlantic Ocean paradise. It’s the perfect place to unwind.
Have you been to Savannah? What are your favorite spots? Share in the comments!