Savannah, the Hostess City of the South is world renowned for its hospitality. The historic buildings, cobblestone streets, 22 beautifully manicured shady park squares with mossy oaks are all a part of the magic of Savannah. The city has a strong history of libations, craft beers, locally distilled spirits and to-go-cups (Buy a drink at one of the many bars and take it out in a plastic cup and walk the historical area, legally.)
Savannah has a long history from the English and is the 2nd largest port in the United States. It has been centuries of revitalization and historic preservation which has made Savannah a beautiful city to spend some time exploring. There’s the Downtown Design District with all its art galleries, as well as the Riverfront area, with shops of civil war artifacts, art and antiques. Broughton St. is the hub of shopping, restaurants offering southern home cooking and pubs. City Market dates back to the early 1700’s and was used by farmers and traders to sell their goods and wares. Bull Street corridor is an up-and-coming area featuring art galleries and vintage shops.
20 minutes outside the city are The Golden Isles: St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Tybee Island, Jekyll Island and others. They are just south of Savannah offering dramatic natural beauty, and sandy beaches virtually untouched by time.
Tidbits of Savannah facts:
The nations first golf course built in 1974 is the Savannah Golf Club
The beloved Christmas Carol, “Jingle Bells” was written in Savannah and noted in Troup Square.
Rum was initially banned from the city as well as lawyers.
Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in Savannah.
There are still large paddle driven riverboats operating on the Savannah River. Rickshaw 3 wheel buggies and horse drawn carriages are seen travelling throughout the historic area and paddle pub trolleys are a fun way of enjoying cocktails, working out your legs and seeing the sights.
Easy flight from JFK to Savannah, 1 hour and 39 minutes. We arrived at our hotel (The Andaz) and had a quick bite at a rooftop bar, then off to our 1 ½ hour trolley tour. I would recommend the Old Savannah Tour, with a live tour guide and many stops along the way, with on and off guests and guides. It was a great way to get acclimated to the city and understand a bit of the history of Savannah, and how it fits into the Southern charm. The many iconic squares, the beautiful well-maintained 19th century homes throughout the historical area are indicative of the Southern charm.
Tours of several mansions is a good thing to do while in Savannah. History dates back to the 1700’s and there is also a lot to learn here about the Civil War. We had a tour of the Andrew Low House (1849) which was quite informative. The home has two parlors, one used mainly for entertainment for distinguished guests and the other as a private sanctuary for the family. The second floor has five bedrooms including one for guests. The garden is also open to enjoy which captures the feel of a small formal French garden. It overlooks Lafayette Square. The Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters is another mansion to visit. Built in 1819, the house, gardens, carriage house and slave quarters allow visitors to explore the complicated relationships between the most and least powerful people in early 19th century Savannah.
Across the way is the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. A Roman Catholic Basilica with elaborate stained glass, tall marble-like columns which takes your breath away. Murals that date back to 1912 are oil paintings on canvas transferred to the church walls. The stations of the cross around the cathedral are very intricate sculptures to be admired.
We stayed at the Andaz Hotel, a Hyatt lifestyle boutique property with comfortable rooms, a vibrant lobby bar/restaurant and pool area. A great location, across the square is the heart of the shopping/historical district beginning with Broughton Street.
Restaurants and Entertainment:
The Olde Pink House, located at 23 Abercorn Street in Savannah's Historic District, serves classic Southern cuisine in an elegant mansion built in 1771. The pink color of the structure has been its history for over 100 years when the red brick bleeds through the white plaster overcoating, creating a pink shade. Fried Green tomatoes, crab soup and crab cake are staple items on the menu. A speakeasy is downstairs, (The Planters Tavern) very charming, authentic, piano music, craft cocktails, same dining menu as the Olde Pink House.
Belford’s Seafood and Steaks – located in the heart of Savannah City Market. Casual atmosphere, exceptional service, happy hour from 4-6PM with $9 specialty cocktails. Steak seems the way to go here and the crab cake is recommended.
Peacock Lounge – great speakeasy, with a fun and knowledgeable mixologist. Sophisticated, timeless and comfortable lounge to enjoy an aperitif, a Chartreuse on the rocks, a port wine and a full menu of drinks, wines, bourbons, tequilas, etc. Tough for find, its down an alley way from Whitaker St.
Six Pence Pub – the South’s most authentic English pub. Cozy, congenial and conversation friendly atmosphere, satisfy your taste buds with great American or British comfort food. A location where many movies have been filmed.
La Scala – a beautiful home with six dining rooms plus an outdoor garden with dining tables. A very nice Italian menu including pastas, fish and chicken dishes. Lovely atmosphere, service that tried very hard to offer superb southern hospitality, came up a little short on this day. The chicken marsala, sea bass, pesto pasta dish and roasted chicken were all enjoyable for our palates.
Good Times Jazz – joins great southern fare, fine wines and the best jazz into a sophisticated relaxing atmosphere. Sip on a cocktail while enjoying live jazz, talented musicians and vocalists.
Great stop after a nice dinner before retiring for the evening. A $15 cover charge, and drinks that were fairly priced. Several shows for an hour each from 7-10PM. Very enjoyable evening of food, drink, music and laughter with friends.
Leopold’s Ice Cream on Broughton St. is named one of the Top 10 ice cream parlors in the world.
Using family recipes, the ice cream is handcrafted one small batch at a time.
Savannah, thanks for your hospitality, the good memories and the experience of Southern life.