The haunting beauty and charm of Savannah, Georgia is not meant to be reduced to a day. From its sweeping oaks adorned with garland-like Spanish moss to its immaculately squared off patches of history and legends scattered about as points of reflection throughout the city, the air of Savannah is one that thickly lingers long after you’ve departed. With only 24 hours to explore due to a spur of the moment road trip from Atlanta, I attempted to ingest Savannah’s allure in one hardy sitting and was pleasantly surprised at how much there is to do in this small town and how deeply I long to return for more. Come take a nostalgic stroll through some of the many highlights during my 24 hours as a first-time drifter in Savannah…
Exploring Savannah Streets & Architecture
The streets of Savannah are pristine and picturesque with rich architecture and amazing landscaping that it’s hard not to go around make-believe house hunting and fantasizing what décor may lie behind each door. I highly recommend staying at one of Savannah’s historical inns like Presidents’ Quarters Inn or opting for an Airbnb or private home rental like I did to get a true fix of Southern comfort. Noted roads to stroll along are Jones & East Taylor Streets for their particularly beautiful architecture, Bull Street for a slice of Savannah’s history, Broughton & Whitaker Streets for shopping and River Street for a fun night out along the waterfront.
Food Pilgrimage to Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room
Be prepared to forever believe in the power of the best fried chicken in the South and other down & dirty Southern home cooking courtesy of Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room. Yes, it’s that official and has also received the stamp of approval from President Obama who made the pilgrimage himself a few years back. At Mrs. Wilkes’, you get to dine and commune with new faces you just met on-line in this former boarding house while enjoying up to about 20 staple Southern dishes served family-style along with a jug of sweet tea and delicious dessert to boot! No need to eat any other full meals for the rest of the day after this experience! Mrs. Wilkes is only open between 11-2pm daily with no set menu or reservations; just come prepared to stand in line early for at least an hour to gain your sweet reward! I recommend arriving by 10 AM.
Stumbling Upon Antique Map Shop, V &J Duncan
V & J Duncan, located on the street level of the historic Wedding Cake Mansion, is every wanderlust sufferers dream with hundreds of antique maps, prints and books from every era and region you can think of! The materials are meticulously cataloged by city, region and year dating back even as far as the 1800s. It’s quite an experience to just soak in especially if you feel nostalgia for authentic mom & pop bookshops and weathered paper & memories. I even happened to meet fellow travelers from my neighborhood in Brooklyn while thumbing through these treasures.
A priceless bonus was also receiving an amazing, impromptu house tour and brief Savannah history lesson from the gracious and inspiring owners, Virginia and John Duncan.
Fried Green Tomatoes and Drinks at Crystal Beer Parlor
When in the South, Fried Green Tomatoes are a must and the ones served at Crystal Beer Parlor are absolutely delicious! They are most notably known for their burgers and impressive beer selection and surprisingly, they serve great pasta as well!
Sweet Treat at Leopold’s Ice Cream
Established since 1919, Leopold’s Ice Cream is a mainstay, must-try on your trip to Savannah. Every flavor is rich, inventive and creamy hence why it has been rated as one of the top ice cream shops in the world by the Toronto Sun.
Savannah’s Historic Squares
The city of Savannah is divided by 22 squares and each one commiserates an important figure in Savannah’s history with ornate plaques, statues and/or fountains. One of my favorites was Lafayette Square and of course I had to make a visit to the “Forrest Gump” square technically known as Chippewa Square where the famous “life is like a box of chocolates” bench scene was shot. Unfortunately the bench is no longer there, but it’s still fun to pretend!
Shopping on Broughton Street
I encountered lots of great shopping options during Savannah’s Fashions Night Out. Unique gift shopping highlights included: natural body care products at Nourish, hand-made gourmet chocolate at Chocolat by Adam Turoni and cute vintage-inspired clothing and accessories (like the bag pictured above) at Trunk 13 ,whose normal store is actually located on Whitaker street. I caused enough damage just in time to sneak in a live fashion show on the streets as well as spot this cute Lilly Pulitzer Jeep fit for a Southern belle. Fair warning, there are lots of stellar boutiques in Savannah in general that are difficult to resist!
Honey & Mead Tasting at The Savannah Bee Company
While on Broughton Street, I headed over to Savannah Bee Company for some honey & mead tastings. The honey tasting is free, the mead tasting is $5 and outside of the best raw organic honey I’ve ever sampled thus far, there are also fantastic honey-infused skin care products available. Stock up on a jar of their Royal Jelly Body Butter and Beewax Hand & Nail Salve for wintertime.
Obligatory Pedicab Ride
Having shopped up a storm with no car on hand, a friend and I decided to hop in a pedicab, which was a great way to get a quick survey of what to explore next in the city. Sam, our awesome driver and a student at SCAD, gave us a quick rundown of where to go in our short time as well. Pedicab rides that are under 30 minutes work off the honor system and you pay whatever amount you feel is justified for your experience.
Walk Through Forsyth Park
The glorious oak trees of Savannah particularly come alive on a long walk through Forsyth park which is a simply magical experience.
Early Morning “Breakkie” at The Collins Quarter
Gearing up for an exit ahead, I woke up super early to catch breakfast at The Collins Quarter with one of my dear friends. The Collins Quarter, a delicious farm-to-table eatery, is fairly new to Savannah and its inspiration comes by way of Collins Street in Melbourne, Australia, one of my favorite cities in the world!
Tea, People Watching & Browsing at The Paris Market
After breakfast, my Francophile self could not escape a Parisian fix so I darted into The Paris Market and Brocante’s Patisserie for tea with some Édith Piaf playing in the background via world travelers, Paula and Taras Danyluk’s concept shop.
Other than the Patisserie, the two-story store is also part boutique, part flea market, part souk and will instantly take you on a wacky, beautifully designed trip around the world as all the items sourced in The Paris Market are from Paula and Taras’ various international adventures.
Escape To Tybee Island
After nearly 24 hours of exploring the historic city of Savannah, I decided to take the show on the road to Tybee Island which is roughly about a 30 minute drive from the city. Tybee Island is a lovely, little laid back island with gorgeous sky views, a historic light house station, a quaint beach where sea turtles and dolphins can be spotted, as well as great seafood restaurants… a peaceful afternoon well spent.
Back On The Road…
Until next time Savannah!