The sound of horses and their carriages clapping on the cobblestones. The sweet smell of Confederate jasmine. The sight of steamboats and ships idling down the Savannah River. And, of course, the blissful buzz of a refreshing hand-crafted cocktail. Ahhhh. Savannah, Georgia: the epitome of Southern charm and hospitality. Read on to see why you must come to this picturesque Georgia town and where to drink, eat and stay while you’re here!
Savannah is somewhat like a tinier New Orleans. The city sits by a river, you can drink on the streets (as long as you have a plastic to-go cup) and the food is amazing. Not to mention, it houses tons of history and, therefore, tons of ghosts. I reckon that is why I love it so much. Although nothing can top New Orleans, in my opinion (read my Nola travel blog here!), Savannah is a close second. Luckily, it is only a five-hour car ride from my hometown of Tallahassee, but no matter where you are coming from, I promise it is worth the trip.
Where to Stay:
The 17 Hundred 90 Inn (President Street): If you are into all things spooky, this B&B is the place for you. There are a few spirits that inhabit the inn with Anna Powell being the most well-known. It is said that in the 1800s, she stayed in room 204, where she threw herself from the window and plummeted to her death in the courtyard below as her true love sailed away down the Savannah River. Unfortunately, I did not experience any hauntings, but it doesn’t mean you won’t!
This inn is in the northern Historic District making it close to many attractions such as Colonial Cemetery. It offers beautiful rooms with 4-post beds, fireplaces and other antique furnishings. It also has a restaurant and tavern where you receive complimentary drinks in the evening and breakfast in the morning. You will not be disappointed if you stay here!
Hotel Indigo (Bay Street): This modern hotel is in the heart of the Historic District. We stayed here last month and it was so convenient to countless bars and restaurants, as well as Savannah City Market and the famous River Street. The daily complimentary mimosas didn’t hurt either.
River Street Inn: This is my favorite place I have stayed while visiting Savannah. I mean, look at that view! Definitely try to get a room with a balcony. Watch the boats glide by the Savannah River or venture through the open-air market filled with handmade crafts and jewelry. Make sure to attend the complimentary happy hour and guzzle as many glasses of wine as you can.
This inn can be accessed by Bay Street or River Street making it easy to get around. The narrow and steep 200-year-old cobblestone staircases leading to Bay Street from River Street, though, can be a little daunting. Drink and climb the staircases at your own risk!
Eat & Drink:
The Olde Pink House (Abercorn Street): This is a must while in Savannah. It is a bit on the pricier side, but how often do you get to eat amazing Southern cuisine in a 1771 pink mansion? Try the fried lobster tails with mashed potatoes and butter beans or the fried green tomatoes with sweet corn cream sauce. Make sure to make a reservation and have a “Pink Lady” cocktail while you’re there!
The Pirate House (Broad Street): It may seem touristy (ok, it is touristy) but it literally feels like you stepped onto a pirate ship, and they make the best damn honey pecan fried chicken you will ever eat. The Pirate House is littered with bits and pieces of history. A small section of the “pirate’s tunnel,” where drunken pirates would stumble through (or get carried through) to River Street, remains inside the building. The first portion of the building erected in 1734, The Herb House aka the oldest house in Georgia, can also be visited inside the restaurant. If you love history and good food, this is a must.
Zunzi’s (York Street): This is a local “hole-in-the-wall” favorite, and it’s definitely not your average sandwich shop. Their variety of sandwiches are not only huge, but served on French bread and adorned with their tasty Zunzi’s dressing and “shit yeah sauce.” I don’t know what’s in those sauces, but I know these sandies are legit. Be prepared to wait because there is always a line down the street.
City Market and Congress Street: Savannah is the perfect place to barhop. Pubs, breweries and cocktail bars can be found on basically every street. If you want to bounce around from one bar to the next with extreme ease (to-go drink firmly in hand), I highly recommend Congress Street.
If you love live music, City Market is just a skip away from Congress Street. With tons of shops, restaurants and watering holes, there is always something happening here.
Abe’s on Lincoln (Lincoln Street): Get it? I love a good divebar and this is a true divebar. Dim lights, cold beer and the ceiling is so low you can touch it. Kind of funny considering Abe Lincoln was so tall. This place is full of jokes.
Things to do:
Tybee Island: Less than 30 minutes away from Savannah, this is the perfect place to daytrip. With creeks and marshland on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, Tybee is full of beautiful views. Be warned, though, the parking for the beach is not the best. The island is not big at all, so much of the parking is along side streets with pay meters. If you want the views but not the sand, grab a large margarita at one of the dockside restaurants and sit by the water.
Explore the Squares: Savannah is a walking city, also called “the city of squares.” The town is small and built on a grid system making everything easy to get to. Plunging liveoak trees, cobblestone paths and beautiful stately homes line the squares. Visit vast and lush Forsyth Park at the far end of the city too.
Read “the book”: If you have not read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, you must, must, must before heading to Savannah. It will make your experience that much more special. It’s a non-fiction novel centered around a scandalous murder, and weaves through the lives of the unique characters Mr. Berendt meets while in Savannah (including the famous Lady Chablis aka “The Doll”). If you are not a reader, watch the film based off the book. Although nothing tops the book, it is better than not knowing this fascinating story at all!
Savannah is such a magical town filled with history, comfort food and plenty of mint jelups. I hope you enjoyed my top places to stay, dine, drink and explore while in this quaint Georgia city. Like John Berendt stated in his book:
“Rule number one: Always stick around for one more drink. That’s when things happen.”