I just got back from a mini-vacation to the Southeast and managed to squeeze in a little time in one of my favorite cities, Savannah, GA. I have been to Savannah once before and I just knew I was going to love the city and she did not disappoint.
We took our children this time around and they also had a great time. I consider Savannah a very beautiful and elegant lady. The city is built around 22 town squares so every few blocks you walk, you will find yourself in a lush, green square that offers magnolia trees and giant oak trees covered in Spanish moss that canopy the city. You will also find Civil War history, a fun and vibrant downtown area, and a thriving college dedicated to preserving the architecture of the city. When General Sherman’s troops marched through Georgia, it is said that he found the city of Savannah so lovely that he could not burn it to the ground. In fact, he offered the city as a Christmas present to Abraham Lincoln in 1864.
The one word that pops in my head over and over again when I visit Savannah is charm. She is one charming lady- here are some of our favorites from the trip. Note we were only able to squeeze in 24 hours in Savannah, if you have more time there is an endless list of things to do.
::THINGS TO DO~
Trolley Ride- to get around the city you really don’t need a car. We had one and left it parked at the hotel for our trip. You can purchase a Trolley voucher and that allows you to go to all the major tourist spots for the city, just get on and off as you please throughout the day.
Our first trip, we found the trolley driver to be so informative! He was born and raised in Savannah and had so many little details and stories and really made the city shine. The second trip we did the trolley again and the guide was fun but not nearly as informative. If you find yourself in the same spot, I would encourage you to get off and pop back on another trolley and see if you might get lucky with another driver.
Visit the Squares- Chippewa Square is one of the most popular as it is the setting for the great bus stop bench scene in Forrest Gump and it is also surrounded by historic buildings. Each square has something to offer and is very different in feel and design so hit as many as you can.
Forsyth Park- Many of the photos of Savannah showcase the beautiful fountain in this park. You will find a lovely park and tons of community events and activities and places for the kids to run and play. There was a concert in the park on the night we visited. This was our first stop after arriving in Savannah and the kids loved playing on the playground and running around.
See an Antebellum House- There are some gorgeous mansions in Savannah that can be toured to get a taste of what life would have been like for the very wealthy and slaves alike. We visited the Owens-Thomas House, built in 1819, with a lovely tour of the home and preserved slave quarters. I was disappointed to find the slave quarters were under repair and we weren’t able to see them. The actual home though is well worth a tour. Interesting fact- many of the mansions in Savannah were converted into boarding houses during the Depression to help make ends meet. History buffs are going to love all the little secrets of Savannah.
The basement of the Paris Market
Shopping- There are tons of lovely little stores to wander in and out of in Savannah. Two you don’t want to miss are The Paris Market, filled with gorgeous little treasures and antiques. There is also a little cafe with traditional french treats and sandwiches and coffee inside the Paris Market. I could have wandered for hours in that beautiful store. Savannah Bee Company is another favorite with all things honey. There is a tasting bar for honey and for mead as well as some bath products and little gift items.
::PLACES TO EAT~
Olde Pink House- this is a very popular and beloved restaurant in Savannah. You can get some classic southern dishes as well as fun little twists on a classic in an opulent 18th century mansion. We thought the staff was very gracious and had a delicious meal. (My husband got the fried chicken they are famous for and I chose a sweet potato and caramelized Vidalia onion ravioli that was also very good. The biscuits were excellent as well- I live on the West Coast and biscuits tend to be dry and flavorless. These were wonderful and served with a peach butter- Yum!)
Collins Quarter- the breakfast looked amazing at this cute little stop. They also serve lunch and dinner and we stopped by briefly to try the famous Lavender Latte. I was tentative about that flavor combo at first but it did turn out to be quite good.
Leopold’s Ice Cream– Without a doubt you will hear about Leopold’s ice cream as it seems to be a Savannah institution. I have to say the ice cream was good- not the best I have ever had- but very good and worth a stop. Apparently the ice cream parlor does quite a bit for the city so I would for sure encourage supporting this charming little spot.
Mrs Wilkes Dining Room– Sigh. We haven’t yet made it to Mrs Wilkes so a third trip to Savannah is likely in our future. Mrs Wilkes opened her boarding house in 1943 and started serving family style meals. Her popularity spread like wildfire and she soon had a line out the door waiting to grab a seat at her table. Get there early as they don’t take reservations and the wait will be long. The people next to us on the trolley could not stop raving about Mrs. Wilkes restaurant.
Parker’s Gourmet Urban Market- If you want something cold to drink or a quick bite, Parker’s is a fun stop. It is a gas station with a gourmet convenience store that reminds me a lot of Napa Valley. You will find sandwiches, chips, ice cream and some hot dishes. We tried our first Pimento Cheese sandwich and it was quite good.
Blends Coffee Boutique- I didn’t have a chance to stop in but this little place caught my attention. They have coffee from all over the world and sounds like a fantastic stop for an afternoon caffeine hit.
::PLACES TO STAY~
You can go two routes in Savannah. One is a more modern hotel on the River Walk that is bustling with nightlife or try a charming bed and breakfast to get more of the southern hospitality experience. The first time we visited we stayed at The Bohemian which is a pretty hotel on the river. You will also find the Brice hotel which is super sleek and modern.
If you would like a more classic experience, there are tons of bed and breakfast options. The choices do narrow down if you have children but here are two to consider:
The Marshall House is one option. We didn’t stay here but it looks so lovely from the outside and is located perfectly for shopping in the darling little Savannah stores. It is also right across from Leopold’s. Some of the rooms come with access to a balcony with darling rocking chairs. You will need to climb through the window to get to the balcony but you will have a great view of the downtown area.
The President’s Quarters Inn is where we stayed this time around. This is a very charming Inn that is quiet and calm and full of southern hospitality. The Inn was built in 1855 and fully renovated in 2007. There are only 16 rooms and each is named after a President that has visited Savannah. We stayed in the George Washington suite which was awesome! It has two floors with a pull out sofa and full living room and half bath on the bottom and then a King bed in the upstairs loft and a full bath. Since our children are still little, we typically share a hotel room and this suite felt incredibly spacious and comfortable after being squeezed into tight quarters earlier in the week. It is very conveniently located and offers turn down service, an afternoon wine and cheese snack and a full, made-to-order breakfast in the morning. We ate in the charming courtyard pictured above but inside you find a small dining room with the exposed brick that makes Savannah so unique.
And some other super popular stops in Savannah: Wormsloe Historic Site, Savannah Ghost Tours (my daughter would have loved this and I wish I would have made the time to take a tour of the supposedly haunted places throughout the city), Tybee Island- lovely little beach located 20 minutes from Savannah- or riverboat cruises are on our agenda for next time. Oh and the First African Baptist Church looks like a fantastic stop. The Church was founded in 1777 and still has pews built by slaves for worship. There you can see a secret tunnel used by the Underground Railroad. There really is just so much to do. One short weekend was definitely not enough time.
If you need more ideas for visiting Savannah, check out the Savannah tourism page.
So that about wraps up our whirlwind trip to Savannah! If you find yourself looking for a beautiful city that is perfect for a family or as a romantic getaway for Mom and Dad, Savannah is for sure a treasure to consider.
Thanks to the Savannah Visitor’s Bureau for assistance planning our trip and hosting us!
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