I lived in Georgia for a number of years, and one of the best parts about it was having so many unique destinations nearby to visit on my weekends off. All throughout the Peach State, North and South Carolina, and into Florida were beautiful cities bursting with history, culture, and that Southern Charm for which the region has come to be known throughout the world.
Savannah–where you’ll find majestic oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, cobblestone streets from decades past, and horse-drawn carriages, all throughout a grid of historical and architecturally-fascinating buildings–is the oldest, and possibly most classic city in Georgia. It’s a perfect place for a quick getaway this season, not to mention, the weather is perfect right now for a city where it’s best to blow around wherever the winds take you.
While putting this together, I enlisted the help of a good friend of mine, Mike, who happens to still live in the area. He’s always had such wonderful, interesting stories to tell of his adventures. He shared his first trip to Savannah with me:
“[It] involved the ‘best walking tour ever’ created by a close friend of mine. This ‘tour’ revolved around a clover shaped pattern centered on a pirate themed t-shirt store that sold dollar pints. We’d get a pint for each hand, go off on our merry way, find adventure, loop back, get more pints, repeat; you get the picture. Objectively, it was not the best tour. As memory serves, it was a fantastic evening.”
I have gathered from his tales and my own experiences that there is no wrong way to do Savannah. Mike was kind enough to provide me with some tried and true suggestions before I returned to the historic district of Savannah, GA.
Bonaventure Cemetery is the most famous cemetery in Savannah and is over 200 years old and 100 acres in size, according to the Bonaventure Historical Society. Here, you can take in the sights of unique Gothic headstones and grave markers, some above very prominent individuals in history. Stopping by here is a must. It is absolutely gorgeous. Half of the graveyard is simply (while not simple at all) works of sculpted art so ornate you may forget you’re in a cemetery. The famous Bird Girl statue from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was once a huge tourist draw to the cemetery (although it is no longer here). Stop by the visitor center on your way in for maps and all the information you need.
Bonaventure Cemetery – 330 Bonaventure Road, Savannah GA 31404
You’ll find that there are plenty of tours to choose from–some walking, some in horse-drawn carriages–that will regale you with stories of the spirits that roam the city. A unique one is the World Famous Hearse Tour, which will take you around town in a real hearse, through cemeteries and historic districts, telling spooky tales to ensure the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Don’t worry, they promise on their website to keep it funny and lighthearted.
Hearse Ghost Tours – 412 E Duffy St, Savannah, GA 31401
Savannah Smiles Dueling Piano Bar, located near River Street, is a great way to start the evening. There’s lots of food, drinks, and limitless energy, coming from both the crowd and the pianists.
Savannah Smiles Dueling Piano Bar – 314 Williamson St, Savannah, GA 31401
As far as food is concerned, Bay Street and River Street both have plenty of dining options to choose from. While they definitely cater to tourists, they’re no slouches when it comes to food.
As for ‘secret’ spots, there aren’t many Savannah places that stay secret for long. You can find so many good things to eat in this city, and it’s one of those locales where you have your choice of price ranges, cuisines, and at the drop of a hat, can wander in any direction and find something tasty.
Tubby’s Tank House is a seafood restaurant that is considered ‘real’ Savannah. If you’re planning on having shrimp, crab, oysters, etc., Tubby’s is a great option. They have a giant deck overlooking the marina at the mouth of the river, providing a relaxing view while you dine on the waterfront.
Tubby’s Tank House River Street – 115 E. River St., Savannah, GA 31401
World Famous Clary’s Cafe – skip the celebrity cathedral of butter and check out this nostalgic cafe for crab eggs Benedict, biscuits and gravy, grits, and more. Another southern staple you can get here: sweet tea. Nowhere is sweet tea done as well as it’s done in the South.
Clary’s Café, 404 Abercorn St., Savannah, GA 31401
For those with a sweet tooth, check out Lulu’s Chocolate Bar – a dessert restaurant, all items made from scratch, that also serves drinks and martinis (in chocolate variations, of course).
Lulu’s Chocolate Bar -42 MLK Jr. Blvd., Savannah, GA 31401
Also, Savannah’s Candy Kitchen – because pralines; no need for further explanation. Keep in mind, you’re now in the part of the country where pecans are referred to as pee-CANs.
Savannah’s Candy Kitchen – 225 E River St, Savannah, GA 31401
Moon River Brewing Company is known for good food and craft beers like “Yoga Pants,” a pilsner with fruit aromas, and “Taterlicious!” an amber ale made with sweet potatoes. According to their site, Moon River is also regarded as one of the most haunted in the city and is Savannah’s only haunted brewery.
Moon River Brewing Company – 21 W Bay St, Savannah, GA 31401
Molly MacPherson’s. Go there. Mention Kevin Barry’s (Irish Pub). Start a fight. Molly MacPherson’s Scottish Pub has the East Coast’s largest selection of single malt scotch whiskey, according to their site. Try the Shepherd’s Pie, a traditional Scottish dish, or the fish and chips, a favorite among return patrons.
Molly MacPherson’s – 311 W Congress St, Savannah, GA 31401
Vinnie Van Go Go’s Pizza for late night cravings – right in the middle of Bay Street and staffed almost entirely by SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) students, they will make you a heavenly slice. You’ll eat it right outside, standing, because its a busy joint. Cash only, of course.
Vinnie Van Go Go’s – 317 West Bryan Street, Savannah GA, 31401
Elegant antique décor, luxurious amenities, and Southern charm await guests at the Marshall House in the Historic District. According to their site, ghosts have been seen in the hallways and foyers over the years, but they assure you that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Situated in a great location, the hotel is walking distance to River Street, a 200-yr old area filled with restaurants and shops, and just four blocks from Chippewa Square Park, the site of Forrest Gump’s bus bench from the 1994 film. The actual bench itself can be seen at the Savannah History Museum just 15 minutes away.