7 Things to Discover in Savannah, Georgia
History, Southern tradition and ghost stories are Savannah’s enticing backdrop; but this growing, vibrant city combines a laid-back, artistic groove amidst excellent dining and lively entertainment. Here are seven amazing discoveries to be made in this charming city located in the southern U.S. state of Georgia
1. Take a Carriage, Trolley or Ghost Tour
With precious little time to discover Savannah, tour the city by horse-drawn carriage, by trolley or even a ghost tour in America’s Most Haunted city! Visit Savannah’s Historic District, its restored mansions, over twenty squares with statues of historic figures, and lush tree-lined streets with the iconic Spanish moss dripping so low to the ground you’ll want to touch it. But don’t! It contains chiggers and other bugs that can give you an itchy rash. (Photo by Patrizia Di Lillo)
2. Take a Stroll Down River Street
Along the banks of the Savannah River, time stands still in 18th century cobblestone streets, historic buildings and limestone sidewalks, but modern boutique hotels and diverse restaurants attest to its dynamic growth. From Barnard and Bay Street, teeter down the uneven staircase beyond Factor’s Walk to River Street. Take a leisurely stroll, stop to have a sweet tea or a frozen daiquiri at Wet Willie’s, then head up to the Bohemian Hotel’s rooftop lounge for an up-scale atmosphere and impressive view of the river and the Talmadge Memorial Bridge.
Back at street level, try a Riverboat Cruise or stay on dry land and weave in and out of the shops (don’t miss the Peanut Shop and Candy Kitchen!) towards the Waving Girl statue, a legendary Savannahnian who waved her handkerchief at passing ships. This is a quiet place to watch tugboats, yachts and imposing container ships glide into one of North America’s largest sea ports. (Photo by Patrizia Di Lillo)
3. Shop at the City Market
In the 1700s, this area was the city’s main marketplace and social centre. Today, the modern-day City Market is home to restaurants, art galleries and specialty shops blending together with the painstakingly preserved buildings. Start at Franklin Square and enjoy a Neapolitan thin-crust pizza at Vinnie-Van Go-Go’s. Try Southern classics like shrimp with greens and grits, fried green tomatoes, or crab cakes at Belford’s. Stop by the Wild Wing Cafe’s open terrace to catch a live show. And look for the lip-syncing Savannahnian sporting a red guitar – he’s not with the hired band but he is a City Market mainstay.
Savannah’s Candy Kitchen is a must-see, with its seemingly endless selection of candies, chocolates and goodies. If your visit is timed right, you’ll see chocolate-covered pecans being made, and perhaps sample one of the delights before purchasing a few…pounds. (Photo by Patrizia Di Lillo)
4. Hang Out at Ellis Square and Have a Scotch on Congress Street
The recently renovated Ellis Square, one of Savannah’s original squares, is a an open area plaza perfect for meeting friends, enjoying the interactive fountain, or sitting in the shade to people-watch or catch a live performance. Head towards Congress Street, try the Lady & Sons restaurant for classic Southern cooking, or sample the Sapphire Grill’s fresh market cuisine menu.
After dinner, try out one (or all) the different bars on Congress, specifically Molly MacPherson’s Scottish Pub & Grill. Enjoy live music on weekends and choose from a selection of over 150 single malt whiskies or just play some darts! (Photo courtesy of Molly MacPherson’s)
5. Celeberate St.Patrick’s Day
Get your green on! With a population of less than 150,000, Savannah still hosts one of the largest St.Patrick’s Day Parades on this side of the Atlantic. With a distinctive small-town, homey feel, the parade route fills up hours before the parade starts. Under the majestic trees of the town’s squares, multi-generational Savannahian families tail-gate under tents, young students from Savannah’s College of Art and Design take a break from exams to chill, and tourists meander about looking in vain for an unobstructed viewpoint. Even if you’re not Irish, you’ll convince yourself that your great-great-great-uncle’s cousin visited Ireland, and that’ll be close enough! Once the parade wraps up, the party continues until the early morning hours at River Street, City Market and in the many restaurants and bars in the Historic District and around town. (Photo by Patrizia Di Lillo)
6. Have a Bay Street Brew and Relax at Forsythe Park
Bay Street offers a variety of dining options from the popular Five Guys Burgers and Fries to Vic’s on the River upscale dining. Moon River, Savannah’s only brew pub, is also regarded as one of the most haunted places in Savannah! Believe it or not, you’ll at least enjoy the hearty food and a decent selection of beers.
While on Bay Street, look for a griffin, a mythological winged lion that guards the old Cotton Exchange Building, erected in 1877 when Savannah was ranked ‘first’ as a cotton seaport. Savannah City Hall (built in 1906) and its majestic 23-karat-gold leaf dome is a focal point of the skyline, visible from any vantage point in the city or along the river.
From City Hall, walk along Bull Street through Savannah’s Squares (Johnson, Wright, Chippewa, and Monterey) up to Forsythe Park, the city’s first large park. Its Parisian-inspired fountain remains the focal point, encircled by large overhanging trees that are designed for relaxation and romance (depending on the company you’re with!), and there are always activities to enjoy in the open-air. (Photo by Patrizia Di Lillo)
7. Get Your Dose of Shopping, Swimming and Alligator Spotting
A trip to Savannah wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the beach, a little outlet shopping and …alligator spotting? Head north on U.S. Hwy 17 towards Hilton Head and the first stop is the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. Catch a glimpse of alligators sunning themselves – but heed the “Don’t feed the Alligators!” signs if you want to make it to your next stop: the Tanger Outlets at Bluffton for great deals on high-street brand names. Continue your journey to the posh Hilton Head Island and one of its four public beaches, Coligny Beach, to plant your toes in the white sand and enjoy the hot sun and cool water of the Atlantic.
If you’re pressed for time, in less than 30 minutes from Savannah you can be at Tybee Island and its three miles of beach to enjoy. Rent a bicycle, watch kite-surfers defy gravity, visit the Tybee Island Lighthouse (dated 1773) or grab a bite at one of the many restaurants on the island. (Photo by Patrizia Di Lillo)