Despite living roughly 4 hours from this coastal city, I had only been to Savannah once before and it was on a 6th grade field trip (not sure if that counts). Every year, my best friends from high school and I do a reunion trip. Since we are all scattered across the country, we try to choose a destination that none of us call home. This year we chose the charming and vibrant city of Savannah, Georgia.
My first observation of Savannah: this city doesn’t fake it. The people here are real and genuine, the food is packed with soul and the colonial buildings embrace its roots. What I love about Savannah is that it encompasses both true grit and elegance.
Beyond the historical sites and cobblestone streets lies an artsy college town, home to Savannah College of Art and Design and Armstrong Atlantic University. Therefore, you’ll find a lively bar/dining scene and plenty of young and inspired artists. Savannah is a city with an eclectic culture that bridges the gap between the classic and modern. It was the perfect destination for our 3-day girls’ weekend.
We stayed at the Andaz Savannah located in Ellis Square just across from the City Market. It’s a modern boutique hotel with a trendy bar + restaurant located in the lobby. Upon arrival, we were each greeted with a complimentary glass of wine and the great service didn’t stop there.
We requested two connecting rooms to comfortably accommodate the 6 of us. One room had double beds while the other had the master bedroom/bathroom, living room, and a balcony overlooking the pool deck draped with pretty patio lights. Leather studded headboards and velour couches featured the hotel’s sophisticated southern style. The rooms’ minibars were also stocked with complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic beverages free of charge. We found the location of the Andaz to be very central as we were able to walk to all of our destinations.
Side note. Savannah did greet us with a little scare. On our way to dinner the first night, we were walking down a somewhat dimly lit street in the Historic District when we heard my friend scream as a bicyclist dressed in all black zoomed right past us. The biker had tried to snatch her purse right off her arm, which almost pulled her to the ground. Luckily, my friend reacted quickly by grabbing a hold of the strap of her purse and was able to yank it back from the biker. The biker sped off, leaving us all pretty startled. We all had our cross body bags dangling on one arm…and mine was even unzipped at the time. Little did the biker-thief know he had targeted the one in the group with ninja reflexes.
We told the restaurant staff about the incident as soon as we arrived. They were surprised and expressed that it wasn’t something that commonly happened in Savannah. Uncommon or not, it served as a reminder to always be alert, especially in new and unfamiliar places. It also served as a reminder to wear our cross-body purses the way they are supposed to be worn… you know, across our bodies.
Eat and Drink
You can’t talk about Savannah without mentioning the food. For someone who has never been a huge fan of hearty southern cooking, I was in foodie heaven.
Dinner. The first night we had a casual dinner at The Public Kitchen + Bar. I had the best shrimp and grits of my life and I don’t even really like grits…but the bacon cheddar grits and chorizo won me over. Add their mescal margarita and their chocolate bourbon pecan pie with burnt marshmallow for dessert and I was a happy camper.
Lunch. The next day for lunch we went to the famous Olde Pink House. I can’t even tell you the amount of people that recommended this place to me. It’s an iconic site where you get to dine in an 18th century mansion. I tried their signature drink, the Pink Lady, which was just as refreshing as it looked. We split the bleu cheese beignets. I wasn’t sure what to expect since beignets are typically made to be sweet, but these were the perfect balance of sweet and salty. I nabbed the pork sliders for myself, which tasted amazing and were the perfect size portion for a light lunch.
Brunch. Saturday brunch club led us to Collins Quarter—a café/restaurant inspired by Australian coffee shops. It’s a trendy spot for either a pretty latte or a tasty farm-to-table champagne breakfast. The décor inside is gorgeous with marble tabletops, exposed brick and bright red seating.
We snagged a table on the sidewalk right outside the restaurant, which was perfect since it just so happened to be Wag-o-ween in Savannah! It was the weekend before Halloween, so pups in all sorts of costumes filled the streets of Savannah and ‘trick-or-treated’ from shop to shop. My friends and I are all huge dog lovers, so front row seats at this doggie costume party made for brunch heaven. Not to mention the food was over the top incredible. I ordered Leo’s Aussie Brekkie, an Australian inspired dish of bacon, eggs, chorizo, sautéed mushrooms, baked beans, grilled tomato + greens salad with a side of artisan toast.
For our last night we chose to have a tapas-type dinner and drinks at the Top Deck Bar, a rooftop bar of the Cotton Sail Hotel. The hotel used to be an old brick cotton warehouse and is located just a block from our hotel in Ellis Square. We ordered cocktails and split a bunch of different appetizers. We ended the night at our favorite late-night bars in the City Market Neighborhood—the Social Club for some dancing and The Rail Pub for some Karaoke.
Things to Do
Friday’s main activity consisted of the Savannah Slow Ride, a two-hour bicycling bar crawl. I’ve done this party-on-wheels before in a few other cities but the Savannah Slow Ride may have been my favorite of them all. We chose to do the 5 pm tour, which made for the perfect happy hour bar hop. We stopped in 4 different neighborhoods of Savannah where our guide recommended which bars to visit at each stop. We had enough time at each stop to hang out at the bars for a little and get our drinks to go (got to love Savannah’s open container policy). Our stops included Boomys, McDonough’s, the piano bar located downstairs of the Olde Pink House called Planters Tavern and O’Connell’s.
The city’s charm is best captured on foot, so Saturday afternoon was spent exploring. After brunch we wandered the scenic streets of Savannah, which all neatly connect at every block with squares of lush greenery.
It was a gorgeous fall day; we probably spotted 10 different wedding parties and a few wedding ceremonies being held outside in the parks. The afternoon consisted of a little SCAD window-shopping, a beer break by the fountain in Forsyth Park and an ice-cream stop at Leopold’s. I had one scoop of their popular Chocolate Chewies & Cream paired with one scoop pumpkin spice–because it was October so how could I resist. Leopold’s homemade ice cream did not disappoint. We then made our way to River Street to watch the sunset on the Savannah River.
Every corner of this city begs to be captured, from the parks lined with live oak and spanish moss, the alluring front doors of southern mansions, the cultivated art galleries/shops and innovative restaurants and bar scene. There are not many US cities that feel this deep-rooted and raw.
Thanks for having us Savannah…you were pretty amazing.