You sweet, southern belle, you. With your Spanish moss covered oaks and cobblestone streets, adorable historic homes turned shops and businesses, and lush green canopies with parks below them. You have magical things like horse drawn carriages, and to-go martinis and beers. I can watch fresh salt water taffy and chocolate being made, while I gawk at the enormous cargo ship coming down the Savannah River into your port. I can cry while I eat some of the best mac n cheese of my life in a 300 year old mansion, and I can tap my foot along to the sax being played on River Street. You’re covered in lush vines and greenery….you’re just amazing.
I specifically wrote the above excerpt for my husband, who LOVES when people address inanimate objects…
“Dear Savannah, feed me more fried green tomatoes and shrimp and grits, please and thank you.”
I’ve been contemplating how to write about our trip to Savannah because we covered so much in a short amount of time. Tom and I got out there on Thursday for a Sunday wedding so we could explore one of the U.S.’ most romantic (and haunted) cities. My dilemma lies within the fact that I believe everywhere and everything we experienced is deserving of its own blog post. So I’ll try to keep it short yet informative, and hopefully entertaining, as I walk you through one of the most fun weekends we’ve experienced in a long time.
Our story begins with us excitedly making it into Jacksonville, about to embark on a 2 hour car ride into Savannah. You can fly directly into Hilton Head / Savannah but it would have been almost twice as much due to the holiday weekend. Ouch! Our excitement was instantly deflated when we realized our bags didn’t make it to the airport.
Not only did they not make it, they had no information to give us. Because we checked our bags a few minutes after the 45 minute prior to flight mark, they wouldn’t have delivered them to us anyways and we were advised we couldn’t file a claim for 5 days since we were degenerate airline customers who dared to get to the airport at 5:30 am for a 6:10 am flight. My bag took a day to get there, Tom’s tag fell off and never made it out of Phoenix. Lesson learned.
Determined to not let this ruin our trip and our plans for the evening, we hopped into our rental, and spent our life savings at a Target 30 mins away. Luckily, Tom carried his suit on for the wedding. Phew! Also, I’ll go ahead and publicly announce that this was all my fault. I told Tom to check his carry on. Whoops.
We got into Savannah right at that golden part of the afternoon where the sun is starting to go down but we still had several hours of sunlight left. Bonus for it not getting dark until 9 pm there. It helps people like me who can’t hang anymore keep my eyes open for a little bit longer. Our bodies were also 3 hours behind due to the time difference. Time was for once on our side. Except for at 5:30 in the morning that day.
Where We Stayed:
Savannah Carriage House: We stayed here our first 2 nights since we beat most of the wedding guests into town. This was the ultimate hipster experience and I absolutely L O V E D it. This old carriage house, or garage, turned 2 story loft was carefully curated with vintage decorations and furniture. It was chic and comfortable.
The owner Richard, made such good and efficient use of the space. They provided us with bikes which we took full advantage of on our first full day in Savannah. The weather was gorgeous the first 36 hours of our trip before the sweltering heat kicked in. It was everything we needed and even had us discussing if we could live in a loft like that as a family. Sounds romantic and cute in theory, but with a kid, the final answer was yea, uhhhhhhno.
The Gingerbread House: Established in 1899, this home turned venue is one of the most famous and photographed houses in all of Historic Savannah. Boasting Steamboat Gothic architecture and “gingerbread arches” featured on the exterior of the home, it was a wonderful venue for our friend’s quaint Southern nuptials.
We got an exclusive invite to stay with the bride and groom to which we said, “heck yes!”. It was like a big sleepover with our closest friends. The ceremony was held on the patio in the back of the home, and the reception followed in the dining hall. It was intimate and charming, elegant, and perfect.
Where We Played:
River Street: River Street is a stretch of lively storefronts and restaurants/bars that face the Savannah River. As you walk down the cobblestone street you’ll see tugboats and massive cargo ships coming in and out of the harbor, and if you’re lucky enough they’ll lay on their horns from 50 feet away and scare the ever loving Jesus out of you. We were like kids with our faces pressed up against the glass at a monkey exhibit at the zoo as we watched in amazement from the top of an Irish pub’s enclosed patio. “Wow! Look at that! Someone do the honking motion! Do you think they can see us? How does it even float? Will it fit under that bridge?” Cue fist pumps into the air.
Forsyth Park: Home of a kid’s playground, splash pad, basketball & tennis courts, and a gorgeous fountain in the midst of lush green 30 acre park, we visited this park twice while we were there. The first time we rode our bikes over from our air bnb, we were so happy to be there that we stopped and starting tossing the frisbee, without realizing we actually didn’t even make it to the center of the park yet. Imagine our surprise when we walked a little further down and saw the center of the park having been there for about an hour. Good to know….
SCAD Art Museum: The Savannah College of Art and Design has it’s roots well established in the historic Savannah neighborhood. You can see all of their facilities here. I’m guessing that’s why everything is so artsy fartsy in Savannah.
I stumbled across the French-Venezuelen artist Carlos Cruz-Diez’s “Chroma” Exhibit on Instagram that will be at SCAD until August 20th, 2017. Cruz-Diez is known for his experimental art and color theory philosophies. His art brings forth the concept of “awareness of the instability of reality” by overlaying different colors and shapes and patterns over one another so that the eyes seems to play tricks on the mind. Or is it the other way around?
Ghost City Tour: Tom and I parted ways with the rest of the wedding group and embarked on our own ghost tour. Mind you, it was a Pub Crawl Ghost Tour, we like to be efficient. What’s better than popping in and out of bars that are hundreds of years old as we heard spooky stories from our knowledgeable tour guide? We would stop in front of homes and grave yards to listen to creepy tales of ghost and spirit sightings, and sad stories of prominent members of society losing their lives in tragic ways.
Savannah is considered to be one of the most haunted cities in the US because of it’s age, and amount of death and destruction the town has seen since the Civil War era. The 4th floor of the Marshall House was once home to an amputee ward where pain meds were non existent and towns folk could hear soldiers screaming down the street. In today’s world, you can get married there, or cozy up in one of the rooms during your stay in the historic part of the city. Will you hear or see anything go bump in the night?
Where we indulged in southern merriment’s:
Kevin Barry’s: Savannah has a heavy Irish influence and is home to one of the US’ largest St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations every year. Having just gone to Ireland last October, I can attest to the authenticity of this River Street pub. It’s like they plucked a pub from Dublin and planted it right down by the river in Savannah. They won the 2016 Irish Pubs Global Award, who knew there was such a thing? You’ll enjoy traditional Irish fare, sip on some Guinness as you watch the cargo ships come in and out. I highly recommend!
Foxy Loxy Cafe: We literally came here every day of our stay. It was recommended to us by our air bnb host, and we quickly discovered it was right next door to the Gingerbread House, our home for the second half of the trip. This trendy coffee shop has a Tex-Mex flare with things like a to-die for Horchata Latte, Mexican Hot Chocolate, delectable pastries, quiches, and Texas inspired Kolaches, and local wine and beer. They also serve tacos that had really good reviews but we only stopped in during breakfast hours each day. Based off of all of the amazing things we tasted there, I would bet their tacos are amazing.
The Foxy Loxy Cafe is a really cool spot. Set in a 2 story historic home, you can lounge in a few of the rooms downstairs or upstairs. Or on their upstairs patio, or spacious backyard patio. Your choice!
Savannah Square Pops: We happened upon Savannah Square Pops as we rode our bikes back from Forsyth Park. It was starting to heat up and Tom and I both saw it, stopped, and hopped off our bikes without really saying much to each other. We just have an understanding. You can tell it’s fun and colorful from the outside, but I wasn’t prepared for the explosion of color that awaited us inside.
Colorful paper lanterns covered every inch of the ceiling, and there was a piano in the corner up against the storefront window. It’s a great spot for an event space. They serve gourmet frozen pops in flavors such as Chocolate & Pretzel Covered Salted Caramel, Coffee au Lait, Blueberry Basil, and Cheesecake with a dark chocolate drizzle (which is what I went with). We had a quick chat with the owner who was super nice. We heard from an employee he was from Alabama, and Tom being obsessed with John B & the S-Town podcast asked if he knew of Woodstock, AL, which sparked up a lively conversation. You can tell he was good people.
The Olde Pink House: I found this to be one of the coolest places we went to on our trip. You can dine on both floors of this Georgian mansion which was built in 1 7 7 1 and is one of the only remaining buildings from the 18th century to survive the fire of 1796, wars, and time. There is a wine cellar and piano bar in the basement which was really cool! The home belonged to one of the town’s first founding prominent families and cotton factors, the Habersham family. On our ghost tour, we learned Habersham Jr, hanged himself in a closet, which has since been turned into the women’s restroom….can you say creepy? Despite that, the Olde Pink House is absolutely stunning and had amazing traditional southern cuisine. I would highly recommend stopping here if you ever go!
The 17hundred90 Inn and Restaurant: This Inn is named for the year it was constructed and has been in service for over 100 years. We briefly stopped here on our ghost tour to hear about Room 204, where there is at any given time, a 6-12 month waiting list to stay in this room. We happened to have a couple that was staying there the night of our tour, and told us although they didn’t see any ghosts they did experience a strange noise in the fireplace followed by a black bird barging into their room. Strange.
Tonde’s Tavern: aka a Haunted Bar / Cheesecake Market….say whaaaaaaa?! This was where we started our ghost tour at, and later stopped at again with the wedding guests by way of trolley. I didn’t take time to learn much about this Tavern, but it’s website says that it’s located in a former 1850’s bank building one street off of River Street. Early American patriots and soldiers who formed the Savannah’s Sons of Liberty would meet there regularly. Legend has it that the Declaration of Independence was read aloud in Georgia for the first time in this 18th century establishment.
The Top Deck: (The Cotton Sail Riverfront Rooftop): This building used to be a Cotton Warehouse constructed in 1820 and has housed a variety of businesses over the past 200 years. This rooftop bar and lounge on top of The Cotton Sail Hotel offers a fantastic view of River Street and The Talmadge Memorial Bridge.
Jen’s & Friends Martini Bar: We stumbled into this bar on our first night in Savannah. 300+ martini flavors and 200+ craft beers. Excuse me?? We went with the blackberry cobbler pie martini, but we saw rice krispie martinis, snickers, smores, lucky charms, and birthday cake just to name .00001% of the fun flavors they offer. The best part of this experience was being asked if we wanted our martini to go. Why yasssssssssss I do. Thanks for asking.
Mamie Ruth’s: The first evening that we were in Savannah, we walked over from the B Historic hotel towards River Street with our friends and that’s when I first spotted Mamie Ruth’s. Their colorful flags, boho eclectic sitting area set up outside, and the “hippies use the front door” chalkboard sign caught my attention, obvi. They were having a reception of some sort and we didn’t stop by then but popped in the next day when we were out exploring on our bikes. Every inch of the store was cute, and their selection of domestically made clothes were to die for. Had we not had to buy an entire new wardrobe the day before, I would have walked out of there with a few new things. If you want to feel inspired by this groovy boutique shop hop on over to The Mamie Ruth Instagram account. You may even recognize a photo / Instagram handle they featured 🙂
Tybee Beach: Funny story about Tybee Beach, Savannah’s Beach front town. We drove out there which took 45 minutes and then proceeded to drive around in circles for an hour to unsuccessfully find parking. Short of stabbing our eyeballs out, we decided we were too hangry to deal with the Memorial Day crowd, so we drove our not so happy tails right back to Savannah and found ourselves at the Olde Pink House devouring fried chicken and mac n cheese. Our friends wound up spending Monday night out at Tybee and loved it. I don’t have anything to say about Tybee Beach other than it’s really close to Savannah so I would recommend checking it out if you ever visit.
The Mansion on Forsyth Park: This is another place that we went to check out and it didn’t work out for us. We waltzed in at 11:30 to grab some mint juleps and to our dismay were advised that they don’t start serving booze until 12:30 on Sundays. What kind of debauchery is this? You can walk the streets with booze, but they draw the line at drinking before church folk are done with their worship, and you can’t double fist out in public. Gotta have boundaries somewhere right? Anyways, this place was recommended to us and from the few moments we were in the lobby, it looked absolutely breathtaking in there. From the looks of the pictures on the website, the restaurant looks really neat! Maybe next time.
Savannah Candy Kitchen: This is another one of those things that didn’t work out too well for us this trip. I had been to Savannah previously and got to see the salt water taffy being made and that was one of the things that stick out in my memory from that trip. This time we popped in, and it was too late for the candy making. But it smelled absolutely amazing in there. We bought a few things and then proceeded to leave the bag on a random bench on River Street. I hope they found a good home! You can order from Savannah Candy Kitchen online, they ship anywhere in the US.
After 4 full days in Savannah, I’m convinced I could pick up and move there in a heartbeat. We would love to check out Charleston someday too! We hear it’s really similar just without the legal open containers. I think we’ll survive though.