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a newbie's guide to savannah

Last weekend Allan and I were going to have a rare weekend without children. I was excited to clean the house, catch up on the hampers of laundry, wash my car, tie up some loose ends at work and get ready for sending the kids back to school. We also had family coming in town for lunch on Sunday so I needed time to prep for that.


But, Allan had a different idea.


On Thursday night he handed me a series of cards that told me to pack a bag because we were going to get away for a couple of days. I didn't know if I should be happy about a new adventure or frustrated because all of my Type A plans just went out the window. But, I told myself that this was a blessing and I started packing. The next morning we loaded up (with far less stuff than we normally have...traveling with two is way simpler than traveling with seven!) and we headed down south.





After about a dozen guesses, we pulled into Savannah, Georgia. I can honestly say that it wasn't even on my radar. I could have sworn that we were heading to the beach or the mountains of Asheville or maybe even the Homestead Resort where we had a our first date. What could possibly be so exciting about Savannah that warranted a surprise and a five hour drive on a weekend when I had so much to do at home?


As we approached Savannah, we crossed a bridge that connects the state line of South Carolina to Georgia. I am not a fan of bridges or heights and while we were going up this one it literally felt like we were riding into the clouds. That was the highest bridge that either of us had ever been on, 187 feet above the Savannah River. My heart was racing and my palms were sweaty but, I have to admit, the view from the top was pretty incredible.








Before I get into the details of our trip, I'll give you a brief overview of Savannah and why I absolutely fell in love with this city after only two and a half days.


First, if you stay in the Historic District (we did) you won't need your car for your entire stay. Everything is within walking distance. Bars, restaurants, boutiques, historic attractions, just everything.


Second, the architecture is breathtaking and the city is filled with so much history. The attention to detail that our forefathers put into building their homes is unparalleled in today's homes. Extra wide window sills, floor to ceiling trim throughout rooms, ornate columns, corbels and egg and dart molding are just a few of the things we saw on homes and buildings. If you are a history buff, there is no shortage of historical information from you. Everywhere we wandered we saw plaques, monuments, historical buildings and statues. Savannah is also home to the Savannah College of Art and Design (I looked into their design program and, had I been a younger me with no children then they would have been my top choice!). SCAD buildings are scattered throughout the whole city, you will see a few of them in this post.


Third, you can drink outside in the Historic District! As long as your beverage is in a plastic cup then you can carry it with you as you check the city out. How cool is that? We never had to wait at a meal until we "finished our drinks", we just asked for a to-go cup and off we went. Waiting list at a restaurant? Give them your cell number, grab a drink from the bar and stroll the streets, beverage in hand, until you receive a text to come back for your table.


Finally, this was a trip that both young and old would enjoy. We saw young families and older couples. Tours, candy stores, adult playgrounds, boating and so much more. There is something for everyone!

 

We stayed in the Historic District at the Hyatt Regency Savannah and, despite its high ratings and slew of positive reviews, it wasn't our favorite hotel. It felt muggy, but, in all fairness, Savannah is hotter than Hades, the bathroom felt just a little bigger than an airplane bathroom and the balcony was not sittable (Allan purposely chose a room with a balcony overlooking the Savannah River so we could sit outside in the evenings and watch the boats, but those plans didn't work out). The lobby reminded us of Disney's Contemporary Resort.





Even though we couldn't sit on the balcony, it was a great spot to stand and watch the foot traffic below and water traffic on the river. Allan was like an excited little boy when massive container ships would go past our window.





Our first order of business was to find food and drink. We found the closest place to our hotel, PS Tavern (a short walk right across the street. The tavern was what you would expect; dark inside, walls covered with neon lights and sports paraphernalia and locals lining the bar.


We ordered two Tito's vodkas with soda and lime. We call this drink the OG (Original Gangster) because it has been our go-to for a while now. We also ordered gator bites and pork belly tacos to share. The food was perfectly satisfying, not too greasy and filled us up just enough. Our server was friendly and knowledgeable about the area and gave us some great recommendations for places to dine while we were in Savannah...we actually took her up on most of them!






Remember what I said about taking drinks to-go while we toured the Historic District? We grabbed two signature cocktails from PS Tavern to-go (cherry limeade and peach lemonade...both with vodka) and headed for the Spa Bleu.





Since I didn't know we were going to be heading out of town, I had put a pedicure off for far too long. Allan was a great sport and patiently waited while I had a little pampering at the Spa Bleu. The aesthetician filled gave us a little more insider knowledge and our conversation quickly turned to ghost tours, a popular attraction around those parts.


She also told us about a ghost that frequents their spa as well. The story goes that one day a client was checking out at the front desk after receiving a massage service. The owner of the spa was turning off lights and preparing to close the spa as it was the end of the business day. The client said to the owner, "you can't close while that nice man in still back there". The owner told the woman that she was the only guest left in the spa and there was no man there. The client proceeded to tell the owner about a lovely conversation she had just been having with a man in a top hat. Since that day, clients and employees of the spa have had similar experiences with this very same man!


Allan and I immediately booked a Ghost Tour Pub Crawl for that evening just for fun!





We had heard a lot about the food at Sorry Charlie's so we headed over there to get a table before our Ghost Tour. They were completely booked so we rounded the corner and were seated immediately at Little Duck Diner. What a cute place! It was bright and cheery with a fun menu. The server was, once again, so very friendly and service was super quick.


Allan ordered their signature Bloody Mary and I tried a lavender bubble bath bellini. So very pretty! We shared the duck grilled cheese and an order of shrimp tacos. Our favorite part of the meal, though, was their delicious tomato soup. Even though it was so hot outside it was the perfect creamy tomato compliment to the buttery grilled cheese.






It was just about time to head over to Tondee's Tavern to meet up with our Ghost Tour group. The tour started in the basement of the tavern and purposefully so. Apparently, there is a ghost who haunts the basement so it is not safe to serve food down there for fear of sharp knives and other objects being mysteriously hurled through the air. Yikes.





Our tour guide was sarcastic and funny with a dry sense humor. She definitely had the gift of gab and her stories dragged on a little too long for our liking. We we hoping for a little more ghost and a little less history but, we went along for the ride anyway. She took us to empty rooms and down alleys and along the river.





Our first beverage stop on this Pub Crawl was Wet Willie's, known for their wide selection of adult slushies. We were so hot and sweaty (so. much. sweat. this weekend!) that a frozen drink sounded delicious. We chose a mudslide and a strawberry and, while they did a decent job at cooling us off for the time being, they were a little sweet for us. We thought about going back again over the weekend to give another flavor a try but we couldn't seem to fit it in with all of our other plans.





After two hours (that sort of dragged on, unfortunately) we were sweaty and tired so we dipped out of the tour and called it a night. Walking back toward the river we passed Leopold's Ice Cream, a Savannah staple. We didn't try any of their ice creams, but every single time we passed their shop there was always a line winding its way down the sidewalk! (And notice the neon SCAD sign!)





The next morning we had brunch reservations at The Olde Pink House, definitely a must if you visit Savannah. Who doesn't love to dine in a home-turned-restaurant? We dined in what was likely a parlor or sitting room and there were only two or three tables in each room of the house. The extra wide window sills and doorways, detailed trim work and exposed original brick were features we noticed that are rarely seen in homes of today.








Our meal started with pimento cheese straws displayed in a mason jar as our server impressively relayed every detail of the specials to us. The variety of Southern fare they offered made it very difficult to decide what to order so, since we love small bites, we shared fried green tomatoes and blue crab beignets followed by a new twist on shrimp and grits.


The fried green tomatoes were battered in cornmeal, lightly fried and topped with red cabbage. They were so thick and perfectly tender. The blue crab beignets were airy and fluffy and served in a quaint tin cup with a side of delicious remoulade (which, come to find out, was simply mayonnaise mixed with Old Bay seasoning). Finally, the shrimp and grits were served with a side of vinegary collard greens and, instead of traditional grits, the shrimp was nestled in a cream sauce on top of a crispy grit cake. It was all AMAZING!






We had nothing planned for the rest of the afternoon so we headed over to Broughton Street which is known for its shopping. Broughton Street is lined on both sides with clothing boutiques, souvenir shops, furniture and decor stores, bars, cafes, coffee shops and more. We stumbled upon the Savannah Bee Company and had our very first mead tasting. We thought mead would be thicker than it was, but most of what we tasted was either carbonated or overly sweetened with fruit flavors. We are certainly mead novices so I'm sure our palates were just not acclimated to appreciate the flavors of real mead!





The best way to see a new city like this one is by carriage, streetcar or rickshaw. We stopped in at Sorry Charlie's, grabbed a couple of frozen beverages to-go (did I mention how hot it was?) and bought tickets for the hop on/hop off trolley.






We spent the next hour on the trolley, learning about the buildings, the history and the main attractions of Savannah. We even saw the site where some of the Forrest Gump scenes were filmed, including the famous park bench scene. The Spanish moss, the monuments, the historical plaques and the carefully crafted but massive homes were all so gorgeous!













We hopped off the trolley and headed down to the river to check things out there for a bit. We had heard about Candy Kitchen so we popped in and quickly discovered that this would be our children's paradise. The air smelled sickeningly sweet, like caramel popcorn, and their free praline samples melted in our mouths. We aren't really candy people but the displays were impressive!














It was time to get cleaned up after our busy day of site-seeing and head off to dinner at Vic's on the River, another Savannah favorite. Through drizzle and humidity, we walked the short walk to the restaurant that has received so many rave reviews. We had called ahead, but they didn't have any reservations available, so we asked if we could sit at the bar for a while. No sooner did we arrive at the bar did another couple leave, we scored to perfect bar seats and had our meal served to us there.





A bartender with a little bit of an attitude and a man of few words (surprising since we had had such friendly service everywhere), gave us our menus and took our drink orders. We wanted to try the beef carpaccio but they were sold out so we ordered Oysters Rockefeller, she crab soup, scallops and risotto and a flounder po' boy.


The buttery, garlicky oysters and creamy she crab soup went well together, Allan's po' boy was delicious and my scallops and risotto were so good that I wanted to lick my plate. Yet another wonderful meal!





There are a number of rooftop bars in Savannah and we should have done our research before blindly venturing to the one at the Bohemian Hotel which was next door to our hotel. We quickly realized we were either not in the appropriate age bracket and/or didn't have the appropriate attire for this one. The music was loud and the energy was high, the views were incredible, but we definitely felt like the laid back, rooftop bar vibe we were searching for wouldn't be found here.







Our final day was short and sweet with a grand finale brunch at Collin's Quarter. We packed up our bags and our car and walked over to get on the waitlist (they don't take reservations for brunch and the reviews are stellar so we knew there would be a wait).


We checked in, were given a 45 minute wait time, gave them our number to text us when our table was ready, grabbed mimosas to-go and headed back out to the Historic District for a final stroll.





But it was so. darn. hot. We walked around for a little bit until we just couldn't take it. We were sweaty and uncomfortable but, by the grace of God on that Sunday morning, we stumbled upon a part of the street where a church was venting their air conditioning out at street level. We huddled together on the curb and gave thanks for God's goodness and His blessings!





Our final meal was the perfect send off for us. Allan had yet another Bloody Mary and I tried their signature spiced lavender latte, look how artistically beautiful!





This menu was a tricky one because there were SO many things that sounded fascinating, but we decided on their famous bananas foster french toast and smashed avocado toast with a poached egg. We shared both meals and they went together surprisingly well. The french toast was buttery and gooey and the avocado toast was fresh and perfectly salty with the accompanying beet hummus and feta cheese crumbles.





So, overall, our weekend getaway was a fabulous success. We inevitably gained a little weight, but we also gained some great memories and a new love and appreciation for one of the oldest cities in our beloved United States of America. We are excited to travel down south again some day to the quaint Historic District, hopefully with our children next time.


Subscribe and comment below if you have any questions or comments about our travels or if you have been to Savannah, I would love to hear all about your experience! Also, if this post has inspired you to visit Savannah then I would love to hear that as well!

my blue nest

a perfectly put together mess