Spring in Savannah, Georgia
This past weekend Luke and I took our first official vacation as a married couple. It was a glorious four-day weekend in Savannah, Georgia.
We’re quickly becoming “foodies” if we’re not already there. This blog is even a testament to that. It’s like 80% food.
In the soul-piercing words of Jim Gaffigan: “Really that’s all a vacation is, just us eating in a place we’ve never been… Then we’ll go see that thing we’re supposed to see. They’ve probably got a snack bar there, right?” We feel that on a deep level, Jim. We hear you.
So, friends, here are our favorite discoveries from Savannah, Georgia. Now please excuse me while I go confess my sins to MyFitnessPal and spend like four hours on the treadmill.
Hands-down the best food of the trip!
New Orleans cafe directly on River Street. Whole menu served all day but brunch is where it’s at.
They boast famous beignets with powdered sugar and pecan sauce (that some say rival Cafe Du Monde). Order them first with your drinks and devour them as an appetizer with absolutely no shame.
We got: Beignets with pecan sauce, chicken pain perdu with pecan butter, red beans and rice with Andouille sausage, pineapple juice and a great plain cappuccino.
I slightly regret not getting the regular pain perdu (French toast) because it is legendary. The lady beside us got it and I have to say it appears to live up to the hype. The chicken version is delicious but more on the savory side.
Tips: Ask for a window seat (they’re often open to the water). / Decent private restrooms with AC. / Above the bathroom area there’s a secret library with a glass roof and killer view. But you have to make friends with someone with a hotel elevator key. Otherwise you’re stuck! (Don’t ask.)
Big warehouse-type space with roaster, office area, and coffee bar all in an open room. Super trendy to the point of feeling uncomfortable. But that coffee was great.
We got: Burundi Chemex for two at the behest of the knowledgable barista.
They have primarily medium roasts. Not much on the lighter side.
PERC provides coffee for lots of the restaurants in town.
Tips: Watch them roast coffee. / No food to speak of. / Can be a bit hot in the summer with their garage door being opened often for deliveries.
A historic staple of the city. A must. Exceeds the hype on a hot Savannah afternoon.
Full of movie posters and props because of the proprietor’s involvement in the film industry.
Tip: Beware the line. You could stand there for quite a while. Try random weekday hours.
We got: Strawberry double scoop waffle cone, Savannah Bee Co. honey + Savannah Socialite in a cup, and fresh-squeezed lemonade/limeade.
Famous for their sandwiches. A mix of Swiss, Italian, South African and Dutch cuisines based on the heritages of the couple who owns it.
One of our favorite things when trying new restaurants is to see where the locals go. We look for those crazy long lines and places where the staff knows the names/orders of the patrons. Guys, this is one of those places. I’m usually not a huge sandwich person. But when when more and more locals started suggesting it we had to give Zunzi’s a shot.
They’ve gotten tons of press and awards but oddly enough I had never come across Zunzi’s in my research of the city. Kind of a local gem.
We got: Godfather sandwich (mine with no lettuce/tomato), Byrd’s peach cookies, South African sweet tea (tastes a bit peachy).
Tips: Order as similar to their suggestions as you can because they know what they’re doing. / Super messy! / Two people could totally split one. / Small walkup ordering counter with crazy-friendly staff. / Outdoor seating. / Free samples of everything before you decide. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. / And free refills on that glorious tea.
Not a whole lot to say here. They’re cookies. They’re amazing. They come in lots of flavors. A little smaller than Danish wedding cookies so you curse yourself for eating them like popcorn. You can also get them at some restaurants with your meals like at Zunzi’s (pictured above).
Our favorites: Georgia peach, lemon or key lime cooler, and jalapeño cheddar. (Also sound great and I want to try next time: cinnamon sugar and pink lemonade.)
Tips: Buy them in-store at their City Market brick-and-mortar to get the best price on a bundle. / Get at them samples.
We got: Saltwater taffy from 100 y/o machine, praline, bear claw, chocolate pretzel, and a couple pieces of taffy. (Definitely not eaten all at once because we are adults.)
Most famous item - PRALINES! Best when eaten warm and freshly-made. Taffy was meh
Take advantage of those samples!
Tips: Savannah Candy Kitchen looks really similar but it isn’t as good!
One-part beauty supply and one-part gourmet honey goods. They do so much to help the environment and educate folks on the importance of bees. Savannah Bee Co. products are beautiful, useful, and their honey is bonkers delicious. And their customer service is seriously on par with the likes of Chick-fil-A. So friendly, kind, and helpful.
We got: Orange blossom honey.
Highly recommend their suggested pairing - Granny Smith apple, honeycomb, local tomme cheese. Even if you don’t splurge for the package - at the very least you gotta try their in-store samples. We preferred the location on River Street below the Hyatt.
Prepare yourself for a gloriously nerdy experience. Video games or board games while you eat Nachos of Mt. Doom and the like. Set your expectations for pub food, quirk, a heavy dose of humor, and some healthy competition.
We got: Claptrap’s cheese queso, The Malfegor (buffalo fried chicken), Fries Against Humanity (loaded fries), some fun themed drinks, and Jigglypuffs (deep fried cinnamon roll - just whoa). Check out the rest of their hilariously-written menu here.
Trendy corner joint that brews PERC.
We got: Affogato (ice cream topped with a shot of espresso) with Leopold’s horchata ice cream.
Location right off of City Market near mall-esque street shopping district.
Tybean Coffee & Art (on Tybee Island)
Tiny and quirky, this is the first “COFFEE” sign you see coming onto the island.
Full of both locals and tourists. Bit busy and may have to wait but definitely worth it. Serves Dancing Goat among other coffees.
In a fun little artsy village under old oak trees with Spanish moss. It has a deck that reminds me of a treehouse.
We got: Two plain cappuccinos, an apple fritter, and a homemade chocolate chip scone.
Java & Juice (on Tybee Island)
Clean, quiet, fast service. Away from busy side of island. Looks like a local hometown breakfast place. Lots of organic fare. Adjacent to Beachview Bed and Breakfast.
We got: Two cappuccinos (mine with a pump of vanilla), and split a cream cheese muffin. All very good. Breakfast sandwiches and cooked meals also looked good.
This was clutch for us. We had a lot around the city we wished to see and this trolley tour was the most efficient way to get around and maximize days for first-timers.
We did: Hop on/off one day tour.
Hometown discount if you can get a local friend to help you out!
GPS tracking to see when next trolley is coming.
Free parking is a huge bonus.
It was a bit touristy, yes. Alternatively, Old Savannah has actor portrayal at nearly every and that wasn’t really our jam.
As the biggest square in Savannah, this needs to be on your list. But honestly there’s no way around it unless you’re intentionally avoiding it. So you’ll see Forsyth Square.
Do check out the walled fragrant garden. It is magical. Open from 10am-2pm. The walls are meant to keep the fragrances in. Also, there is braille on the walls for blind individuals to read what flower they are smelling.
Dozens of gorgeous homes line the streets surrounding the park. We loved taking a walk around the outside edge of the park to see these.
Tips: You might run in to scantily-clad sunbathers and sketchier folks. Also (less sketchy but congestion-causing) field trips, moms-with-strollers yoga classes, and other tourists wandering aimlessly in circles with maps and cameras. One of the tourist centers of the city but also highly utilized by locals. Catch the farmer’s market on Saturdays.
Some really talented street musicians.
Free ferry rides - also take you back to other end of River St.
Watch for ocean liners at night - surreal and massive.
People-watch and stop in souvenir tchotchke shops for kicks.
Busy both night and day with tourists.
Tons of shops, tons of food.
Decently maintained public bathrooms with AC.
Nightlife/drinking after dark if that’s a vibe you prefer to avoid.
A couple of streets over (headed away from River St.) you’ll find lots of shopping. I heard good things about the shops on Bull and Whitaker.
Beautiful Neo-Gothic architecture. Elaborate artwork on every surface. I particularly love the big wooden doors, pipe organ, teal ceilings and the light through stained-glass windows.
Quirky three-story secondhand shop for clothes and accessories.
Comic shop sharing a space with a bakery. (Tip: Leave males here while ladies shop Civvies.)
Pretty expensive shop so don’t go in with high hopes of snagging that armoire for a steal. But it’s jam-packed with beautiful, historical pieces and it’s well worth a look. Don’t miss the courtyard in the back.
Just over 20 minutes from downtown Savannah.
The beach around 9am is quiet and calm.
We walked down to the main pier (to the right) and it took about 30 minutes. It was highly congested so we people-watched, used the restroom, and headed back. Snack bar is cash only.
Tips: Park around 8th Street early in the day for $2/hr parking and immediate access to the beach. There are parallel parking spots mere steps from a boardwalk. If you choose to park around 8th Street - one of the only downfalls is the lack of amenities like restrooms.
NOTE: The tide comes in around lunchtime! When we returned from the pier our Chacos, towels, and bag had almost been covered by water and taken by the ocean - even though we thought we had put them far enough up on the beach! Beware the tide if you take a walk.
OTHER MISC. TIPS
Check out all the plentiful resources on visitsavannah.com and get the Savannah Insiders Guide. SERIOUSLY this website and booklet are your best friends. Free walking tour guide on pg. 12 and lots of food suggestions throughout. (Free guide by mail or online version.)
We can’t speak much into lodging since we stayed at a cousin’s rental. But we’d suggest staying as close to town as possible and hopping on the free public transit.
Parking is a hassle and seemingly most drivers are jerks. If you do drive into town, budget around $10 per excursion for parking decks or metered spots.
Comfy shoes - lots of walking on cobblestone. Don’t be that girl in heels on historic balastone.
Free transport in city - DOT trams circle historic district, River St. along waterfront, and water taxi triangle off of River St. as well.
Wander slowly. Set aside a few hours for no plan. Explore quirky back alleys (in the daytime).
Have a takeout picnic at a square for breakfast or lunch.
Free, clean, quiet bathrooms - Hyatt on River St. 2nd floor.
Our favorite FREE things to do:
St. John’s Cathedral (Churches are beautiful spots to enjoy AC and take a rest.)
Get free samples from shops at City Market and River Street
Window-shop River Street, City Market, and wander in and out of various antique shops
People-watch the eclectic mix of folks
Take a walk looking at old homes (Southern Living street)
Take a break in the plentiful shady squares with park benches
Point out every dog we see
Chill for hours on Tybee Island (*might have to pay for parking but it’s minimal!)
Check out this list for more.
Things for us to try next time:
Georgia Queen sunset riverboat cruise
Wormsloe Historical Site
Climb Tybee lighthouse
SCAD art shops and galleries
Front Porch Improv
Historic home museums
Olde Pink House
Back in the Day Bakery
Foxy Loxy Cafe
Olympia Cafe - Greek fare
Gryphon tea room
Luke and I have been invited back by his cousin Carol and we’ve talked about making this a regular spring occasion. Stick around to see if that’s the case. One way or another we’re going to find our way back for those dang Huey’s beignets.