A Resident’s Guide to Visiting Savannah, Georgia

Savannah has something for everyone–from art enthusiasts thanks to the Savannah College of Art and Design’s influence, to foodies with superb, long-standing restaurants and the famous Paula Deen, and history buffs who will love the old war stories and statues with some pirate tales thrown in. Architectural geeks will marvel at the historic homes, fun-seekers will enjoy the freedom to stroll the streets with their favorite cocktails from plenty of bars to suit any personality, and those searching for live music can find a variety any day of the week. Cultural lovers can come to experience the plethora of festivals, events, and museums, while shoppers can browse the great boutiques and hand-crafted speciality stores lining the streets, and those looking for some beach time will enjoy throwback Tybee Island.

Savannah is fun for young and old, male or female, to go with your family, a group of friends, or your sweetie. Come anytime or during a special annual events like St. Patrick’s Day (the second largest in the world), Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens, or Savannah Craft Brew Fest. This beautiful little “big city” brings in millions of tourists a year, and most of those will come for repeat visits. Many of the residents are transplants that simply fell in love with the area and all it has to offer. See for yourself why Savannah is called the “Jewel of the South” and voted “Top Ten Cities” in the USA by Conde Nast Traveler Magazine and Travel + Leisure in 2009.

What to Do

You can truly explore any interest and any passion in Savannah. Start with a sightseeing trolley tour to get your bearings and decide what stops you want to come back to and explore more thoroughly. You should also go ahead and book your must-do ghost tour since Savannah is considered one of the most haunted cities in America (don’t worry, the ghosts are friendly).

Other specialized tours you could add focus on: movie sets, martinis, in-depth history, famous cook Paula Deen, African-American history, food, or homes. After, go inside one or all of the majestic homes turned museums like the Juliette Gordon Low House (founder of Girl Scouts), the Davenport House that transports visitors back to the 1820’s, or the Mercer Williams House of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil notoriety.

Step back 100 years inside the breath-taking Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, and then, stroll down arguably the most beautiful residential street in Savannah, Jones Street, to marvel at the architecture and General Oglethorpe’s vision for America’s “first planned city. ” Next, head to River Street and sweep your eyes over the ornate ironwork, cobblestone streets, and the aged character of the riverfront buildings.

Don’t leave what Southern Living magazine deemed the “Best Southern City” without a walk through City Market , labeled the “Art and Soul” of Savannah. Here you will find art galleries, food, drink, and entertainment all while feeling like you have stepped back into the 1700’s where bustling fisherman and traders conducted their business.

Lastly, for those interested in experiencing Savannah’s nightlife, visit one of their live music venues like the Wormhole, The Jinx, Live Wire Music Hall, Loco’s Grill and Pub, Bayou Cafe, Sentient Bean, or the Warehouse for a variety of rock, jazz, punk, indie, pop–whatever your taste, you can find a venue to suit you.

There are also some great quirky and cool locals’ bars like Abe’s on Lincoln, The Rail Pub, McDonough’s, and O’Connell’s to kick back at, make new friends, maybe sing some karaoke, and enjoy some great spirits. You could even catch a show at the Savannah Civic Center or the historic Lucas Theatre which showcases local talent, Off-Broadway shows, movie premieres, and concerts.

Where to Eat

What sounds good? For breakfast or brunch, visit Goosefeathers to grab a warm pastry or freshly prepared quiche, B. Matthews Eatery or SoHo Cafe for a more leisurely and gourmet start to your day, or Huey’s on the River for the best beignets and Bloody Marys in town.

For lunch, chose from the the Cotton Exchange for some Southern fare, Zunzi’s to eat the best takeout in town like a local, Kevin Barry’s to satisfy your inner Irish, or the world-famous Mrs. Wilke’s Dining Room where everything is served family style and the line snakes down the street.

For dinner, you need a whole week in Savannah just to hit all the great choices like the well-known Pirate’s House where the by-the-pot she-crab soup and ghost and “shanghaied” stories abound, the Olde Pink House to truly experience “Old South” cuisine at its finest, Churchill’s for anything but ordinary British food, and the old-school Crystal Beer Parlor for the best burgers in town, friendliest staff, and unique craft beers.

If you are in the mood for just appetizers and drinks, head to Sugar Daddy’s, a premier wine bar without the snobbery or The Distillery for great bites and the biggest craft beer selection in town. To wrap up your day, pick up some pralines–a Savannah staple–from the Savannah’s Candy Kitchen, or even better, visit the ingenious Lulu’s Chocolate Bar for completely decadent desserts and their unbelievable speciality desserts-in-a-glass martinis.

Where to Stay

Savannah has a variety of choices for any budget and vision. Those looking for luxury can enjoy Forsyth Mansion, which overlooks Forsyth Park, Savannah’s playground for families, with frisbees, dogs, and footballs flying around, or the Bohemian Hotel, another Kessler creation overlooking historic River Street complete with a cool rooftop bar–one of the few in Savannah.

If you prefer to save a little money on accommodations to spend elsewhere, there are some very nice chains such as Holiday Inn, Marriott, Hilton, and Hampton Inn that have adopted a Savannahian flair and are walking distance to everywhere you’ll want to go. To truly experience Southern hospitality, stay at one of the many Bed and Breakfasts like the award-winning The Galloway House, Foley House Inn, or the The Gastonian.