Savannah is a charming historic town on the coast of Georgia. Though it’s located only 4 hours drive from Atlanta, many big city dwellers have never been there. In the recent years, Savannah has attracted lots of students, retirees, investors and entrepreneurs. As a result, there are more restored buildings, trendy hotels, and chef driven restaurants popping up around the city. If you have not visited Savannah recently, here are a few noteworthy experiences that you don’t want to miss.
Tour The J.W. Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District
Until a couple of years ago, the famous pedestrian River Street was also home to an ugly abandoned structure jutting out from its skyline. Once an iconic power plant in Georgia, the Plant Riverside District is now the hippest place to be. The J.W. Marriott hotel is not just a centrally located hotel overlooking the river, it is an architectural marvel, museum and art gallery – all rolled into one! The expansive lobby boasts a life-size, chrome-dipped dinosaur, original fossils, and a dizzying display of crystals. Colorful painted glass ceilings against exposed brick walls, local art and modern decor – all make the J.W. in Savannah one of the most unique hotels worth visiting.
Many tour guides will take you through the hotel lobby and explain the history of the restored building. You can also walk around on your own, or better, stay overnight and have a “night at the museum” type of experience!
Shop on Boroughton Street
Savannah is a quintessential shopping town especially for those who like to find unique gifts, foods and household items. The bustling Boroughton Street is dotted with shops, cafes and restaurants, especially on the weekends. The Paris Market & Brocante is a beautiful European style market and cafe where you can purchase everything from French perfumes and delicate linens, to chic dining tables and sofa chairs. It is also a good place to grab a latte and experience a favorite European pastime – people watching. You will find out why Architectural Digest named The Paris Market “The Most Beautiful Coffee Shop in Georgia.”
To experience Georgia grown food and drinks, head to The Salt Table. This locally owned shop sources products from Georgia-based farmers and boutique producers, allowing them to reach consumers beyond farmers markets. Shop for flavored salts, sugars and seasonings, grits, pecans, blueberry syrup, peach preserves, Georgia olive oil and wine, and much more!
Savannah is also home to the award-winning Savannah Bee Company. There are few locations around the city where you can taste their honey, honey wine and other products. Another local husband-wife duo run an enterprising fun gift store called Capital Bee Co. The owner – Thomas, is passionate about his bee hives. He actually travels with them around the country! He will offer you samples of his newest honey infusions and fingerpicking sauces.
Take a Tasty Food Tour
Most visitors who come to Savannah already know they are going to experience great southern comfort food. Perhaps they have seen Paula Deen’s cooking show on The Food Network, or heard about Zuzi’s (voted the Best Sandwich Shop in Savannah by People’s Magazine), or the 100+ year old Leopold’s Ice Cream (named one of the best ice cream parlors in the world). Savannah is a great city food foodies, but unless you plan to spend a month here, you can’t possibly taste all the goodies around.
With a Savannah Taste Experience food tour, you can skip the lines and taste some of the must-try dishes in the historic downtown. The guided 3-hour long walking tour takes you to some of the most iconic eateries and tells you the stories behind them. You get to meet the owners, learn insider secrets and taste menu features.
Learn About The Architecture
Sure you can walk around Historic Downtown Savannah and meander through its 22 squares and old homes. But knowing that you are looking at a building that predate The Unites States, or standing at a location where the movie Forest Gump was filmed, makes the walk a bit more interesting. Savannah College of Art and Design graduate in architecture and author of two books, Jonathan Stalcup offers 90-minute tours that take you on a walking journey through Georgian, Federal, Regency, Greek Revival, Italianate, Gothic and Art Deco periods through the city – yes you can see a little bit of everything in Savannah. It is a real treat to experience all kinds of architectures on this brief walking tour.
Eat At a Yurt Village
After walking and shopping through the city, grab a seat in a private yurt at one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the country – The Grey. This hip restaurant sits at what use to be a Greyhound Bus Terminal. Food is upscale southern using only the finest local ingredients.
To ensure the health and safety of their guests, The Grey partnered with American Express to create a Mongolian style yurt village. Each yurt has a backdrop of a colorful quote (mine was from Prince) and spacious seating for four guests. Reservations are available all-day, though menu changes daily. Lunch is decadent, as they bring out an assortment of tea sandwiches, fresh baked pastries (my favorite was the cardamom French cruller), and your choice of tea. My lunch was chilled shrimp cocktail, and a whole fried flounder with collard greens and southern grits. This may be your first time experiencing high tea in a yurt and its definitely worth it!