City Guide: Savannah, Georgia

Where to start with Savannah… first, there is no place else on earth quite like it.   It is Georgia’s first city. Pirate’s House, mentioned in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, is the first (and still standing) structure in Georgia.   (If you go to eat at Pirate’s House, order the She Crab soup…you can thank me later). 

There is a vibe in Savannah like no other.  The way the Spanish moss sways through the branches of the Live Oaks will make you believe that it really is the most haunted city in America.  It’s the home of SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design) which has incredible film and fashion festivals that could rival those of LA and NY.  It is also home to UGA; the beloved University of Georgia mascot.  It’s also the first planned city, the “squares” of Savannah are off the charts beautiful.  It is the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low (founder of the Girl Scout’s).  One of the more notable things concerning Savannah is, of course, “the book” as the locals refer to it.   John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is such a spot-on, poignant take on the fabulously quirky, eccentric southern city.  “The book” really put Savannah on the tourism map.

Places to visit:

Forsyth Park (pictured)….a gorgeous park at the “end” of the squares.  Great for a Sunday morning stroll.

Leopold’s Ice Cream on Broughton.  Straton Leopold, who makes the ice cream himself, is also a major Hollywood producer some of his films include the Tom Cruise Mission Impossible series… again, not kidding when I say Savannah is a place like no other.

Back in the Day Bakery.  Just go.  Order everything.  Your life will never be the same. 

River Street (on the Savannah River)…it is completely touristy, but fun.  “Climb the steps” of River Street and see if you can spot any of the hidden tunnels where the pirates used to come and go. 

Tybee Island….about 30 minutes outside of downtown Savannah, but worth the trip for its beautiful beaches. Good for the history buffs too, as Fort Pulaski is near the island.  While there, eat at the Crab Shack, order the raw oysters. 

Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House, near the corner of Jones and Whitaker.  Listed on the “1000 Things to Do Before you Die” list, this is THE place for southern cooking.  They do not take reservations and you eat family style.  Get their early, the line is around the block before they open.

Bonaventure Cemetery.  The most beautiful, peaceful place in Savannah.   It is the resting place of Savannah native, songwriter Johnny Mercer who wrote “Moon River” (yes, an actual river in Savannah).  Johnny was a good friend of Walt Disney.  It’s rumored that on a visit to Savannah, while staying with Johnny and hearing about how everything is haunted, Walt came up for the idea of the “Haunted Mansion” attraction at Disney World.

Telfair Museum of Art…home to Sylvia Shaw Judson’s “Bird Girl” statute, also made famous by “the book.”  She first resided in Bonaventure Cemetery for years before it became such a tourist spot. 

Mercer House, also made famous by “the book,” it was the home of Jim Williams.  Jim Williams can be credited with saving Savannah as he undertook the renovation of dozens of historic homes that had fallen into disrepair.  The historic downtown Savannah you see today would not be the same without Jim Williams.

The Gryphon Tea Room… operated by SCAD.. located in an old apothecary, it is truly a gourmet tea room.

Wormsloe Historic Site.  This is the quintessential  SOUTH.   The 822 acre plantation (or really, what’s left of it) and the mile long entrance flanked with Live Oaks.  It’s absolutely breathtaking. 

ANY trolley ride… the movie tour (Forest Gump, Something To Talk About, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), the haunted tour (spoiler alert.. EVERYTHING is haunted), the sightseeing tour, just do them all and find out why no Spanish moss will grow in Wright Square. 

I could list 100 more places to see in Savannah, but be prepared.  Once you visit Savannah, you will always return.  It will have an effect on you like no other city. Georgia will always be on my mind.