Editor’s note: TravelQ, a series that documents travel through the eyes of stylish queers, returns this week with a new feature by Caroline and Erin, web designers, freelance photographers and writers for the travel blog Authentic Asheville.
We fell pretty hard for Savannah. The food scene is great, the cocktail scene is wonderful, there’s a ton of things to do, it’s right on the water, the weather is beautiful and there’s enough of a funky art and creative scene here thanks to SCAD that it ranks right up there with our hometown, Asheville. Surprised? We kinda were too. We didn’t realize how much it would win us over. We’d heard a lot of great things about it and of course read about it in some of the food magazines but we were expecting it to be a bit more stuffy than it was. If you’re looking for a getaway in the South, might we suggest Savannah?!
Where to Stay
The Hotel Indigo | 201 West Bay Street
We stayed in a suite on the third floor of the Hotel Indigo and it was awesome. The room is located right off of Bay Street and is in the perfect location for all of your Savannah explorations.(It’s just across from the water and City Market). The staff will take care of you the minute you arrive with valet parking, dining suggestions, and a map of the city. Our room had a really plush king sized bed with stylish and contemporary furnishings and gorgeous natural light coming in from several large windows. The king size bed was super comfortable and between the furnishings and the amount of space it almost felt more like an apartment. We highly recommend the Hotel Indigo as your base camp for adventures in and around Savannah.
What to Do
Old Savannah Tours | Various Locations
A trolley tour is always a good way to get your bearings. Though there are a couple sightseeing companies running in Savannah, we chose to go with Old Savannah Tours, which has been in business since 1979 and we loved the experience. The first stop takes off from the Visitors Center though once you have a ticket you can get on and off wherever you like. The Historic On/Off tour talks about over 100 different points of interest along the tour but also makes 16 different stops. It’s a great way to not only get a dose of history but also see a lot of the city. There are seven other themed tours you can book, so make sure to check out all of the options before deciding! Pro tip: buy your tickets online and save a few dollars.
SCAD Museum of Art | 601 Turner Boulevard
Have you ever come across a piece of music or art that moved you in such a way that you would never again be the same after hearing or seeing it? We had an experience like that while visiting the SCAD Museum of Art. Though there were several great works of art on hand there is an exhibit there by that left us spellbound, waiting with baited breath for the next incredible thing to reveal itself. I would tell you more but I don’t want to ruin it for those of you who will have the chance to see it first-hand. The exhibit I am referring to is by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller and is titled Two Works. It will be up through July 18, 2018. If you are anywhere near Savannah, this is a must-do.
American Prohibition Museum | 209 West St. Julian Street
This museum was a lot of fun. Mixed in with a bunch of wax figurines are docents who are dressed in period clothing and eager to share with you their knowledge about moonshine makers, rum runners, the Temperance movement and more. Be on the lookout for a very still figurine on the second floor who turned out to be human instead of wax. He nearly scared us half to death when he started talking! Pro tip: You get a discount for purchasing online and if you’re interested in riding the trolley, they offer a package deal.
Savannah City Market | Corner of Jefferson and West St. Julian Street
Pizza, smoothies, carriage rides, ice cream, beer…you name it, it’s bound to be here at the Savannah City Market. There’s a ton of shops to visit as well as some great art museums. There’s also live music almost any time of day or night. Thanks to Savannah’s open container policy, you can wander around the city with a drink so long as it’s in a plastic cup and north of Jones Street.
Visit the Squares | Various Locations
Remember the scene in Forrest Gump where he’s sitting on a bench eating a box of chocolates? It was filmed here in Savannah in Chippewa Square. There are 22 historic squares in and around the city (though at one point there were 24). They’re great places to enjoy your lunch, read a book or just sit and watch passerby. Columbia, Ellis and Franklin are some of our favorites but they’re all quite beautiful.
Forsyth Park | Drayton St & W Gaston Street
Besides visiting a couple of squares while you’re in Savannah you must make time for Forsyth Park. It’s the largest park in the historic district of Savannah and covers 30 acres of land! Grab a blanket or a park bench and just hang out or go for a walk or even toss a ball around. There’s a Farmer’s Market here on Saturdays and a beautiful fountain that’s one of the most photographed spots in all of the city.
Savannah Riverboat Cruise | 9 East River Street
A riverboat cruise? Heck yeah! Any time we get a chance to get on the water we do. While in Savannah we took a one and a half hour narrated harbor sightseeing cruise that gives you great views of the historic riverfront. The boat goes up towards Old Fort Jackson. If you’re lucky, you might just see a dolphin or two! We saw one on the way back just as we were returning.
Graveface Records and Curiosities | 5 West 40th Street
Just down the block from Foxy Loxy you’ll find Graveface Records. It sells new and used vinyl as well as curiosities. Things like taxidermy, old school games, masks, cocktail supplies and other random things (our favorite was a handmade pin collection). Whether you’re in the market for new music or just looking for a cool present, Graveface has got you covered.
Best Places to Eat
The Wyld | 2740 Livingston Avenue
Just outside of the city is a hidden gem. The food is unique, perfectly seasoned and oh so fresh. It’s loved by both locals and tourists. You’ll have the pleasure of watching boats come and go from the dock attached to the restaurant. There really isn’t a bad seat in the house. Say yes to the cocktail menu (we ordered a Moscow Mule and an Old Fashioned – classic drinks done perfectly), and spring for the Local Tomato Slice, Local Shrimp Roll, Caesar Salad and the Crab Chowder. The chowder had leeks, sherry, thyme, bacon and a generous portion of crab meat. This spot is one of our new favorite places to eat and chill.
Foxy Loxy Cafe | 1919 Bull Street
Awesome outdoor seating behind the cafe, excellent coffee, hand-crafted tacos, hell there’s even wine. Live music? They’ve got that, too, every Tuesday night. Want a little art with you caffeine as well? No worries, the inside of the cafe is bound to ignite your creative juices. When we were there a really unique collage exhibit was up. Oh and in our never ending quest for awesome coffee shops with easy parking, this one gets high marks. You can park across the street for free, once a day, for an hour and a half. Whatcha waiting for?
The Grey | 109 Martin Luther King Boulevard
If you haven’t heard about the Grey (their chef Mashama Bailey has won numerous awards) it’ll surely catch your eye from the street. It’s got a vintage exterior and sign that beckons you closer. One glimpse at the bar through the window and, if you’re like us, you’ll be halfway inside, and losing yourself in the space. So much of the building is original: the wood panels, the skylight, the terrazzo floor … that if you use your imagination you can almost sense what it would have been like in its heyday as a Greyhound station. The teamwork in the restaurant is palpable. It was a treat to watch the staff work together. But the food is what you want to know about, right? The food was one of the most memorable dining experiences we’ve had in a long time. Take your time perusing the leatherbound book full of wine, cocktails and spirits, order an app or two and then sit back as your entree is lovingly created from behind the curved glass ticket counter. We had raw oysters that were perfectly chilled (be sure to add a droplet of the pepper, white wine vinegar that is served with them), crab and spring pea pasta, and the catch of the day – pecan crusted halibut. It was a meal we won’t soon forget!
The Olde Pink House | 23 Abercorn Street
We had a fabulous meal at The Olde Pink House. Though it wasn’t even noon, we ordered a glass of wine and their signature cocktail The Pink Lady. Both hit the spot! Locals claim they have the best shrimp and grits in the city so we had to order it. And it was amazing. The shrimp were cooked perfectly! They were served on top of a grit cake in a smoky cream sauce that wasn’t too heavy, too thick or too rich. We also had the lobster roll, collard greens, Southern Sushi and BLT salad. This is sophisticated, low-country cuisine at it’s finest. Oh and while they offer really nice seating inside, the outside tables are the perfect place to soak up the southern sun.
Leopold’s Ice Cream | 212 East Broughton Street
Don’t let the line that’s coming out the door deter you from getting a scoop or two. They’ve been serving up the same recipe since 1919 and it’s more than worth the wait. Plus, when we were there the line moved quickly. Like a lot of shops, they’ll let you try before you decide. They’ve got all of the traditional flavors and are constantly rotating based on what’s in season such as Japanese Cherry Blossom, Lavender, Blueberry Cheesecake and of course, Eggnog.
The Public Kitchen and Bar | 1 West Liberty Street
A stylish place to grab a drink or a bite right in the heart of downtown Savannah. We promise you won’t be disappointed with their vodka martini. Seating is first come, first serve, so be sure to get there early and if you can, snag a table outside where you can be in and among the happenings on the street.
The Fitzroy | 9 Drayton Street
Intimate seating, sexy lighting and deep, rich colors indoors are enough to make you pull up a chair and settle in for the evening at this Australian inspired pub. But make sure to head upstairs where you’ll be rewarded with rooftop seating in a modern, minimalist vibe. The Fitzroy is the kind of place where you could bring a date and linger for hours. Be sure to come hungry and thirsty. They’ll take care of both of those needs. Our picks? The clams with bay foam cream and lemon (this dish was incredible), the gold beet salad, the catch of the day crudo, and the Fitzroy burger.
Vinnie Van GoGo’s | 317 West Bryan Street
Get a whole pie or even just a slice at this sweet little Neapolitan pizza shop. It’s got a cool vibe to it (think: good music, fun staff, stickers everywhere, fun art) and the ‘za is super tasty. They use fresh grated Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese and will even deliver to you on bike at no extra charge. The best part is that slices are large and are only $3.50 a piece. Be sure to put this on your list of places to eat when you’re in Savannah.
We had an absolute blast in Savannah. It’s got beautiful architecture, an awesome food scene, great places to drink and a ton of fun things to do. If New Orleans and Charleston had a baby, Savannah would be it. And we mean that in the best of ways. We know we’ve just barely scraped the surface on this southern town and are eager to dig a little deeper on a return visit. Have you been to Savannah? If so, what did you think?
About the authors: Caroline and Erin are freelance web designers, photographers and writers for the travel blog Authentic Asheville. When they’re not on the road, they hang their hats in Asheville, North Carolina. Follow their adventures on Instagram at @e.mcgrady + @carolineperdue + @authenticasheville