Savannah is a vibrant city with a storied history, friendly locals and the kind of energetic, contemporary vibe that many historic cities lack. It’s an art-lovers city, a foodie destination and the perfect place for your next romantic getaway.
Locals insist that your first day should include a hop-on, hop-off trolley tour by Old Savannah Tours, a locally owned company that offers several themed packages and a great overview of the city.
After your tour, there are lots of ways to get around, including horse-drawn carriages, pedicabs, taxis and car services. You can even rent a bike from either Savannah on Wheels or Perry Rubber Bike Shop. But, at its heart, Savannah is a walking city. Strolling the city’s 22 squares and historic streets will allow you to explore Savannah’s architectural beauty, rich history and cherished monuments.
A Place To Slumber
The Marshall House is not only the oldest hotel in Savannah, but is consistently ranked as one of the best. Many of the hotel’s original features have been lovingly preserved or restored, including the wrought-iron “Broughton Balcony,” which overlooks the historic district’s main retail thoroughfare. Some of the most sought-after rooms are those with access to the balcony, through original floor-to-ceiling windows. The hotel is also notable for its pioneering female founder.
“Mary Marshall was the grand matriarch of Savannah, an early real estate developer and the largest landlord in the city when she opened The Marshall House in 1851,” explains General Manager Hugh Osborne.
The Hamilton-Turner House was the first home in Savannah to have electricity and continues to shine bright today. The inn is so thoughtfully and stylishly appointed, that it forever banishes the notion that a historic inn has to be mired in the dusty trappings of doilies and overpowering antiques. Instead, guests enjoy an atmosphere of relaxed elegance and gracious living. From afternoon teas and evening wine and cheese, held in the inn’s stunning parlor, to the delectable breakfast offered in the dining room, you’ll feel exceptionally pampered. The innkeeper Susie Ridder has also not overlooked a single amenity, from luxurious bedding and bath products to complimentary, high-speed internet and in-room charging stations with adaptors for every device in your arsenal.
The Mansion on Forsyth Park is a delightfully quirky and eclectic hotel with an exuberant spirit that will make you feel as though you followed Alice down the rabbit hole and landed in the lush environs of a sexy boutique hotel. While the Victorian-Romanesque exterior and name may conjure visions of a stately manor house, this hotel is more of a Pop art palace. The rooms are kitted out with all the trappings needed for an urban romance, complete with sleek marble bathrooms and oversized whirlpool tubs. It also features an on-property art gallery, restaurant and spa. The hotel neighbors Forsyth Park, home to Savannah’s most beloved fountain and the scene of many romantic proposals.
The Desoto checks all the boxes for the traveler looking for a modern, Southern-hospitality experience. The 4-star property has the contemporary feel of a fashionable art museum, thanks to the property’s showcase of artwork from the Savannah College of Art & Design. The hotel’s restaurant, 1540 Room, offers an elevated farm-to-table concept from the talented and affable Executive Chef Mark Santiago, and at Edgar’s Proof & Provision Bar, bottles of bourbon line the walls and cast a honeyed glow over the hotel’s speakeasy-style lounge. Once upstairs, you’ll marvel at the dazzling views of the city’s skyline, especially from the corner balcony rooms.
The Right Stuff
The two iconic restaurants that you cannot miss are The Olde Pink House and Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room at The Wilkes House, both of which offer quintessential Savannah experiences. Mrs. Wilkes doesn’t take reservations and is only open for lunch, so people start lining up early. You can expect a long wait most days, but as Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds recently learned, it’s well worth it.Once inside, you’ll enjoy a meal of classic Southern comfort foods and a wonderful communal dining experience of passing dishes and chatting to all the new friends you made in line. Insider tip: If you stay at the historic Wilkes House or one of their other accommodations, you can skip the line and your lunch is included in your room rate.
The elegant Pink House does take reservations, and we suggest visiting for dinner, just not on the same day as Mrs. Wilkes. There are many dining rooms in this former mansion and bank building, but the atmosphere is vastly different depending on which room you choose. The two most romantic places to dine are in the Bank Manager’s Office or at the table for two in The Vault. Insider tip: For the ultimate in romance, request that the restaurant’s wandering singer Sidra Sams comes to your table to serenade you with your favorite song.
On the modern side, HUSK Savannah is perhaps the chicest and most exciting new eatery. Part of a pioneering restaurant group, HUSK takes local sourcing and food preservation to another level through a concept of ingredient-driven cuisine with ever-changing menus based on seasonal items from local purveyors. Similarly, the glamourous upstairs Bar at HUSK offers an ever-changing cocktail menu rooted in the restaurant’s commitment to seasonality.
If you want a really fun date night out, sign up for one of Chef Darin’s Kitchen Table Hands-On Cooking Classes (chefdarin.com).
“We have five to seven classes a week,” Chef Darin explains. “Over the course of three and a half hours, you get an educational experience, a social experience and [to] enjoy a meal that you prepared. I’ve had a lot of couples tell me they prefer this over going out to eat, because you’re not just having a meal—you’re getting a great experience and techniques you can use at home.”
The nightlife scene has some daring new entries, including the sleek and sultry Alley Cat Lounge, the decadent new dessert and drinks parlor Better Than Sex and the glamorous Artillery Bar—but don’t overlook the charms of such local favorites as Perch Rooftop Bar, Rocks on the Roof, The Jinx, Crystal Beer Parlor, Congress Street Social Club and Good Times Jazz Bar & Restaurant.
When it comes to shopping, the best stores can be found on Broughton Street, Whitaker Street, Bull Street, Bay Street and within City Market. There’s something for everyone, from the specialty stores like the native Savannah Bee Company, purveyors of deliciousness like Back in the Day Bakery, Leopold’s Ice Cream and Byrd’s Famous Cookies, as well as antique and vintage finds at shops like Wright Square Vintage and Retro Mall. Two must-visit destinations are The Paris Market, a shop and cafe with the charm of a French flea market and E. Shaver’s Booksellers and Tea Shop. E. Shaver’s offers fantastic book selections, unique house blend teas and a chance to hang out with some lovable bookstore cats.
After all that exploring, eating and shopping, you must experience the pure indulgence that is Spa Bleu. Voted Best Day Spa in Savannah for seven years in a row, this beautifully appointed spa offers a full range of massage treatments, beauty services and couples’ packages. They’ll also help make your visit even more special by arranging anything from a light lunch to champagne and sweet treats to enjoy during your time at the spa.