Take A Break is your ultimate guide to the perfect journeys to recharge, rediscover yourself and your relationships, and reengage with the world. We’ll cover shopping stops, great bars, restaurants worth your money, photo ops, memorable rides and experiences, and other important details you need before you book.
Below, we talk to HuffPost Editor-in-Chief Kate Palmer about why you’ll want to put Savannah, Georgia on your to-do list.
What drew you to Savannah as a place to visit or explore?
I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, so Savannah was always a short drive away, but a world apart in its vibe. A two hour drive north seemed somewhat further south. But it was also more centered on the arts, food and history ― three things I love today.
It’s drawn me to many kinds of trips throughout my life: I have fond memories of visiting my mother as a child to see the Girl Scout founder’s birthplace, then to college for gigs and road trips. Later it became a favorite place for my boyfriend and I to visit when we had more time than money; it was the obvious place for us to get married 10 years ago. Now it’s a city we like to return to as often as possible, for world class food and drink, great local shopping and a place to relax with languid walks under Spanish moss.
What are the best times of year to visit?
Although the city is beautiful all year round, I would avoid the hot summer months. Sure, you can stroll through historic squares with a mint julep in hand to stay cool, but it’s just nicer when it’s below 90 degrees.
I would say February to May and then September to November is great, although there are a few dates to keep in mind. St. Patrick’s Day is a crazy party: the Savannah River is dyed green, there’s a big parade, and you can take your Guinness with you. It is definitely an experience to do at least once.
Other major events to consider are the Savannah Music Festival in spring; the SCAD Savannah Film Festival in October, which is hosted by the city’s incredible art school; Halloween, which usually includes an incredibly fun Pride Parade; and the holiday season, which sees the city show off its lights and decor.
What’s your best advice for getting there? How to make the trip as stress-free as possible?
Driving to Savannah is easy enough from most points in the southeast, or as a stop on an I-95 road trip, but one of the charms of the tour is that you can actually walk to most locations. So I would suggest flying into Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport (SAV), taking a tour of the historic district and getting there on foot. While there are *tons* of places to visit outside of the Historic District (like Tybee Island, Jekyll Island, Hilton Head, Palmetto Bluff, even Charleston), a first trip there can be completely filled with sights. downtown pedestrians. Also, parking can be tricky as other people have also discovered this gem.
Where do you recommend staying when you go?
Savannah is blessed with a great offering of upscale hotels, historic bed and breakfasts, unique short-term rentals, and abundant budget and familiar chain options. A few of my favorites include:
- Perry Lane Hotel ― One of the newest and chicest hotel options with an excellent bar and restaurant called Emporium Kitchen and a few other bars that will appeal to design and cocktail lovers.
- House Marshal ― One of my favorites for decades. It’s just a great combination of old Savannah, great service, great value, and a wonderful location on the main shopping thoroughfare of Broughton Street.
- Planters Inn ― There are newer, hipper options, but I don’t think there’s a better Savannah experience than eating next door at The Olde Pink House, staying in a balcony room here, and watching the world pass over Reynolds Square.
- Mansion on Forsyth Park is a historic and luxurious location from which to explore the part of the historic district that is a little less touristy. The art collection alone is worth a visit.
- Thompson Savannah and JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District are two large new luxury hotels that line the city’s waterfront and feature new rooftop bars.
What are your favorite restaurants or foods during your stay?
There are so many fabulous options in Savannah that it’s hard to name a favorite – just kidding, Grey is my favorite restaurant in the South. Chef Mashama Bailey has created something truly special at this restored Greyhound resort. Its restaurant invites you to taste a cuisine from the South of African inspiration, inventive and more than delicious. Make a reservation before booking your flight. (If you can’t visit, watch his episode of “Chef’s table” on Netflix or his excellent book on race, friendship and food with his business partner John O. Morisano,”Black, white and gray.”)
I always visit The old pink house. The dining rooms are beautiful, but I prefer the tavern downstairs. I like their homemade pink lemonade with or without vodka, or the Planter’s Punch. Both were everyone’s favorite guests at our wedding. The fried green tomatoes here are also divine.
A few other favorites include Elizabeth on the 37th for high Southern food and seafood, the Crystal beer fair, Shelland Leopold ice cream for dessert.
What bars or entertainment venues do you make sure to visit? What’s good to drink there or what else should people know?
Savannah is a drinking town, so you don’t have to walk too far to find a great cocktail or local beer. I’ve completed many good nights at Abe is on Lincoln, Pinkie Mastersand Lone Wolf Lounge. If you’re looking for something more upscale, head to a rooftop bar like Myrtle & Rose on the river or Perch closer to Forsyth Park. Check listings before heading out for concerts in the beautiful and historic Lucas Theater. (I caught Emmylou Harris and Josh Ritter there; it’s a great venue.) You can also find wonderful live music at places like The wormhole, Jazz, The Jinxand many others.
Ask for local alcoholic beverages while you’re there: Phantom Coast Distillery, Savanna Distillationand owned by a woman The 1970s are all good bets.
What are your favorite shops and what do you look for when you are there?
Shopping in Savannah is a great way to connect with local designers, entrepreneurs, and tastemakers. A few places I always visit include:
- SCAD Shop ― The Savannah College of Art and Design store. Find the work of the next great textile artist or jewelry designer. The prices are reasonable and the atmosphere is fun. It is the opposite of mass production.
- Paris market ― Right on Broughton, this store is the best thing to do after a flight to France. It’s neatly curated and has a great selection of gifts, homewares, jewelry, and furniture. There is also a great cafe inside.
- Backpack ― A Savannah gem featuring locally and lovingly designed bags, shoes and luggage. You can buy something in stock or work with the designers to create something just for you. I get compliments all the time on Betty bag I bought on my last trip.
- Picker Joe’s Antique Mall and Vintage Market – I challenge you to visit and not find something you like.
- Chocolate by Adam Turoni ― Avoid the tourists at the riverside fudge shops and head to this amazing little shop that looks like a magical jewelry box of delicious sweets. I love this place !
- E. Shaver Booksellers ― One of my favorite independent booksellers. Don’t miss it.
Where is your favorite place to take photos and why?
You can’t go wrong Forsyth Park. The massive fountain is iconic to Savannah and the dripping moss is IG gold.
Which tourist attraction should people avoid and what should they do instead?
I would skip the tourist city market and head to some of the shops and restaurants listed here. Or look for a walking tour that can delve deeper into Savannah’s intricate history or architecture.
Where do you feel most relaxed, calm or happy?
All places are relaxing, especially in good weather, but I wouldn’t miss Reynolds Square, Oglethorpe Square, Monterey SquareWhere Johnson Square. Walking between them all is just delicious.
What is the thing that you make sure to take with you if you go and why?
A good camera or my iPhone, good walking shoes and a book I want to get lost in.
What specific planning tips do you need to know before you go so you don’t get stressed out?
Get a great restaurant reservation, then play everything else by ear. Maybe plan a tour or concert, and allow yourself plenty of time to wander around and get lost. Don’t go over the schedule!
What surprised you about Savannah when you first went there?
I am always pleasantly surprised by the density of events, openings, new stores and bars. And how open, friendly and proud of the city everyone is. I shouldn’t necessarily be surprised, being so close, but it always leaves such a good feeling about the city to meet people who are so invested in the city they love.
Anything else visitors should know?
If you’re not from the area, throw in your thoughts on what you think you know about the South. Try talking to people and asking questions. Let yourself be seduced by the place. It’s hard not to!
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