How to Have the Ultimate Vacation in Savannah, Georgia

How to Have the Ultimate Vacation in Savannah, Georgia

How to Have the Ultimate Vacation in Savannah, Georgia

Take A Break is your ultimate guide to the perfect journeys to recharge, rediscover yourself and your relationships, and reconnect with the world. We’ll cover shopping stops, great bars, value-for-money restaurants, photo opportunities, memorable rides and experiences, and other key details you’ll need before you book.

Below, we chat with Kate Palmer, executive editor at HuffPost, about why you want to put Savannah, Georgia, on your bucket list.

What drew you to Savannah as a place to visit or explore?

I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, so Savannah was always just a short drive away, but a world away in its atmosphere. Two hours’ drive north, it somehow seemed further south. But it was also more focused on art, food and history – three things I love these days.

It has drawn me there throughout my life for many different types of travel: I have fond memories of visiting with my mother as a child to see the Girl Scout founder’s hometown, then college for concerts and road trips . Later it became a favorite place for my boyfriend and I to visit when we had more time than money; 10 years ago it was the obvious place for us to tie the knot. Now it is a city we love to return to as often as possible, for world class food and drink, great local shopping and a place to relax with languorous walks under the 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 wander the historic squares with a mint julep in hand to keep cool, but it’s just more fun when it’s below 90 degrees.

I’d say February to May and then September to November are great, although there are a few dates to keep in mind. St. Patrick’s Day is a wild affair: the Savannah River is painted green, there’s a big parade, and you can take your Guinness to go. It is definitely an experience to do at least once.

Other important events to consider include the Savannah Music Festival in the spring; the SCAD Savannah Film Festival in October, hosted by the city’s incredible art school; Halloween, usually with an incredibly fun Pride parade; and the holiday season, when the city shows off its lights and decor.

Forsyth Park is one of the most picturesque spots in Savannah.
Forsyth Park is one of the most picturesque spots in Savannah.

What’s your best tip for getting there? How can you make the trip as stress-free as possible?

Driving into Savannah is fairly easy from most points in the Southeast, or as a stopover on an I-95 road trip, but one of the charms of a visit is that you can actually walk to most places. So I’d recommend flying into the convenient Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport (SAV), taking a drive to the historic district, and settling in there on foot. While there are *tons* of great 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 pedestrian-friendly downtown sights. Plus, parking can be difficult as other people have discovered this gem as well.

Where do you recommend staying overnight when you go?

Savannah is blessed with a wealth of high-quality hotels, historic bed-and-breakfasts, unique short-term rentals, and plentiful budget and well-known chain options. A few favorites of mine are:

  • Perry Lane Hotel ― One of the newer, more upscale hotel options with an excellent lobby bar and restaurant called Emporium Kitchen and a few other bars that will please both design and cocktail aficionados.
  • Marshall House One of my favorites for decades. It’s just a great combination of old Savannah, great service, good value and a wonderful location right on the main commercial thoroughfare of Broughton Street.
  • Planters Inn ― There are newer and 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 go by over Reynolds Square.
  • Mansion on Forsyth Park is a historic, upscale place to explore the part of the historic area that is a little less touristy. The art collection alone is worth a visit.
  • The Thompson Savannah and JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District are two large new luxury hotels on the city’s waterfront and have new rooftop bars.
Savannah has a strong nightlife with many bars, live music venues and events.

Henryk Sadura via Getty Images

Savannah has a strong nightlife with many bars, live music venues and events.

What are your go-to restaurants or foods to eat while there?

There are so many fantastic options in Savannah it’s hard to name a favorite – just kidding, The grey is my favorite restaurant in the south. Chef Mashama Bailey has created something very special in this restored Greyhound Station. Her place invites you to enjoy African-inspired Southern dishes that are inventive and beyond delicious. Book a reservation before you book your flight. (If you can’t visit, watch her episode of “Chef’s Table on Netflix or her excellent book on race, friendship and food with business partner John O. Morisano,”Black, white and the gray

I always visit The old pink house† The dining rooms are lovely, 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 lofty Southern fare and seafood, the Crystal beer salonPeeland Leopold’s Ice Cream for dessert.

Which bars or nightlife are sure to hit you? What’s good to drink there or what else do people need to know?

Savannah is a watering hole, so you don’t have to walk far for a tasty cocktail or local brew. I’ve spent many great evenings at Abe is on LincolnPinkie Mastersand Lone Wolf Lounge† If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, head to a rooftop bar like Myrtle & Rose on the river or Perch closer to Forsyth Park. Check the offers before going to concerts in the beautiful, historic Lucas Theater (I caught Emmylou Harris and Josh Ritter there; it’s a great venue.) You can also find great live music at venues like the wormholejazzd, The Jinxand many others.

Ask for some of the locally made booze while you’re there: Ghost Coast DistilleryDistilling Savannahand owned by a woman the 1970s are all great bets.

What are your favorite stores and what do you look for when you get there?

Shopping in Savannah is a great way to connect with local designers, entrepreneurs and tastemakers. A few places I always visit are:

  • Shop SCAD ― The Savannah College of Art and Design store. Find work from the next great textile artist or jewelry designer. The prices are reasonable and the atmosphere is nice. It is the opposite of mass production.
  • Paris market ― This shop, right on Broughton, is the best alternative for a flight to France. It is expertly curated and has a great selection of gifts, housewares, jewelry and furniture. There is also a great coffee shop inside.
  • school bag ― A Savannah gem with locally and lovingly designed bags, shoes and luggage. You can buy something in stock or work with the designers to create something special just for you. I get compliments on the . all the time betty bag I bought on my last trip.
  • Picker Joe’s Antique Mall and Vintage Market – I dare you to visit and not find something you love.
  • Chocolate by Adam Turoni ― Avoid the tourists in the riverside fudge shops and go to this amazing little shop that looks like a magical jewelry box with delicious candies. I love this place!
  • E. Shaver booksellers ― One of my favorite independent booksellers anywhere. Do not miss it.
There are plenty of historic homes and other notable buildings in Savannah.

Daniela Duncan via Getty Images

There are plenty of historic homes and other notable buildings in Savannah.

What is your favorite place to take pictures and why?

You can’t go wrong at Forsyth Park. The huge fountain is iconic Savannah and the dripping moss is IG gold.

Which tourist attraction should people skip and what should they do instead?

I would skip the tourist town market and go to some of the shops and restaurants listed here. Or, find a walking tour that can delve deeper into Savannah’s intricate history or architecture.

Where do you feel most relaxed, calm or happy?

All the squares are relaxing, especially in good weather, but I wouldn’t miss Reynolds Square, Oglethorpe Square, Monterey Square or Johnson Square. Walking in between is simply wonderful.

What is one thing you definitely take with you when you go and why?

A good camera or my iPhone, nice walking shoes and a book I want to get lost in.

What are some specific planning tips you should know before you go so you don’t get stressed?

Get a great restaurant reservation, then play everything else by ear. Perhaps plan a tour or a concert, and allow yourself plenty of time to walk around and get lost. Do not exceed!

What surprised you about Savannah when you first went?

I am always pleasantly surprised by the density of events, openings, new shops and bars. And how open and friendly and proud everyone is of the city. I shouldn’t necessarily be surprised, being up close, but it always gives such a great feeling about the city to meet people who put so much into the city that they love.

Is there anything else visitors should know?

If you’re not from the area, throw away your ideas about what you think you know about the South. Try to talk to people and ask questions. Make you fall in love with the place. It’s hard not to!