First off, HELLO! This is my first post ever on this blog. Why I choose to write my first post during finals week, I don’t know. As a painting major though, my finals aren’t as torturous as most (you can punch me for that later). Anyway, I will be leaving the Savannah College of Art and Design for good next week, and as a way of getting some closure, I decided to write my first post about Savannah.
Savannah is the perfect place to visit for a long weekend, and that’s how long most people (except SCAD students) stay here. In the Fall and Spring, 20-something girls from Florida and the Carolinas flock to Savannah with their straight, blonde hair and pastel, Lily Pulitzer dresses, hitting the bars that line River Street and City Market. They’ll stay for the long weekend, drinking their body weight (which is easy to do thanks to Savannah’s open container policy), heading to Tybee Island to show off their new itsy bitsy teeny weeny bikinis, and hop on a slow ride (which is essentially a moving bar that you have to petal to move with someone sober steering) where they’ll scream and laugh at the top of their lungs. Those same women but 50 years later also gather in Savannah in their still pastel-y cardigans and well coifed hair, where they’ll spend their weekend gabbing with their gal-pals over high tea at Gryphon Tea Room (where I worked for a short while) and taking a trolley ride that passes right by SCAD, snapping pics of the poor art students in their natural habitat, struggling under the weight of portfolios and art supplies.
Ok, that was a little negative. I apologize. Savannah is really a wonderful city and now I’m actually going to give you the upsides and inside scoop on where to go and what to see if you decide to visit Savannah.
So you wake up and need coffee. There are SO MANY amazing coffee shops in Savannah. They are honestly what I will miss most about Savannah. So here is a list of the BEST CAFES:
1. Foxy Loxy
This is the number 1 coffee shop for locals, especially students. Amazing atmosphere, coffee, tacos (random, but just go with it), and gluten-free baked goods. It’s not right downtown, but if you’re willing to take the hike, GO! Foxy doubles as a print shop, so the whole vibe is super artsy and hipster with fake animal heads mounted on the sticker-plastered walls. There is also a beautiful European-style courtyard out back. If you’re staying downtown, however, the Coffee Fox is right on Broughton Street, owned by the same people, has the same great coffee, just a little smaller (and no tacos…).
This cafe is right up the street from Foxy Loxy. The atmosphere isn’t as awesome, but they have more food options, including amazing breakfast and lunch sandwiches, and THE BEST TOMATO BASIL SOUP EVER. I am SERIOUS PEOPLE. It’s creamy and spicy and salty with slightly soggy but still crunchy on the outside croutons sprinkled on top.
This cozy little cafe is nestled on Bull street on a corner. It’s right next to a bike shop and therefore frequented by cyclists. The inside is packed full of huge overstuffed armchairs and small tables.
Ok. This is my favorite shop in Savannah. I can’t even begin to describe my love for this place. It is legitimately like stepping into Paris, and not in a gross touristy way. They sell beautiful (albeit expensive) finds from all over, both vintage and modern. The cafe has a wide range of french pastries and beverages with little tables that always have fresh flowers sitting on them. Don’t miss the downstairs that has pinterest-worthy sample table settings with vintage silverware, as well as old printing letters and lightbulbs, to name a few things. Just, go there. It’s amazing.
Now you’ve got your coffee, it’s time for breakfast. Savannah is a very walkable or bike-able city, and parking is a bitch, so I would suggest walking everywhere. Let’s talk BREAKFAST PLACES.
This is a fairly new restaurant, but it has quickly become one of the hottest places in Savannah. Channing Tatum and Sofia Vergara have both been spotted eating here. It’s owned by a super friendly Australian man who you will meet if you go there. The inside is an interior designer’s dream. High ceilings, modern lighting, exposed brick walls, etc. They only serve breakfast, brunch, and lunch. There is the Australian, ever popular Smashed Avocado Toast. I am partial to the eggs benny for breakfast, which also comes with adorable little hash brown balls. Instead of Canadian bacon, the poached eggs are served on pancetta which is mouth-wateringly good. If you’re there for lunch though and are not a vegetarian, GET THE BRISKET BURGER. I am quite picky when it comes to burgers, hailing from Vermont where every burger is grass fed yadda yadda yadda (basically, we have a lot of happy cows and amazing burgers). I had yet to find a burger that lived up to a Vermont burger until I had the brisket burger at Collins Quarter. So juicy and buttery. You won’t regret it.
The coffee is pretty awesome here too.
This is one of my favorite breakfast spots in Savannah. Walking down Liberty Street to get there on a sunny day is also a really nice walk. The inside is, I’m pretty sure, a renovated commercial garage, so super vaulted ceilings and a wall of windows. Off-beat art also lines the walls. It is cold in this place, so if you get easily chilly like me, bring a sweater or eat outside! The menu is extensive but not expensive (see what I did there?). I usually always get the hazelnut french toast (with a side of real maple syrup because hello Vermonter). It is probably the best french toast I have ever had.
Another interior not to miss. Even if you have to sit in the bar, totally worth it. More high ceilings. Vintage-y. Classy and eclectic. I’m not as big a fan of their food though, but I haven’t eaten there as often as other places.
In between brunch and dinner, I recommend strolling down Broughton Street. It’s the main shopping street and the heart of downtown. It has local and chain shops and some restaurants (quick side note, Flying Monk is a great lunch/dinner spot right on Broughton). You can easily get everywhere from this street. People are going to tell you to go to Leopold’s Ice Cream. Yeah it’s pretty good and movie themed, but honestly I’ve had better ice cream and the line is always out the door.
From Broughton Street, you can hit City Market and River Street (probably better to go to at night, though, if you don’t mind crowds of drunk people). However, if it’s a nice day, I would recommend heading away from the river and down Bull Street. You’ll pass by lots of cute shops, like Red Clover, one of my favorite boutiques, and beautiful old buildings. This street, among other beautiful streets, will lead you to Forsyth Park, the biggest of the parks.
On your way to Forsyth, one street I highly recommend you stop and explore is Jones Street. This is a ritzy residential street but the but the buildings and trees are just breathtaking. If you get there mid May, the magnolia trees might be in bloom, filling the street with their sweet scent.
Forsyth is a great place to picnic, sunbath, or throw a frisbee. The big fountain at the top is beautiful to just sit and watch. It’s a great walk around the park too.
Fast forward after a nap and some shopping, it’s dinner time! There are a lot of places to eat, and depending on what you’re looking for, this might not be helpful. I know I’ve been living in the South for 2 years but I honestly don’t really like “southern” food. I’ve never been to Paula Dean’s restaurant or Mrs. Wilke’s Dining Room. I can’t handle that much fried food. So here are my recommendations for DINNER based on my Vermont, organic upbringing.
One of the most underrated restaurants in Savannah, this eatery also has great brunch. On Saturday nights they have live music. More exposed brick inside. Dark, romantic atmosphere. A friend and I just went there the other night for her birthday dinner. We each had a shrimp pasta dish that was to DIE for. Perfectly cooked shrimp over pappardelle (wide, flat pasta), shaved parmesan cheese, Roma tomatoes, and a wonderful lemony sauce.
Another cool interior restaurant with a roof top patio apparently, although I’ve never been up there. Wide menu selection. They have lots of burgers too, not quite up to my standards, but like I said, I’m a burger snob.
3. Circa 1875
Ahhh French food! This restaurant shares a wall with The Paris Market, rightly so. It’s like stepping into Paris in the 20s. Art Nouveau posters line the walls and the interior is very bistro-y. Delicious food with lots of traditional French dishes.
4. Local 11 Ten
This restaurant is just past Forsyth Park on Bull Street. I believe it used to be a bank and there is still a vault somewhere inside. It’s very grey and modern. Make sure to make a reservation. It’s on the pricey side, but worth it. You can also order a la carte. Save room for dessert too!
Okay, for my last (very short) list of recommendations, I’m going to talk about TYBEE ISLAND. There are lots of other little islands around Savannah, but this is the most popular. It’s about a 25 minute drive from downtown, unless it’s the weekend on a really nice day, in which case the traffic will pile up and can keep you sitting there for up to 3 hours. Tybee is a gorgeous beach, like a cross between a Florida beach, with soft, white sand, and a Cape Cod beach with tall grasses and piers. And sharks. Sometimes. Anywho, if you’re the kind of person that likes to beach around lots of other people, go all the way to the pier to set up camp. There are lots of little shops and stands and bars and stuff. If you prefer a quieter beach experience, try to find parking down one of the side streets that lead to the beach. The water is bath warm in late-summer to fall. If you’re an early riser, it’s also beautiful at sunrise.
I am not a huge fan of the island itself. I don’t have many food recommendations, but the ones I have are good’n’s.
1. Sundae Cafe
This place looks like a gas station on the outside, but do not be fooled! Once you enter, you feel like you’ve been transported to a suave European lounge restaurant. Reservations are necessary and this place is pricey, but again, worth it. Everything is SO fresh, especially the fish and seafood.
2. Social Club
That’s all for now folks. If you have any questions about Savannah or want more recommendations, feel free to leave a comment! Stay tuned for my next post about Charleston, SC!