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The Spell of Savannah

May 30, 2012

This time of year is proving to be a bit nutty with work travel. I just got back from a press trip to Savannah, and the next two weeks you’ll read about where else I’m headed. It’s all great fun, and there’s so much to write about. First things first, a piece on Savannah.

I’ve been to Savannah, Ga. quite a few times, but I must say this last time was certainly filled with the royal treatment–beginning with the fact that I didn’t have to make the four-hour drive solo from Atlanta to Savannah. I felt so spoiled taking a flight that’s so short there’s no drink service, but boy did it help me save my energy for all the exploring. Savannah at its core is not unlike Charleston or all those other little spots along the Ga, and S.C. barrier that I’ve written about here and here. There’s just something about them all that is charming and wonderful, but each place is still special and unique. While it’s still in Ga., it has such a different feel than the bustle (if you can call anything outside of NYC bustle) of Atlanta. Here’s the pop on where to eat, sleep, and wander while in Savannah.

Mealtime in Savannah is quite incredible. Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room is a family-style feast at its finest. Since 1943, Mrs. Wiles’ has served diners to the point of being uncomfortably full with homey Southern staples (there’s no menu, but expect to see fried chicken, collards, biscuits, butter beans and about 15 other dishes) lining the tables set for 10. It’s ridiculously good, but not exactly a light lunch.

I love Elizabeth on 37th for a fancy meal, and the Crab Shack is a Tybee Island must. Since pizza is universal no matter where you go, Vinnie Van Go Go’s is a local favorite. You can smell its deliciousness the second you enter the City Market area. Your nose will never steer you wrong.

One more thing–Savannahians enjoy their cocktail time (I was told by a very knowledgeable tour guide that most are fond of clear spirits), and the to-go cup rule is a very real and fun addition to the city. Folks in Savannah have totally mastered drinking outdoors.

Image: Courtesy of Kessler Collection

My host for the press trip was the Zimmerman Agency who counts the Kessler collection of hotels as a client. And not just because I was their invited guest am I saying to stay at either the Mansion on Forsyth Park or the Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront. Even if I went to Savannah without their gracious trip, I’d still stay here. The rooms are lovely and decadent, loaded with ambiance, and both hotels are in equally great locations.

If you want something slightly more historic, years ago, my mother and I had a fantastic stay at the oldest hotel (and said to be very haunted), the Marshall House. The only things haunting us were our poor decisions about not stopping ourselves from ordering several martinis too many one night. Nothing quite like a mother-daughter hangover to really act as the glue binding a family together.

I normally abhor cheesy touristy things when traveling, but it’s hard when you’re in such a rich and storied city like Savannah to not do a trolley tour. My mom and I loved it when we did one, and I did another this time around. The guides really do delve into the culture of the city that cannot be captured by just a wander through its numerous squares.

Sea kayaking on Tybee Island is a fun way to spend a couple of hours and to earn what’s for dinner. Bike rentals or strolling the very many districts are another great way to see Savannah. The City Market is worth a visit. In it, you’ll find all sorts of shops like Savannah’s Candy Kitchen, which makes its famous pralines, and you’ll get a flavor for the city in this lively area.

I’m kind of obsessed with bees after watching the documentary “Queen of the Sun,” so a visit to Savannah Bee Company’s bee aviary was really interesting (and slightly scary). Savannah Bee Company was founded here and now sells it’s liquid gold at many shops throughout the country; it’s some of the best honey around.

Whether your Savannah visit is leisurely and lazy or filled with a packed schedule of tours and shopping, I’d put money that you’ll be back. There’s something about Savannah that casts that kind of spell.