If you’re looking for a taste of Ye Olde American South, you simply must spend a weekend in Savannah, Georgia. Savannah (and it helps if you say it all drawn out like Suuuuvannuuuh) simply drips with history like the trees drip with Spanish moss. And the food. Oh, the food. You could go to Savannah only for the food and come away happy. Enjoy a quintessentially Southern escape with our weekend in Savannah itinerary.
If you want to avoid the tourist hordes then I suggest Savannah in shoulder season. We spent a weekend there in October and were pleased to find the city quieter even than I was expecting. Though we had also been hoping to avoid heat, we didn’t quite manage that. Our weekend there was simultaneously overcast, muggy and drizzly for much of the time. And much warmer than we expected. I did not pack well for this trip.
[Hangs head in shame.]
Learn from my mistakes and check out my weekend packing list so you’re prepared for your amazing weekend in Savannah.
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Weekend in Savannah Itinerary
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Where to stay in Savannah
I recommend staying in the historic downtown area. You’ll enjoy being in the heart of the city and it will also reduce the need to drive around from site to site. Street parking can be hard to come by and can be expensive.
We stayed at the Marriott Savannah Riverfront (100 General McIntosh Blvd) in a river view room, which we loved. The hotel is conveniently located at the end of historic River Street, just steps from the Waving Girl Statue. It’s quite comfortable and the staff are friendly. We recommend it highly.
Waving Girl Statue
After we settled in, we were anxious to get out and see some of the historic riverfront area. Just a few steps from our hotel we came upon the Waving Girl Statue in Morrell Park. The statue honors Florence Martus who greeted each and every ship entering or leaving Savannah for 44 years by waving a handkerchief or a lantern at night. According to legend, she did this because as a young girl she had fallen in love with a sailor and she was trying to make sure he could find her, but there doesn’t appear to be any historical evidence to support this notion.
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The statue is the creation of Felix de Weldon, who also sculpted the Marine Corps (Iwo Jima) War Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia.
From the Waving Girl Statue, we continued along the river to explore River Street. I do have to admit it is a rather touristy area, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a stroll down it once or twice. Be advised that Savannah does have an open container law, so there will be people walking around (especially at night) with alcoholic beverages.
Cars are permitted to drive on River Street, but there is very limited parking. We walked partway down River Street before cutting over to Bay Street to find our restaurant of choice for dinner. After dinner and dessert we did the entire street. You know, to get the full effect.
We stopped for dinner at B. Matthew’s Eatery (325 E Bay St). Their menu has some great vegetarian and gluten free options on it, so it seemed perfect for us. We were surprised to walk in and see the restaurant almost entirely empty. We were early, but surely not that early. The food was quite good, and the service was fine. I would recommend B. Matthew’s but when we go back to Savannah, I don’t think we’re likely to want to go back.
Leopold’s Ice Cream
After dinner, of course we had to try Leopold’s Ice Cream (212 E. Broughton St.). Expect lines out the door if you visit Savannah during high season. Early in the evening on a Friday night in October there were only a few people in line ahead of us.
Leopold’s turned 100 years old this year and is probably most famous for their Tutti Frutti ice cream. I tried the Savannah Socialite which is chocolate ice cream with Georgia pecans and bourbon caramel. It. Was. Delicious. We loved the ice cream there so much we wanted to go back the next day, but it just didn’t work out. Next time for sure!
The shop is full of all sorts of Hollywood memorabilia, and I wasn’t sure why, but it turns out the son of the founder had a dream to work in Hollywood, so off he went. He has credits as a producer or executive producer on more than 20 films including The Sum of All Fears and Mission: Impossible III.
The Collins Quarter Café
We had an historic walking tour booked for 10 a.m. the next morning that met up outside The Collins Quarter on Bull Street, so of course, that was the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely breakfast before the tour. The Collins Quarter is a popular spot, but they do not take breakfast reservations. We arrived at about 8 a.m. on Saturday and were seated right away. It didn’t start getting noticeably busy until closer to 9 a.m. There is also outdoor seating, but I loved the décor and atmosphere inside the café.
The Collins Quarter has a lot of great gluten-free options and a few solid vegetarian options as well. Hubby had the “Leo’s Big Breakfast.” It had three different kinds of breakfast meat, so he was a happy camper. I had the Banana’s Foster French Toast, which was delicious and surprisingly large. I couldn’t eat all of it, but I sure enjoyed what I did eat.
I also tried the spiced lavender mocha. It was without a doubt the best mocha I have ever tasted. Yes, it does have tiny little lavender blossoms sprinkled on the top, and they are just perfection.
I can’t say enough good things about The Collins Quarter and definitely would love to go back the next time we go to Savannah.
Genteel & Bard Savannah History Tour
I’m a little embarrassed to say that I didn’t know much about the history of Savannah before actually going there. That’s not usually how I roll. I like to do pre-trip research, but this trip I just couldn’t find the time. Enter historical walking tour. What better way to learn more about your destination than have a local show you around and tell you all the best stories?
Genteel & Bard’s tours come highly recommended, so I didn’t hesitate to book their Savannah History Tour. They also offer a ghost tour. (Savannah locals like to talk about how haunted their city is. In fact, our valet at dinner one night told us Savannah is the most haunted city in the U.S.) Stops on the tour include Chippewa Square and Green-Meldrim House (General William Tecumseh Sherman’s headquarters).
T.C. Michaels is an outstanding and friendly guide. He truly brought the city to life, from its planning and founding up to the present. And where does all that energy come from?
I’m kind of a wimp though and had my fill of walking after about an hour and a half, but would still recommend you give this great tour a try if you are at all interested in the history of Savannah or even if you just want to hear some good stories from a great storyteller. It will most definitely make you appreciate Savannah more as well as the people who worked so hard to preserve it for future generations to enjoy.
Fox & Fig
After our stellar tour we were ready for some lunch, and decided to give the local plant-based cuisine a try. Fox & Fig Café (321 Habersham Street) comes highly recommended and we were not disappointed.
The dining room is quite small, but the food and service were great. There was also a steady stream of takeout customers at the counter. I enjoyed looking around the other tables to see what they were eating. Judging by other people’s orders, it appears that the Fox & Fig pancakes are also quite popular as well as their iced coffee drinks. Hubby enjoyed a vanilla milkshake made with Leopold’s coconut milk ice cream with his lunch. I ordered the Fox Burger, and it was outstanding.
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
After our Savannah history tour and lunch we were only a few blocks away from the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. In addition to looking for all the best art when we travel, we enjoy visiting historical and prominent places of worship.
St. John the Baptist is open for visitors. They suggest a $3 per adult cash donation, which we were glad to make. They do allow photography of the interior but for personal use only.
Vic’s on the River
After a day of walking through Savannah we were looking forward to a nice, quiet dinner with a view of the River. We made reservations for Vic’s on the River (26 E Bay St). They offer valet parking, which we appreciated to help us make our reservation on time.
You can also get to the restaurant through Vic’s Coffee Bar on River Street. Just take the elevator up to the fourth floor.
The food and service were outstanding, and I would highly recommend this restaurant particularly for a special occasion. They have a large number of gluten-free options, but they’re a little light on the vegetarian options. I was able to make a delicious dinner though out of the baby Tuscan kale salad with preserved lemon (resisting the temptation to lick my plate clean) and the fried green tomatoes with grits and goat cheese appetizer. Hubby quite enjoyed their filet with sour cream and chive mashed potatoes.
There’s a quite well-known fountain in Savannah, and you’ll find it in Forsyth Park (2 W Gaston St). Forsyth is a 30 acres of walking paths, gardens, sports courts and fields, a half-shell theatre, and more. It’s truly a beautiful park and well worth a visit.
Back in the Day Bakery
Back in the Day Bakery comes highly recommend by my sister, who is quite the foodie, so really there was no way I could NOT stop here. It was literally the last thing we did in Savannah before we pointed the car in a homeward direction.
Back in the Day is best known for their biscuits. The biscuits go out at 8 a.m. and fly out the doors until they are sold out for the day. It was shortly after 11 a.m. when we got in line and I was surprised that they were surprised they still had biscuits left. I would have been disappointed to drive there and find there were no biscuits. I probably could have consoled myself with one of their enormous cinnamon rolls, but I was looking for a good Southern biscuit. And I sure found it.
When you get a biscuit at Back in the Day there are all sorts of options to customize. I added gruyere cheese (which just happens to be my favorite) and pepper jam. Their pepper jam is delicious. And while I wouldn’t go as far as Dear Sister and say that I love it so much I want to bathe in it, it was really, REALLY good. And the biscuit was great as well.
Whatever you choose to put on your weekend in Savannah itinerary, you’re sure to enjoy your time there. The beauty, charm, history and (of course) the food all combine to make this gem of the American South a great place for a weekend getaway.
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