12 Things We Love About Savannah

The words “Savannah, Georgia” pronounced in a southern drawl evoke another time – a graceful world of colonial mansions and southern belles. Although we suspected things may have changed since the time of The Legend of Bagger Vance, one of Simon’s favourite films, when we learned the city was doable as a day trip from Jacksonville we couldn’t resist a visit. Savannah didn’t disappoint and we fell for it instantly – here are the reasons why.

1) Elegant Mansions – Savannah’s historic district is packed full of beautiful, colonial houses, preserved with love. You can visit many mansions that were once the residences of historic figures, but I was just as enamoured with the homes belonging to current Savannahians.  It’s all in the attention to detail: freshly painted doors, a pot of colourful flowers, a curving staircase, or a rocking chair on a bright white verandah.

Savannah Mansion

2) Mammoth Oak Trees – Giant oaks dripping in Spanish moss line the streets and parks of the city.

Trees in Forsyth Park, Savannah

Trees in Forsyth Park, Savannah

3) Many Squares – In the compact historic district there are 22 leafy squares – perfect places to sit on a bench and watch the world go by. The earliest date back to 1733 when the British General James Oglethorpe devised the renowned city plan with squares at the centre of each neighbourhood.

Square in Savannah

4) Aimless Wandering – Central Savannah is very pedestrian-friendly with quiet streets and a relaxed vibe that demand aimless wandering, and this is how we spent most of our day. We particularly liked the tranquil residential streets just north of Forsyth Park.

5) Forsyth Park – Another relaxing place for a stroll amongst ancient oaks is Forsyth Park. The beautiful white fountain was featured in the film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – read the book or watch this before you visit as there are references everywhere.

Fountain in Forsyth Park, Savannah

Fountain in Forsyth Park

6) Mrs Wilkes’ Dining Room – The foodie travel bloggers The Road Forks gave us this tip and we’re glad they did. As vegetarians we didn’t think southern cuisine would have much to offer us but Mrs Wilkes proved us wrong. We were seated with eight strangers at a large table laden with bowls of food. Even skipping the fried chicken we had plenty to choose from: mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, candied yams, collard greens, black eyed peas, okra, green beans, baked beans, biscuits and many more. A local sitting next to us said it’s the best southern food he’s eaten aside from his grandmother’s. It certainly was good and plentiful.

Delicious veggies at Mrs Wilkes' Dining Room, Savannah

Delicious veggies at Mrs Wilkes' Dining Room

It’s a popular place – Obama even ate here in 2010 – so get here early. We arrived at 10.30am, 30 minutes before it opens and there was already a line of 40 people. Our 45 minute wait wasn’t a hardship though with the street’s handsome buildings to admire and a Kindle on hand.

Queue outside Mrs Wilkes' Dining Room

Queue outside Mrs Wilkes' Dining Room at 10.30am

7) Cupcake Emporium – We were stuffed for the rest of the day after Mrs Wilkes’ but we couldn’t ignore The Road Forks’ recommendation for Mabel Francis Potter’s Cupcake Emporium, so we picked up a box to take home. Oh my god! These cupcakes are so good that we are seriously tempted to make the five hour return trip to Savannah just to get some more.

It took us a while to choose from the beautiful selection but we ended up trying Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Frosting, Coconut with Coconut Butter Cream, Chocolate with Chocolate Butter Cream and the wonderfully inventive Chunky Chocolate Chip Cup Cookie: who knew cookies would make such an delicious cup cake? They were all gorgeous – moist cake and soft, creamy frosting.

The owner was very friendly offering us travel tips and even giving Simon a free cupcake for attempting the tongue twister challenge. At $2.50 a cupcake they are good value.

Cupcake Emporium, Savannah

Mmm, cupcakes...

8 ) Friendly People – The Savannah locals are super friendly. As we wandered the streets we were often asked by strangers “How y’all doing?”, customer service was excellent everywhere, a random lady complimented my dress, and Simon was even mistaken for someone’s son (that was a bit weird though!).

9) Independent Businesses – As well as gems like Mrs Wilkes’ and the Cupcake Emporium, Savannah is full of independent cafés, restaurants and shops. We only wish we hadn’t been so stuffed so we could sample more of them.

10) Bonaventure Cemetery – A 10 minute drive from downtown, Bonaventure Cemetery is famed for being featured in  Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. It’s huge and filled with spooky moss draped oaks and Victorian headstones.

Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah

Bonaventure Cemetery

11) Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum – We couldn’t visit the Deep South and ignore the African-American history of the area. This interesting museum focuses on the civil rights movement in Savannah.

12) Boat Watching – We weren’t big fans of touristy River Street but it’s certainly worth a wander, especially to gaze at the boats in one of the US’s busiest sea ports.

Ship at Savannah's Port

Ship at Savannah's Port

Although there are plenty of tours you can take in Savannah, and I’m sure these are a fascinating insight into the city’s history, make sure you allow time for strolling the streets independently. We recommend parking at the Visitor Centre on Louisville Rd ($1 an hour, first hour free), picking up a free map and wandering from square to square.

Note: The title of this post was inspired by the Globetrotter Girls’ Things We Love series about their travels in Central America.

Trail Wallet

Have you been to Savannah? Leave a comment and share your favourite things.

33 thoughts on 12 Things We Love About Savannah

  1. Savannah actually has been on my list for quite some time. Would like to make a loop and include Charleston and some of the outer islands. You’ve given me some ideas on what to do. And the cupcakes do look yummy.

    • I’ve heard Charleston is lovely too but it was too far for us to do in a day trip. It would make a great trip to combine them.

  2. Savannah sounds like a really lovely place! We’ve both been obsessed with Savannah since watching the (cheesy) TV show many years ago ;-) Hopefully we get to get to go there during our road trip through the South later this year.

    P.S. Thanks for the shout-out!

  3. Unfortunately I have not been to Savannah yet, but now I definitely want to go!! What a beautiful place! Loving the old mansions, the trees and the yummy cupcakes :)

  4. My husband was in Savannah on business at the same time you both were there. I was in So. Cal., feeling a bit jealous! Savannah is my all time favorite city to visit. Some things I like to do there are: visit Wormsloe Plantation; the driveway is magnificent. Mrs. Wilkes; I had the pleasure to meet Mrs. W. and have her sign a copy of her cookbook for me, the Telfair Museum, home to The Black Prince at Crecy (Google it!), SCAD Art Store, the church bells, the list goes on and on for me. I love Savannah with all my heart and soul.

    • We’ll have to go back one day – it sounds like there’s a lot to do that we didn’t get to. Thanks for the tips.

  5. Cupcakes!

    Those alone look worth the trip :) I have to agree that the name Savannah, Georgia just conjures up pretty images – and the pictures look like it lives up to it! One day, when I go on my epic roadtrip across the USA, it’ll be on the list.

  6. Savannah really is a gem. The Charleston, Beufort, Savannah area is one of our favorite places in the US.

    I’m glad you got to experience Mrs. Wilkes. Its one of the best meals we’ve ever had and its location gives you the feeling that its a local secret even though there is always a line down the road! :-)

    • Mrs Wilkes’ was a lot of fun and very tasty. The 45 minute wait actually added to the anticipation and made it feel like an extra special experience.

  7. Pingback: Photo of the Week: Spanish Moss in Savannah

  8. wow…I do love Savannah! I was actually born in this magnificent city and lived there till I was about 1 year old. I had not gone back until last year while out on tour and played a show there. I fell in love with it and the people were amazing. they actually put us on the cover of the Savannah weekly to welcome me back home. I adore this city!!! Thanks for the pix.

    • That’s awesome! It’s a beautiful city that doesn’t seem to get the international recognition that it deserves. We’ll be sending people there from now on and hope to spend more time exploring the city in the future.

  9. History, history, history…not sure how else to encompass Wormsloe Plantation, Ft. Pulaski or Colonial Park Cemetery. I loved your list, but I’ll add that visiting Savannah from San Francisco, another place where we love our history, was such a pleasure, especially learning about your history. I had a wonderful time in your fair city, I will be back!

  10. My wife and I just got back from our 4th trip to Savannah and I’m ready for #5 any time.

    We do try to get some time in both Savannah and Charleston. Both are beautiful, historic and teeming with visitors but different enough to make it well worth the 110 mile drive.

    It’s a real treat to visit historic districts that were made for walking and find them adjacent to retail districts like Broughton Street (Savannah) and King Street (Charleston).

    Try shrimp & grits for breakfast at the Hominy Grill in Charleston and head down to Clary’s in Savannah for a late lunch with all the sweet tea you can drink.

    • I have heard Charleston is beautiful. I agree that it’s so wonderful to be able to walk around the historic districts.

  11. A great time to visit Savannah is the last week of March / first week of April. The azaleas are blooming, there aren’t as many tourists (although we love our visitors), the weather is mild / humidity lower and best of all – the Savannah Music Festival is going on. This event is great! It is two weeks of all types of music performed by nationally recognized artists – classical, gospel, rock, Jazz, country / bluegrass, folk, alternative. There are numerous events every night. Tickets are reasonably priced and the venues are beautiful.

    • Another great time is during the art fair on River Street. This year it was the same weekend as Easter. Given Savannah’s concentration of arts and artists it’s hard to imagine a bad time to visit.

      Does Christmas in Savannah live up to its reputation? Or is it too cold to walk around and enjoy the city?

  12. I’ve lived here for 15 years and it really amazes me to see people this genuinely impressed with our city. It really gets old and boring after a while. Things like this kinda let me see it through others eyes for a while, so thanks for that. I’m glad you enjoyed Savannah!

  13. I LOVE LOVE LOVE SAVANNAH it is my home away from home. I have been twice and fell in love at once. All of the victorian houses and squares are amazing I could wander the streets forever. I so want to move here one day I am working towards this the people are so friendly you have to visit here sooner then later you will never want to leave. I live in Myrtle Beach and I did not want to come back home.

  14. I try to go to Savannah every year. I absolutly love it. If I could I would move there in a min. The most beautiful place on earth. The people are so nice, they make you feel right at home. The history, and it is a gem of the south. Love it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> <p>