Admittedly, two days exploring any city isn’t usually enough time, but due to flight delays, three days turned into two. Still, I was determined to make the most of my time and seek out the best that Savannah’s Historic District had to offer. Fortunately, with a little planning, I found out that two days is enough to discover this genteel and cultured city.
I usually prefer small inns or B&B’s, since they offer a more intimate experience and innkeepers are a great source of information about a city. The Green Palm Inn, located right in the Historic District and only a couple of blocks from the riverfront, fits this perfectly. The innkeeper, Diane McCray, calls her inn a colonial cottage and she has four charmingly decorated and quiet rooms with oversized comfy beds. She serves a hearty southern-style breakfast each morning and goes out of her way to make travelers feel like they are at home. She even helps them plan their day’s activities. Room rates start at just $129 per night and include your breakfast, afternoon wine and homemade snacks.
Visitors come to Savannah for the laid-back atmosphere, manicured and shady public squares with Spanish moss laden oak trees, the history (Savannah is the largest National Historic Landmark District in the U.S.), and the food. In fact, there are so many dining options that it was hard to narrow things down to just a few.
But if there is one place that’s an institution, it’s Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room. We walked the short distance to Jones Street where hungry diners were already lining up for the 11 a.m. seating. Sema Wilkes started serving her home-style southern meals in 1943 and the tradition still continues today. Patrons are seated around large tables that are covered with bowls of fried chicken, black-eyed peas, collard greens, beef stew, and about a dozen other sides. A blessing is given by a staff member and then the food-a-thon begins. Meals cost just $16 and include sweet tea and dessert.
After lunch, we booked a tour of the district with Old Savannah Tours. They have comfortable coaches and interesting guides that provide a good overview of some of the city’s highlights. Since we needed to walk off some of that lunch, we then booked a walking tour of the Historic District with Savannah Dan. Dan is a towering former police officer who sports a seersucker suit and a Panama hat. As we walked through the streets and squares, he wove history and humor together, making the past come alive. From the rave reviews he gets on Trip Advisor, this is a must-do activity for those on any schedule.
For lunch we were told about a fantastic BBQ place rated #1 on Trip Advisor just a short drive from downtown Savannah off of Hwy 80 called Wiley’s Championship BBQ. Don’t let the strip mall setting deceive you. These folks are serious about their BBQ. How serious? Owners Wiley and Janet McCrary did the professional BBQ circuit for 12 years and have all the trophies to prove it. “We cook the same way we would in a contest says Wiley, so you’re eating competition BBQ here.” We tried the brisket, ribs, chicken, pork, corned beef and even a custom smoked baloney sandwich. All of the meat was tender, succulent and in a word—delicious and worthy all the accolades. Start with their nachos made with homemade chips, white cheddar chees and bits of BBQ, then move on to the meats. Wash it all down with sweet tea and you have yourself one of the best BBQ experiences of your life.se folks are serious about their BBQ.
For dinner that night, we walked just a block from the Green Palm to Cha Bella for a light farm to table dinner of flatbread pizza and risotto- fresh, tasty and delicious. Then, it was off to bed and ready for another day.
After another great breakfast, we headed to the riverfront. This is a major tourist draw with retail shops, restaurants, streetcars, and the wide Savannah River that has been the thoroughfare of primary transportation since the day when cotton was king. Today, mainly large container ships use these shipping lanes to bring cargo into port.
Here, you can find a couple of stores selling my wife’s favorite candy—pralines. These pecan treats are one of the South’s true unique confections.
We had lunch on the riverfront at Fiddler’s Crab House where they offer fresh seafood and a Savannah Julep, a tasty variation of the classic mint julep with sweet tea added to the cool libation.
After lunch, we made our way to Broughton Street and Leopold’s Ice Cream. Now I do admit that I am an ice cream lover, and the Leopold family has been making homemade ice cream and sauces from scratch since 1919. Their chocolate chocolate chip ice cream with hot fudge was, well, heaven!
After all this food, we weren’t hungry for dinner but ended our day at the Historic Savannah Theater for their current play: Savannah Nights. This patriotic high-energy dance and comedy show left the audience standing on their feet and cheering, begging for more—exactly our sentiments on our short visit to this historic city.
(Note: This trip was made possible and sponsored, in part, by the Green Palm Inn, Historic Savannah Theater, Wiley’s Championship BBQ and Savannah Tours).
Green Palm Inn
Old Savannah Tours
Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room
Leopold’s Ice Cream
Historic Savannah Theater