travelogue: savannah, ga.

July 12, 2011

i don’t travel very much — it’s something that i really want to do more of in the next few years, especially as i become more financially stable and as i (gulp) hit my 30s — but i still thought i’d share some pics and write up a mini-travelogue about my time in savannah, which was wonderful. (warning: this is going to be a long post.)

i guess i should start by saying that the past six months have caused me to do a lot of thinking about where i’d ultimately like to live. i came thisclose to moving up north in february for work, but then, at the eleventh hour, decided to stay in sarasota thanks to a seriously fantastic job offer that i thank my lucky stars for every single day.

and before all that, i never questioned that i’d someday live up north — new york city was my top choice, but i would have been happy in boston or philadelphia, too. in fact, when i friend told me upon our college graduation that he never saw me any of those cities — that he saw me in a city like charleston or savannah instead — i scoffed. stay in the south? me? no. i was northeast bound.

but my trip to savannah — and the time i’ve spent in sarasota over the past five years, and, again, particularly the last six months — has changed that a little. i’m still not sure that florida is my forever state, but i love the south more and more each year. and who knows? maybe savannah is in the cards for me in the next couple of years. i guess we’ll see. the point is: i loved it there. here’s what we did and my thoughts on all of it.

avia hoteli picked this after doing just a little bit of googling, and i’m pretty proud of my choice. the hotel is new-ish — about two years old — and the staff is super friendly and accommodating. the beautiful modern decor is a nice contrast to savannah’s otherwise very southern gothic style, and in addition to a fun bar (see below), there’s also a beautiful second-floor pool with canopied seats and an outdoor bar. my only criticism — and it has nothing to do with the staff or amenities provided — is that the room doors are very thin, and you can pretty much hear everything that goes on in the hallways. otherwise, i’d absolutely, 100 percent stay there again, especially since it’s so centrally located.

flannery o’connor’s childhood homean interesting way to experience a slice of the author’s life. the house is smallish and the tour quick, but i loved looking at its antique pieces and hearing stories about the strongheaded, often-impish o’connor.

the telfair museum of arta small museum in a gorgeous building (actually called the jepson center for the arts) with a seriously impressive entryway (see the pic of the installation above). currently on display is work by judith godwin, which i just loved.

telfair academy of arts and sciencesoriginally a mansion built for the telfair family, this museum — which is gorgeous — now houses some of the telfairs’ furnishings as well as 19th- and 20th-century american and european art, including american impressionist pieces and work by artists like robert henri (whose beautiful salome is my favorite piece in sarasota’s ringling museum).

the owens-thomas housealso part of the telfair family of museums, this grand-even-now house is a great example of english regency architecture and one of the first homes in the u.s. to have indoor plumbing. it also has one of the oldest intact slave quarters in the united states, and honestly: it’s pretty chilling to walk through those rooms. in the main house, many of the original furnishings are still present and it’s so much fun to look at them as you meander through.

shopSCADthere’s so much history in savannah that it’s nice to remember the savannah college of art and design is committed to keeping the city on the cutting edge of the art and design scene. we ducked into shopSCAD on the way to the flannery o’connor house, and i loved looking at all the cool pieces created by scad students and alumni.

city marketa bustling marketplace with a bunch of shops and cafes — strolling it through it was most fun in the morning, when everything was just waking up, and at night, when a country band was playing live one evening.

your own walking tour – savannah, at least the historic district, is really-and-truly walkable. we parked our car at our hotel and literally did not use it once for two days — it was awesome. i highly recommend wandering through the city, relaxing in some of the many squares with a cup of coffee or tea, and stopping at shops, galleries and cafes as you see fit. even in 90-plus-degree july heat, it was wonderful.

old town trolleys historic tourthere are many, many historic tours in savannah, but our concierge recommended this service, which lets you ride its trolleys all day and jump off and on at various stops throughout the city. the guides are all well-versed in city history and most have pleasantly southern drawls. not going to lie: you feel super touristy on these things, but you also learn a lot.

papillote we started the day here with delicious, fresh salads with a definitive french flair. not necessarily a cheap lunch but delicious and beautiful nonetheless.

the olde pink house – haute southern cuisine at its best — seriously, one of the best meals i’ve ever had. it started with a delicious homemade biscuit, continued with a crabcake sandwiched between two fried green tomatoes and served alongside an arugula salad, and ended with almond-crusted tilapia in shrimp butter (and, actually, topped with three plump shrimp) with grits and green beans. oh, and there was wine, too. i’m still dreaming of this meal, you guys.

also, the restaurant itself is beautiful — it sits right beside a leafy green square and is indeed pink —  and the night we ate there, a saxophonist was playing in that square. just lovely.

goosefeathers cafea charming little cafe where we had breakfast on our second day. the food wasn’t groundbreaking, but it was good and definitively breakfast-y, and the cafe seems to be a popular spot — there was a line to the door the entire time we were there.

mabel francis potter’s cupcake emporiumbest cupcake i’ve had recently — moist cake with a not-too-sweet buttercream frosting and a perfect cake-to-icing ratio. a pillar for other ‘cakes. (we brought some home.)

leopold’s ice creamanother best — this time the best ice cream i’ve had in years. ridiculously creamy but not overly sweet,  i’m half-tempted to see if they’ll ship a pint of lemon custard to my doorstep. it’s easy to see why this place has been in business for more than 100 years.

avia kitchen + loungeavia doesn’t have its own restaurant, per se, but it does have a great bar (and a signature cocktail) and serves hot breakfast and light bites for dinner. i had a fresh-from-the-iron belgian waffle, a scoop of super creamy grits (side note: i have a newfound love for grits after this trip) and some fresh fruit, and all were delicious.

so there you have it — a long-winded blog post and my little savannah travelogue. see you back here tomorrow, friends!

photos: 1. one of the city’s many leafy green squares; 2. papillote; 3.-4. flannery o’connor house; 5. paris market; 6. jepson center for the arts (telfair museum of art); 7. owens thomas house. all snapped by me!

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