From January to June it seems like there is no break from the grind even though we have several days designated as holidays. Therefore, taking a quick two-day trip to a familiar place or just a town that offers so many things to do that it makes you want to keep going back time and time again is ideal for the body and mind. For me, there are several towns that I enjoy going back to and Savannah ranks very high on my list. Savannah has gone through a remarkable transformation. When I first went to Savannah in the early 2000s, the place was filled with sightseeing ghost tours and the main street had nice shops but was run down. The books and movies like “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” and “Forrest Gump” made the small quiet town an attraction as much as a curiosity, not sure if for the better. Leap forward 15 or so years and what a transformation this beautiful town has gone through.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still ghost tours and River Street with all the typical touristy shops but if you really want to enjoy the best that Savannah has to offer, you don’t have to look too hard. The town has transformed into a sophisticated town but yet held on to its quaint atmosphere. From the Savannah Jazz Fest in September to its Food and Wine Festival in November Savannah is surely becoming the place to visit for all the right reasons and all year round.
I feel fortunate that I live a drive’s distance away from many of my favorite spots. Savannah is a 2 hour ride from Jacksonville, FL and it is a pleasant one, especially on a beautiful late spring or early summer day. I usually pack my car the night before and head out right from work around 12pm. Immediately, one feels like a school kid playing hooky. Once we arrive, we tend to stop by The Grey Diner
and have their Farmer’s Chopped Salad with Farro, Scarlett beans, farmers cheese, herbs and peanuts and the blackened Catfish Po’Boy. Both were delicious and filling. I tend to stay in a hotel on E. Bay Street. We usually stay in the Hampton Inn – Historic District because the rooms are always clean, the lobby is so pretty with its exposed brick, there is a rooftop pool and it’s walking distance to many of the places I’ve listed.
Once settled, the fun begins, we head out on to Bay Street and take in the view of the river. A word of caution , as you walk, always make sure to look down because there are many horse-drawn carriages and the horses leave presents all over the streets. We head out to the Bohemian Hotel’s rooftop bar, Rocks on the Roof.
It is a great place to take in the view of the river as you lounge on the outdoor sofa with a fire pit. It is also a great place to people watch.
By now it’s about 6 pm and we start heading back to the hotel to get ready for a late dinner. Knowing how many great places there are to eat in Savannah, I always do my research in terms of trying to find local restaurants to try. We decided to have dinner at The Vault Kitchen and Market on Bull Street. It is a bit far to walk but you can Uber for $7. The restaurant is an old converted bank and the owners left the original bank vault where private parties are held. The atmosphere is sophisticated with a farm to table feel. The food is just as wonderful with its Asian Fusion and Sushi menus to please all palates. We got to the restaurant early so that we can enjoy the atmosphere and sit at the bar. Once there, we ordered their Old Fashion which consisted of 100 Grand infused Elijah Craig Bourbon, Nocino Walnut Liqueur, sugar with a hint of vanilla and bitters. What a way to start the evening. Once we were seated, we started with their BBQ Tofu Steamed Buns with Szechuan Glaze, Korean BBQ Sauce and Sriracha and Vegetable Spring Rolls. For the main course we had the Vegetarian Bond with grilled tofu, Portobello mushrooms, zucchini, bell pepper, asparagus, brussel sprouts in a wonderful sauce. My husband had the Nickel Noodle Stir-fry with wide rice noodles, basil, shrimp, scallions, onions, bell pepper and egg. Overall, it was a wonderful experience. We will be returning and next time to try their sushi.
It was around 10:30 when we arrived back to the hotel and since it was drizzling we decided to turn in so that we can make the most of the next day. We woke up early and I went for a power walk and after a quick shower we headed out to Collins Quarter on Bull Street and I must say that this is one of my favorite restaurants so far. The place is popular on all fronts. It is only a few blocks away from the hotel and one can imagine being a local and CQ being the go to place to eat. The staff is very friendly and I believe
they create the vibe that makes you want to go back. So what about the food? Delectable is the word that comes to mind. I had the Avocado Smash
which consisted of an Artisan 3 seeded toast topped with feta, heirloom tomatoes, and radishes and, of course, a poached egg with a sprinkle of sea salt. My husband had the Brioche French Toast which had drunken berry-fruit compote overflowing and topped with candied pecans and the syrup was none other than a Bullet bourbon-maple syrup with orange Devonshire cream.
Need we say more? The sheer size of the French Brioche was meant to be shared.
So after we were done devouring our meals, we were all set to walk it off and get some retail therapy in our system. I enjoy Broughton Street, where it feels like an old fashion Main Street but lined with H&M, GAP, Banana Republic and other various stores usually found in malls. But if you look past the name brand stores, you will find gems like Go Fish, The Impeccable Pig and my favorite
The Paris Market and Brocante where there is eclectic items from bar ware to clothing to even a French cafe which makes you feel like a little piece of Paris came to Savannah. One shop my husband had his eye on was Goorin Bros. Hat Shop where you find a wonderful array of hats for men and women, everything from fedoras and flatcaps for men to cloches and floppy hats for women, not to mention the accessories that compliment those hats such as pins and feathers and an honorable mention to an ice cream shop that has been around since the turn of the century Leopolds for a great little treat while walking around. But Broughton Street isn’t the only area to find little boutiques, Whitaker Street has a few shops that are worth visiting. The Custard Boutique has wonderful unique clothes and accessories and La Paperie has all things stationary and beyond. And if shopping just isn’t your cup of tea, you can always spend the afternoon in the Telfair Museum’s Jepson Center which always has contemporary exhibits and the Owens-Thomas House and Slave Quarters for a glimpse at what Savannah was like.
By now it is around 2 pm and somehow I find myself a bit hungry and in the mood for something hearty, we stop by the The Flying Monk Noodle Bar
for some Buddha Noodle Bowl with veggies, cilantro, angel hair pasta and tofu and Ramen, with chicken, Bok Choy and egg among other spices. And please ignore the fork, we did try the chopsticks and spoon but there was too much on that bowl (make sure to make reservations since the place is compact and the lines are long and that goes for all the places I’ve mentioned). After that enjoyable meal, we were tired and content but as we passed Collins Quarter we had to stop by for an espresso or two. Now bear in mind that the restaurant closes at 2pm and finish serving at 3pm to get ready for the dinner crowd but the Espresso Bar is open and buzzing. They have a variety of choices but we decided for a double espresso and a Matcha Latte which hit the spot. CQ uses Toby’s Estate Coffee from Brooklyn, NY and I can see why. The coffee is smooth with no bitterness at all. We enjoyed it so much I ended up placing an order for the Flatiron espresso when I got home. The Latte was warm and inviting. After a nice long shower and lounging for a bit in our room, we head out for a great evening. We are not hungry at all so we decide to visit Jazz’d Tapas Bar. We figured since we will probably want a bite to eat later in the evening we would stay in one place and enjoy it all without moving to another location. Fridays and Saturdays they are open from 9PM to midnight and their menu options are great. The entertainment is wonderful and the food was very good, it was a wonderful way to end the evening. The next morning we headed to b. matthews
for some breakfast before heading back home. It is walking distance from the hotel but we decided to pack the car up and leave directly from the restaurant. Street parking is a bit scarce so you may want to just walk there. Again atmosphere is so important to me and the old building with the exposed brick is so inviting while the food was savory. I started with a Bloody Mary and had the Veggie Scramble with goat cheese and a homemade
biscuit while my husband had the Lamp Post which consisted of two eggs, cheese grits, eggs, potatoes and turkey applewood bacon and it hit the spot. We had a wonderful time in Savannah and looking forward to going back and trying new restaurants . I know I didn’t post the usual 10 things to do in Savannah but this is just a less stressful way to just enjoy eating and drinking without feeling like a tourist. I enjoying travelling the world but sometimes going to a familiar spot where you know your way around becomes just as much of a vacation as exploring new and exotic places. The upside is that you don’t have to stress out over the unknown because you already established a sense of familiarity with the place and there are few things more gratifying. Let me know if you have gone to Savannah and send me some of your favorite places so that I can visit them next time I am there.