Day Trip: Savannah

As you may have noticed by the absence of posts last week, I took a brief vacation to unwind a bit with family at the beach and explore Savannah with my wife. While I could elaborate greatly on everything to be experienced in the beautiful city that is Savannah, I thought it might be more helpful to my readers to boil everything down to one simple day trip in which "the best parts" of Savannah could be experienced in a single day.

Thus begins the newest feature of The Best Part....Day Trips! Periodically, I'll add another city or region to be explored in a simple day trip that packs the highlights of each location into a nice, easily-paced day. Even if you're just passing through, or have an extra day at the end of a business trip, you can fully experience what makes each location what it is.

So without further rambling, let's visit Savannah!

Your first task is to purchase the "This 'N That" tour book, available in any number of locations around town from Savannah Fun Tours for $25. I know, this sounds ridiculously cheesy, but Savannah has quite the history, and you're going to want to hear the stories, legends and rumors that abound in this town. (If you're in the mood for breakfast, purchase your copy at Clary's Cafe, made famous by Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil as the gathering spot for the book's characters, and a favorite breakfast spot for locals.)

There are dozens of tour buses, carriages, and even trolleys that drive around the historical areas of Savannah, hauling groups of tourists and spewing facts. But how much can you learn about a place by driving by it at 25 mph? Savannah is an easily walkable city, and this book guides you around the historical areas of Savannah at your own pace, delivering the same facts and stories about this great city while allowing you to explore and make your own stops at the fantastic shops and restaurants along the way.

The first of these shops you must visit on your walking tour (located on the Madison Square stop of the tour) is
ShopSCAD, the gallery/shop of current and past Savannah College of Art & Design students that is packed full of incredible works of art, ranging from paintings to jewelry to post cards. I guarantee you will find something you absolutely must have. (I found a beautiful mixed media piece by Anna Frischknecht).

All this walking will likely leave you famished, and if you only eat once in Savannah, it must be at Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room. A former boardinghouse that has served traditional southern fare to the working class of Savannah since 1943, Mrs. Wilkes' now only serves lunch from 11-2 on Monday through Friday. They don't take reservations, and you will most likely wait in line for at least an hour. The reward for your patience is being led to your community table, already covered in what seems like 5o bowls, plates and platters of incredible southern food that puts even the most elaborate Thanksgiving feast to shame. Everything is passed around the table family style, and the experience leaves you feeling like you've just experienced a truly authentic bit of the old south, including cleaning up your own dishes.

With a full belly and gluttonous grin, it's time to work off some of those calories and do some shopping. Heading down to Broughton St., you'll find some of the best interior and design shops available anywhere, along with clothing shops ranging from American Apparel to Marc Jacobs. The first stop you should make (at 320 West Broughton) is @Home Vintage General, a shop full of incredible papers, stationery, furniture, jewelry, antiques and all sorts of random vintage-inspired ephemera. Think of it as a more authentic version of Anthropologie.

Continuing our tour of Broughton St., (at 36 W Broughton), you'll find one of the most eclectic and inspiring shops I've ever encountered in The Paris Market and Brocante, a massive shop full of incredible finds from around the world including vintage furniture, clothing, lighting, and literally anything else you can think of. Hundreds of examples of rare antique taxidermied animals? Check. Ancient asian pottery found on the seafloor by treasure hunters? Check. You'll feel a bit like Indiana Jones visiting this shop, and the amazing design of the displays alone are worth checking out.

My fellow fans of Knoll, Eames, and Saarinen must end their tour of Broughton St. (at 24 E Broughton) at the Mecca of modernism in Savannah, 24e. This massive warehouse space is packed with all the greats, and those of you with the cash to spend may leave with a shipment of Barcelona chairs, Saarinen tables and Florence Knoll settees. I, however, left with drool stains. While my taste may be champagne, my budget is champagne of beers.

If you're also in the mood for a drink after the realization that you can't afford the modern appointments of your dreams, the final stop on your tour should be at Moon River Brewing Company. A historical building with some stories of its own (you can read them on the menu), Moon River is home to an incredible selection of in-house brewed beers, as well as some fantastic food (if you can bear to eat after your visit to Mrs. Wilkes'). I, having thrown the normal, sensible diet out the window the second my vacation began, ordered fried green tomatoes, a pint of Savannah Fest beer and this deadly-delicious concoction of crab and cheese they call the Lowcountry Crab Melt:

...And thus concludes our Day Trip guide to Savannah. A city full of history and mystery, Savannah is just one of those places every American must visit. While avoiding the throngs of lemming tourists may prove difficult at times, I think any Savannah native would agree that this quick tour does their fair city justice.
All that's left to do now is get out there and enjoy Savannah!


Seth said...

Im not a Savannah native, however I attended the Savannah College of Art and Design and I know feel as if Im a native Savannian. Great article, and excellent job of reccomending mrs. wilkes over paula deans. MUCH BETTER. I miss it so much over LA.

Anonymous said...

next time call, mister. i'm only 30 minutes from savannah. i hope all is good. omar.

Abbyrose said...

i agree! savannah is way better than LA. My sister went to scad and i spent a lot of time there with her. Would love to go back