My Favorite City in Georgia: Savannah

Washing cars, babysitting, and selling homemade lasagnas, flans, cookies, and chicken. That’s how 12-year-old Cristina paid for her first trip to Savannah, Georgia with her dear Girls Scout troop 133 from San Juan, Puerto Rico. I had the privilege of doing my crossing from Junior to Cadette in the same building where the Girls Scouts founder, Juliette Gordon Low, grew up. While I don’t remember everything from that trip, I remember it being a special place and it remained as such in my heart for years.

Flash forward to today and I am now lucky to live only a 4-hour drive away from this beautiful city. I made my grand return last year for my birthday and since then, I’ve been back two more times. I can’t get enough of this city.

I am excited to share with you what I’ve explored, what we’ve discovered, and what I’ve yet to encounter.

Where to stay in Savannah

Savannah is super walkable so bring comfortable shoes and get ready to explore. I switched back and forth between sandals and my converse and had zero issues. Due to its walkability, where you stay matters. Thankfully, Savannah has plenty of options.

Planters Inn – We stayed here for my birthday and the location was perfect, right next to The Olde Pink House. I found it to fit well within our budget and didn’t have any complaints.

The Perry Lane Hotel – If you have a loftier budget, you should check out The Perry Lane Hotel. I have not stayed there but their bars are great and their interiors look stunning. From The Peregrin on the rooftop to The Wayward downstairs on their building across the street, you’ll find amazing cocktails and even some yummy snacks.

The Grant by Black Swan AirBnb – Short-term homestays are another solid option and this one was in a fantastic location. We were right in the heart of all the action and were able to easily walk in and out of the apartment as needed. It is right across the street from Rise Southern Biscuits & Righteous Chicken which was perfect for breakfast after a fun night out (nothing helps a hangover quite like a fried chicken biscuit sandwich with fountain diet coke). This Airbnb does not include parking so if you have a car you will have to find street parking or a parking deck.

VRBO by Lucky Savannah – A little further out but still within the historic district, this spot was available for a last-minute summer visit. Street parking was a lot easier here compared to the previous Airbnb option. This property is dog friendly if you are interested in bringing your pup!

Where to eat & drink in Savannah

Here’s a list of all the places we visited last year. The classifications of dinner, lunch, etc. are based on my experience so I definitely encourage you to check each spot to see what else they offer! I highly recommend you make reservations for dinner. Places like The Olde Pink House, for example, book well out in advance.

I also included a list of the spots I still have to try in case you want to check them out too. You can find them at the end of this post.

Dinner

HuskI had been to the Husk in Greenville, South Carolina for brunch but going to the Husk for dinner was a totally different experience. In fact, without really trying, we ended up having dinner there on all three of our visits last year. The food is consistently delicious, even as the menu changes seasonally. I also was able to taste some delicious Georgia oysters. Yes, you read that right, apparently, Georgia has good oysters if you know where to search! Needless to say, this opened up a very interesting dinner conversation with my husband.

The Olde Pink HouseI highly recommend you make a reservation ahead of time so you can eat inside the historical (and allegedly haunted) house. I noticed the menu is the same in the other parts of the restaurant but dining in the main room definitely adds a special touch. Their food was delicious but what really makes the place is the history and ambiance. The downstairs bar had a great vibe and live music playing, perfect for sipping an old fashion or dirty martini.  

Cotton & Rye – This restaurant is a little ways out from the heart of the historic district but still walkable if you are feeling up for it. Pro tip: If there’s a wait, put your name down and walk two blocks up to Tacos + Tequila for a margarita while you wait.

Coco & MossThis spot was recommended for sushi. My friend and I went there for lunch and gravitated toward their bowl options and wow, they were delicious. I definitely want to go back and try their sushi though!

Cha Bella – This one is lower on my list but still wanted to include it as it’s a solid option if a lot of the other popular spots are booked. I really enjoyed their gnocchi.

Vic’s on The River – As you may have guessed by the name, this is one of the nicer spots on the river. I actually got stuck on a work call and was not able to make lunch here but my friends went and said it was nice. She said the fried green tomatoes were mediocre but the rest was good. I feel like it’s probably overrated due to its great location by the river.

Lunch / Brunch / Baked Goods

Gryphon Tea Room If you know me, you know I love a nice high tea experience. Champagne, little bites with explosive flavors, unique tea selections, and cute tea cups… what is there not to like? While some of the tea rooms that appeared in popular Savannah articles were not open anymore, the Gryphon did not disappoint. Located in a beautiful historical building and operated by SCAD, it was the perfect way to spend my birthday afternoon.

The Public Kitchen & Bar – We walked in for lunch and had a great experience. My husband loved his burger and I found my salad super refreshing.

The Crab Shack Although this is technically in Tybee Island (~25 minutes away from Savannah), I still wanted to include it on this list. It’s such a fun spot to get seafood –it truly lives up to its name. I loved sitting outside and the waiter even showed me how to properly eat a crawfish. Cool experience but will likely not order them again. Too much work for little meat.

Collins Quarter – This Australian Café was great for brunch. We sat outside and enjoyed people (dog) watching while sharing several breakfast plates. Pro tip: schedule a morning tour of the Juliet Gordon Low Birthplace and then cross the street for brunch at Collins Quarter.

Common – The brunch here was spectacular. If you go, please order their Good Morning Mac & Cheese. Your stomach may regret it but your happy soul never will.

Debi’s Restaurant – We stumbled here after trying to get breakfast at B. Matthews Eatery and failing miserably. To be fair, I think we were the last couple seated at Debi’s before a rush of people came through. A simple, homey feel with great food. I had their special which was some sort of lobster omelette and it was delicious.

The Paris Market – This charming boutique has a cute little café perfect for enjoying your coffee with a delicious baked good. I also found some unique gifts while browsing through the store.

Rise Southern Biscuits & Righteous Chicken – As mentioned above, this spot was right across the street from one of the Airbnbs we stayed in and it was clutch. Fast and delicious, do yourself a favor and try their righteous chicken.

The Little Crown by Pie Society – This spot sells, you guessed it, pies! While I did not grow up with pies, I feel like the musical Waitress really helped me fall in love with these tasty dishes. Their pies did not disappoint. Most orders are made to-go but they do have a few seating options on the back if you want to eat it on the spot.

Drinks

The Peregrin & The Wayward – Both spots are part of The Perry Lane hotel and their cocktails are fantastic. Check out The Peregrin for sunset rooftop cocktails and then go down to The Wayward for a nightcap. Don’t miss the side room with a couple of arcade games if you are feeling playful.

Mint to Be Mojito Go here for some empanadas and you guessed it, mojitos! Stay for the surprise in the back. Warning, there may be some dancing involved for access. 

Bösendorfer Lounge at The Mansion on Forsyth Park – We first sort of stumbled into this bar after strolling down Forsyth Park. Both times we had no issues finding a post and getting a drink before walking over to whatever was our next destination. I’ve heard good things about the hotel’s restaurant, 700 Drayton, but have yet to try it.

Myrtle & Rose This cute rooftop garden is a must when you are strolling down by the river. I can’t vouch for the food or drinks but the view alone makes it worth it.

What to do in Savannah

Contrary to what this blog post may portray, there is more to do in Savannah besides eating. 😉 

River Street – You need to make your way down to River Street and stroll by the river to your heart’s content. As I mentioned above, there are several cool rooftop spots that will give you great views, especially at sunset.

Forsyth Park – After exploring River Street and all its quirks, make your way down to Forsyth Park through Bull Street. You’ll stumble upon a lot of cute little shops along the way. Depending on the weather, you will likely see plenty of local artists in the park showcasing their unique work. I still regret not buying a painting of Forrest Gump sitting on a bench with Pikachu.

Juliet Gordon Low Birthplace Whether you were a Girl Scout or not, I definitely recommend visiting the birthplace of Juliet Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts in the US. You don’t need to be familiarized with the scouting movement to appreciate the history and stories of the house and its past inhabitants. I recommend you check out their site before you visit as tours were by appointment only last year. 

Prohibition MuseumI am not gonna lie, from first glance I thought the Prohibition Museum was going to be super cheesy. To my surprise, however, I ended up learning a ton! From the loss of tax revenue to the hoops people jumped through to get some sort of alcohol, there are some twisted historical facts you’ll see on display. I definitely recommend a visit. We were easily able to walk in during the day on a Friday and just get our tickets at the door.

Pedal Pub I know a lot of cities now have this (heck, I saw one in Augusta, GA!) but I have to tell you, it was a blast. I now have done this twice in Savannah, once for my friend’s birthday (more bachelorette vibes) and once with a couple of friends (more chill). Both times were a blast and given Savannah’s open container laws, it’s a super seamless transition from pedal pub to bar. The pedal pub is a great way to explore new bars and make note of what places you want to return to later. 

Haunted Pub Crawl I am a scaredy cat when it comes to horror movies, ghost stories, etc. but I figured when in Savannah, let’s do a ghost tour! I left the research for this in the hands of my husband and he booked us what ended up being a fantastic tour. If you are interested in a ghost pub crawl, you have to go with Spooky Steve. Not only did we visit a variety of bars all over historic Savannah, but his storytelling is also excellent. I even ended up learning a little bit of history in the process!

Still on my list…

There’s always a next time, right? Anything I should add?

Leopold’s Ice cream

The Grey

700 Drayton Restaurant

Common Thread

Treylor Park

B. Matthew’s Eatery

Hitch

Bull Street Taco

St. Neo’s Brasserie

Rancho Alegre

Emporium Kitchen & Wine Market

Garibaldi’s

Flock to the Wok

Sorry Charlie’s Oyster Bar

Alleycat Lounge

Artillery Bar

Sting Ray’s Seafodd (Tybee Island)

I hope you find this post helpful! I love Savannah and want more people to experience the magic of this city. What are your favorite spots in Savannah?

Visiting Jekyll Island, Georgia [Roadtrip from Atlanta!] 

Beautiful trees surrounding a walking pathway in Jekyll Island

I can not tell you how excited I am to write this blog post. Our recent trip to Jekyll Island is the first trip since the pandemic started that truly feels like we explored a new area. I had forgotten how much I love that feeling! 

We had done a cabin and a beach house, but those trips were more about the area around our rental and less about exploring. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good secluded trip, especially when in a global pandemic. Still, it was nice to wander around the little wild piece of paradise that is Jekyll Island. The high sixties and low seventies temperatures in early May allowed this to be the perfect, uncrowded getaway… and it was only about a 5+ hour drive from Atlanta!

We really enjoyed our getaway. I am sharing the details of our mini adventure in case you are looking for inspiration for upcoming trips!

Man walks alone in the beach during a beautiful day without any clouds in the blue sky

Let’s start with where to stay in Jekyll Island.

We chose to stay at a VRBO property with walking access to the beach. Our place was modest, but it had everything we needed. Honestly, there’s so much to do outdoors that you can go this simple route and save money on accommodations. Everything is easy to access with a bike, so if you are bringing your bike or planning to rent bikes, you can consider a rental a little bit further from the beach. More on bikes further down!  

There are also some great hotel and resort options on the island, including options with fun pool areas if you plan to travel with kids (or you just love a good pool slide). Out of the list, The Jekyll Island Club Resort is the most iconic spot. This resort was formerly the exclusive Jekyll Island Club that hosted prominent families from the north back in the day and is now a luxury historic resort hotel. I would save staying at this spot for a special occasion or when you are ready to partake in all of the resort activities to truly make it worth it. What’s cool is that you can still visit the resort, even if you are not a guest. 

Where you stay can really dictate your vibe, so think about it: what do you want to get out of your trip to Jekyll Island? I don’t think there is a wrong answer!

Now, let’s talk about food.

Dinner plate with salmon on top of a white sauce pasta

Regardless of where you end up staying, I totally recommend you do drinks or dinner at The Wharf. At the moment of our visit, they were only taking reservations for guests of the Jekyll Island Club Resort (where the restaurant is located). Still, we got there early and just waited for a table outside. Waiting 1+ hour for a table out on the deck, a drink in hand, and a beautiful view ahead is not too shabby! The sunset views made it absolutely worth it and extra special, as it was our anniversary dinner (woo). 

Colorful sunset over Jekyll Island captured from The Wharf restaurant
sunset view from The Wharf

Not only was I feeling grateful to be able to celebrate another year of marriage, I was also extremely aware that we were outside in a beautiful setting, enjoying a delicious dinner and live music. I couldn’t even remember the last time we were in a similar scenario, and the blessing of the moment was not lost on me. 

Lunch plate ordered at Zachry's Riverhouse restaurant including: grilled shrimp, buttered potatoes and lima beans with bacon
lunch at Zachry’s Riverhouse… excellent!

I was expecting good seafood on this trip since you’re by the coast, but I hadn’t given much thought to what specific type of seafood was awaiting. Turns out, Georgia Wild Shrimp are pretty unique and quite delicious. We went to Zachry’s Riverhouse for lunch, and I FEASTED. They also have a nice outdoor seating area. Even though we were there for lunch, I can assume they have an excellent view of sunsets based on their location.

Two cups of margarita on the rocks from Tortuga Jacks, overlooking an ocean view

Another cool spot was Tortuga Jacks. In my opinion, their food was average, but the location and views make the spot worth it (Brian wants to make it clear that he really enjoyed the food). They are conveniently located along the bike path (as most places are), so we had some fun biking in and out. The spot reminded me of being in Rincón, Puerto Rico, with those low-key beach vibes (I was just missing the Kaplash empanadas, IYKYK). They also have a great bottomless mimosas deal on Sundays (only $8!).

Bikes are a must!

Empty road surrounded by tall, green trees and only one biker on the road, biking ahead

If you come to Jekyll Island and don’t bike, you will miss a big part of what makes this place so unique. The island is wrapped in bike trails, so you can basically get anywhere on a bike. I had missed biking SO much, especially biking as a casual mode of transportation and not a workout you are diligently tracking on your Apple watch.

We decided not to bring our own bikes because we did not feel too confident about our bike rack withstanding a 5 hours+ road trip and instead rented bikes for the weekend. This is a solid option, but I was not a big fan of the bikes we got (which seem to be the type that is widely available for rent across the island). Sure, they can get you from point A to point B, but I wanted to be more comfortable looping around the island, about a 25-mile ride. 

Jekyll Island’s rich history (pun intended)

To be honest, I had never heard of Jekyll Island until we saw Jekyll Island Brewing in Alpharetta (I still need to figure out the connection there). We were researching beaches to drive to from Atlanta, and Jekyll Island came up as one of the options. We really didn’t have much other knowledge to go off from.

One of the first things I heard about the island, as I set out to learn more about it before our arrival, was that it used to be the playground of the wealthy socialites from the north. When you arrive on the island, you also see a big sign that says “Jekyll Island, Established in 1947.” 

[ Side note: I found it a little amusing that our last trip before the pandemic was to The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, as Jekyll Island used to host some of the same family members. We also went to Newport, Rhode Island a while back, so it was interesting to patch up some of what we had learned in our previous trips with what we uncovered at Jekyll Island. Look at us, so bougie. ]

My ignorant self assumed that the Vanderbilts, Rockerfellers, J.P. Morgans, and those of the like, had found this empty island and saw in it an opportunity to set one of their retreat locations in the south. 

As we have come to learn, nothing is as simple as it initially sounds. During our trip, we learned that Jekyll Island was so much more before it did end up becoming a playground for the rich.

I totally recommend visiting the Mosaic Jekyll Island Museum. There, we learned of the critical pieces of history that are not usually shared when people talk about Jekyll Island. In the museum, you can learn about the first known habitants of the island way back before any European colonizers arrived at the shore or the illegal landing of the ship The Wanderer with 465 slaves from Africa, fifty years after the importation of slaves to the United States had been prohibited. We didn’t have time to visit the Wanderer Memory Trail, but it’s definitely on my list when we return. All this history got me thinking about the importance of getting to know more about your vacation spot and taking the time to go deeper than the basics that are sold to you when it comes to a destination. 

Another great learning experience was visiting Georgia Sea Turtle Center: Georgia’s only sea turtle education and rehabilitation facility. Their preservation efforts are so important, and their center does offer a lot of education opportunities. This is also an excellent stop for a visit with kids. It helps instill the importance of conservation and taking care of the planet we live on. Another fun activity for kids (or Brian) is the Jekyll Island Miniature Golf. We also enjoyed horseback riding in Driftwood Beach.

two women riding two different horses on the beach, the ocean to the left and the sand to the right.

With only four days on the island, we know we barely scratched the surface. Jekyll may seem like a small island, but there is surprisingly a lot to do. We also want to explore the other islands part of the Golden Isles and Cumberland Island (which I always call Cucumber Island by mistake)… all for a future visit!

Have you been to Jekyll Island or any of the islands off the coast of Georgia? Any recommendations for future visits? Let me know in the comments!

orange, pink and blue sunset at Jekyll Island