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Savannah Is Ripe with Charm & Southern Hospitality



No Matter How Long Your Stay, Charleston’s Sister City Has Plenty to Offer

Jeff Walker, Travel Writer

While Charleston SC continues to receive countless recognition from such esteemed magazines such as Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast, its sister city 100 miles south deserves equal praise. Founded in 1733 Savannah, Georgia is known for manicured parks, horse-drawn carriages and antebellum architecture. Its historic district is filled with cobble-stoned squares and parks such as Ellis Square and Forsyth shaded by oak trees covered with Spanish moss.

Much like Charleston, Savannah thrives on its history, ambiance, and southern charm with two of its biggest attractions being tourism and container shipping through the Port of Savannah. Home to companies such as Gulfstream Aerospace, International Paper, JCB, TitleMax and Morris Multimedia, Savannah is a booming community with the city’s population around 140K and the metro area coming in over 400K.

With all that happening, Savannah still manages to attract all types, visiting for a myriad of reasons including conventions, business trips, athletic competitions, and weddings, as well as relaxing family vacations. While it would be hard to take in all the city has to offer in just a weeks’ vacation, it’s even harder over a weekend stay. However, with careful planning a long weekend could provide visitors non-stop adventures and allow for a lifetime of memories.

If your schedule permits, I would suggest getting in later afternoon on a Thursday, so you and your party have Thursday night and almost a full three days to enjoy your Savannah excursion. Perhaps the biggest decision to make is where to stay. All the major chains have hotels strewn throughout greater Savannah. Obviously, you can save a little if you stay outside the city limits, but if a majority of your plans include downtown destinations I recommend staying in the historic section of Savannah.

The epicenter of all the action and nightlife surrounds River Street and Bay Street on either side of Factors Walk (a landscaped half mile park running parallel between the two streets). If you want to immerse yourself in the history of Savannah, I recommend booking your stay at the five story River Street Inn. It is the longest running hotel housed in the oldest sections of buildings in Savannah.

River Street in is a welcoming mix of contemporary and yesteryear decor, with the hotel offering the daily local newspaper and USA Today, as well as providing a five-hour (6-11am) coffee bar in the lobby. Guests enjoy high-speed internet access and a fitness and cardio room.

Without a doubt the most enjoyable two hours you can spend at River Street Inn is during their Manager’s Reception (5-7pm daily) where the very vivacious Val will not only serve up beer, wine, and cocktails alongside handheld snacks, she will entertain your group with un-abashed humor. Take my word for it, Val sets the tone for any impending evening plans. Make a note to visit her during the daily reception. For more on River Street Inn visit

River Street Inn allows access to both thoroughfares (Bay & River) with several adjacent restaurants partnering with the inn extending 10% dining discounts. Enjoy a juicy burger or sandwich with a local brew at Tubby’s. Their second-floor covered patio provides one of the nicest views of the harbor. Just underneath Tubby’s on the first floor is Huey’s on the River offering up New Orleans cuisine with a focus on distinctive seafood dishes & soups. Exquisite menu!

Mornings are best served by popping into Cafe M just outside the lobby entrance. The best way to describe Cafe M is ‘southern hospitality meets authentic Parisian Cafe’. The eatery is well acclaimed locally and rightfully so. Serving up freshly made breakfast sandwiches, croissants, and pastries, alongside Savannah’s insanely awesome Perc Coffee. Going full tilt, a glass of bubbly or a Savannah Peach Mimosa easily complement Quiche Lorraine (bacon, caramelized onions & cheese) or a charcuterie board. Dine in or on the landscaped open-air patio. Open 8-3pm daily. Check them out at

Savannah Rose at 126 East Bay Street outside River Street Inn proudly proclaims, ‘A Shop with Attitude‘, meaning they have a flair for unique and unusual gifts. Owned and operated by Curt and Lisa Bolak, the couple run a similar boutique at 229 W Broughton Street in the heart of downtown, as well as a quirky wine shop called Matter of Factors featuring their signature Georgia Peach Wine. Check out all three here

Venture just a few blocks off Bay Street and enjoy shopping at some of the nicest locally and nationally owned shops. Broughton Street is home to many of Savannah’s finest retailers in addition to upscale and everyday dining opportunities. Venture over to 219 W Bryan Street and browse the City Market, a four-block open-air emporium with shopping, award winning dining & celebrated artworks all in 1700’s era restored warehouses. Perfect way to spend a sunny day. For more visit

Staying closer to the action there’s a plethora or things to do on River Street. No matter where you’re staying on the strip walking the riverside boardwalk on a sunny morning is a nice way to kickstart the day. Shops open early and there are plenty of them along the cobblestone thoroughfare. 75 plus businesses including restaurants, pubs, boutiques, and an old-fashioned open-air marketplace housed in old cotton warehouses along a nearly three-quarter mile stretch. Again, ideal on a sunny day with a nice breeze off the water.

If you want to catch up on the game The Warehouse Bar & Grille offers the ‘coldest cheapest beer in town’, which goes nice with any of their sandwiches, wings, and appetizers. It’s a nice friendly hole in the wall watering hole. Their sister location Lizzy’s Burger Bar offers 10 signature burgers including a Turkey Burger and Beyond Beef for the non-red meat eater. If you’re feeling overly famished, I suggest the Bar None Burger, a juicy all beef twin patty creation blanketed under American, provolone, cheddar, and Swiss cheeses, further topped with bacon, onion nest and bacon aioli. Hungry appetites need apply.

Chow them all down with handcrafted milkshakes including the Salted Caramel or a SAM (Spiked Adult Milkshakes). The Oreo comes complete with Vanilla Vodka, rich vanilla ice cream, Oreo cookie crumbles, Hershey’s chocolate & whipped cream. Decadent pleasure for those 21 and older. Just two of River Street Restaurant Groups five downtown eateries, including a Churchill’s on Bay, an upscale British themed restaurant and pub. Learn more at

No matter what sports season it is, you’ll find plenty of places to watch the game and enjoy tasty edibles on the riverfront district. If Lizzy’s or the Warehouse are off your radar you can always pop in at Dubs’ which offer two dozen TVs and a more upscale menu including Pork Nachos, fresh catch of the day, Shrimp Frites, and their signature extra spicy Dub’s Burger topped with jalapeno beer cheese, spicy ketchup, and fresh cut jalapeno. Sample their craft beer selection while downing some of the best sports bar cuisine in Savannah.  Dub’s is part of the Live Oak Restaurant Group with Tubby’s. Check out all their eateries at

Whether you’re a breakfast, lunch, or dinner person, Vic’s Coffee Bar and their adjacent River Grill can satisfy your food & drink cravings. Enter the coffee house from 15 E. River Street between city hall & the old cotton exchange building and you’ll be in coffee heaven complete with over two dozen hot, cold, and frozen caffeinated drinks alongside cocktails, daiquiris, and select draft beers. Grab your particular potion to accompany your morning stroll on the boardwalk. Maybe later enjoy Shrimp & Grits, Fried Green Tomatoes, Vic’s Fried Chicken or their Southern BBQ Chicken for a midday or late-night meal. Without question Vic’s is a double dose of southern hospitality.

At Byrd’s Famous Cookies it doesn’t matter if you have a sweet tooth or lean toward salty snacks. Not only are they known for chocolate chips, salted caramel and Georgia peach cookies, they are equally lauded for Everything Cheddar Biscuits and Southern Fried Peanuts. Grab an assortment of pop in your mouth treats in any of their decorative tins or baskets. They make great thank you and holiday gifts. 423 E. River Street.

Have a hankering to get your country music fix on while in Savannah, mosey on down to 317 W. River St. Saddle Bags (awesome name) is revered as one of the best country bars in the state of Georgia. Enjoy highfalutin raucous yet good natured fun Thursday thru Sunday featuring live music from big name Nashville stars as well as the best and biggest line dancing floor in Savannah. Their website proudly says, ‘come ride a bull for a good night out.’  Yee-haw!

If clothes, handbags, jewelry and other glittery trinkets are your style, than downtown Savannah and River Street have plenty to offer. While many of the Savannah’s finer clothing stores are several blocks off the waterfront district, there are a few boutiques ladies will find appealing on River Street.

Whispers (shhh!) is perhaps the best-kept secret in Savannah for the shopper who wants to get the look of high fashion at affordable prices. Try this on for size. Hats, bags, dresses, accessories, and jewelry all under $45. Freakin’ Amazing!

Cinnamon Bear Country Store has two locations at either end of River Street carrying a wide variety of local gifts, gourmet foods, children’s toys, and apparel, with their location at 508 East River Street serving up generous scoops of delicious ice cream and frozen yogurt. Whether you’re coupling, with your kids, or hanging with friends Cinnamon Bear is a must, and an ideal place for unique finds.

Fancy the yearend holiday? River Street is home to three (count ’em), three year-round Christmas shops including A Christmas on the River and Southern Christmas. Searching for keepsake ornaments for your Christmas tree or to help decorate your home for the holidays, from one-of-a-kind gifts to trinkets for every room in your house, the Christmas shops on River Street carry everything in Santa’s bag and more.

Searching to take home a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry from ‘The World’s Most Creative City’ per capita, then find your way to Savannah Handcrafted Jewelry (booth #72) in the River Street Marketplace. With more than 50 vendors and artisans under one roof River Street Marketplace carries a multi-cultural vibe with gifts reflecting local and international flavors. Get Gifty with It is where customers choose local photographs that resembled letters of the alphabet to spell out different words of their liking.

Veteran owned Hot Stuff sells a variety of hot sauces, BBQ sauces, rubs, spices and more. Something For Everyone literally has something for everyone, from handmade coffee mugs and shot glasses to plush dolls and Christmas ornaments. Everest Imports specializes in Napalese and Indian handicraft, including fashion accessories and handmade jewelry all with an ethnic and religious influences.

102 E Liberty Street in downtown Savannah is home to Mamie Ruth where owner Emily Bargeron designs clothing for the creative thinkers, peacemakers and the front row girls of all ages that just want to have fun. There’s perhaps no more utopian store in Savannah crushing it for the ladies than Mamie Ruth. All garments made in the USA!

Whereas cobblestoned River Street proper has been the main focus for visitors enjoying Savannah’s overall ambiance, Plant Riverside proudly boasts as the city’s new riverfront district featuring an ample mix of art, entertainment, luxury hotels, fine dining, wine tasting, and high-end shopping. For more than a decade the former electric power plant has been transformed and re-energized into a welcoming destination bridging the gap between modern day Savannah and its rich history.

Among the vendors visitors might want to check out at Plant Riverside are Graffito Pizza, home to flavorful authentic Neapolitan-style pizza, cooked to perfection in state-of-the-art custom double pizza ovens. Their artsy warehouse feel is intoxicating. If you’re a serious carnivore Stone & Webster Chophouse is arguably Savannah’s premier steak house serving up premium selections of wine, prime steaks, seafood and craft cocktails.

An ideal place for lunch is District Smokehouse, an inviting open-air southern BBQ and lounge featuring melt-in-your-mouth creations, ice cold local craft beer, cocktails and house-made root beer. Over 15 eateries including those specializing in sushi and seafood, as well as Riverside Biergarten, a Bavarian-style pub offering up local brews. Every dining hall offers incredible views of the riverfront district.

Plant Riverside has some of the best shops, boutiques, galleries and if you want to revitalize yourself, I recommend Poseidon Spa where you can enjoy a rejuvenating massage or a cleansing facial. When it comes to dining, shopping and entertainment at Plant Riverside they like to say, ‘savor the possibilities’. For more on Plant Riverside visit

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Savannah Riverboat Cruises and their flagship boat The Georgia Queen, a towering 68 ft tall boat featuring three grand ballrooms with over 15,000 square feet of dining space, a 5,000 square foot, fully open-air top deck with patio seating. Enjoy live entertainment while dining on their signature Savannah shrimp & grits, tender beef carving station, and fresh catch of the day with exceptional complementary sides, as well as several full bars.

On a moonlit night a dinner cruise is the ideal way to cap off a delightful day in Savannah. Brunch, lunch, and sunset cruises available on their fleet of riverboats. If your stay includes a Monday than I suggest their Gospel Cruise, with the Savannah River Queen and Georgia Queen filled with the uplifting sounds of Southern gospel music during the two-hour Gospel Dinner Cruise. No matter what time of day you board for this historic adventure it’s well worth the money. Learn more at

Without a doubt there’s endless opportunities for things to do in Savannah over a long weekend or a week if you’re so blessed to do so. 18 miles east of downtown you’ll discover Savannah’s most popular beach community known locally as Tybee Island which host Beach Bum Parade around Memorial Day and Tybee Pirate Fest usually in early October. Ideal late spring thru early fall.

If you’re not venturing to far from downtown than aside from shopping and dining, Savannah is home to some of the prettiest parks on the entire east coast with 30-acre Forsyth Park with its walking path and beautiful fountain among the city’s most visited attraction. 5-acre Emmet Park in the heart of downtown runs parallel to the busier shopping mecca and houses both a Vietnam and Korean War memorials. Several of the most noted 19th and 20th century architects helped design the city’s landscape.

If it’s a golf weekend for the guys or gals (or both) than the city boasts some of finest courses Georgia has to offer including several with four-star ratings such as Crosswinds, Southbridge, the Wilmington Island Club, and the Club at Savannah Harbor. Over 20 golf courses in greater Savannah alone. Just over 30 miles away in neighboring South Carolina Hilton Head has 40 courses with 24 at championship level. Enjoy your stay and nightlife surrounded by history and charm of Savannah while having more than 60 golf courses available.

I could go on and on about how much Savannah has to offer. Love a good mystery, Savannah offers several ghost story tours. Opened in February of 2022 Enmarket Arena is a new 9500 multi-purpose arena that now welcomes some of the biggest names in entertainment (concerts, wrestling, etc) to Savannah, and beginning in the fall of 2022 will be the home to the Savannah Ghost Pirates an ECHL expansion hockey team. Enmarket Arena offers a new wave of entertainment for those living in Savannah and for those visiting. Check out their schedule at

Dining, shopping, guided tours, sports, and entertainment, Savannah Georgia offers it all surrounded by history, architecture, charm, and ambiance not to mention near gorgeous weather year-round.  Less than a two trip from the Holy City. For more on this rich southern gem and Charleston’s little sister visit


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