There’s a reason people sometimes call the charming southern city of Savannah, Georgia “Slow-vannah.” Filled with lush public squares, satisfying comfort food and romantic cocktail bars, it’s not the kind of place you need to rush through. In addition to its aesthetic charms, Savannah has a rich history for visitors to uncover—some of it lending to its spooky superlative as one of the most haunted cities in the country. Journalist Austa Somvichian-Clausen shares her destination guide to the city below.
Where to Stay:
This boutique property in the historic district packs a huge design punch. Though located in a 19th-century building, the decor is colorful, modern and invigorating. Spacious rooms enjoy views of either the Savannah River or the charming historic district, and a basement speakeasy offers an attractive opportunity for a nightcap.
Boutique-y to its core, the Thompson Savannah is a part of the quickly expanding Eastern Wharf area of the city, adjacent from the Historic District. The lobby features a stunning bar, live jazz acts, and a rotating spotlight on local artists. Upstairs you can find a lounging pool and a rooftop restaurant and bar Bar Julian with unimpeded views of the water.
Where to Eat:
Savannah is known for its gorgeous homes, some of which now play host to magnificent restaurants. One of the most popular is the Olde Pink House in the Historic District, but Elizabeth’s on 37th, located in Savannah’s up-and-coming Starland District, should also be on your must-dine list. The ambiance is bar none—full of antiques and marble fireplaces, and its seven-course tasting menu centers on sustainable local produce and seafood.
Located in a converted Greyhound bus station, The Grey is a now-legendary restaurant by the talented Chef Mashama Bailey. There, find a well-curated, seasonal menu that uniquely reflects the soulful flavors of the region. To learn more, you can even check out Bailey’s own episode of Chef’s Table on Netflix.
Where to Drink:
This opulent cocktail bar can be found in a restored historic armory, and is the perfect excuse to get all dressed up during your next trip to Savannah. An eye-catching gilded facade leads into a classy space bedecked in exposed brick, thinly veined marble, and green velvet, where guests are beckoned to put their phones down in exchange for a coupe glass.
Where to Visit:
A short drive out of the city’s historic district, find yourself shaded by the iconic long driveway of oak trees at Wormsloe. Those enormous live oaks draped in Spanish moss are the ultimate Savannah photo opp, and the grounds are home to ruins of the oldest standing structure in the city, miles of scenic pathways, and a museum.
Shop Downtown Savannah
Downtown Savannah is full of charming historic buildings that house a medley of independent boutiques. Walk down Broughton Street to sample honey at the Savannah Bee Company, modish furniture at 24e Design Co. — and this next one is right off Broughton — Terra Cotta, where you can find approachable-yet-upscale jewelry, shoes, clothes, home decor, and apothecary. When it comes to antique shopping, Savannah outranks many other cities — you will love V&J Duncan Antique Maps, an unassuming storefront that leads to a tiny, plant-filled courtyard and then into a townhouse chock-full of antique maps, prints, books, and more. Head to ShopSCAD, which sells products, from jewelry to furniture, crafted by the talented students at the Savannah College of Art and Design. And since we at HAP love independent bookstores, it would be amiss not to recommend E. Shaver, Bookseller.
A trip to Savannah isn’t complete without a ghost tour, so why not partake in one at the city’s historic cemetery? Bonaventure makes for a gorgeous daytime stroll as well, but takes on a whole new mood during a moonlit guided history tour.
A short twenty-minute drive from the city, Tybee is a charming barrier island with five miles of sandy public beaches. Head there for a relaxing afternoon spent reading on a beach chair, or plan a fun activity like paddle boarding, hiking, or dolphin spotting.