A trip to Savannah, Georgia, is the perfect destination in the US for a quick weekend getaway. This is exactly what we did a week before Thanksgiving 2021, and the weather was absolutely perfect. While Savannah can be a hot, humid destination, in mid-November, the conditions are so comfortable and pleasant.
We flew down from Newark and landed in Savannah after about a 2-hour flight. After a mid-evening Uber from the airport, we checked into our hotel, Marriott Savannah Riverfront.
Our hotel selection was based on finding a Marriott property to take advantage of our Marriott Bonvoy Points, which allowed us to book a free room for 2 nights. While there are a few properties, we chose the Riverfront location since the old town of Savannah was an easy 10-15 minute walk. This gave us the freedom of not having to book a car rental during our stay.
Even though I had grown up in North Carolina, and we both lived there for a time, neither of us had ever visited Savannah before. The architecture, shopping, dining, and historical surrounding area allowed for plenty of things to see and do for our 3 days there.
We did want to take an official tour of the city, so we booked a tour through a company we have used for various tours around the world, Viator. We selected a half-day private tour of Savannah’s Historic District, Isle of Hope, and the Bonaventure Cemetery.
Regarding dining, we had heard that it is best to book reservations in advance to ensure the times and availability of the places we wanted to visit. Even on the week before Thanksgiving and the city was not quite full of tourists, we were happy we made our reservations before flying down.
We selected B.Matthew’s Eatery for brunch our first day in Savannah. Every city and region have their own unique foods that they are known for, and Savannah of course has many. We shared fried green tomatoes as an appetizer, and then we both could not resist ordering the shrimp & grits. We were not disappointed.
After brunch, we walked through the historic part of Savannah, which if you think about it, is most of the city. Along the Savannah Riverfront are old riverfront homes and businesses, once used during the shipments of cotton and other exports from the area, the buildings are now tourist shops, boutique hotels, and restaurants. Original cobblestone streets line the area by the river, and the next block over are colonial buildings and dozens of tree-filled parks and squares.
Each of the 22 squares has their own historical reference, but one of the more popular ones is Chippewa Square, which was the area used to filmed the famous bench scenes in the movie Forrest Gump. While on the topic of movies, many have been filmed over the decades with some of the recent ones being ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’ to ‘Something to Talk About’ to ‘Glory’ and even ‘Baywatch’ from 2017 where the Georgia shoreline nearby provided the backdrop.
For our first dinner, we visited the Boar’s Head Grill & Tavern along the riverfront in a building built in 1733. The ‘She Crab Soup’ was spot-on delicious, and being a tavern we ordered a steak and pork chop to share each. After a full day walking, we were plenty hungry and rewarded well with our selections.
The next day for lunch, we went to The Olde Pink House, one of the more famous restaurants in Savannah. And, yes, the building is pink, which has been its signature decor for nearly 100 years. Construction began in 1771 on this elaborate mansion originally made of red bricks covered with white plaster. Over time, the white turned to a shade of pink that was repeatedly repainted white until the 1920s when it was just painted pink and has since been known for its trademark color.
We had the “Southern Nachos” which is pulled pork with peppers, blue corn tortillas, smoked avocado, and four cheeses; which was incredibly delightful. Our main course was Max’s Fried Chicken with Mac & Cheese. Thankfully, we had a lot of walking a half-day tour to follow to “walk-off” that meal.
Our tour started at 1pm as our driver picked us up at our hotel. He was very informative and told us the local history as we drove 30-minutes, south out of Savannah to the Isle of Hope.
We learned about the 1733 founding of the Georgia colony in Savannah by General James Oglethorpe, and how on the Isle of Hope, a surveyor names Noble James was granted a tract of land on the island that he eventually named Wormsloe. We visited the old homestead remains and learned more about the area including the South’s slavery trade.
However, initially in Georgia slavery was not allowed during its original founding from 1735 until 1705. With Spain claiming Florida, the Spanish offered freedom in exchange for military service for any captive African escaping southward. Given Georgia’s proximity, slavery was not allowed for fear of helping the Spanish in possibly invading northward to the British colonies.
However, this vision was short-lived as many South Carolinians wanted to expand their planting interest into Georgia. As greed grew, legislation against slavery was over-turned, and Georgia joined the ranks of Southern States enslaving workers. Between 1750 to 1775, the slave population grew from 500 to approximately 18,000 people.
Upon leaving Wormsloe, we drove along the marina and show incredible, luxurious seaside homes and waterways. We eventually made our way to the Bonaventure Cemetery located on a scenic bluff east of Savannah along the Wilmington River.
This 160 acre cemetery contains is first burials from 1850 through today. What makes this cemetery one to visit are the very ornate tombs and monuments. The Spanish moss trees fill the grounds providing a foreboding sense of doom and mystery.
We left the cemetery and headed back to Savannah. We drove through the Riverfront area and passed the historic squares and buildings. Our guide filled in the missing history tales that our wandering around the streets the day before were unaware of.
After returning to our hotel, we walked back to the historic area passing City Market to have dinner at The Grove Restaurant & Rooftop Bar. We tried several small plates with one being ‘Southern Caviar’ a blend of sweet corn, black-eyed peas, tomato, peppers, and red onions served on tortilla chips. The atmosphere of this place was a bit more trendy than the other places we had visited.
Our next day was a relaxing day spent having a couple’s massage at the hotel and a lazy stroll along the waterfront. Our last dinner destination was Cha-Bella Farm-to-Table Restaraunt. This eclectic restaurant in partnership with local farmers and fishermen offer the freshest, most wonderfully delectable meals. Each room has a unique design theme with an outside dining area, which was unavailable in November.
After a short walk back to our hotel, our Uber returned us back to the airport the next morning, as we made our way home to New Jersey. We feel we only touched upon the many places that Savannah has to offer. We see why the city is growing while keeping its since of history from with its architecture. This just gives us more reasons to return and explore, more of what Savannah has to offer.