A town fit for history buffs and foodies
Savannah is a must-visit town in the southeast that is defined by its rich history, incredible food representative of the south, and unique wine menus that rival any metropolitan town. We spent two nights and one action-packed day in Savannah, taking in the sights, sounds, and flavors of this charming southern town. If you have been to New Orleans or Charleston, you will find some occasional similarities, whether it be in the food, architecture, landscape or climate. But at the same time, it is decidedly its own town.
Soave & the Olde Pink House
We arrived in the early evening, with just enough time to stretch our legs after our long drive from Florida, and decided to have dinner at the famed Olde Pink House, a restaurant known for its ghosts (there are claims that the prominent creator of this home hung himself in the basement). Lesson learned is that you must make reservations well in advance, or plan to eat at the bar. The dimly lit, spooky basement bar was packed, so we bellied up to the upstairs bar.
The restaurant does not charge corkage for the first bottle, a tip we initially wished we had known. However, our ignorance worked to our advantage as we ordered a bottle of Soave, an Italian white from the Veneto region, and LOVED it. We did a collection of appetizers, to include jalapeno mac and cheese poppers, which were the perfect pairing with our Soave, a dry and light-bodied white that is a nice alternative to Pinot Grigio. It offers aromatic melon characteristics and almost a creamy mouthfeel. I am going to be on a mission to find this Pieropan and/or a close alternative when I get home!
A One-day Itinerary
We had only one day to explore so we started the next morning with a 2-hour guided walking tour of the city to get the lay of the land and learn more about it’s history. I had no idea that the state of Georgia was founded as a penal colony for those who were imprisoned in England for not satisfying their debts. And, as locals will share, Savannah is haunted by the many soldiers and other souls buried below the city.
Savannah is easy to navigate and is very walkable. We parked our car when we arrived and didn’t need it until we left. I loved the many city squares that feature statues of prominent historical figures and provide ample shade courtesy of the magnificent live oaks draped with Spanish moss. Savannah, one of the major seaports of cotton in the late 1800s (which gave it the nickname of the Wall Street of the South), also offers glorious views over the river.
After our tour, we ate lunch at Vic’s on the River, enjoying fried green tomatoes paired with Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc, while listening to piano tunes in the bar. Then we walked over to the American Prohibition Museum, the first of its kind, and learned that the origination of federal income tax came from the 40% revenue loss the government incurred due to the absence of liquor taxes. Sadly, the end of Prohibition didn’t put an end to income tax. But, thankful that Prohibition is behind us, we decided to cap off our day having a cocktail at the Top Deck, a rooftop bar at the Cotton Sail hotel, and watched the sunset over the Talmadge Bridge, before heading to Garibaldi’s for dinner.
Garibaldi’s is a beautiful, romantic restaurant that almost has an old San Francisco vibe. We ate at the bar, and decided to go with the Sinister Hand by Owen Roe, a Grenache, which seemed fitting in a haunted sort of town and one we thought would flex to the duck and grouper we ordered. We’ve been to the winery in Washington and know they make quality wines. It was nice, but as far as Grenache, I wasn’t in love. After we finished the bottle, our server treated us to a taste of the Seamus Grenache/Cab Sauv blend, a sample the restaurant had received to try the wine. This was a home run. It was punchier and had more distinct fruit and spice characteristics. For anyone who has heard of Foley wines, take note. This label is a product of the father/son team of Jim Foley Sr and Jr.
Being intrigued by ghost stories, we ended the evening doing a tour of the Sorrel Weed House, considered one of the most haunted homes in America. Touring an old home at night certainly had it’s mystique, but we had no ghost encounters, except for the fact my camera refused to capture photos of the room where the figure of a man had been previously recorded. The guide showed us a photo of the apparition and we thought it may have been the tall native American, Tomo-chi-chi, who greeted the first English settlers to arrive in Savannah. Who knows why my camera became inoperable in that room. Coincidence? Probably. Or maybe Tomo Chi Chi was having a bad hair day and didn’t want to be photographed!
If You Go
There is so much to do in Savannah. I highly recommend a walking tour (we used Savannah Walks) and based on that, decide what you want to explore in more depth. As far as where to stay, Bay Street, which is on the river and offers walkable, easy access to most historical sites, offers a combination of boutique and chain hotels. We stayed at the Hampton Inn, which offers a fantastic value and a rooftop pool and patio area that probably has the best views in town of the river and bridge.