March 14, 2013

{Wanderlust} Seeking Southern Hospitality in Savannah

I have always had a deep, romantic intrigue with parts of the south. I've spent the vast majority of my time in the United States shuffling between New York and California, without ever really exploring much outside those two states. There was something about the coasts and mountains of North Carolina, the historic and sprawling mansions throughout Charleston, the gothic architecture and electric jazz of New Orleans, and the sweet southern charm of Savannah that have always piqued my curiosity, but seldom has my intrigue been whet, (in spite of a short trip to NOLA and requisite visit to Café du Monde over a decade ago). Continue...
Not long after we started dating, my significant other and I started toying around with the idea of taking a weekend trip together. We both love traveling, and I had a gut feeling about the new love interest in my life, such that there was a part of me that wanted to make sure we could travel well together much sooner than later. I've traveled with partners in the past, but there's a lot to be said about having a level of comfort with someone that surpasses your usual, familiar surroundings - and I don't know that any previous trip has gone off without a single hitch. Besides, sharing close quarters with a person for several days on end can often inspire two people who love each other in their normal environment to more or less want to toss the other out the window, (spoiler alert: we managed to avoid such a tragic ending to our trip; extra spoiler alert: it was easily the best trip I've ever taken with a S.O. - praise goddess).
We tossed around ideas; perhaps we would go to Toronto or Niagara or Washington D.C. But it was cold. It's now March and there's still snow on the ground, so the idea of going to another city for more of the same weather was utterly unappealing. Savannah was a clear destination in my mind. I proposed, we did a quick google search together, and before I knew it, Ali had found an unbelievable flight to liberate us from the miserable cold to a tiny town filled with historic charm and pastel townhouses and succulent fried green tomatoes. We soaked up as much information and word-of-mouth recommendations as we could before heading south, and prepared ourselves for a weekend full of exploration.  

The Park Avenue Manor
107 W Park Ave  Savannah, GA 31401 |
Though I neglected to take pictures of our charming Bed & Breakfast, it was one of the most pleasant experiences I've had while traveling. The Park Avenue Manor is a colorful home furnished inside and out with traditional Southern flair, and sits directly on Savannah's famous Forsyth Park. Most of Savannah's historic landmarks are within a mile of the Park Avenue Manor, and our hosts, Glenn and Maurice, were extremely helpful, kind, and fluent in all things Savannah. If you're looking for the "inn" experience and want to avoid a corporate chain of hotels while visiting, I highly recommend this one!

Things to Do, See, Buy

First and foremost, my (our?) favorite thing to do in Savannah was to just wander, wander, wander, and wander. The city itself is shockingly small, especially if you stick to the historic district, and we ended up exploring every street and alley and nook that we could find. Even with a torrential downpour dominating most of our Saturday, we still made a point to jump into puddles and run from one awning to the next, (with the help of a $12 umbrella purchased at CVS that broke less than a dozen hours later... eh, a dollar an hour. I've made worse financial decisions in my life).

Savannah College of Art & Design, SCAD Museum, and ShopSCAD
Considering that I went to Parsons, I've long been familiar with SCAD and the amazing work that has come out of the school. Fortunately for non-students like me, the museum is open to the public ($10 for adults, $5 if you're a student with an ID), as is shopSCAD, which is filled with wares created by students, alumni, and local artisans. 

Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil
I hadn't read the book or seen the movie prior to visiting Savannah, but we did make a point to visit the Bonaventure Cemetery on our last day before heading out to the airport. The grounds are absolutely beautiful, with moss covered trees and weeping willows, and a sculpture garden throughout

Broughton Street 
Broughton Street is Savannah's main commercial, shopping street - with everything from a Marc by Marc Jacobs to dozens of independent interior design shops (thanks, SCAD-alums), to The Gap, to a handful of Goodwill outlets. My shopping ranged from a $4 raincoat to a floral umbrella from Marc Jacobs to a vintage, crystal necklace and vintage mink stole from an antique shop.  My favorite, drool-worthy finds on Broughton, though, were two home-shops, Paris Market, (a store that defines flea-market-chic and is exactly what Anthropologie's housewares WISH they were), and 24E, (a well curated mix of new and old that is effortlessly styled). On the clothing front, I fell in love with a boutique called ARC, that could easily fit in any retail space in Williamsburg or Nolita.
The Paris Market | 36 West Broughton Street. 

24E | 24 East Broughton Street

ARC | 320 West Broughton Street

The Olde Pink House
Abercorn Street, Savannah, GA 31401. When I sought recommendations from friends and the twittersphere, The Olde Pink House was repeatedly mentioned as a "must eat" destination. Though both mine and Ali's diets are (mostly) gluten free, we knew we'd be making a lot of concessions while visiting one of the rich-food capitals of the world. That said, our meal at The Olde Pink House was as decadent and enjoyable as the gorgeous atmosphere -- and was more than appropriate for our first meal in Georgia, (I refuse to count the pit-stop we made at Sonic for an oversized beverage or two). We shared the Deconstructed BLT "salad," and fried green tomatoes, and then went on to our respective entrees (shrimp and grits for me, gumbo for her), while I sipped on a sweet and effervescent bevvy called The Hummingbird. We left stuffed, but elated - it was a crash course into southern hospitality and smiles and food that was deliciously and patently not-good-for-us.

More Dining in Savannah:

700 Drayton Restaurant | We ate here for brunch on Sunday morning, and though it is attached to Savannah's famous Mansion on Forsyth Park, it was relatively empty while we dined there. We shared a yummy salad while enjoying the ultra modern dining room with large windows that let the sun pour into the room. If the weather had been just slightly warmer, we would have opted to sit outside and people watch, as 700 Drayton sits directly on Forsyth Park. I definitely recommend walking through the Mansion on Forsyth Park, as well, or if you're looking for a more posh hotel experience, I'd absolutely recommend staying there. One of my favorite features of the hotel was the amazing museum display of Sunday Hats on the ground floor!
The Lady & Sons | While I'm not necessarily a fan of the Paula Deen Ethos of Culinary Arts, we were told over and over that we could not head back to NYC without stopping at Deen's first restaurant. I'm glad we went, just to be able to say that we went, but the experience left much to be desired. You enter and exit through a Deen-decked-out gift shop, and though I contemplated buying some hot sauce, there was something a bit sad and desperate about being forced to pass in and out of the gift shop at all. Then, upon entering the dining room, there was a large buffet counter, something that again detracted from the experience. Though the all-inclusive-buffet may be a selling point for many diners, it was really unappealing to the both of us... And then the dining room was filled with what must have been the saddest population in all of Savannah. That said, what we ordered A La Carte from the menu was delicious, (especially the absolutely-not-gluten-free and so-severely-straying-from-my-normal-diet fried chicken).

We also had dinners at Elizabeth on 37th and Local 11 Ten, both of which were incredible culinary experiences but offered totally different atmospheres and personalities. Elizabeth on 37th is housed in a traditional southern Mansion, and has period-appropriate decor and interiors, and Local 11 Ten is an ultra modern space with haute cuisine and a trendy crowd to match. I highly recommend both! If you're not allergic to them (I am, severely), you should also apparently try a praline. Let me know how it is, will you?

Post-Script on the Relationship Front: Not only did we survive trip #1 to Savannah, but we just returned from trip #2 to Los Angeles (yes, a meeting of the parents occurred, and yes, it went very well), and in a few weeks, we'll be going back to The South together for another ride on this merry-go-round. I have a good feeling about things, and that is my understatement of the year.


  1. OMG these pictures are GORGEOUSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS - I'm so jealous of this trip! It looks like you had an amazing time, you did a great job capturing it.

  2. This looks awesome~!!!

  3. Cookies Chaos n Cest La VieMarch 14, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    Savannah is simply amazing. I used to live in Hinesville so it wasnt so far away. My mom and I loved going there. Its also the birthplace of Girl Scouts and where "Gone with the Wind" was filmed. Riverside is beautiful as well. I wonder if they still have that chocolate store! I wish to go back someday!

  4. Wow, that was beautiful!

  5. You and Ali make a gorgeous couple, perfect together!!

  6. Excellent adventure. Happy ending makes for happy beginnings. For the next plane ride: "Midnight in ..." You can borrow it from someone you know.

  7. ok, this trip sounds insane. a good friend of mine is from savannah and it is HIGH on my list of places to visit, along with charleston. im thinking a southern road trip is in order and i will definitely be using some of these recs. glad you guys had such a fantastic time!

  8. THANK YOU FROM 24e!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Love your blog. Thanks for the props:)

  9. Ahhh I am so jealous now... I need a road trip STAT.

  10. I really loved this post. You're a fantastic writer and photographer. Glad things worked out so well, it looked like you two had an amazing time!

  11. what kind of camera did you use?

  12. AMAZING photos! You have such a great eye! So happy you had a wonderful time. Travelling with your partner can be so much fun...

  13. Nicolette, This is such a fun and beautiful post! What a wonderful adventure and beautifully captured as well.

  14. Gorgeous! I've never had a desire to visit Georgia, but now I do. Happy to hear you are happy :)

  15. Oh my, I love your pictures. Is there any thing left you didn't cover that one needs to go and see in Person?? I am so glad you got the opportunity to go and visit as I know it has been on your list of places to visit for a long time. Did you buy the mother earing for me or for yourslef for whenyou are a mom?? hahaha just saying. The scenes seem to be from a different era. Did it really feel like that? Muah.

  16. So good! I can't wait to go now that we're so much closer, that's always been on my list, and maybe with a piggyback day trip out to HHI as well.

    Where to in the South next, ma'am!?

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  31. So glad you had a great time. This trip sounds amazing. I've never been to Savannah but now I'm definitely intrigued. The architecture in your photos looks so gorgeous.

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  33. Savannah has always been on my wish list of places to visit in the US (other than Nashville and Austin for some good music). I might just have to copy every step you took here. It looks amazing. Thank you for sharing!

  34. What a lovely array of photographs. Having lived in Savannah for four years, you certainly brought back many fond memories. The only recommendation I wish I had made prior to your trip was to suggest a visit to Mrs. Wilkes instead of the Lady & Sons. It's a Savannah institution and only open for lunch Monday through Friday. Also, there was no mention of a visit to the Design District, which is great shopping destination near the Mercer Williams House. Keep these suggestions in mind for any future visits.

  35. i didn't buy the "mother" earrings -- i just thought they were hilarious as they were mother of pearl! it definitely feels different than most cities we've been to. i absolutely loved it. i'd love to go back.

  36. Your Savannah pics are amazing. We stayed at Park Avenue Manor while we were there (about a week or so after you were). We absolutely loved Maurice and Glenn. It was our first time at a bed & breakfast and we were beyond amazed! So glad I found your blog and your pics! You captured the heart of Savannah and it really makes me want to go back soon!

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