Savannah drips Southern Charm

Ann Kraft

by Emily Moody
In desperate need of a getaway, at a mere two hours away Savannah seemed like the perfect place for me to explore for a few days of R&R. It’s hard to believe that in all my years of growing up in Jacksonville and traveling all over the country, that I hadn’t ever taken the time to enjoy Savannah. This city is as rich in history as it is in lush oaks lining cobblestone streets. It was nice to slow down and enjoy a place that, because of her sheer majesty, was spared of being torched during the Civil War by General Sherman, and instead gifted on Christmas to President Lincoln. Little did I know this would entail not only binging at the Marc Jacobs store and a (minor) scooter crash, but also a quick road trip to South Carolina.
Although I love doing it up right on any occasion, splurging on a first class hotel was far from the top of my priority list for this trip. Searching “boutique hotel in Savannah,” Google presented me with a lot of choices. The one that caught my eye, at only $120 a night, was The Thunderbird Inn. Originally built in 1964, this classic motel with an updated, modern twist was perfect for a quick couple days of adventure and discovery. My partner in crime and I unanimously agreed and booked a room immediately. Our trip was planned with little planning, and on a few measly tips from travel blogs, hints of hot spots from friends, and our own intuition, it was Savannah or bust.
Day 1We pulled up to the updated roadside motel, the Thunderbird Inn. We scored a great place to stay while still being within walking distance of the shopping and restaurants. Just off Broughton Street, we happened upon a little tapas place called Sugar Daddy’s. They serve late, have a decent vegetarian selection, plus tasty house cocktails, all for a reasonable price! Tapas are a great way to dine because you get to try a selection of little bites and really experience the menu. For under $50 including tip, our stomachs and conscience were left pleased.
On to Pinkie Master’s, a true dive that you won’t find a brochure for in your hotel lobby. Just look for the PBR encrusted sign that hangs from the corner. Inside, the place is plastered with signed photos of celebrities and patrons but this place is probably best known as the bar where Jimmy Carter declared his intent to run for president. Think a cozier version of Jacksonville dive Sherwoods. If you can get past the smokiness, Pinkie’s is a great, diverse spot that will make any tourist feel like a local.
Day 2 The next morning loud maids outside didn’t help our minor headaches, but, as it was getting close to eleven, I guess we had no reason to complain. (Black out motel curtains? Check.) Thanks to modern technology, we checked Urban Spoon for a breakfast suggestion. We were looking for fast, cheap and locally owned. A cafeteria-style eatery, Goose Feathers, did the trick.
I was getting anxious to head straight to the Marc Jacobs store after we finished our brunch (be prepared- no mimosas before noon) but we popped in Nourish, a locally made natural soap and body store, on the way. After grabbing a soy candle and Jojoba body oil we walked down Broughton with MJ on our minds.
We walked into the refurbished warehouse turned boutique and I quickly filled a dressing room with girly frocks, raw denim skinny jeans, bathing suits, silk blouses and funky screen tees featuring Marc’s newest character “Miss Marc.” Don’t be intimidated by the brand’s pricey reputation! I was surprised at how many affordable items were stocked at the store, including metallic clutches ($18), peculiar tooth charm necklaces ($14), and lunch bags and pencil sets (under $10), among other things. After splurging on a few special summer items, (thank you Uncle Sam for the tax refund) we headed back to our hotel.
After our shopping sprees, a victory beer was definitely in order! Our perfect plan to grab a six pack and head to one of the cities captivatingly beautiful parks was foiled when we realized that in the (conservative) state of Georgia, you can ONLY purchase alcohol at restaurants on Sundays! What were we to do? Take a quick trip north of the border to South Carolina, of course. After a couple wrong turns (getting lost is half the fun, right?) our Sweetwater 420 was on ice in the trunk and we were back in Savannah in under an hour. So, if you are going to be in Savannah on a Sunday and you intend on imbibing, plan accordingly.
While walking around Savannah is great, what’s even better is experiencing the city on a scooter, Italian style. If you have a thirst for adventure, I highly suggest renting a scooter. For a well-worth-it rental fee, a Piaggio scooter was ours for 24 hours of superfun! Feeling freer than ever, we cruised the city with our little white helmets on. (ALWAYS wear your helmet, but more on that later.)
The most tourist-y stop on our jaunt, River Street is great for people watching and we stopped at a little pub to have a few appetizers before heading back to the hotel to shower and get ready for dinner. We sat outside and enjoyed a peaceful sunset over the river while a street musician added to the ambiance with a drowning saxophone.
Dinner came highly recommended from the helpful concierge at the front desk. Although Cha Bella offered a wonderfully local and organic selection of dishes, and great vegetarian fare that was quite delicious, the unauthentic décor and slow service made dinner less than to be desired. When we walked in, though the restaurant was relatively empty, we waited entirely too long to be seated. Then the server proceeded to sit us at a terrible two-top right by the stairway. Luckily our meals made up for the poor service.
After dinner we went back down to River Street to check out a few pubs. We were still on the scooter, mind you, and the cobblestone and trolley tracks didn’t mix well with the balance of the scooter. One second we were cruising and the next our faces met the street. A local said he’s seen plenty of Harleys flip upside down on that street over the years (which made us feel a lot better) and with scraped up hands and slightly bruised egos we hopped to our feet. Thankfully my new Marc Jacobs jeans made it out of the debacle without a tear! That was enough excitement for the evening and we headed back to the Thunderbird to ice our bodies.
Day 3With an early start, we wanted to soak up as much of Savannah as we could before life called us back to Jacksonville. Luckily our awesome hotel had complimentary Krispy Kremes and OJ (among other continental breakfast items) to tide us over until we found a place to brunch. We hopped on the scooter and headed back to the River Street area to a little eatery called B. Matthews. This was another “highly recommended” spot that was less than to be desired during our visit. The interior was lovely, but the food was sub-par and again the service was slow. Sore muscles and the realization that our trip was coming to an end was a recipe for a cranky breakfast.
We were not going to let a lackluster breakfast get us down. We took one last cruise around town and snapped photos of gorgeous oaks with branches that looked like they wanted to reach down and hug you. We were taking in the architecture and character of each office, shop and residence. Lush green ivy covered homes and pocket parks were around each turn.
As our trip came to a close, we dropped off the scooter and crossed the street to Parker’s to load up on tasty treats at a one hundred year old Mediterranean gourmet grocery and gas station. This city left me feeling inspired and energized. Heading out of town, I was already thinking of when I could make it back for another adventure. Savannah is the perfect, affordable trip to add to your summer to-do list.