Destination weddings are always a blast, not only because you get to witness someone’s marriage and have a chance to reconnect with family and friends – but because you get the opportunity to do this in a completely new place! We just returned from such a wedding weekend in Savannah, Georgia, where we were able to experience this new city through the eyes of the couple. Since we both have some flexibility with vacation time, we tacked some days onto the beginning and end of the weekend in order to maximize our time with everyone, and get to experience as much of Savannah as we could. We were not disappointed! From the time we landed, we felt welcome in the city – our Uber driver giving us a synopsis of her time in Savannah up until the moment she dropped us at the front door of our VRBO rental – graciously booked by my in-laws.
When I say VRBO rental I really mean massive, sprawling, charm-infused Georgian home. The rental technically had three different living quarters: (1) the main house, which consisted of three stories; (2) the basement/ground-level apartment that ran the length of the home; and (3) the single bedroom carriage house that lay across the courtyard (yes – you read that correctly – across the courtyard). Each part of the property felt completely private, yet utterly connected because of the quaint courtyard area that joined them all.
From the top of the outdoor spiral staircase, we had a lovely view of our own carriage house accommodations and the nearest church (one of many), spiking up over the roof – swaying tree branches, Spanish Moss, and all. Not to mention it was a perfect 60-some-odd degrees and sunny.
When you think “Savannah” I’m sure you immediately imagine parks, gardens, and squares – which we also did – but the sheer number of them is still striking when you arrive and start to walk the city. There are currently a total of 24 squares throughout Savannah that interrupt traffic as you walk about – making for a more pedestrian-friendly feel. Granted, we had our fair share of speedy Georgians motoring from intersection to intersection – but the squares every several blocks act as a bit of an oasis along the way to your destination. I usually recommend no destination though – wandering is when you find the best places. A few of our favorites are below:
Food & Drink
Collins Quarter – We ended up eating brunch here twice. It’s always interesting to find a foreign element in a city – which is exactly what Collins Quarter aims to do. They have fused the feel of Australia’s cafe culture into Savannah while layering on innovative and unique food. Two of my favorite things – caffeine and good eats. We would recommend them for any meal – the menu looked great regardless of when you arrive. Their website makes it clear that parties over 4 need a reservation – so run over to OpenTable and make a reservation if you’re in town!
The Chromatic Dragon – This was another two-timer! As we Ubered into the city we saw a sign for this bar and I was intrigued – so like any good, older millennial, I ran to the Google Box and tried to figure out what this place was. Turns out it is a video game bar! Initially, I thought it would be rows of old-school arcade games, but instead, you actually sat and played pretty much any current game console and multi-player game of your choice, while you ate and drank. They’re also family-friendly, across all ages – so bringing the nephews was a-okay. Needless to say, I got my butt whooped by a 5-year-old.
For those that are a bit more old-school, there is also giant Jenga and giant Connect Four – as well as a plethora of boardgames I saw off in a corner by the bar. The menu is also full of amazing puns – icing on the nerd cake.
Kayak Kafe – Solid healthy choice when surrounded by traditional Southern food for four days! Towards the end of our trip, we were craving a salad and ended up walking to Kayak Kafe to get in some steps and take in some greens. The restaurant is actually the front-end of a local gym but has the feel of a small, local joint once you walk in and sit down. The guacamole and pita were to die for and the salads were exactly what we needed. We can speak to the “Vegetarian” and the “Greek” salads – both were home runs.
Gallery Espresso – A place that takes coffee, tea, baked goods, and employee wellness seriously. Just check out their website and read about their team and the training they’ve had while working at Gallery. We pit-stopped here for a midafternoon pick-me-up and ended up an amazing Red African iced tea and zucchini bread. They also feature a gallery space and host local artists which you can see here.
Clary’s Cafe – After in increasingly frustrating 2 hours trying to wrap up a work report I joined the family for breakfast over at Clary’s Cafe on our first full day in Savannah. The bonus here was that while I was yelling at Excel they were waiting in line, so when I finished and jogged over from the rental, they were walking in the door and just sitting down to our table! Sometimes timing really is everything.
Clary’s is a local institution from what we could discern – incredibly friendly service with photos of the owners, family, friends, and patrons all over the walls. The nephews seemed all in on the pancakes, while I inhaled one of the better omelets I’ve ever had. Breakfast potatoes – also delicious. Big diner-style fare if that’s what you’re looking for – which will provide you with a solid base for all that daytime walking/drinking
Savannah’s policy on open containers is: Open containers are a-okay! It isn’t shocking to see folks walking with a solo cup as they move from the bar to a historic site, to another bar.
ShopSCAD – While there are a ton of great shops and stores to poke in and out of along the way, I’d highly highly recommend the SCAD shop to anyone. Situated along one of the main roads running in between the green squares sits the SCAD shop. This shop features the insanely talented artists of SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design) – everything from handbags and bowties, to candles and teas, to ceramics and furniture.
Brendan actually made a last minute bowtie purchase that made it into his outfit the day of the wedding.
Gallery 209 – great shop containing work from a variety of local artists. We ended up finding a puppy sitting gift, as well as a gift for ourselves here way too easily. The works featured here range from jewelry, to 2D and 3D work.
The wedding was a three-day event spanning the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner on Friday, ceremony and reception on Saturday, followed by a casual Sunday brunch.
The weekend looked a little something like this:
Pre-party at Savannah Smiles Dueling Piano Bar
It was as magical as it sounds, trust me.
Wedding at the Cathedral
Dinner & Reception at the historic Desoto Savannah Hotel
And from there the bride and groom quite literally rode off into the night by horse-drawn carriage…and then met us at Pinkie Masters for a nightcap!
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I leave you with this: when in Savannah take long walks through green, fountain-clad squares – enjoy a drink while maneuvering the city (on foot w/ a solo cup) – be awestruck by the churches, cathedrals, and other architectural beauties – look for a ghost or two – stay someplace that’s nothing like your home – embrace and eat some Southern food – and then…wash it all down with a salad from Kayak and video games at Chromatic Dragon. Because soon enough you’ll be flying back to reality.
Bits of the beauty…