In case no one told you, there’s more to Savannah than the horse-drawn carriages, historic squares and green-dyed fountains that lure millions of tourists each year.
It’s been a minute since I’ve had the chance to indulge in the city’s unique charm. But its art and culinary endeavors are still a passion topic for me – even while living on the other side of the country.
Occasionally, a friend will ask me for recommendations ahead of their trip to the Hostess City of the South. I’m always grateful for these requests because it gives me a moment to talk almost fanatically about the city’s diverse offerings.
If you have the opportunity to visit and want to experience Savannah beyond the confines of tourist zones and attractions, consider some of these spots below.
And for more detailed and lengthier pieces about the Hostess City of the South, you can read some of my old columns I wrote for the Savannah Morning News about local artisans and events in the city.
- The Florence
- Mrs. Wilkes
- Zunzi’s: This counter eatery is a little hole in the wall known for its South African cuisine and banging homemade Zunzi’s sauce. Plus they’ve always got a friendly, upbeat staff ready to greet you with the restaurant’s punchy slogan: “Shit yeah!” Most days, you’ll find a line wrapped outside the door as more tourists discover what locals have been raving about for over a decade. Even the Travel Channel has taken notice. In 2012, the Conquistador, was named one of the top two sandwiches in America. But personally, my favorite is the fisherman’s deck (pictured above). It’s a charbroiled salmon fillet served on French bread with lettuce and tomato. Be sure to also pick up their South African iced tea, which has a blend of peach, vanilla and coconut flavors.
- The Grey
- Back In The Day Bakery
- The Collins Quarter: Anytime I’m in town, this trendy Australian-inspired café is my go-to for brunch. But get there early or make a reservation on OpenTable. The place is known to draw large crowds on weekends. At the very least, pop in to grab a drink from the Espresso Bar. The restaurant prides itself on serving specialty beverages by “passionate coffee connoisseurs.”
- Social Club
- Bar Bar
- American Legion on Bull Street
- Foxy Loxy – Nestled in the heart of the city’s SoFo neighborhood, you’ll find this charming coffeehouse offering an array of delicious caffeinated beverages provided by Savannah’s very own PERC coffee roasters. A full slate of regularly occurring events at Foxy has long served as an excellent platform for local artists and musicians. Their popular Acoustic Tuesdays series showcases a variety of musical acts, while their involvement in the fledgling Art March Friday movement attracts and unites young artists and local business leaders in an effort to strengthen community in the arts. And don’t forget to check out the café’s finest feature: a beautiful outdoor courtyard draped with lush greenery and completed with wrought iron seating, string lights and a pillared altar for music performances. It’s where guests can enjoy specials like ‘Crepes in the Courtyard’ or ‘Fire + Wine’ – a toasty event on Saturdays that offers half-priced bottles of wine, s’mores kits and fire pits.
- Gallery Espresso
- Sentient Bean
- Mate Factor
- Planet Fun – I double-dog dare you to walk into this vintage toy store and not have a childlike urge to touch something on the shelves. Located on a busy and ever-growing Broughton Street, Planet Fun brings an unassuming air to the most popular shopping destination in historic Savannah. It’s here where you’ll find reminders of simpler times and small pleasures: Atari, old action figures, Game Boy and more. Forget your troubles (and your age) and pop inside this toy store for just a moment.
- Jepson Center
- SCAD Museum
- SoFO (South of Forsyth Park)
- Hip Hop night at the Jinx
- A-Town Get Down Festival – I’ve had the pleasure of watching this annual festival glow brighter and brighter over the past 7 years. Named after Alex Townsend, a local artist who died tragically at the age of 21, the A-Town Get Down Festival unites music and art to engage the community, and particularly our youth. It’s a highly expressive event that serves as a creative outreach for those who need it most.
- Savannah Stopover
- Pulse Festival