For the last 28 years, my family has migrated south for the holidays. We typically spend a week at “Del Boca Vista” fighting for lounge chairs at the clubhouse pool on Christmas. But this year our family schedules didn’t align and my sister and I were left alone in New York for the holidays. Cold and bored we checked out SkyScanner for flights from “NYC to Anywhere.” Inexpensive flights to Savannah, Georgia on Christmas morning popped up. We knew nothing about Savannah, but had heard good things. After a quick weather check (end of December average: 65-75 and sunny), we figured why not? So, we packed up for our Southern Christmas as usual, but this time to explore the unfamiliar world of biscuits and gravy.
Savannah is a perfect place for visitors. It’s walkable and easy to navigate, brimming with beautiful scenery and architecture and filled with friendly, welcoming people. It’s old-world Southern charm with a quirky spin. You can imagine my confusion when I entered a pub and the bartender asked if I would like my cocktail for here or to go. But open containers of alcohol are welcomed on the historic streets or on the frequently passing horse and buggies, so long as they are in a plastic cup.
The city’s downtown is laid out on a grid and includes 22 historic squares. Each square is covered by the long branches of live oak trees, dripping with Spanish moss. They hang over the street creating a romantic and slightly ethereal feeling. Also based downtown is Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) which offers the city its creative vibe.
The city is bursting with history. We learned that President Carter announced his presidency from Pinkie Masters, a dive bar on Drayton Street. The phrase “Keeping up with the Jones’” stemmed from Jones Street, a main drag made up of stunning historic homes. Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Lowe was born in Savannah and held the very first meeting in town. And Savannah was the first capital of the 13th colony and later of Georgia (But I think we were supposed to know that one already…).
As we wandered downtown I felt like a character in “That Thing You Do,” strolling through the 1960’s towards the appliance store just around the corner. Although I should have felt like we were walking on the set of “Forrest Gump.” Because we were! The iconic movie was filmed in Savannah and the residents are very proud of this. There are landmarks from the movie identified all over town, but the most iconic spot is Chippewa Square, where Forrest Gump shares his life story from a bench right in the heart of the historic district.
Like any other Rolnik vacation, we planned our days around our next meal. I do not frequent Southern fare but it was just as I had imagined. Rich, fattening, and freaking delicious. We tried everything from fried green tomatoes to shrimp and grits to collard greens. We skipped Paula Deen’s restaurant Lady & Sons, but had a classic, wonderful meal at The Olde Pink House, a gorgeous Georgian mansion that was built in the 1800s with 12 cozy dining rooms, a handful of tables in each.
On the first day we hopped on the Old Towne Trolley Tour to see the city and get a sense of our bearings. Our driver started the tour with this:
There’s a great line from the famous Savannah-set novel “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” that says: If you go to Atlanta, the first question people ask you is, “What’s your business?” In Macon they ask, “Where do you go to church?” In Augusta they ask your grandmother’s maiden name. But in Savannah the first question people ask you is, “What would you like to drink?”
That pretty much sums it up.
Shop the Crystal Arrowhead Necklace (currently out of stock) and Stalactite Necklace pictured here. Also pictured, custom Kalaki Riot piece. Email to inquire.