Photos and story by Mary E. Gallagher
Have you noticed how when you arrive some places you just relax? Well Savannah does that for me, I just let go and relax.
Any season is a good time to visit this beautiful, historic and fun city. What is particularly pleasing is the city is constantly changing (even the historic parts are expanding) and all for the better. They even have Savannah River cruises through November and December.
Recently I spent a few days at the Ziegler Inn – close to everything and featuring a helpful and very locally involved innkeeper, Jackie Heinz. Jackie is one of four female innkeepers in Savannah that have banded together to promote all the wonderful features of their diverse and varied establishments.
From small cozy cottages to opulent mansions the choices are fantastic. Plus each time you come back for that little getaway you can stay at a different one and experience all its flavors!
Located in the heart of Savannah’s historic, business and cultural district, visiting travelers will have fond memories due to the amazing services and cozy atmosphere by choosing one of these bed and breakfasts – Azalea Inn and Gardens, Green Palm Inn, Zeigler House Inn and Dresser Palmer House Inn.
Although the inns are walking distance to most sites, you’ll also find the unique Savannah Pedicab with its “Trips for Tips” system. They do have specific fees for tours and in other instances but give them a call when you run out of steam and they pop on over to give you a pleasant ride wherever you need to go for what you think is a fair amount to pay. I will say it is a little tooth jarring on the rougher streets! It also means if you chose to walk to your favorite night spot and then imbibe a bit, not a problem, the fresh air Pedicab ride back to your inn will spark you up.
Now I live inCharlestonSC a nationally known foodie town, but let me tell you the dinner we experienced at locally owned Vic’s on the River was one of the most memorable of this year. Everything was the best; appetizers, main course, wine selections, dessert and the outstanding professional wait staff.
Vic’s on the River is a top choice by the innkeepers and I’ll second that recommendation.
Located on world-famous Factor’s Walk above and along theSavannah River, Vic’s serves fine American cuisine with a southern touch.. The main dining room showcases a map that was hand-drawn on the bricks by Union soldiers occupyingSavannahin 1864 during the American Civil War detailing General William T. Sherman’s march fromTennesseethroughGeorgia. Union officers had used the building’s empty offices for housing and strategic planning space.
Another day we dined at noon at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room, consuming food based on her original 1946 Boarding House menu. If you’re not from the south it’s quite an experience and you’ll catch on pretty quick to the old phrase “boarding house reach”. The family style dinners served to tables of ten or more include fried chicken, beef stew and at least 20 side items are a big hit. Even the pickiest eater will find something here. No credit cards so make sure you have cash. The line outside this popular venue moves pretty fast as smaller groups are paired together to fill a table.
Of course no matter which of the four fine inns you’re staying at they’ve already provided an outstanding and tasty breakfast and perhaps you’ll just skip lunch and indulge in the wonderful selection of ice cream and fountain treats at Leopold’s on bustling Broughton Street.
Leopold’s is a wonderful up dated replica of the original 1920’s ice cream store founded in 1919 by three immigrant brothers fromGreece: George, Peter, and Basil Leopold.
The original Leopold’s Ice Cream shop closed in 1969. Stratton Leopold, the youngest child of Peter Leopold, kept many of the original fixtures in storage while he pursued his dreams of working inHollywood.
On August 18 of 2004, Stratton and his wife Mary officially reopened the legendary family business. The new location on downtown Broughton Street was designed by Academy Award nominated set designer Dan Lomino. The original fixtures Stratton had kept were used, including the black marble soda fountain and wooden interior phone booth. I’m not quite old enough to remember a real 1920’s ice cream store but the shop looks like old photos I’ve seen. Posters and props from Stratton Leopold’s film career are placed around for added interest.
Leopold’s VeriBest™ ice cream is made on the premises and there are usually 24 regular flavors plus specials that can include Chatham Artillery Punch Sorbet, Dutch Utopia, Guinness, Japanese Cherry Blossom and more. If you need more sustenance than ice cream they serve fresh soup and a large variety of sandwiches including Shrimp Salad featuring local shrimp.
Let’s walk all those meals off with a bit of shopping on Broughton Street. Like a measure of a recovering economy, every time we come toSavannahI notice new stores have opened up and they are the best.
I love scented anything and the soaps, lotions and fine products at Nourish, 202 West Broughton Street, are natural with pure ingredients. The story of this young couple, Shoshanna and Corey Walker, adapting her mothers “hobby” into a flourishing “green” business with natural ingredients is inspiring.
Their products contain no parabens, sodium lauryl sulphate or sodium laureth sulfate, animal products, petroleum, harsh detergents or mineral oil. Corey continues to make many varieties of their soap by hand.
Savannah has one of their three stores and it’s a most attractive display of their many products. Like me the other stream of customers found it impossible to leave without that perfect gift for someone or moi!
All in all in three days I didn’t scratch the surface of what there is to see and do inSavannah. Historical sites abound and the motorized carriage rides with Old Savannah Tours and their lively guides telling the history and tales of Savannah are a wonderful introduction and overview to the city’s history, architecture and culture.
Savannah has a busy year round calendar of events and festivals including the second largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival in the world. Then there is the famous Enmark Savannah River Bridge Run held each year in December, farmers markets and checkout the Christmas Shopping in Your Pajamas promotion by the Savannah Inns ladies.