Savannah – Ooh Na Na!

savannah georgia ami cadugan

Today’s Culture with Travel post is by ©️Ami B. Cadugan

To help ring in 2018, our family of four travelled down South to Savannah and Charleston (just a two-hour drive apart, hence the combo). We had one week to tour both cities, so we did lots of research to maximize our time (and tummy space) between the two. Turns out, both towns boast fantastic food, compelling history, beautiful architecture and even some paranormal activity.

Savannah is on the smaller side and really easy to navigate (love the grid system and all the Squares). Charleston is definitely the larger of the two and will be featured in the next post.

Food Tour

Our “tour” kicked off in Savannah. If you’re hungering for a taste of the South, book yourselves on a Food Tour with Savannah Taste Experience. It’s the #1 food tour in town for a reason!

Our guide, Pamela, was very enthusiastic and took us to some hidden gems, including: The Ordinary Pub: Cute hole-in- the wall featuring gastro pub fare. We got ours “to go” and ate in a nearby Square. The pork belly on mini-donut sliders were out of this world. They also have vegetarian “tacos” for non-carnivores.

south historic district ©️Ami B. Cadugan
Pretty street in the South Historic District. ©️Ami B. Cadugan

Molly McPherson’s Pub features an entire “Wall O’Whiskies” (Mostly Scottish, but Irish, Japanese and Northern America are also represented). During our food tour stop, we enjoyed a small, but tasty, portion of Shepherd’s pie, and washed it down with a shot of The Dalmore 15 year, Single malt Scotch Whiskey. Smooth sailing!

South Historic District ©️Ami B. Cadugan
Dreamy fountain from 1859, South Historic District. Photo by ©️Ami B. Cadugan

Finally, a visit to the Savannah Bee Company provided an opportunity to sample locally produced honeys, hand creams, lip balms and more.  Suffice to say, souvenirs were purchased. The Salted Caramel lip balm smells as heavenly as it sounds.

Savannah: Paranormal Activity

After eating our way around town, we met up for an evening of Paranormal activity with Patrick Burns of Got Ghosts! Evidently, Savannah is “America’s Most Haunted City” and Calhoun Square and The Mercer House in Monterey Square are some of the most haunted places in town. Learn why!

Spanish moss blowing in the wind - Colonial Park Cemetery
Spanish moss blowing in the wind – Colonial Park Cemetery. ©️Ami B. Cadugan

FYI, Patrick’s been featured on “Haunting Evidence” on truTV, so you know he’s the “real deal”! As an aside, Visit Savannah can send a huge thank you to John Berendt. His famous murder-mystery, “Midnight in the Garden of
Good and Evil” – locally known as “The Book” – is what put the city on the map as a tourist destination.

colonial park cemetery ©️Ami B. Cadugan
Permanent resident in the Colonial Park Cemetery. ©️Ami B. Cadugan

Got Ghosts! focuses on Mercer House and Clary’s Café, both prominently featured in The Bible. The famous bird-girl statue from the book was
not on the tour, but can be found at Bonaventure Cemetery.

Exploring the Georgia State Railroad Museum  

More family fun ensued at one of the coolest museums for train lovers of all ages – the Georgia State Railroad Museum. Situated on the edge of town, this outdoor “train graveyard” allows visitors to enjoy a hand’s on learning experience about the golden era of rail travel (1830’s-1960’s).

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Knowledgeable and passionate guides run a variety of daily tours. Don’t miss walking through the Atlanta and the Columbus, two cars frequented by the presidents of the railroad companies. Fancy!

At the end of the tour, hop on a handcar with your guide (man-power provided…by you) and ride as quickly as you can “pump” down an open stretch of track.

If you go on the weekend, they even run diesel and steam locomotives. Plan ahead! Featuring over 30 trains, stunning brick architecture and even some historical graffiti, this museum should not be missed! Insider tip: One of the most complete antebellum railroad shops in the country, if that floats your boat…or train!

Contemporary Art in Savannah

Before (or after) the trains, head down the street to The SCAD, which is the
contemporary art museum run by the Savannah College of Art and Design.

SCAD by ©️Ami B. Cadugan
Silver candies scattered at the SCAD Artist Felix Gonzales-Torres “Untitled” 1991 Photo by ©️Ami B. Cadugan

Very cool exhibitions and just the right size! Even kids will enjoy the space. Upcoming exhibitions include: Testing the Name (beautiful, yet fictional series of drawings about two Nigerian families); Livestrong Savannah (looks very egg-citing!) and No Access (take some time to “reflect” on life, while enjoying the outdoor space). FYI, both the train museum and
the SCAD can be done within a few hours.

Eating and Snacking in Savannah

Further eating, snacking and caffeinating continued at The Olde Pink House, Leopold’s Ice Cream, Screamin’ Mimi’s Pizza, The Coffee Fox and Zunzis. Lady and Sons is another popular choice.

The Olde Pink House is Savannah’s version of a Michelin-starred restaurant, serving fancy versions of “low-country” fare.  It’s set in an 18th Century house, so you may feel a little Parisian (although the Parisian décor of this time was way more opulent!) We ate there on Christmas and the menu offerings were fantastic, as was our server.  The wine recommendation was spot-on (Napa Nook, Napa Valley Red, 2014 by Christian Moueix). So if you’re up for fancy, head here. Just make a reservation first. They’re always
packed!

Ami enjoying Leopold’s ice cream. Picture by ©️Sadie A. Cadugan.

Leopold’s is famous for its ice cream and sundaes. Visit them for dessert (or dessert-first!). Worth waiting in the (perpetual) line.

Get your caffeine fix at The Coffee Fox. It really is the Best coffee in town and I’ve got the t-shirt to prove it!

If you need a break from “heavier” Southern fare, head to Screamin’ Mimi’s Pizza. It’s good, fast and cheap (slices available). Very cool “sticker wall” too.

Zunzi’s. ©️Ami B. Cadugan

Zunzi’s is our favorite Savannah “hole in the wall”. Order inside and chat-up the owner, then eat at their tables outside. Line may stretch around the corner….and it’s worth the wait. Generously sized South African themed sandwiches, platters and iced teas. Tasty sauces. Free refills on the addicting iced tea.  Happily, they have bathroom access. Should you eat here? Shit Ya!

Lady and Sons is Paula Deen’s place. We did NOT eat here, as we ran out of time and stomach space. I’m sure there was buttah galore!

Savannah’s Waving Girl. ©️Ami B. Cadugan
Savannah’s Waving Girl. ©️Ami B. Cadugan

Hopefully this has given you some good insights into Savannah. The next blog post will take a deep-dive into Charleston. Happy traveling (and eating!)

Ami is a transplanted New Yorker who loves discovering the daily quirks of Parisian living. Follow @amitakesonparis on Twitter and Instagram

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