The sweet Southern charm of Savannah

September 24, 2012 in Places,United States

In Savannah, I expected some old-fashioned Southern charm, a lot of sweet tea and some delicious (and fried) Southern food.

Lunch at Mrs Wilkes House in Savannah,  Georgia

My grandmother (the one who taught me all about traveling) visited Savannah years and years ago, and she was told, if nothing else, she must eat at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room. She joined the line that runs down the side of the block, and as she was almost to the front, my grandfather appeared and asked why she was waiting in line–why would he wait in line to give someone his money?! She reluctantly left the line, but never forgot how much she wanted to try the fried chicken and Southern specialities at Mrs. Wilkes. As soon as I said I was going to Savannah, it was the first thing she recommended.

The line at Mrs Wilkes Dining Room in Savannah, Georgia

So Renee and I endured the hour-long wait, trading off reading in line with exploring the neighborhood squares. And boy, we were NOT disappointed. The family-style set-up means that a table is set with fried chicken, black-eyed peas, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, jerk chicken, countless other dishes and pitchers of sweet tea. You sit down with strangers, pass the plates around and dig in, as you make new friends. After you squeeze in dessert, you clear your own plates and pay $18 in cash (plus tip!) at the register. I don’t think Renee and I ate dinner that night–we were just too stuffed from all that incredible food! It’s also really neat because it gives you a chance to try a lot of different dishes that I never would have ordered on my own, like black-eyed peas or collard greens. Final verdict: the line is worth the wait, but it doesn’t hurt to come early and bring a book.

Adorable Savannah Tattoo Parlor in Savannah, Georgia

No, I didn’t get a tattoo in Savannah–you can breathe easy, Mom–but I did think this was just about the cutest tattoo parlor I’d ever seen. And that says a lot about the appearances in Savannah: even the grungy is charming. We also discovered the best way to beat the heat in Savannah: escape into the air-conditioned shops. We tried to walk off our post-lunch heft with lots of browsing, to little avail.

A classic steamboat in Savannah, Georgia

The cobblestone waterfront is lined with candy shops, kitschy bars and tourist trinket shops: lovely for a bit of a wander with a river breeze.

A park-like cemetery in Savannah, Georgia

We didn’t get a chance to visit the famous Bonaventure Cemetery, but we still enjoyed wandering through the park-like cemeteries scattered in the center of town.

The brick tombs in a cemetery in Savannah, Georgia

The enormous brick tombs reminded us of the European-style cemeteries in New Orleans: we don’t have anything like this in California!

Forsyth Park in Savannah, Georgia

Honestly, the loveliest thing about Savannah has to be the squares. When the city was developed in in the early 1700’s, they designed each neighborhood around a square. Now, these block oases of greenery and shade are a welcome escape from the shops, restaurants and homes surrounding them. There are statues and benches–but most importantly, lots of and lots of trees.

Thunderbird Inn at dusk in Savannah, Georgia

We stayed at the Thunderbird Inn, and it was every bit as hip as it claims to be! It’s a very retro-style motel with sweet bonuses like Moonpies on your pillow and Krispy Kremes for breakfast. The rooms are sleek and clean, with a burst of bright color. It’s within easy walking distance of the riverfront and adorable downtown–although, to be fair, we were still too stuffed from lunch to enjoy the Savannah nightlife.

Have you visited Savannah? What was your favorite part?

Note: The Thunderbird Inn kindly offered us complimentary accommodation, but all opinions are my own.Β 

  • That’s a cute story, about your Grandma and Mrs. Wilkes. I always think it’s neat when we see or do something and find out someone else saw or did the same thing. We saw a mountain goat at Mount Rushmore, for example, and my dad said he saw one there when he was a kid too.
    I haven’t made my way down south yet, mostly just the southwest and midwest at this point in our journey, but I am so excited to get there! I’m currently reading Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, which is set in Savannah (and is really good, if you’re interested in a new book) and it’s made me so excited to visit down there!

  • I was in Savannah for a day quite a few years ago (as a day trip from St. Simons Island), and absolutely loved it. We did the Riverwalk, did a kitschy ghost tour in a hearse, and ate at Paula Deen’s restaurant. I’ve wanted to go back ever since – and your post reminds me how much!

  • I’m sorry to say that the only thing I know about Savannah is from “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, but after reading that book I’ve always wanted to visit to the see the houses, architecture and all around charm!

  • Toronto limo service

    That is interesting story, about your Grandma and Mrs. Wilkes. Market, foods and places are good. Savannah is great city and have lot of recreation places to visit.

  • I was just in Savannah and ate at the delicous Mrs. Wilkes fried chicken. I counted 22 dishes on the table and I put a little of each on my plate. Pretty sure I didn’t eat dinner that night either πŸ™‚

  • Jackie D

    I’m going here in late October and am SO EXCITED. It somehow manages to look adorable despite all of the fried food that’s everywhere, so you know it must be a special place. I also don’t have a place to stay yet so I might look into Thunderbird Inn….looks like quite the eccentric little place, to say the least.

  • I have never been to Savannah, but am dying to go. You’re adding fuel to the fire. πŸ˜‰

  • camorose

    Sounds brilliant! It’s so nice to have a connection with a new place–makes it feel that much more special πŸ™‚

  • camorose

    Ohhh I actually didn’t get a chance to do any of those things–but totally think that I would love to go back for a weekend! Especially when it’s not so hot and humid πŸ™‚

  • camorose

    My grandmother made me watch that movie as soon as I said I was visiting! I really wished we had a bit more time to do a cemetery tour while we were there after seeing the movie πŸ™‚

  • camorose

    So much variety!!! I definitely couldn’t squeeze in dinner that night either–ate waaaaaay too much!

  • camorose

    I loved the Thunderbird! Highly recommend πŸ™‚

  • camorose

    You’d love it–and I’d LOVE to see the photos you’d take πŸ™‚

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  • I would love, love, love, love, LOVE to see more of the American South some day…it has such a different look and heritage than the North!!

  • camorose

    I’m so glad I explored the South: it’s so different from the rest of the USA, and so beautiful!

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