Where to Stay, Sip, Shop, and More in Savannah, the South's Creative Capital
In many ways, Savannah is the standard for southern cities: classic lowcountry cuisine, streets lined with magnolia trees and azalea bushes (not to mention its signature live oak trees and Spanish moss), antebellum homes, and a culturally and politically rich (for better or worse) history. But thanks to the founding of SCAD, Savannah College of Art and Design, in 1979 — by an Atlanta-based teacher looking to create more creative opportunities for all types of students — the city is a surprisingly progressive spot, especially in Georgia’s exceedingly conservative climate these days.
And because Savannah became a hub for students seeking an education in the arts, it has since also become one of the nation’s top destinations for dining, drinking, shopping, and even staying in style — given the wealth of talented, creative chefs, mixologists, designers, and out-of-the-box entrepreneurs it now attracts. Perhaps that’s why it’s also become such a desirable place to visit. And if you’re planning to do just that, let us offer a few suggestions.
Recently, we headed to Savannah to tour the new Alida Hotel, get an inside peek into the classrooms at SCAD, and even attend a party hosted by leading color authority, Pantone, who was in town with its roving, interactive pop-up “pantry.” The highly inspirational trip offered the perfect juxtaposition of contemporary and historic places to stay, eat, drink, shop, and sightsee. Ahead, find a list of highlights the city has to offer.
This recently opened locale is part of Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio family of independent, boutique hotels. In addition to offering luxurious, and beautifully designed accommodations on Savannah’s riverfront, The Alida has a fine dining establishment, Rhett (don’t skip the BBQ shrimp orecchiete at supper or the biscuits and gravy for breakfast), a rooftop and lobby bar with an impressive cocktail list, a pool deck with private cabanas, and a stylish gift shop filled with artsy goodies to take home.
https://www.thealidahotel.com, 412 Williamson St, Savannah, GA 31401
The Collins Quarter
Though it also boasts a full bar and fantastic dinner options, this Aussie-inspired cafe shines most as a breakfast and brunch spot, where you can sip a spiced lavender mocha or an espresso tonic while nibbling on dishes like smashed pea on toast with grilled halloumi and beet hummus or a twist on classic bubble and squeak in a bright, modern atmosphere.
www.thecollinsquarter.com, 151 Bull St, Savannah, GA 31404
If you’re like us, you fell in love with The Grey watching James Beard award winner Mashama Bailey on an episode of Chef’s Table. Located in a Greyhound bus terminal from the 1930s, the restaurant has a reputation for honoring but elevating native classics — think foie gras and grits, tempura-fried catfish, and Lowcountry purloo (a seafood and rice dish) — featuring locally sourced produce, meat, and seafood. The cocktails list is just as memorable, with twists on vintage classics, like a sloe gin fizz with cherry heering liqueur, and egg white.
thegreyrestaurant.com, 109 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Savannah, GA 31404
The first iteration of this mini empire was founded in Charleston by another Chef’s Table vet and James Beard award winner, Sean Brock. Just like the original, the Savannah location is focused on celebrating ingredients native to the south, like Carolina Gold rice and benne seeds — but spun into totally unique dishes. The beverage lists are equally considerate, with wines organized by terroir, and cocktails featuring a complex array of flavor profiles — often with a nod to the surrounding region.
husksavannah.com, 12 W Oglethorpe Ave, Savannah, GA 31404
Savannah Coffee Roasters
Established in 1909, this historic roasting company and airy cafe is an ideal place to grab a bag of beans (you can smell them literally a mile away) or sit down and enjoy a cup of brew with your breakfast, lunch, or simply a good book.
www.savannahcoffee.com, 215 W, Liberty St, Savannah, GA 31401
The Future on Forsyth
Founded by a SCAD grad, this vintage boutique is a surefire place to find funky pieces, like psychedelic polyester maxis or 1980’s Hawaiian shirts. And while you’re there, make sure to grab a selfie in the iconic dressing room area, where a velour sofa and palm-print backdrop practically beg you to do so.
@thefutureonforsyth, 106 W Gwinnett St, #1A, Savannah, GA 31401
This two-level vintage mecca offers a wide array of affordable pieces — just be ready to do a bit of digging. Spend a little time here and you can unearth gems like a suede fringe suit (for just $50, true story) or a shiny vinyl raincoat but there’s also so much more.
@civviesonbroughton, 14 E Broughton St, Savannah, GA 31401
This sweet boutique specializes funky contemporary fashions and accessories by eco-friendly labels but you can also find cool accessories and locally made ceramics during a visit.
custardboutique,com, 422 Whitaker St, Savannah, GA 31401
East + Up
For expertly curated vintage, it doesn’t get much better than this stylish spot. You might pay a teeny bit more here, but that’s because shop owner/designer Emily Bargeron has already done the heavy lifting for you. Here, look out for the perfectly worn graphic tee, leather bags and boots, and floor-length kimonos — the kind of pieces that you’ll be happy to brag that you scored in Savannah when they’re inevitably complimented over and over.
@east.and.up, 6 E Liberty St, Parlor Level, Savannah, GA 31401
The Book Lady Bookstore
Bibliophiles must make a stop at the city’s only full service independent/used bookstore. While you’re there, don’t skip the treasure-filled rare books room.
thebookladybookstore.com, 6 E Liberty St, Savannah, GA 31401
SCAD Museum of Art
While the art school’s museum does include a room devoted to work by SCAD alumni, you can expect to see a variety of changing exhibitions by emerging and acclaimed international artists.
www.scadmoa.com, 601 Turner Blvd, Savannah, GA 31401
Laney Contemporary Fine Art
For a contemporary gallery experience in town, stop by this noteworthy destination, which focuses on Southern artists specifically.
laneycontemporary.com, 1810 Mills B Lane Blvd, Second Floor, Savannah, GA 21405
Flannery O’Connor Home
Visit the celebrated Southern writer’s restored childhood home, where she lived in the Depression-era. Literature enthusiasts can check out spots famously described by the novelist, plus explore the Bruckheimer Library full of rare books and gifts to take home.
www.flanneryoconnorhome.com, 207 E Charlton St, Savannah, GA 31401