Savannah embodies the ideal of fine Southern living: storied mansions, live oaks draped in Spanish moss, mint juleps on the verandah. But there's plenty of free spirit in this Southern Georgia city, too, a fact underscored in John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The blockbuster book has drawn thousands of visitors to Savannah's ghost tours and Bonaventure Cemetery. All of that and good food too? Welcome to Savannah!
Things to Do
The charming city of Savannah, peppered with historic pink, red and blue houses, and boasting a downtown River Walk meandering along the Savannah River, begs to be explored on foot. Wander the 2½ -mile spread of the nation's largest National Historic Landmark District and people-watch in its numerous and lush neighborhood parks. To sense the Savannah of General James Oglethorpe in 1733, tour the city via the Savannah River Queen with historic tales of this Southern gem.
Savvy shoppers inevitably make their way to River Street, where nine blocks of shops sell Southern cookbooks, folk art, pottery and jewelry. Tasteless souvenirs (Kiss-Me-I'm Irish T-shirts and green beer on St. Patrick's Day) also abound. ShopSCAD, operated by the hip and expansive Savannah College of Art and Design, has been such a hit that the school opened satellite shops in Atlanta and Lacoste, France. Student-designed toys, home décor, clothing, jewelry and handbags seldom sit on the gallery's shelves for long.p>
Nightlife and Entertainment
Downtown Savannah's Johnson Square is the site for many an evening open-air concert in warm weather, when the city's best musicians get toes tapping with Dixieland, jazz and Big Band tunes. Year-round music lovers can be sure to find music on River Street after dark. Just walk along the street, listen for music you like and pop in. Since a sultry summer night just begs for a cool beverage, check out Savannah's fun drinking spots: Mercury Lounge, the Monkey Bar and Bernie's.
Restaurants and Dining
Foodies flock to Savannah for some of the finest seafood -- some would say the finest cooking -- in the South. Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room, like a boarding house, serves a single, hearty meal to guests around a common table. Authentic, seasonal, down-home favorites fill the table, including shrimp 'n' grits, black-eyed peas, fried chicken and collard greens. Stylish and meticulous, Elizabeth on 37th is considered Savannah's most upscale, relying on creative twists on fresh local seafood and produce. Locals head out to the beach at Tybee Island for casual seafood, The Crab Shack, for instance, "Where the elite eat in their bare feet."
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