I said that I had been to Savannah before. That was only true at the most basic level. Usually it was on my way to somewhere, as in our multiple visits to Tybee Island, or I was there for a race and I spent minimal time looking around. That is a wrong that has now been rectified!
We made the most out of our weekend! Here's what we found for families in Savannah:
Friday:We checked into our hotel in the historic district of Savannah - the Hilton Garden Inn on Bay Street. The location was perfect. Our family of five had a room with a king bed and a pull out couch. We called up for a rollaway that was there shortly. In the meantime, we went to explore City Market which was right behind our hotel. I was so happy to see that since the last time I was in Savannah my friend Kim turned me on to Vinnie Van GoGo's Pizza. It's cash only and you can sit in the dining room or get a slice to go. Shortly after my husband expressed disbelief that I was going to finish that whole slice, he was proven wrong. SO good.
Saturday:We got up early and just ate some things in our room - it had a refrigerator and a microwave, so I had brought some food to keep people happy. We returned to City Market to catch the Old Town Trolley Tour. There are a ton of choices offering tours in Savannah, but I chose Old Town for the ability to get on and off at each of the stops. Trolleys hit each stop every 15-20 minutes or so which allows you to tour places at your leisure.
We exited first at Forsyth Park. This is where the Publix Savannah Women's Half will start and finish! The iconic fountain in the park? Our trolley driver told us the city got it from a mail order catalog and installed in 1858.
It was a happy surprise to catch the Farmer's Market that morning! My husband is a bit of a foodie and would have bought the whole place out if we didn't have a mini-fridge that was already full. The park has 2 playgrounds, one accessible for children with special needs. There is tons of open space and plenty of scenic paths - it's perfect for playing, strolling, running or people watching!
Our next hop off the trolley was at The Cathedral of St. John The Baptist. You don't have to be Catholic to appreciate the beauty of this building, although I did feel an affinity to it - my birthday is the feast day of the beheading of St John the Baptist. Cheery, right? Even our trolley driver stressed, "If you visit any one sight on this tour, this is the one!" My kids groaned. I insisted, having attended mass there previously. They stepped in and were immediately awed. The congregation began in the late 1700's, but the church you see today is the rebuilt church of 1900 as the original was almost completely destroyed by fire. It is gorgeous. The church is open for viewing to tourists except during mass times. Walk around and take it all in, guides are on hand to answer questions.
People were getting hungry and cranky at this point. We backtracked and walked over to Clary's Cafe. If you read or saw Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, you might remember that Clary's was featured prominently. My kids didn't care - they just wanted food, quickly. We were told a 20 minute wait but it didn't take nearly that long to be seated. The menu was perfect for us - breakfast AND lunch served simultaneously makes everyone in my family of picky eaters happy. The service was fast and friendly, the food was even better. Super casual atmosphere and thumbs up from everyone.
Back on the trolley. Our next stop was River Street. My tween and teen had cash in their pockets and they were ready to unload it. My oldest has never met a gift shop he didn't like. He's also a nature kid, so a stop at The Shell Shop was first on the list. Things 2 and 3 were more interested in the Savannah Candy Kitchen. If you visit, you'll probably see the huge container ships that sail on the river to and from the Port of Savannah. Don't miss the stalls further down and on the river side. There are lots of vendors selling all kinds of handmade, unique items!
At this point, my guys had reached their capacity for touring and had the heated hotel pool on their mind. I left them with my husband at the hotel and headed back out to the Owens-Thomas House off of Oglethorpe Square. The house was completed in 1819 and at one point hosted the Marquis de Lafayette, revolutionary war hero, in 1825. Pictures of the inside of the house are not permitted, but I assure you that the home had so many interesting and unique details! My tour guide, Conway, was not only knowledgeable but enthusiastic and humorous.
I texted my husband on the way back asking if people would be ready for dinner soon. When he replied in the negative, Mama made one more stop.
Leopold's Ice Cream is an almost century-old Savannah tradition! Both times that I've been there, the line has been out the door. Don't let that scare you - the people inside are pros and it moves pretty quickly. Often they will pass out menus to people in line so they can be ready to order when they get to the counter. And, frankly, it's worth it. Don't miss this fun treat that is a Savannah legend! They serve food as well, so make it a stop for lunch or dinner!
Speaking of dinner, we knew we had to have seafood since we were in Savannah. My two oldest, while not adventurous eaters, have discovered the happiness that is crab legs and clamor for them whenever possible. Fiddler's Crab House on River Street was a close walk and the menu had something for everyone. We even convinced my picky tween to try calamari! They have a great deck facing the river, but the evening was a little chilly so we elected to sit inside. The food was great!
SundaySunday morning had me waking my oldest son and
I roused the troops and we headed over to the Georgia State Railroad Museum. I'll be honest - at first glance, I thought there just wasn't much to it. That was an incorrect assumption. The boys loved looking around in the various engines and blacksmith shop. There was also a children's discovery area where my guys enjoyed hanging out until it was time for the first guided tour.
We had the pleasure of looking through two of the executive cars with our very pleasant and knowledgeable guide, Bill. My boys were fascinated and were ready to follow Bill around for the next hour as he led various tours.
It was time, though, for the Savannah Children's Museum located on the adjacent property to be open and we wanted to spend some time there before we needed to leave.
Y'all. This was the most creative use of space I have ever seen. The facilities are all currently outdoors but indoor facilities are under construction. The space is in a partially demolished railroad building and is beautiful! There is tons of fun to be had and it's all low-tech. Mazes, gardens, giant building bricks, large foam blocks...it's all simple fun for kids. They work with the design of the walls and have dress up areas and story areas tucked away inside the various nooks of the buildings. Up top there is a large grassy play area with musical instruments and all sizes of balls for free play. The weather was beautiful and we spent quite a bit of time there! I was super impressed with the space and can't wait to see how the new construction turns out!
Sadly, it was time to get on the road and head back home. We had been hoping to pop in the Savannah History Museum across the street but we had to save that for a future visit. And visit again we shall, because my kids were already scheming about when we could come back and throw a few days on nearby Tybee Island into the plans!
I think what I loved most is that we parked the car when we got there and didn't need it again until we were heading home. Even without the trolley tour, we could have walked to all those attractions easily from our hotel.
Regardless of your interests - food, nightlife, family attractions, history - Savanah, GA has plenty to keep you happy. Head over to VisitSavannah to see the tons of options available to you! Make plans to join me for the Publix Savannah Women's Half Marathon in April with discount code MOMSMAGICALMILES10 for $10 off the half or 5K. Come solo, come with girlfriends or bring the family for a fun and fabulous weekend!
What are your Savannah favorites? Do you have any questions for me about any of the fun things we experienced?