A Southern City Boasting Charm and Hospitality
By Charlene & Richard Mixa
Savannah! The coastal jewel on Georgia’s east coast evokes visions of sunlight filtered through thick gnarled branches of ancient live oaks. Spanish moss drips off trees while crepe myrtles burst with bright blossoms of purple, pink and white. In early June, stately old trees shade columned mansions and gardens sport summer blooms. Savannah entices visitors with her sultry ambiance, striking beauty and old-world charm.
A sensational city that lures us with its genteel warmth and Southern hospitality. After a month in the mountains of North Carolina, Savannah is a fun stop on our return to Florida. Ah! The Forsyth Park Inn is a welcome haven. Our second visit to this 1896 Queen Anne Victorian Savannah bed and breakfast, we are immediately enveloped in its Southern charm. Terrific – Room 4 is available. Located on the Parlor level this very spacious room features a queen size four-poster bed and private bath. A sun room creates a cozy respite with comfy wingback chairs and views of the courtyard. Tasty cookies are welcome on our arrival.
Ready to explore, we cross the street to Forsyth Park, the largest and most visited park in Savannah’s historic district. A great city for walking, we stroll under cool shade of live oaks in the park-like squares on Bull Street. Thanks to James Oglethorpe’s vision in 1733, Savannah’s Squares are world-renowned. Along the way we admire the magnificent and varied architect of Southern homes. At Savannah’s River Street, century old buildings, once cotton warehouses, are now converted to antique shops, distinctive boutiques, spectacular galleries, quaint brew pubs, fabulous restaurants, unique nightspots, elegant inns and hotels. Shops are bustling as we roam the Riverfront. For dinner, we dine at the 17hundred90 Restaurant, tastefully decorated in old southern tradition. With its varied entrées, courteous staff, and classy setting we make for a special evening.
Morning sunlight flickers through the trees of Forsyth Park as we savor a delicious homemade breakfast on the Inn’s verandah. A wonderful way to begin our day. The city comes to life as joggers trot by and Mom’s push strollers through Forsyth Park.
After a leisurely stroll we arrive at Rocks on the River, a modern American grill in the Bohemian Hotel Savannah. Here we begin The First Squares Food Tour. Brandon, our guide, gathers the group for a tasteful tour through the original squares of historic downtown Savannah. We learn the fascinating history of She Crab Soup’s Scottish heritage as we taste this creamy soup. Brandon entices us with old and new history of the Savannah’s Riverfront, Factors Row and Cotton Exchange. Seated at Tondee’s Tavern featuring a Lowcountry cuisine, it’s a flavorful Shrimp & Grits. Native Americans taught settlers to make grits and are credited for the creation of this well know Southern dish. Tondee’s boast the Chatham Artillery punch made with multiple liquors (it is not included in the sampling). It is a powerful punch!
Passing the splash pad, Brandon dares us to run through to cool off on this warm day – no one takes the challenge. A wholesome Shepherd’s Pie is a mouthwatering dish at Molly MacPherson’s Scottish Pub which features a traditional Scottish cuisine. Umm? Is Shepherd’s pie originally Irish or Scottish? Strolling on to each stop, Brandon continues to share tidbits of Savannah’s history and intriguing tales of each eatery. A huge alligator greets us at B&D Burgers. Hanging from the ceiling rafter of the top floor, the alligator is a replica of a 20 foot alligator killed in Louisiana. Seated at the upstairs bar, the sampling today is a yummy slider. Delicious! After these main course tastings it’s time for sweet treats and other samplings.
Oohs and ah’s are heard at Mabel’s Cupcake Emporium. Each day, 12 out of 50 cupcake varieties are baked. Each bite is a sinfully delicious mouthful of a vanilla cupcake. From sweet to salty, next stop is The Salt Table. A fascinating concept, the shop features over 200 secret recipes of salt flavors – all hand mixed. Tasting some of the salt flavors gives ideas on how it would enhance different foods. It’s all the buzz! Sampling honey at The Savannah Bee Company, we learn their specialty honey is a culmination of 35 years of research for the world’s best. Wow! The three hour food tour is a real gem! A unique way to see Savannah, gain historical insight on the city’s and its delectable culinary cuisine. Plus it takes the place of lunch!
Caught in an afternoon shower we pop in the Six Pence Pub for a pint. Once the rain shower passes it’s a quick dash to the Forsyth Park Inn before another shower arrives. Drying out we take an afternoon rest before heading out for the evening. Locating The Public Kitchen, we have a light dinner. It’s a short walk to the Savannah Theatre, the oldest theater in the United States on Chippewa Square. Remember the famous bench in the critically acclaimed film film Forrest Gump, that bench is in Chippewa Square.
Tonight it’s Savannah Live! As the curtain rises and the music begins the rockin’ live band and eight singers have us clapping, singing-a-long, and taking a stroll down memory lane in this high energy show. The cast is excellent! Each is featured as the show takes us from “Pop” to “Broadway” and “Motown to “Rock & Roll. Amazing that this small a cast can create so much music, vitality and totally delight the audience. It’s a blast! The variety of songs is fantastic. We sing along to favorites of the Four Seasons, Elton John and chuckle through skits including Sonny & Cher. Beautiful songs from Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables are enchanting. Some stunts are showstoppers! The drummer is astonishing as drumsticks are tossed to him while he moves around the stage, catches the drumstick never missing a beat. The pianist is also amazing and fun to watch. Each of the singers are terrific in the singing, dancing, and choreography. While the theater is old and shows its age in some areas, it provides great entertainment in historic Savannah. The seats were comfy too, as they slide to allow for more comfort. Great Show! Great Time!
Under a moonlit night we stroll back to Forsyth Park singing songs from the show. For a finale on our visit, it’s drinks at the elegant Mansion on Forsyth Park. A leopard patterned stairway leads upstairs to the Casmir’s Lounge. Just a half hour from closing, it is a quiet in this romantic and sultry lounge. Here we give a toast to “Sensational Savannah” – her genteel warmth and Southern hospitality continues to entice us.
If you go:
Forsyth Park Inn, 102 W Hall St, Savannah, GA 31401
Savannah Taste Experience Food Tours, The First Squares Food Tour
Savannah Theatre, 222 Bull St, Savannah, GA 31401