Woody and I went to Savannah last weekend. Did I tell you we were going? I can’t remember. See, my office is closed for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and it’s usually right around Woody’s birthday, so the last few year’s we’ve decided to take a long weekend trip to celebrate his birthday and go exploring. Last year we went to Charleston, this year to Savannah. Seems like the old South has been calling us!
We headed down Saturday morning without many plans laid out. Our hotel – the Mansion on Forsyth Park – was amazing. As the name would suggest, the it is perfectly situated right across the street from Forsyth Park, a 30 acre park with one of the most well known Savannah landmarks – the Forsyth Fountain – and a perfect-for-runners 1 mile perimeter. We bought a 3-night package on Luxury Link that included one dinner at 700 Drayton, the on-site restaurant which is also one of the best in Savannah, breakfast each morning – also at 700 Drayton – and a carriage ride.
The hotel is beautiful and quirky. The place is filled with art from many regions and periods, although the pieces that line the hallways are quite abstract and modern portraits. This was Woody’s favorite.
I loved the hallway outside our room that looked out over a courtyard with a small pool. The bright sunlight streaming in is so unusual in a hotel, but so incredibly welcoming and uplifting. And the chandeliers are stunning!
Our room was gorgeous and comfortable. I loved the huge, exaggerated, headboard and the green chair in the corner with the little chandelier. Turns out chandeliers are quite popular in Savannah. More than ever before, I am now a fan of chandeliers in every room!
Thankfully we had nice weather the entire weekend so we spent most of it walking around. Savannah was founded in 1733 by James Oglethorpe – a man who has a square named after him that is not located on the street that bares his name and his statue is neither in his square or on his street. The original design of the city, which remains to this day in the historic neighborhood, was a grid system with 4 wards, each with its own square where communal activities such as cooking, took place. The thought around this, as we were told, was to help protect the city from a massive fire such as what happened in London with the Great Fire of 1666. Surrounding each square were two trust lots for public buildings such as a church or school. The original house lots were all equal in size so that no one could have a larger house or more land than others in the ward. Obviously, this concept has not stood the test of time.
While the city started with four squares, it was designed for 6 but expanded to 24 through the 19th century. Somehow over the years however, 2 squares have been lost (we think we may have found at least one while walking around – it’s now a parking lot with broken concrete).
We did really enjoy exploring the different squares and experiencing the unique personalities. No two were exactly the same. The houses in the historic district, as you can guess, were beautiful and regal. Unfortunately it turns out that many houses which are typically open for touring, were closed on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so we were only able to tour two, and one is still in the restoration process so there wasn’t too much to see. We really wanted to see the Mercer Williams House (below), which was built for the Great Grandfather of the legendary composer Johnny Mercer, but is also the house where the shooting death took place that was retold in the novel, and then film, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Unfortunately the house is closed for the entire month of January.
The day we left, Tuesday, we were able to tour the Owens-Thomas House on Oglethorpe Square, which was built for Richard Richardson and his wife Francis Bolton by William Jay, an English architect who had never set foot in America before he came to Savannah to build this house. Turns out, he got the job because Mr. Richardson’s brother-in-law was married to Ann Jay, William’s sister. As amazing as this house is, the most incredible thing is that it had indoor plumbing – on three floors! As it was built between 1816-1819, that means it was the first house in the US to have such amenities, even before the White House! Indoor pictures were not allowed, but we were able to take pictures in the garden – although this area was originally a dirt lot, the garden was outside of the brick walls.
The house was left to the the Telfair Museum of Art in 1951 by Margaret Thomas, the granddaughter of George Owens, who purchased the house in 1830. It is now a National Historic Landmark and a historic house museum – hence why they don’t allow pictures inside. Our guide, Chasity, was wonderful and I highly recommend taking this tour if you’re ever in Savannah.
We enjoyed poking around town, exploring little shops like Savannah Bee Company, Nour-ish, sylvester & co., 24e, shopSCAD, The Book Lady Bookstore, and many more, including several fantastic antique stores.
We also enjoyed a lot of great food. Our meals at 700 Drayton were wonderful, as were those at Clary’s Cafe, The Public Kitchen & Bar, SoHo South Café, Leopold’s Ice Cream (okay, not technically a meal, but still delicious) and Angel’s BBQ (below). We only had drinks at Crystal Beer Parlor but I wish we had been there at a time for a meal because it was much more than either of us expected.
Of course, we also did some running. What better way to see a new city? We’d head out first thing when the streets were pretty quiet still but there was no shortage for company! No matter what time of day there were runners out. It’s definitely a running town! We’d start with a loop of Forsyth Park then choose random streets to explore the city. Just watch out for low hanging branches and uneven brick sidewalks!
My tips for visiting Savannah:
- Take a walk down the tourist shop laden River Street, but then spend the rest of your time strolling along the cobblestone streets further into the historic district
- Stop and read the plaques that are all over the city; you’ll learn a lot of history along the way
- The entrance fee for a good house tour, like the Owens-Thomas House, is well worth it
- Enjoy a meal (or two) at a restaurant off the beaten path
- If the weather is warm, enjoy a picnic in Forsyth Park
- Rent a car for a day and head out to a nearby island or beach, visit the ocean (this we didn’t do but would have had plenty of time for)
I’ve gone on quite a long while now and I was going to include a few of my other favorite images from the weekend but instead I’ll save them for my next post. I hope you all get to Savannah one day if you haven’t been. It’s a beautiful place steeped with history!
- If you’ve been to Savannah, what was one of your favorite things about the city?
- How do you like to explore a city?
- What’s one thing you always like to do when you visit a new place?
Today’s workout -
- 70min elliptical
- 20min stationary bike
- 3x12 lat pull down
- 3x10 upright row
- balance board
- 3x10 overhead press
- 1x50sec plank
- ab exercises