Savannah: [GEO]Tag, You’re It
In the quirkiest city in the south, you’ll catch rooftop revelers, avant-garde artists, even ghosts. No GPS required.
The 300-year-old city of Savannah is more than a series of historic buildings and cemeteries (though you shouldn’t overlook those). Karianne Thornton, concierge at the Mansion on Forsyth Park, offers her suggestions for some unexpected attractions in the first city of Georgia.
1. Savannah College of Art and Design’s Museum of Art (SCAD), newly reopened in October, sprawls across 82,000 square feet, showcasing spectacular installations from renowned and emerging artists. The building melds the ruins of the Central of Georgia Railroad’s 1853 depot with modern design and materials, including an 86-foot-tall steel-and-glass lantern-shaped entryway. $10; 601 Turner Blvd.; scadmoa.org.
2. Grab your travel companions and take the Low Country Cuisine class at the Mansion on Forsyth Park’s 700 Kitchen Cooking School, which specializes in dishes derived from the seventeenth-century cooking style that has grown up on the marshy shores of the Savannah River. Learn to make local specialties like shrimp and grits from chef Darin Sehnert, who has also taught at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. $90; mansiononforsythpark.com.
3. Fancy a bit of creepiness? Tour Savannah in a convertible hearse while listening to the gory history of the area. $15 for 70-minute tour; hearseghosttours.com. If you prefer the straight scoop on the city’s famous architecture, try Jonathan Stalcup of Architectural Savannah; he holds a Master’s of Architecture degree from SCAD and seeks out the most unusual structures in town. $20 for 1½-hour tour; architecturalsavannah.com.
4,5. The Isle of Hope may not actually be an island (it’s a sandy peninsula), but it’s a must-see for history buffs. First settled in 1736, it claims Bethesda, the oldest operating orphanage in America, as well as the Isle of Hope Methodist Church, which was used as a Confederate hospital. Then there’s Wormsloe Plantation, home to more than 400 oak trees lining a 1.5-mile drive. isleofhope.com.
6. Majestic Oaks subdivision, LaRoche Avenue is worth a detour. Why? The 400-year-old oak tree located there is just that fabulous.
7. Desposito’s Seafood is easily home of the best peel-and-eat shrimp in town (and the competition is fierce). Don’t let the location, under a bridge, scare you. Locals like real estate broker Beth Vantosh swear by it: “It’s an open secret, and a Savannah institution.” 187 Old Tybee Rd., in Thunderbolt, just outside Savannah; 912/897-9963.
8. Pinkie Masters is a hole-in-the-wall, but it’s worth battling the locals to grab one of the few seats in this tiny timeworn bar. Full of characters and character, Pinkie’s is a Savannah mainstay. Cocktails are served in plastic cups; best to stick with the Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap. 912/238-0447; 318 Drayton St.
9. Sip while you survey River Street and the container ships coming into the Port of Savannah (the fourth-busiest port in the country) at the Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront’s Rocks on the Roof. Order the signature Savan Gria Margarita (the love child of sangria and a margarita), then check into a room. bohemianhotelsavannah.com.
Creativity is just connecting things