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Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to a Savannah in a day trip! Are you looking for a good time, Internet Stranger? I hope so because why are you reading a travel blog unless it’s for fun? And Savannah, Georgia is one of the top cities in the United States in which to have a great time.
I mean, do you know of museums, other than the Prohibition Museum in Savannah, that serve cocktails? And I don’t mean separately as a restaurant, but as part of the museum? I rest my case. Seeing Savannah in a Day is one of the best ways to have some fun.
But there are other things to do in Savannah in a Day than just get your drink on. Savannah is also full of delicious treats to eat, from seafood to Scottish cuisine. (Not a joke, the Scots have a cuisine.) Finally, Savannah is home to more ghosts than a Tim Burton movie. So even if you’re walking along a dark street alone at night, you’ll always have some company!
Savannah in a Day
Where Should I Stay?
Now we are talking! Savannah, Georgia is home to some of the finest hotels and bed and breakfasts in the country. I recommend the Justine Inn for some serious Southern charm. There’s a full breakfast every morning, a huge wine and cheese spread each evening, and a delicious baked treat with your turndown service at night. (And I guess there’s nice fluffy beds or something. I just care about the food!)
The location is in a beautiful, safe neighborhood which is just a short drive from every attraction, including the Prohibition Museum. And if you don’t drive, like me, Uber is everywhere in Savannah. You see! Now you have no excuse not to stay here.
Savannah in a Day
What to Pack
You’ll need comfy shoes for all the walking we’re going to do today. If it’s summertime, I love my special pink Birkenstocks. These aren’t your grandpappy’s Birkenstocks anymore. They come in every shade, and I always get compliments on my electric magenta shoes.
Georgia is hot in the summer, so don’t forget the sunscreen. My favorite is the Neutrogena spray bottle because it’s so easy to apply. And as a solo traveler, I can actually use it myself on my own back. I just put it in my purse and re-apply throughout the day.
Finally, since we’re going to be out all day, you’ll want a battery for your cell phone. I always use the Anker charger. It’s light enough to fit in even a small purse. Plus the Anker lasts for several full charges of a phone, so I’ll never run out of juice!
Savannah in a Day
Morning: First Squares Food Tour
All the delicious food in Savannah can be overwhelming for a first time Savannah in a Day tripper. Do you start with the superlative seafood? The legendary ice cream? For Pete’s sake, Savannah even has really good pizza. And yet you only have one tummy. What’s a poor tourist to Savannah supposed to do?
Enter the mighty food tour! The First Squares Food Tour with Savannah Taste Experience will lead you through a wide variety of the most delicious places in Savannah. One of them will almost even be healthy. (But only one. If you’re coming to Savannah on a diet, you’re living life wrong, Internet Stranger!)
I don’t want to tell you all the quirky historical facts I learned on the food tour. After all, I still need to save something for the Prohibition Museum and the Ghost Tour. But I will share with you…
approximately top 5: savannah food
1) shrimp and grits
We started at 22 Square, the Southern restaurant at the Andaz Hotel. You’ll notice that squares are a really big thing in Savannah. But our guide, whom I shall call Jim, said that there’s a problem with the squares. All the squares have names, and all the squares have statues in the middle, but the statues aren’t of the person for whom the square is name. It’s like a game of Clue or something!
But less history and more food, as my grandmother always used to say. Shrimp and grits are probably the classic dish of Low Country cuisine. (Low Country cuisine is found in the coastal area stretching from South Carolina to Georgia. I expect some angry person from South Carolina to email me and tell me Savannah isn’t really in the Low Country, and I warn you that I will just delete your email without responding.)
One of the themes of the food tour were the different influences on Savannah cuisine. Jim pointed out that the grits come from Native Americans, who had been using corn for centuries before the Europeans arrived. (If you don’t know what grits are, just watch this brief scene from My Cousin Vinny. I’ll wait.)
2) the british are coming!
The first Europeans to settle Savannah came from England. (We’ll learn more about the city’s founder, James Oglethorpe, later.) So naturally we had to sample some world-famous English cooking. I kid, but of course no one does pies better than the Brits. We’ve all drooled over the Great British Bake Off, no?
This flaky and delicious meat pie came from a shop called Pie Society. Because the only thing better than a pie is a pie with a pun! The shop is run by a family of British expats, so you know it’s authentic. And I’m sure they’re more than welcome in Savannah, unless they start trying to implement taxation without representation.
3) more british food? squee!
Yes, this photo is of a shepherd’s pie, which is an English classic. But we actually ate these at a Scottish pub, not a British pub called Molly MacPherson’s. Jim said it was the only Scottish pub in Savannah. Sadly, no one came out and yelled at us, “If it’s no Scottish, it’s CRAP!“
Many Scots immigrated to Savannah in its colonial days. They came from Scotland to escape poverty and religious persecution. Some of you might be thinking, “What’s the difference between Scots and English? Aren’t they part of the same country?” Oh, there are so many differences. The accents, the religion, the feelings about Robert Burns.
But one thing that is the same is apparently a love of shepherd’s pie: ground beef topped with mashed potatoes. I approve of this shepherd’s pie because it had melted cheese on top, and one of my mottoes in life is Everything is Better With Cheese.
I mentioned that we’d be going to the Prohibition Museum later today. So it was fortunate that we got to stop at an actual restaurant called Prohibition. Jim told us that Prohibition, the period when alcohol was illegal in the United States, was completely unsuccessful in Savannah. Savannahians are so devoted to the hard stuff that the famous preacher Billy Sunday called the city the wickedest city in America. It’s probably just as well for Billy Sunday that he never lived to see the rise of Las Vegas.
We were presented with food, not drink, at Prohibition. Some of the snack specialties of the house are the Memphis dry rub chicken wings and the Brussels sprouts with chili lime and carrots. The Brussels had that combination of sweet and spicy that I can’t get enough of. And there was a toothsome crust on the chicken that was most pleasing to bite into. Plus I loved the strong flavor in the Gorgonzola sauce. One bite of this, and no one will be able to smell bathtub gin on your breath.
If you want something extra, you can order a cocktail even though it’s not included with the tour. I got the Lindy Hop. It was made with Chattanooga whiskey, strawberry, orgeat, and lemon, so it’s on the sweeter side. It was the perfect drink for a warm Savannah day. (PS. That’s every day in Savannah.
5) ordinary pub
The Ordinary Pub is a good representation of the modern Savannah food scene: playful food combinations, high quality, and not too expensive. We each got a little box filled with two specialties: a pork belly slider and a Bananas Foster French toast finger.
You might be thinking that the pork slider sounds a little plain, but take a closer look at that bun. Yup, it’s a donut bun! I warned you that you shouldn’t go to Savannah if you’re on a diet. But everyone knows that calories don’t count on a food tour because you’re walking it all off. You enjoy every bite of that pork fat donut!
6) savannah bee company
The last stop of the tour was the Savannah Bee Company. But we weren’t here to eat bees! We were here to sample their delicious honey. Bees do very well in Georgia because of the warm weather and the tax breaks.
Jim explained that it’s very healthy to eat local honey because you get exposed to the local pollen, and this can help with allergies. “Very healthy indeed,” I said to myself, as I piled my plate high with cheese and honey. It seems like every food tour nowadays has either a honey tasting or an olive oil tasting.
I liked this stop because we got two snacks here, and either were just a sampling of the honey that’s free for everyone to taste anyway. Along with the honey and cheese party plate, we had a “Savannah baklava” or a “Savaklava”, as the store owner insisted on calling it. It’s called a Savannah baklava because it’s made with pecans instead of pistachios. It was also absolutely drenched in Savannah honey.
Legally every food in the state of Georgia has to have either pecans, peaches, or peanuts in it. And if you get all three in one dish, Jimmy Carter will come to your house and personally congratulate you.
Savannah in a Day
Afternoon: Prohibition Museum
You certainly won’t want a lunch after that food tour! But you might want another drink. After all, Miss, this is Savannah. So let’s swing by the thirstiest museum in Savannah, the Prohibition Museum. Their slogan is Not Your Typical Dry Museum. Indeed, this is the only museum I know that also teaches cocktail mixing classes. (Check their website for details.)
The Prohibition Museum is hilarious, informative, and interactive. I’m a hard-core museum junkie, but this is definitely one of the most fun museums in the entire world. I don’t want to give away all the museum’s surprises. But I hope to convince you the museum is the bee’s knees with…
three fun facts: prohibition museum
1) who are these people who hated alcohol?
One of the most famous advocates for Prohibition was a woman named Carry Nation. (You can see a Prohibition Museum wax figure pretending to be Ms. Nation above. The real Carry Nation is dead. And yes, I’m spelling her name correctly. She had her name legally changed from Carrie to Carry, I guess to sound more like a superhero.
Carry Nation’s husband died of liver disease brought on by a drinking problem. After his death, Carry decided she was on a mission from God to destroy the saloons like they had destroyed her husband. (I told you she was a superhero. She’s Batman and saloons are The Joker.) Except unlike Batman, Carry’s only real weapon was a hatchet she used to smash up the saloons. “Why so serious?” the saloon probably wanted to ask her.
I wanted to ask the Prohibition Museum if they had actually paid someone to smash this saloon up with a hatchet for historical verisimilitude, but I was afraid the answer would be yes, and then they’d use the hatchet on me for snooping.
2) who didn’t want prohibition?
The Germans! Well, I’m exaggerating a little. #notallgermans But the German families like Pabst and Busch that ran major brewing companies were devastated by this threat to the business. Some of them survived by making near-beer called Bevo. The name is like a cross between “beer” and “pivo”, which is the world for beer in countries like the Czech Republic.
But because of Prohibition and the loss of money from the booze industry, the United States government lost more than 11 billion dollars. No wonder Franklin Delano Roosevelt supported the end of Prohibition. After all, spending government money was his favorite thing to do!
3) did people follow the laws of prohibition?
They absolutely did not! It was easy to get a drink in secret bars called speakeasies. And of course in the South, you could always make moonshine, which is basically illegal homemade clear whiskey. In fact, the soft drink Mountain Dew was invented as something you could chase moonshine with.
Moonshine runners and alcohol smugglers had to get creative at hiding their booze. They’d stash the stuff in everything from a baby carriage to a hollow cane. The Prohibition Museum has many of these objects on display. And sometimes of course, they had to drive real fast to outrun the fuzz. This led to many moonshiners developing an interest in racing cars. And that’s how NASCAR was born! (That’s…not a joke.)
When you’re done with the history, stop by the Prohibition Museum gift shop and pick up some moonshine. It’s probably not illegal. I mean, I got some very excellent moonshine peach jelly, and I wasn’t detained by the DEA…for long. But you can’t see Savannah in a Day without getting your drink on!
Savannah in a Day
Evening: Dinner at the Olde Pink House
The Olde Pink House is one of the most charming restaurants in Savannah. This isn’t the place to get into molecular gastronomy. You are here to try Coastal Southern classics. That means lots of seafood + lots of fat. It’s a perfect choice for Savannah in a Day dinner.
Let’s begin with the extremely traditional she crab soup. (The seafood is the crab and the fat is from all that cream. Plus it’s got sherry in it, to make that wax figure of Carry Nation at the Prohibition Museum really mad.) This soup is a little sweet, but only a little. And a lot of that sweetness comes from the fresh crab, not from added sugar or anything.
24 hour treat: whole founder
The specialty at the Olde Pink House is the whole flounder cooked with apricot sauce and served with grits and collard greens. It doesn’t get any more Savannah than this! Eating a whole fish is so much fun. It makes me feel like a character in Moby Dick and I just fished my dinner out of the sea. And we continue the seafood +fat theme because of all the cheese in the grits.
Cheese grits are a total comfort for me. My Georgia-born-and-raised father used to make them for me every morning when I spent the night at his house. If you are a grit-skeptic, cheese grits are a good entryway. You can even try making this recipe because the chef says it’s gotten her three marriage proposals. I hope it will get you at least one, Internet Stranger, even if you are already married. Being proposed to does wonders for one’s confidence.
After that giant fish, you’ll probably only be able to eat a small dessert. I suggest the Key lime ice cream. Key lime is a popular taste in Savannah, maybe because it’s pretty close to Florida. Or because Key limes are a little sweet and a little sassy, just like most people in Savannah.
Savannah in a Day
Late Evening: Grave Tales Ghost Tour
You simply must take a ghost tour when you are seeing Savannah in a Day . Ghost tours are one of the top three industries in the city. (The other two are moonshine and evening gloves.) And if you’re one of those people who’s thinking, “HOW DARE YOU SUGGEST A GHOST TOUR! I’M A TRAVELER, NOT A TOURIST!” please go away and never read this blog again.
There are so many ghost tours to choose from, and I’m sure most of them are super fun. But I took the Ghost City Tours Grave Tales Ghost Tour. For one thing, it’s a kid-friendly tour, so those of you with small ones will still be able to enjoy it. But for the other, it starts earlier than most ghost tours. And I didn’t want to stay up too late because in my heart I am a very old person.
Of course I can’t reveal all the spoooooky secrets of the tour! Be satisfied with…
three fun facts: savannah ghost tour
1) Is Colonial the Creepiest C?
Yes, one of the first stops on the tour is the very place where we had dinner. There are apparently several ghosts who like to take up residence here, but the most famous is the former owner,James Habersham Jr. Our guide, whom I shall call Jenny, said that there’s a story Habersham found out that his wife was having an affair with the architect he had hired to designed the building.
Habersham was so distraught at having contributed to his own cuckolding that he hanged himself in the basement. But apparently this is all lies and Habersham never died by suicide at all. Yet that doesn’t mean his ghost doesn’t haunt the Olde Pink House. Apparently he likes to wander around the place in Colonial garb, drinking ale, and chatting up the customers.
So if you see a man in Olde Tyme clothes at the Olde Pink House, just throw a drink in his face. Whether or not he’s a ghost, I guarantee something exciting will happen.
2) Is CVS the Creepiest C?
First off, I apologize for the quality of this picture. It’s hard to get good photos on a ghost tour. Jenny told us that this was the most haunted CVS in America. It actually closes at 6 PM, which is really unusual for a CVS. There’s a CVS right next door to my house in New York City, and it didn’t even close during Hurricane Sandy.
Jenny said that this CVS closes early because of ghosts. A jailhouse used to be located where the CVS is now. So the nearby square, Wright Square, was where hangings took place. One of the most famous hangings was of a couple named Richard and Alice Riley. They murdered their boss who was abusing and raping Alice. When they were convicted, Richard was hanged, but Alice’s execution was delayed because she was pregnant.
After the baby was born, Alice was hanged in Wright Square. They say her ghost wanders around looking for her baby, who was taken from her. The moral of this story is: don’t bring babies to Savannah. They’ll get snatched by a ghost. Plus they can’t even enjoy the moonshine.
3) What About Cemeteries?
Colonial Park Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Savannah that you can still visit. (There are older ones, but they’ve been paved over.) Colonial Park Cemetery is closed at night, so you can’t go in on the tour. But you can visit whenever you want during the day. Jenny said it used to be open at night, but the city closed it because people were conducting voodoo rituals there. I feel like if tourists could watch voodoo rituals in the cemetery, that would boost tourism in Savannah even more.
Colonial Park Cemetery also has historical significance during the Civil War. When the city surrendered to General Sherman, he needed a place to put his troops. Apparently they felt Colonial Park Cemetery would be a good choice? But the Union soldiers got a little rowdy and started defacing Southern graves. That’s not cool. No matter how bad a person is in their real life, leave them in peace after they are dead.
That’s a Perfect Savannah in a Day!
What would you in Savannah in a Day ? Are you scared of a CVS? And is the fact that NASCAR developed out of moonshine running the least surprising fact you’ve ever heard? Please leave your thoughts below!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY see Savannah in a Day . If you want a Savannah in a Day trip with the Bonaventure Cemetery, click here. If you’d like to try a Savannah in a Day trip with fine art, I’ve got this itinerary. And if you want a Savannah in a Day trip with the “Murder House”, start exploring here.