Weekender: A Savannah Itinerary for Charlotteans
The picturesque Southern city is a college students’ playground. As a weekend getaway, it never gets old
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SAVANNAH IS, and will always be, a magical and quirky place that oozes charm. As a student at The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in the early 2000s, I had my favorite coffee house, pizza joint, and dive bar. Now, as a parent of two young kids, my family has our favorite hotel pool, ice cream shop, and toy store. We make the four-hour drive from Charlotte to Savannah at least once a year, and the cobblestoned squares, manicured parks, and antebellum architecture always welcome us back.
“The Hostess City” has plenty of B&Bs, but if you’re traveling with kids, consider the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa, or as mine call it, “the one where you take the boat to get everywhere.” The hotel sits on the banks of the Savannah River, directly across from River Street, so you catch a complimentary 90-second ferry to get downtown. Boats depart every 30 minutes, so leave your car at the hotel and get those steps in. Then come back and relax at the outdoor pool with cabanas, hammocks, and a poolside bar and grill. Kids can run through the splash pad or stop to watch the giant container ships pass through the port.
Stroll through City Market, and you’ll find upscale seafood, wings, and a daiquiri dispensary, but for the best bang for your buck, head to Vinnie Van Go-Go’s. A slice of pizza is $3.50 (cash only), and hangs off the hubcap-sized plate it arrives on. Vinnie’s is always packed, but most kids don’t mind a 30-minute wait when they can watch the pizza bakers sling oversized discs of dough in the open kitchen. Sit outside and order a pitcher of cheap beer. When you’re done, take your adult beverage to go (because you can do that in Savannah!) or treat yourself to a praline or a scoop of ice cream at Savannah’s Candy Kitchen next door. Then grab a spot outside and listen to live music as the sun goes down.
Savannah is synonymous with ghost tours and riverboat cruises, but if you’d rather leave your day unscheduled and skip the tourist traps, just walk through the historic district’s 22 scenic squares. Grab a picnic table at Ellis Square while the kids run through the shooting water fountains (which light up with different colors at night). Or catch a movie at the historic Lucas Theatre and go back to the golden age of cinema—but with air conditioning. (Note: Lucas Theatre is temporarily closed, and we’ll update this page when it returns to operation.) Pop into ShopSCAD, a boutique-style gallery where you can buy original artwork by SCAD students and faculty. And if you do nothing more than wander the squares and sit beneath the giant oak trees and Spanish moss, you’re still doing it right.
Savannah After Dark
Need a night off from the kids? Of course you do. Check out these adults-only destinations:
Rocks on the River. Savor a plate of seafood linguini at this riverfront restaurant in the Bohemian Hotel; then take the elevator up to Rocks on the Roof. Sip on a Savannah Mule and enjoy views of the city skyline, or have a seat around the fire pit and listen to live music. Rocks on the River at the Bohemian Hotel, 102 W. Bay St.
Club One. Lady Chablis, the grand empress of Savannah, made this nightclub the gold standard for drag shows. Come for cabaret, dancing, and drinks, and raise a glass to Miss Chablis, who so famously said, “Two tears in a bucket, motherf**k it.” Club One, 1 Jefferson St.
The Bar Bar. OK, so this one might actually be a hit with your kids, too, if it weren’t, well, a bar. Play Battleship and foosball and drink beer at this underground watering hole. Don’t forget to grab a red Solo cup at the door on your way out. The Bar Bar, 219 W. Julian St.