City Cheat Sheet: Savannah, Georgia

Photo by Krisztian Lonyai

Live oaks, Spanish moss, beautiful architecture, and gracious streets perfect for strolling make Savannah, Georgia, one of our favorite destinations. Adding to the city’s inherent Southern charm is a thriving restaurant scene, shops that will appeal to everyone from the fashion-minded to foodies, impressive art institutions, and nearby beach access. Here, Savannah resident Alison Seeger, who has been transforming furniture for chic clients via her eponymous custom slipcover business for two decades, shares some of her favorite haunts for those considering a getaway to The Hostess City. “Savannah has so much to offer, it was difficult to narrow it down!” Seeger says. From antiques shops to walking tours to where to enjoy cocktails with a view, here are her recommendations:

WHERE TO STAY: The Brice (601 East Bay Street), a boutique hotel located in the downtown historic area, offers complimentary custom bicycles for guests, and the restaurant, Pacci Italian Kitchen + Bar, is delicious. Another great option is The Gastonian (220 East Gaston Street), a boutique B&B located in an Italianate-style mansion in the historic district, steps from Forsyth Park. Nearby, the Mansion on Forsyth Park (700 Drayton Street) offers upscale accommodations and boasts an on-site spa, art gallery, lounge, and two restaurants. For a riverfront experience, consider booking at the Bohemian Hotel (102 West Bay Street), a boutique hotel situated between Bay and River Streets with a lovely view of the Savannah River—especially from their rooftop restaurant and bar.

WHERE TO SHOP: Visit Satchel. (4 East Liberty Street) for custom leather handbags and accessories. (I’m super partial to this spot, because it’s owned by my sister, Elizabeth Seeger. She’s a SCAD graduate and has been in business for 10 years.) The offerings range from leather cuffs and beverage coozies to wallets, clutches, totes, and travel bags. The shop has in-stock merchandise, but you can also design your own piece or place a custom order. My studio is in the rear of the shop, so I get to see all the new leather goodies before they hit the floor!

Foodies will love Smith Brothers (535 East Liberty Street), a fabulous upscale butcher shop that sells local meats, fish, vegetables, bread, assorted prepared items, and has a great wine selection. My personal favorites are the smoked tuna and salmon spreads, pate, and fresh baguettes.

shopSCAD (340 Bull Street) has a rotating assortment of fine art, furniture, and accessories for sale created by SCAD students, faculty, and alums.

Number Four Eleven (411 Whitaker Street) is the go-to spot for monogrammed anything—linens, towels (my favorite), pillows. They also have wonderful home furnishings, accessories, and artwork, including pieces by Savannah artist Jessica O’Neill.

One Fish Two Fish (401 Whitaker Street) carries beautiful coastal home decor and accessories, original artwork—my favorites are the Lowcountry pieces by local Bellamy Murphy—coffee table books, jewelry, and clothing.

The Paris Market (36 West Broughton Street) has unique offerings with equally unique displays. Their seasonal window designs are fabulous! Stop by to peruse their vintage crystal chandeliers, candles, vintage China and glassware, specimen seashells, and large-scale original artwork by local artist Shea Slemmer.

For one-of-a-kind jewelry creations, go to Zia (325 West Broughton Street). I love their gold wire and semi-precious stone earrings and bracelets, and their gold and turquoise cuffs.

Clutter (714 Mall Boulevard) offers a curated, hand-selected assortment of consigned furniture, home accessories, and art. The offerings come and go quickly, so it’s a different shop every time I go in. Many items in my own home have come from here; I bought a jewel toned-striped wing chair for my bedroom and slipcovered it in white denim, and my favorite purchases include a hexagonal-shaped Indian side table with mother-of-pearl inlay, a seashell-encrusted five-arm chandelier, and a pair of Egyptian King Tut stacking stools.

If you are a fan of fabric, stop by Sherry’s Honey Pot Fabrics (7901 Waters Avenue). They have a fabulous selection of designer fabrics and trims, with many bolts on site for ready-to-cut yardage, as well as a huge selection of custom order offerings. I love sifting through the stacks of high-end remnants, some of which are only big enough for a single pillow.

Find various antique dealers in different rooms selling furnishings, jewelry, linens, and more at 37th @ Abercorn Antiques (201 East 37th Street), located in a mansion in the Victorian district. I recently found a gold and crystal Venetian chandelier for the dining area of my new apartment here.

At Habersham Antiques (2502 Habersham Street), dealer booths are situated in an old meatpacking facility where you can hunt for antiques, vintage clothing, lighting, silver trays, and vintage linens. Some of my favorite finds include an antique camelback sofa that I slipcovered in white denim and an antique mirror with an ornate, white-painted frame.

Alex Raskin Antiques (411 Bull Street) offers three floors of antiques, large and small, in an un-restored mansion in Historic Downtown. Shopping here is an adventure, and even if you aren’t looking for anything in particular, it’s worth a visit. When I go, I’m usually on the lookout for carved gold-gilt picture frames with lots of patina and anything bamboo.

WHERE TO EAT: Circa 1875 (48 Whitaker Street) is a French bistro with a cozy bar and a stellar wine selection. Try the steamed mussels, Coquilles St. Jacques, and the burger—with a side of truffle fries.

For contemporary Southern fare, go to The Grey (109 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard), located in a renovated Greyhound bus station. I like to sit at the front bar and order several different varieties of raw oysters on the half shell with a crisp cold beer or champagne.

The Florence (1 West Victory Drive) has delicious Italian dishes and a great wine list. The restaurant is in a former ice factory, and on Sundays they show movies as part of their “Rooftop Reels” series. The summer showcase was James Bond, and it was fabulous!

If you’re in the mood for innovative Southern fare in a lively atmosphere, Cotton & Rye (1801 Habersham Street) is an excellent choice. My favorite items on the menu are the beets salad, mussels with grilled bread, pork shank, succotash, and macaroni and cheese.

If you’re seeking a bustling cafe, try The Collins Quarter (151 Bull Street), where the owner and staff make you feel like family. Sit inside the bright and airy interior or outside under an umbrella. My usual order is the Eggs Benedict over house-cured salmon, with a glass of champagne or a sake Bloody Mary followed by a latte or spiced lavender mocha. And maybe an affogato to share for dessert….

For a low-key meal, pay a visit to pizza joint Vinnie Van Go Go’s (317 West Bryan Street) and sit inside or outside. The ingredients are fresh, the crust is thin, and you can order an entire pizza or by the slice.

While you might have to stand in line on the weekends, if you’re craving real-deal Mexican fare, Tequila’s Town (109 Whitaker Street) is worth the wait. They serve Tex-Mex favorites as well as items usually only seen South of the border. Go for the delicious frozen margaritas, warm tortilla chips with fresh red and green salsas, fresh guacamole prepared right at your table, and Molcajete (a lava rock bowl filled with grilled asada steak, chicken, shrimp, onions, and peppers simmered in ranchero sauce and topped with melted Oaxaca cheese).

Drive or arrive by boat to The Wyld Dock Bar (2740 Livingston Avenue), a waterside, open-air restaurant and bar that offers dockside seating under umbrellas and shade sails. You may even see a dolphin or two in the water as you enjoy ocean-inspired dishes like shrimp ceviche and fish tacos.

WHERE TO HAVE A DRINK: Grab a cocktail and enjoy breathtaking views of the Savannah River at the Top Deck Bar located at the Cotton Sail Hotel (125 West River Street). While you’re there, take advantage of the tapas-style eats.

WHERE TO EXPLORE: Savannah is so rich in history and culture, consider taking a trolley tour—or, if the weather is nice and you have a bit more time, a guided walking tour—to take it all in. I recommend contacting Jonathan at Architectural Savannah to arrange a sightseeing trip.

If you’re interested in an art-focused excursion, the SCAD Museum of Art (601 Turner Boulevard) features art, photography, and other mixed mediums. Currently I’m planning to visit to see “Refined Irreverence,” which is focused on fashion icon Carolina Herrera. The contemporary Jepson Center for the Arts (207 West York Street) has wonderful rotating exhibits as well. Right now “Elvis at 21,” a photographic exhibit by Alfred Wertheimer, is on display.

Watch the waves roll in from the Atlantic on Tybee Island, just 20 minutes from downtown Savannah. I like to grab a chicken salad from Chu’s and then head to any public access boardwalk to the beach to have lunch with my toes in the sand. In addition to the beach, my favorite Tybee destinations are the Tybee Island Social Club (1311 Butler Avenue, Tybee Island), the Tybee Island Fish Camp (106 South Campbell Avenue, Tybee Island), The Breakfast Club (1500 Butler Avenue, Tybee Island), and the Seaside Sisters gift shop (1207 Highway 80 East, Tybee Island).

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