Here are some of my favorite places for those who are contemplating visiting in Savannah.
The restaurant generally regarded as Tybee Island’s best is Sundae Café. It’s unfortunately not on the water, but the food is exceptional. If the visitors do want to dine on Tybee, I recommend it highly.
Otherwise, my favorite spots are all in Savannah:
- The Olde Pink House (no Web site). 23 Abercorn Street, 31401. Phone 912-232-4286. This restaurant is in a late-1700s home on one of Savannah’s prettiest squares. The specialty is crispy-seared flounder and it is wonderful. Most entrees are in the $20 – $30 range. Reservations required in advance. Be sure to ask for seating in one of the smaller rooms (the ballroom is too “live” for pleasant conversation).
- Crystal Beer Parlor. Hands-down the best casual dining in downtown Savannah, and inexpensive. An authentic 1930s beer parlor run by two brothers who know what they’re doing. Great food, great fun. It is now packed pretty much every lunch and at the end of the workday – very popular neighborhood gathering spot. Menu and directions on Web site (as for the others below).
- Cha Bella. Quirky little place on the far east side of downtown. Heavy emphasis on healthy/organic, including vegetables grown in its own garden.
- Bonna Bella Yacht Club. This is uniquely coastal Georgia, a former marina on a creek at the edge of a salt marsh. Limited menu, but healthy (as they’re on the water, they can’t have a grease trap!) Superb views, big deck, fun place to have a drink and/or a light meal when the weather’s good. Lunch on Saturday/Sunday only, dinner seven days a week.
- Gryphon Tea Room. More than a tea room, a unique lunch spot — ladies especially love it — operated by Savannah College of Art and Design in a former pharmacy spot in what was originally the Scottish Rite Hospital.
Additional places to visit:
- Fort Pulaski, on the way to Tybee Island. Fascinating bit of history that marked the end of masonry forts due to the invention of the rifle cannon, which forced surrender in less than 48 hours.
- Bonaventure Cemetery. Stop at the welcome center and ask for directions to the Victorian section. Some of the most beautiful funerary ever, and also home to Johnny Mercer’s grave (a must-see family site, with family members’ graves bearing the names of his songs).
- The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. It’s at Harris and Abercorn streets in the historic downtown, is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the country, and was extensively renovated just a few years ago. It is open to the public throughout the day unless there is a service in progress.
- Historic downtown in general. One of the best things to do in Savannah is simply to explore the historic district and take in the 23 squares and the surrounding colonial and antebellum homes. For people who are walkers, put on your best walking shoes, get a map (there’s a tourist center behind City Hall on the river that supplies them), and just roam.
But be sure to walk Bull Street from City Hall to the north end of Forsyth Park, a street that a national association of urban planners recently named “one of the ten best streets in America.” If you are not walkers, by all means purchase tickets for a trolley tour. I did that when my father and his wife were visiting, and it’s much more informative and enjoyable than I would have expected.