Over spring break my family was lucky enough to take a short trip to Savannah, Georgia. After visiting the city several times, I felt like I knew the lay of the land. As you know, a child changes everything. Having Finn with me this trip allowed me to see the city through new eyes and seek out different opportunities.
Even through mom eyes, the historic city still holds the same charm. The ions from the local water sweep through the town on luxuriously soft breezes in the mornings and evenings. The locals hustle and bustle, while tourists stroll under canopies of moss dripping from oak trees. The ever-present art student confirms you are in a creative college town.
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has made a mark on the town through the revitalization of multiple buildings around town. For example, you may look at a historic apothecary façade, but a beautiful cafe is housed inside, Gryphon. Next door is Art’s, a small café housing a double decker bus inside. Both eateries are run by SCAD and offer delicious eating options. Old hotels have been converted to dorms or art facilities. Old homes have been re-purposed as a gallery or the program for writing. The revitalization has breathed new life into the city and provides multiple opportunities for exploration. A more inspiring atmosphere would be hard to find; however, with children it is always important to be prepared when exploring a new place.
Mom Tip #1: Be prepared to walk.
As I mentioned before, Savannah is a walking town. If you stay anywhere downtown, you will want to leave your car at the hotel or bed and breakfast. If you stay out of town, you will want to find a parking space and feed the meter. Most places of interest will be no more than a mile. Walking down the street, I heard many mothers tell their children something along the lines of, “It is going to be a ten-minute walk.” Although there may be much groaning, there are so many squares and new things to see that the time passes quickly. The pace is also slower due to the number of streets you have to cross over, so it is a casual stroll to any destination.
Mom Tip #2: Take a stroller.
Savannah is a walking and biking town. Parking is difficult to find in the city. To save yourself frustration, I recommend some great walking shoes and a stroller for those with little legs. Many paths are historic brick, so a stroller with rubber tire wheels is also recommended, but not necessary. The only issue that I ran into with my stroller was navigating into some buildings and businesses. Historic buildings are not always wheelchair- or stroller-friendly. You could throw a bike chain on the stroller if you are worried about leaving it outside. Also, if you love to run, Savannah offers beautiful routes. However, running with a stroller on the uneven sidewalks was a bit of a challenge.
Mom Tip #3: Seek out the parks.
There are some great parks in Savannah. Pack a picnic or pick up a delicious lunch or dinner from the numerous amazing restaurants and go to the park. I recommend Forsyth Park. It offers options for the whole family. There is a beautiful fountain, plenty of shady sitting areas and benches, two different playgrounds, a large grassy area, tennis courts, and basketball courts. There is also a café in the park and a local coffee shop, The Sentient Bean, that faces the park.
Mom Tip #4: Pack a few things for the beach.
Tybee Island is only about 15 miles from Savannah. Although I am biased and love my beautiful white sand Florida beaches, Tybee Island is offers a great beach experience. You can visit the Tybee Lighthouse, have ice cream on the pier, walk the clean beaches, and soak up the sun. The beach parking is pay-and-park, even on the side street with boardwalk access. The machines take coins or credit cards, so plan accordingly. I know my son loved going on an unexpected beach trip.
Mom Tip #5: Explore the amazing food options.
Savannah has limitless food choices and cuisines. With all of the walking, you can go ahead and indulge just a bit! Find someone to share with because there are so many great things to try. If you are downtown by River Street, I recommend stopping by Below Zero for some amazing ice cream. They also offer bubble tea and several food options. The best thing next to the ice cream is their clean restrooms and phone charging stations. Wicked Cakes offers delicious cupcakes and sweets. The best thing is the bakery’s BOGO happy hour — check with the bakery for current hours, but don’t miss out! Zunzi’s offers amazing sandwiches, entrees, and salads. Our meal was delicious, unique, and filling. Most entrees and sandwiches could be split, especially if you are planning dessert next. On busy weekends or during peak hours, order online and pick up your food at the side door to avoid the lines. For donuts, desserts, breads, and pies, you can not go wrong with Baker’s Pride. Baker’s Pride is not in downtown Savannah, but it is worth the drive.
Mom Tip #5: Slow Down.
Remember, you are on vacation. If you are tired, find a park or square and sit down. Take strolls in the evening and enjoy the atmosphere. Talk to some of the locals while at the park. The people of the city are very friendly, and most go above and beyond to be helpful. Use your time in the city to relax and unwind.
Savannah is a beautiful city steeped in history. No matter what age your children are, there is something for everyone. I know for my family, it is one of our favorites.
What is your favorite city in the Southeast to visit as a family?