Perhaps you already know your favorite place to grab a go-cup before meandering River Street in Savannah, or you’ve spent hours wandering Bonaventure Cemetery and re-living the last time you read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. But locals and visitors alike will find fresh reasons to explore the coastal city with these new (or newly reopened) must-visit spots to eat, drink, explore, and—after a full day—sleep in Savannah.
Eat & Drink
This year, the Savannah chef Mashama Bailey won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southeast for her much-lauded restaurant the Grey. Newer to the scene, and just down Broughton Street from the restaurant, her charming outpost the Grey Market serves as a bodega-style sandwich shop offering blue plate specials and a yummy turkey club with Benton’s bacon. The grab-and-go retail area features local purveyors, house-made pickles, baguettes, and dips if you’re planning a picnic at Forsyth Park. For one of the best deals in town, drop $39 for the “daily chicken dinner” that includes two seasonal sides, bread, and a bottle of wine.
Chef Bailey has been a friend and inspiration to Nick Wilber, the chef at the just-opened the Fat Radish restaurant, around the corner from the Grey Market on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The Fat Radish’s produce-forward menu includes standouts like red snapper crudo with watermelon aqua chili and a beet curry with spiced yogurt and Charleston Gold rice. Wilber, who most recently helmed Basic Kitchen in Charleston, South Carolina, and helped open the original location in New York, has found his latest muse in Georgia fruits and vegetables. A tip from him: On the way to the beach at nearby Tybee Island, stop at Davis Produce on Highway 80. “You’ll find a large array of pickled and jarred goods from local farmers as well as the best tomatoes in town,” he says. “Say hi to Sherry, and she might even send you away with the best boiled peanuts in the South.”
Two other new spots capitalize on the delicious flavor of smoke. Beloved food truck Big Bon Pizza has opened the brick-and-mortar Big Bon Bodega, a wood-fired bagel shop on Bull Street that serves up fan favorites such as the Pimento Pig, which comes slathered in pimento cheese, with sausage and a fried egg. Nearby, Squirrel’s Pizza uses live-fire cooking over pecan wood to turn out airy pies topped with house-made mozzarella and such delights as heirloom tomatoes, beef tenderloin, and lamb shoulder. Finish up with a perfect chocolate torte for dessert made by the venerated Gottlieb’s Bakery.
The Olde Pink House is not new at all, but thankfully, the restaurant is newly reopened after a blaze late last year damaged part of the mansion. “The fire started in our grand ballroom, and there, everything had to replaced—hand-painted murals, draperies, and flooring,” says Craig Jeffress, the general manager. “Everything had to be custom made. We found plenty of gorgeous heart pine from a barn in North Carolina, and used that for flooring throughout.” Expect the same menu standbys to return, including the beloved fried pork chop and crispy flounder.
See & Do
Before the day gets too hot, plan a historic house and garden tour of the 1819-built Owens-Thomas House. Recently, the museum expanded its tour narrative and added exhibition spaces to tell a more complete history of the enslaved people who lived and worked at the home. After the tour, pause in the peaceful parterre garden between the main house and carriage house.
If you’ve already been to Laney Contemporary gallery and seen the collection of Jack Leigh, the local photographer known for his portrait of the Bird Girl statue on the cover of author John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, then stop by the Telfair Academy museum for Before Midnight: Bonaventure and the Bird Girl, an ongoing exhibition devoted to the statue and Savannah’s sprawling historic cemetery. Other new exhibitions include Suzanne Jackson: Five Decades (at the Jepson Center through October 13), the first full-career survey of the artist’s dreamy landscape paintings, and If These Walls Could Talk: 200 Years of William Jay Architecture (at the Telfair through 2020), a study of the English architect’s influence on Savannah’s cityscape.
In the evening, book a Genteel & Bard tour with the riveting storyteller T.C. Michaels. Michaels and his wife, Brenna, recently released Hidden History of Savannah, a book of their research and anecdotes about the city’s past. The ghost encounter tour begins and ends at Oglethorpe Square and is deeply creepy—even more so because the stories Michaels tells are true.
The luxurious Perry Lane Hotel opened last year, and it quickly shot to the top of the must-stay list for travelers in the South. Roam the hotel to see a stunning art collection (including a gallery with rotating local artists), and take in sweeping views of the city at the Peregrin rooftop bar while lingering over the Planter’s Punch that comes in a bottle to share.
Late last year, the charming contemporary-meets-classic hotel the Alida opened along the Savannah Riverfront (spring for the 2,700-square-foot penthouse for a private wraparound balcony overlooking the water). The Alida partnered with the Savannah College of Art and Design for artful touches throughout—custom throw pillows and alumni-artisan-made goods at the hotel shop.
For the most Instagrammably-chic stay, book a room at the light-and-bright Windrose Apartment Hotel, located above the Fat Radish restaurant. The framed artwork, blond wood floors, painted exposed brick, and huge windows will make you feel like you’re staying in your coolest friend’s downtown apartment.