Travel

A Local’s Guide to Five Southern Cities

From Savannah to Nashville, explore some of the South’s best destinations with these insider tips

photo: Courtesy of Kimpton Hotels

It’s that time of year—when warmer weather sparks your wanderlust, and dreams of getting out and exploring the South commence. Whether you’re planning  a whirlwind Savannah getaway or looking for live performances in Music City, getting an authentic Southern experience is simple: Ask a local. From attending minor-league baseball games to dining at exquisite new restaurants, make the most of your trip with this full schedule of exploration courtesy of folks in the know. And with Kimpton Hotels in each city, accommodations are a cinch. Next stop: vacation. (Don’t miss Kimpton’s special summer offer for G&G readers.)

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, with its manicured squares and historic mansions, is a traveler’s dream—from the Telfair Museums, showcasing three hundred years of the city’s art history and architecture, to restaurants such as Husk, a sister spot to Charleston, South Carolina’s award-winning restaurant.

To make the most of your experience in Savannah, local Larissa Szynski, director of catering at Kimpton Brice Hotel, suggests starting the day at Back in the Day Bakery, an artisanal bakeshop in the Starland District. A buttermilk biscuit with pimento cheese and applewood-smoked  bacon will set you right for a day of discovery. Shoppers should make a morning visit to Broughton Street’s Paris Market. This charming store offers handmade serving pieces, notecards, jewelry, and other unique finds. Lunch at Gryphon—a bookshelf-lined tearoom with a menu of salads and sandwiches, such as prosciutto, fig preserves, and Manchego cheese on a baguette—makes for the perfect midday stop. Save the afternoon for enjoying the city’s historic landmarks, such as Wormsloe Plantation—Noble Jones’s colonial estate—or take a guided tour through the Owens-Thomas House, a Regency mansion constructed in 1819.

photo: Jacqueline Stofsick (2); courtesy of Telfair Museum

From left: Paris Market; the grounds of Wormsloe Plantation; Telfair Museum.

After a day on foot, a respite is called for. Just a five-minute walk from the Owens-Thomas House, the Secret Garden courtyard at Kimpton Brice Hotel, located in Savannah’s National Historic Landmark District, is the perfect place to take a break. Near the charming Washington Square, the hotel’s neighbor Pacci offers appertivo hour from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. with tempting plates of fried mortadella and a slate of Italian-inspired cocktails. This is the spot to toast your tour before heading off to bed in one of Kimpton Brice’s stylish Southern-inspired guest rooms or suites.

photo: Courtesy of Kimpton Hotels

Inside the living room of the Kimpton Brice Hotel.

Nashville, Tennessee

In a food city like Nashville, the lineup of award-winning culinary establishments such as Henley and Henrietta Red makes it hard to go wrong. Between meals, a trek through Centennial Park—home to a full-scale replica of the Parthenon—makes for a great afternoon stroll. For history buffs, there are many places to visit just outside the downtown area, such as the Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson. Of course, an afternoon delight is necessary, and for that there’s Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint. The whole-hog experience may leave visitors craving a nap, but if you can power on, the Nashville Sounds baseball team offers a good time for all ages.

photo: Courtesy of Martin's Bar-B-Que

A spread at Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint.

Head back to your modernly designed room at Kimpton Aertson Hotel, located in Nashville’s Midtown neighborhood, for a quick costume change before dinner and dancing. A stiff drink may also be welcome. “My favorite cocktail on the menu is Meredith’s Lantern. It’s a cocktail with Basil Hayden bourbon, China China [an orange peel liqueur that is slightly bitter], Averna, and a dash of Peychaud’s bitters. It is the perfect aperitif or a great nightcap!” says Henley’s lead bartender, Benjamin Rouse. The hotel’s location is unbeatable: just steps from Music Row and a short ride from the Bridgestone Arena, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Ryman Auditorium. Rouse suggests you tour the Ryman and catch a show there if you can. “Any fan of music will love the history inside the ‘Mother Church’ of country music,” he says.

photo: Courtesy of Kimpton Hotels

A guest room at Kimpton Aertson Hotel.

Need another excuse to visit? In addition to offering guests a relaxing stay in an industrial-chic guest room minutes from the city’s biggest hot spots, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants recently launched its own music series, Off the Record, with shows in Boston, Toronto, Nashville, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. On July 11, the Sisterhood Band will play the Kimpton Aertson. To attend this exclusive concert, fans can enter to win tickets or book a VIP package that includes two tickets to the show, a thirty-minute meet and greet with the band, cocktails, and a vinyl record to take home.

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

In Winston-Salem, a small-town feel blends with a historic past. The district of Old Salem was settled by the Moravian community in 1753 who first called the region home. The Old Salem Museum & Gardens is a must-see site for its living history, and as any local will tell you, you can’t leave without a box of Moravian cookies made from a centuries-old recipe. Next, take a tour through Wake Forest University’s Reynolda Gardens. “This was originally the Reynolds family’s country estate and is now a museum, gardens, and a shopping village,” says Liza Edgerton, who heads up the sales and marketing department at the Kimpton Cardinal Hotel.  After three years of living in Winston-Salem, Edgerton knows a thing or two about getting the most out of a Twin City visit. Namely: Go brewery hopping. “Wise Man is a favorite, and it currently has a New England IPA called Intimate Impressions. The name comes from Edward Hopper, whose work is now featured at Reynolda House Museum of American Art.”

photo: Courtesy of Kimpton Hotels

Downtown Winston-Salem.

In addition to Wise Man, there are six other breweries downtown, allowing for a daylong brew crawl. Along the way, visit sites such as the Frank L. Horton Museum Center, a treasure trove of decorative arts pieces with special exhibits including Hidden Legacy: The African American Influence in Southern Decorative Arts and It’s a Woman’s World: Exploring Women’s Lives through the Decorative Arts. Finish up the day at The Katharine Brasserie & Bar for reimagined Southern cuisine and craft cocktails before heading upstairs to your guest room at Kimpton Cardinal Hotel, housed in the historic R.J. Reynolds building. This art deco gem in the Downtown Arts District offers an on-site Recreation Room with bowling, basketball, and more to keep you entertained throughout your stay.

photo: Courtesy of Kimpton Hotels

The Kimpton Cardinal Hotel living room.

Atlanta, Georgia

Adjacent to the Porsche Experience Center and just a mile and a half from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Kimpton Overland Hotel is the perfect launching pad for exploring Atlanta. Opened in 2019, this atypical airport hotel offers a convenient complimentary shuttle to and from the airport so you don’t lose any precious free time.

photo: Courtesy of Porsche Experience Center Atlanta

A ride around the track at the Porsche Experience Center.

At the Porsche Experience Center, pick a make and model and spend ninety minutes at the wheel with a coach by your side. Once you’ve mastered the track, get a lift over to some of the city’s main attractions, such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site, where you can walk in the footsteps of the great civil rights leader. Next, consider a tour of the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead, which gives an in-depth look at Georgia’s past. Local Lori Burden suggests nearby Aria for an indulgent dining experience—butter-braised lobster, anyone?—before cruising back to the Overland for one last nightcap on the roof.

photo: Courtesy of Kimpton Hotels

Sunset from the Kimpton Overland Hotel’s rooftop lounge.

“We have incredible views of the Porsche track and the airport runways,” adds Burden, Kimpton Overland’s director of sales and marketing. “Plus, we just launched a new menu and specialty drinks. Our Rooftop Lounge is an idyllic spot to end an overnight trip to Atlanta.”

Charlotte, North Carolina

You don’t have to go to New York City to see the musical Hamilton. Not when Charlotte’s Belk Theater draws award-winning touring shows like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster hit. Of course, if your favorite musical isn’t in town, consider enjoying Charlotte’s warm weather with an outdoor adventure.

photo: Courtesy U.S. National Whitewater Center

Paddling the rapids at the U.S. National Whitewater Center.

The U.S. National Whitewater Center offers dozens of outdoor activities—climbing, zip-lining, and mountain biking—in addition to rafting. “For those looking to keep their feet on the ground, they also host concerts and wellness activities such as yoga and meditation,” says three-year Charlotte resident Robert Hannigan. Or, if you prefer to enjoy an ice-cold beer with sunshine on your back, an afternoon watching a baseball game at BB&T Ballpark is in order. The Knights, a professional minor-league team, play at this uptown park between the Panthers stadium and center city. Now, those ballpark franks are good, but they won’t hold you over all night. “Afterward, enjoy dinner and a sunset cocktail at Merchant & Trade, overlooking Romare Bearden Park,” suggests Hannigan, general manager of Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel. Located in Uptown Charlotte, the hotel boasts sleek rooftop views, a top-notch fitness center and yoga deck, and vibrant Angeline’s, an Italian-inspired modern American restaurant found on the hotel’s ground floor.

Merchant & Trade at Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel.

Exclusive offer for
Garden & Gun readers

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