March is an eventful month for us. It’s our dating and wedding anniversary and we always plan a trip to celebrate. This year we chose a two night road trip to Savannah, Georgia.
We have friends from who we met while vacationing at Sandals Grande Antigua who retired in Savannah. They suggested we stay with them while touring the Savannah Historic District. Our friends live in Midtown, only four hours from Charlotte, North Carolina. The road trip from the Queen City was uneventful. We stopped halfway in Columbia, South Carolina, at the Famous Toastery for gluten free breakfast.
Our arrival time was 11:00 AM, which gave us 1.5 days of sightseeing left. Read on to learn more about what we saw and where we ate in this beautiful, southern city.
1. Forsyth Park
Parking and Transportation: According to TripAdvisor, Forsyth Park is one of the top 10 destinations to visit in Savannah. This was our first stop. We found free parking at the south end of the park on Park Avenue. This is a small parking lot and I would suggest arriving in the early morning if you choose to drive here. There are rumors that the city will be adding meters to this lot in the near future. Tip: Hop on the DOT Connect On the Dot Express Shuttle on Park Ave. It is a free shuttle service that will take you all over the city.
Water Fountain: Forsyth Park is one of the largest squares in Savannah and is perfect for walking, people watching and relaxing in the shade of a Southern Live Oak. It is also home to a well known water fountain built in 1858 and modeled after fountains found in Paris and Peru. This is a top tourist spot and will be busy. Be patient if you are trying to capture a portrait with this backdrop.
Gardens: While at the park, don’t miss the Garden of Fragrance. This walled garden is a shady spot to literally stop and smell the flowers. While we were there, a couple was renewing their vows. Tip: Make sure to visit before 2:00 PM when it closes.
Walking Trail with a View: Take a 1.2 mile walk around the perimeter of Forsyth Park. Your stroll will include closeup views of charming, southern homes and tourist-free views of the water fountain.
2. Brighter Day Natural Foods
If you should get hungry while visiting Forsyth Park, Brighter Day Natural Foods is the perfect spot to fuel back up. This petite, natural food market is full of everything you might need during your visit to Savannah. It also includes a deli and juice bar! We both had gluten free sandwiches and shared a smoothie.
Location: If you parked in the free parking lot off of Park Street, Brighter Day Natural Foods is right across the street. You can eat indoors at the bar or outdoors at one of their few tables.
As we were staying in Midtown, we decided to drive into the city for the day. We found a centrally located parking garage that only cost $12 for the entire day! Tip: Park at the State Street Parking Garage. It’s tight quarters in there, but well worth it for the location. The garage is located at the corner of Abercorn and State Street.
1. Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
We started our second day in Savannah’s Historic District by visiting the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. TripAdvisor ranked this location as the fourth top sight to see in Savannah. Tip: If you are taking the DOT Express Shuttle, there is a stop one block away.
Do schedule 30 minutes to an hour to visit this church. There is a free 15 minute talk explaining the design, artwork and history behind the cathedral. It’s well worth your time. Entry to the cathedral is free, but donations are requested.
2. Mirabelle Cafe
An early morning calls for a fresh cup of coffee. When traveling, we love to visit and support local cafes. Each one is unique in its style and presentation. Mirabelle Cafe is right across the street from St. John’s Cathedral. We both ordered a Cafe Au Lait and sat outside watching tourists walking in and out of the church.
This was my favorite cafe on the trip with its European style and decor. Everything about this coffee shop was chic and elegant. Tip: This coffee shop offers milk alternatives. I believe they had almond, soy and coconut milk. They also serve coffee from Perc Coffee, specialty roasters out of Savannah. (I found similar French Bistro Tables!)
3. 22 Historic Squares
While walking the streets of Savannah, you will experience several green spaces among the homes and businesses. We noticed locals reading the paper, sharing a picnic or resting in the shade as we passed through. While we didn’t have enough time on this trip to visit all 22 parks, we walked through several on our way to restaurants, historic churches or to find a hot cup of coffee.
4. Marche de macarons
All that walking in the morning made us hungry! Good thing there are plenty of gluten free snack options in Savannah. If you are in need of something sweet, check out March de Macarons. All their macarons are gluten free as they are made with almond flour! We tried chocolate hazelnut, blackberry lavender, pistachio and Tybee turtle. Each macaron was light, fluffy and full of flavor. Tip: The location on Abercorn Street does not have indoor or outdoor seating.
If you are looking for views of the Savannah River, Riverboats or the Talmadge Memorial Bridge, walk north to the riverfront. Here you will find shopping, restaurants, riverboat tours and more! Tip: Walking the cobblestone streets and steep stairs can be a little dangerous. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes.
6. Kayak Kafe
If you didn’t find lunch on the Riverfront, head back about seven blocks to Kayak Kafe. They are locally owned and serve eclectic, fresh food. I read somewhere that they had the best tacos in town. We have to agree! My husband had the Roasted Lime Chicken Tacos served with an Organic Green Salad. It was amazing! I ordered the Kayak Club on a gluten free bun with an Organic Green Salad. My sandwich was fantastic, but could not beat those tacos.
This restaurant is the perfect spot to find gluten free, vegan and organic meal options. The Broughton Street location, where we ate, had indoor and outdoor seating.
7. Bull Street
While we were visiting the riverfront, we stopped by the Visitor Center on West River Street. I inquired what route was best for seeing the historic homes of Savannah. The response was the entire Historic District; however, the best place to start was Bull Street.
After lunch, we walked the majority of Bull Street. It will take you all the way to Forsyth Park, if you want. However, we had already been there so we changed our route to Abercorn Street and walked north.
8. Blends a Coffee Boutique
The late afternoon heat began to wear on us, so we looked for another local cafe for some cold brew coffee. It just so happened that during lunch at Kayak Kafe, we noticed Blends a Coffee Boutique across the street.
We continued our walk north on Abercorn Street until it met with Broughton Street (where Blends a Coffee Boutique is located). The cafe was modern in design, yet offered several comfortable seating options. The barista was quite helpful in educating us on the acidity and caffeine content of each coffee blend. We settled on a medium blend, since it was the afternoon, with a splash of almond milk.
9. B&D Burgers
Our friends had requested to meet us for dinner near the City Market at B&D Burgers. From the cafe, walk three blocks west on Broughton Street to one block north on Barnard Street to West Congress Street (where B&D Burgers can be found).
We enjoyed the evening breezes while eating our custom burgers outside on the patio. The restaurant offered gluten free buns. Unfortunately, the fries were not gluten free.
10. City Market
The completion of our day was a visit to the City Market. It was located across the street from B&D Burgers. Here you can find more restaurants with loads of outdoor seating, a candy shop featuring sweets from every decade, bistros and art galleries.
We walked over to Savannah’s Candy Kitchen to watch the chef prepare pralines. If you are lucky, you’ll get a sample or two! The candy selections were tempting, but we stayed strong.
Rumor had it that musicians and local bands played at the City Market every night of the year. We stuck around and found the rumors to be true. While the sun went down, we enjoyed a live concert featuring songs from the 80’s and 90’s.
If you are visiting the Historic District of Savannah for a short stay, don’t be overwhelmed. As you can see, we saw and experienced so much of the area in two days. Our approach to seeing the city was to find the main routes: Abercorn, Bull and Whitaker Street. Then we walked them and stopped at the historic and architectural sights along the way while popping in and out of restaurants and cafes. It was a relaxing way to see the city and we would do it again.
Our next visit will include a trolley and riverboat tour, a day at Tybee Beach and more strolls down beautiful tree-lined alleys.