Amtrak Stories: A Trip to Sweet Savannah
The southern gem Savannah is sweet in every way. First, you’ll have a hard time selecting a dish from the city’s famous and bountiful dessert trays. Sweet potato pie, banana bread pudding and piles of fresh pecan pralines: Savannah’s dessert delicacies are unmatched. Treats are just icing on the red velvet cake, however. A visit to Savannah is enticing because it offers an abundance of natural, historic and cultural activities for a sweet weekend getaway for you and your partner, family or friends.
I visit Savannah about once a year because this Georgian city is stunningly gorgeous, decidedly quirky and easy to enjoy. I adore a long spring weekend in town, but every season has advantages. Picture lavishly restored antebellum architecture, lush gardens, and charming southern hospitality, all overlooking the historic Savannah River. Expect to see pineapples everywhere — they’re the town’s symbolic welcome sign. How sweet is that?
Savannah is well-suited for weekend travelers, who flock to the fabulous River Walk downtown area for restaurants, touring and shopping, not to mention nearby fishing, hiking, golfing and sailing opportunities. Last year, I visited on the first weekend of a month, and it turns out First Fridays and First Saturdays from March – December offer extra fun with fireworks over the river and a morning arts market. The trip was my first out-of-town trip with a new girlfriend. I earned major points when we stumbled onto the riverfront fireworks display, but pure luck and sweet Savannah should get all the credit!
It’s easy to stroll through Savannah as the city was planned on a series of grids featuring 24 public squares showcasing monuments and green spaces. I love Savannah for romantic stays at small inns, historic tours and the local creative culture, fed in part by local authors and the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Savannah’s artistic scene is deeply intertwined with the LGBT community, tracing back to its maritime port history. Gay residents have influenced the city’s commitment to architectural restoration, the success of a massive local antiques market, and the proliferation of gorgeous inns, breathtaking gardens and innovative culinary experiences. Part of what makes Savannah so sweet is that LGBT visitors are welcomed to this cultural bounty with open arms. In gay-run antique stores, I’ve purchased everything from a cool turn-of-the-century snake oil advertisement to a southern primitive art to great 50s barware for my mid-century bungalow. I’m just supporting the community — at least that’s what I tell myself as I bring home my new haul.
Explore the city. Savannah’s historic quadrant extends about a mile south of the Savannah River. Stay at a small inn, walk the tree-lined streets of the immaculately planned city and shop for antiques, art and all manner of curiosities. Or, people watch as they all go by. One of my very favorite places is Rocks on the Roof in the Bohemian Hotel. Drop in for amazing cocktails, tapas and views of the river. Provisions Tip: Buy more pecan turtles and pralines than you think you need, because I promise that your little caches of confections will call to you on the train ride home!
Enjoy the coast. Take a river cruise or a short ride to the Atlantic Ocean. Savannah is only fifteen miles from the popular beach destination Tybee Island, and other nearby beaches include Hilton Head, South Carolina, and Georgia’s Golden Isles (which include Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island and Cumberland Island National Seashore.) I’ve seen the wild horses of Cumberland’s beach and witnessing the grandeur and unbridled freedom of their run is an indelible, magical memory.
Wave your rainbow flag. Savannah hosts several Pride and LGBT community activities, including Tybee Rainbow Fest during the first weekend in May. You’ll find several nightlife choices too, so be sure to set aside time to make a pilgrimage to Club One, home of drag pageant winner and cabaret star Lady Chablis, who famously starred as herself in the movie version of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I’ve always felt welcome, safe and celebrated in Savannah.
Savannah is closer than you think — a decidedly sweet stop via the Silver Service and Palmetto trains. Plan a sweet weekend getaway with Amtrak’s fabulous vacation deals, and save room for dessert.