Nicholas DeMayo/Old Gold & Black
Nicholas DeMayo/Old Gold & Black

Explore the history and local culture of Savannah

For those tired of the Wake Forest bubble, just a five-hour car ride can take you to a city where you can enjoy the fantastic combination of beach, city, food and fun.

That city is Savannah, Ga. Like other cities in the Southeast, Savannah is historic. Having been the home of a few famous Americans such as Flannery O’Connor and the setting of some great movies such as Forrest Gump, Savannah has some incredible sights. But its not just a touristy town; Savannah has a culture that supports small business, local products and enjoys the beauty of being close to the shore.

The town is super walkable, with the area of its historic center measuring only a few square miles. Because of its small size, Savannah is easy to walk through and see in one day — and maybe one extra day if you want to explore the nearby beaches at Tybee Island.

Every morning, and especially every morning in the city, should begin with coffee. To that end, I recommend visiting the Savannah Coffee Roasters — you will know them as the one with the ship on their logo. They offer the widest variety of coffee blends and special single origin roasts that I have ever seen, as well as a full selection of espresso and pastries.

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After your coffee, I suggest taking a nice walk through the town. Starting at Forsyth Park just south of the city center and walking toward the Savannah River will take you about a half hour. Along the way, treat yourself to some ice cream at Leopold’s. This famous ice cream parlor serves it the classic way, with a full service soda fountain to make floats, shakes and malts. I recommend getting an ice cream sandwich between two homemade chocolate chip cookies.

And while you are there, there’s a ton of movie memorabilia to admire on the walls. The autographed photos of several famous actors adorn the walls, and famous lyricist Johnny Mercer made Leopold’s his favorite local haunt. Lines can get long at this historic shop, opened in 1919. But it is definitely worth the wait.

As you make your way toward the Savannah River, you will see the huge court house on the water, and maybe even stop by one of the local pubs on the water’s edge. But if you continue down just a bit on Bay Street and turn on to Bryan Street, you will get to the City Market.

The City Market is a couple blocks long and dressed in cobblestones. Restaurants and little shops invite you in from every side, and walking through is a delight as all cars are blocked from entering. It is the best place in the city to enjoy a drink and maybe a slice of pizza at the quirky Vinnie Van Go-Go’s pizza shop.

With a belly full of pizza and ice cream, you have just completed your stroll around Savannah, Georgia. In my experience, the town is incredibly charming with a local culture that is super laid back and supportive of small businesses.

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