36 hours in Savannah, Georgia

ITINERARY

Friday

15:00 | market stall

The Grey, a luxury restaurant located in a former Greyhound bus station on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, it was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Best Places in the World in 2018. That same year, its founders, Johno Morisano and James Beard Award-winning chef Mashama Bailey opened the Gray Market, part grocery store, part food counter, just two blocks away. While it can be difficult to get a reservation at the Grey, the Market offers lunch service and convenient grab-and-go options like a chicken salad sandwich ($7), a crudité spread ($10), cookies ($3) from the bakery and non-alcoholic beverages.

17:00 | Forsyth ride

Forsyth Park, the city’s oldest and most popular public green space, covers 30 acres and features two playgrounds, as well as tennis and basketball courts. The fountain, inspired by the fountains at Place de la Concorde in Paris, is located at the north end of the park. Here you are likely to see local artists selling their work and wedding and prom photographers preparing for the perfect shot. On the park side of Whitaker Street, look for the Fragrance Garden, designed for the blind with fragrant flowers and Braille plaques, in an old fort.

19:00 | hang out downtown

While downtown Savannah gets a lot of (deserving!) attention, you’ll also find plenty of restaurants and night life Options in the center. Start at Starland Yard, a lively outdoor food truck park, complete with patio seating, a bar, and Vittoria, a Neapolitan-inspired pizzeria. Within walking distance, you’ll find late-night options like Two Tides Brewing Company and Wormhole, a bustling dive with local comedy nights. For a cozier spot, try the Black Rabbit, a small sandwich shop and pub that sells beers, specialty cocktails and sandwiches (from $7 for half and $14 for full). The $10 cocktails have almost lyrical names: Affectionate Reverence combines hibiscus-infused tequila with apricot lime and tops it with an egg white and tempranillo float.

Saturday

9:30 a.m. | Drink coffee

Beat the downtown brunch crowd by staying downtown. Troupial, a Venezuelan coffee bistro, landed this year in the Starland district, in a 1915 two-story yellow house near the train tracks — just follow the smell of espresso. In addition to more than a dozen coffee options, Troupial also offers fresh pastries, sandwiches with homemade bread, and street food. Start with an order of tequeños, Venezuelan cheesecakes ($10 for five), then try one of their many arepas ($10), a cornmeal pocket filled with scrambled eggs, ham, cheese, black beans and avocado.

11 a.m. | spend time downtown

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After brunch, hop in a car to Broughton Street. Take advantage of the city’s open bin policy and grab a mimosa to go from the Common restaurant while you explore downtown. A mom-and-pop store for natural bath and skin products, Nourish is perfect for anyone who can’t resist the smell of lavender or a fizzy bath bomb. Fans of 90s nostalgia and video game lovers should visit Planet Fun, Savannah’s favorite toy and comic book store. A few blocks from Broughton is River Street, the popular cobblestone street that runs along the Savannah River. Here you’ll find seafood restaurants, dive bars, and souvenir shops housed in former cotton warehouses, as well as buskers playing Johnny Mercer’s “Moon River.”

13:00 | discover black history

Savannah is also home to the First African Baptist Church, one of the oldest black churches in North America and a prominent landmark. For a tour of the shrine, purchase a $15 ticket on their website and arrive 10 minutes before the 1 p.m. start time. Inside, a guide will explain that the shrine was completed in 1859 and point out original features, like the solid oak benches on the balcony that were made by enslaved Africans in the 19th century, some of which still have carvings in classical West African Arabic script. Other important sites in Savannah Black history include the Beach Institute on Harris Street, a black art and history museum housed in Savannah’s first school for African Americans; and the Second African Baptist Church on Houston Street, where General Rufus Saxton broadcast General William Tecumseh Sherman’s “40 Acres and a Mule” proclamation. Although the church does not run tours, visitors can join a service.

36 hours in Savannah, Georgia SAVANNAH 36 HOURS 8 Inside the Owens-Thomas House and Slave Quarters in Savannah. (Adam Kuehl/The New York Times)

15:30 | See (and touch) the art

For all you sleepy southern stereotypes, Savannah boasts a thriving arts scene with more than 20 museums, art galleries, and artists’ markets in downtown alone. Large house museums, some built or once maintained by enslaved people, display centuries-old art and furniture. For a more contemporary experience, visit the Jepson Center for the Arts. Located in Telfair Square, this museum has six different exhibit galleries, including an interactive digital gallery called TechSpace, and an ArtZeum, a fully tactile upstairs space featuring 14 activities that invite children to rethink concepts of art. and play. Your $22 Jepson ticket also includes visits to two other locations: Telfair Academy and Owens-Thomas House and Slave Quarters.

18:00 | Enjoy drinks and jazz.

For dinner, head to Rancho Alegre Cuban Restaurant, a lively family restaurant serving authentic Cuban and Caribbean cuisine. Start with a mojito ($10) or sangria ($8), both of which are powerful. For dinner try the lechón asada ($12), their famous roast pork with mojo sauce, accompanied by plantain chips or Yuca fries. On the weekends, a treat awaits: Every Friday and Saturday night at 6:30 pm, Rancho hosts the local Jody Jazz Trio. The combination of strong drinks, large plates, and live music makes this restaurant a popular choice with locals, so book early.

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36 hours in Savannah, Georgia SAVANNAH 36 HOURS 9 Inside the Rancho Alegre Cuban restaurant in Savannah. The family restaurant serves authentic Cuban and Caribbean cuisine. (Adam Kuehl/The New York Times)

21:00 | Bar hopping on Congreso Street

When you’re done with dinner, turn right and head down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard until you reach Congress Street, where you’ll see a row of late-night bars and cocktail lounges, most open until 3 a.m. For a rooftop view, walk a block to Grove Savannah and order the Champagne pop, a large fruity ice cream in a glass of brut. Across the street, the American Museum of Prohibition will have opened Congress Street Up, the museum’s late-night lounge serving cocktails from the 1920s. End the night dancing at the Peacock Lounge, a hidden speakeasy in the basement of the Chinese Flock al Wok restaurant. Look for the blue neon lit entrance in the alley behind the restaurant.

Sunday

10 a.m. | explore the beach

Pick up a muffin or chicken biscuit at Back in the Day Bakery before heading to the beach. Just 20 minutes east of US 80 (30 minutes with traffic), Tybee Island is a barrier island with over 3 miles of beaches. Along the way, stop at Fort Pulaski National Monument, built in 1829 to protect Savannah Harbor, and inspect damage from Union rifled cannons in the Civil War. In South Beach, you’ll find the Tybee Island Pier, beach shops and lively bars. For a quieter spot, continue on US 80 until it turns into Butler Avenue and eventually ends at a paid parking lot (download the Park TYB app). This is Back River Beach, known for dolphin sightings, great fishing, and calm waves.

13:00 | Climb up to Tybee Lighthouse

Before leaving the island, visit the Tybee Island Light Station & Museum. At 3 acres, it is one of the most intact light stations in the country, with the oldest and tallest lighthouse in the state and all of its supporting historic buildings. Inside the Tybee Island Lighthouse, originally built in 1773 and partially destroyed by fire in 1861, you’ll find 178 steps to the top, offering aerial views of the island. Using only masonry and metal, the rebuilt lighthouse is now completely fireproof. Your $12 ticket (free for children 5 and under) also allows you entry to additional buildings at the Light Station, such as the 19th-century lighthouse keepers’ cottages and kitchens, where lighthouse keepers and their families lived.

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KEY STOPS

Jepson Center for the Arts has interactive exhibits and galleries for children that encourage play.

Troupiala Venezuelan coffee shop, serves 18 espresso options in a repurposed Victorian house.

First African Baptist Church it is one of the oldest black churches in North America.

forsyth park It’s 30 acres of spacious gardens perfect for strolling and picnicking.

WHERE TO EAT

the gray marketpart winery, part lunch counter, serves southern-style brunch and grab-and-go lunch options.

Back in my day is a bakery run by cookbook author Cheryl Day.

Rancho Alegre Cuban Restaurant it is family owned and has live music in the weekends.

courtyard of the stars is a popular food truck park in the Starland arts district.

the black rabbita sandwich shop and a bar, it’s tucked away from the noise of downtown.

two tides is a local brewery that “specializes in sour, haze, and funk.”

the wormhole it’s a noisy dive with locals comedy nights

the grove savannaha three-story restaurant with a rooftop bar, whips up Instagram-worthy cocktails.

congress street up is a late-night lounge serving cocktails from the 1920s inside the American Museum of Prohibition.

peacock lounge it’s a neon-lit speakeasy tucked away in the basement of a Chinese restaurant.

WHERE TO STAY

The Alida Hotel It’s a downtown luxury hotel in a converted brick warehouse. Enjoy sunset views of the Savannah River at your rooftop pool from $360 per night.

For a cozier option, consider one of the city’s many mansions converted into bed and breakfasts, like the Recorder’s Innoffering four private suites ($175 to $300 per night) showcasing Italian flair architectureoriginal ceiling with medallions and beautiful heart pine floors.

the thunder bird Inn, an old roadside motel on the west side of downtown, has gleaming ’60s furnishings, rotary phones, and a Moonpie on every pillow. Doubles from around $150.

There is a lot of short term rental optionsparticularly in the city center and around Forsyth Park.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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