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The Weekender: Savannah, Georgia

Savor a little sun, sand and southern charm in this historic city

For New Yorkers, Savannah, Georgia is just a two-hour flight away, but this southern city’s spell-casting scenery of gnarled oaks and draping Spanish moss can feel far more transportive than that. Time seems to move a little slower here – maybe it is the year-round sunshine, verdant scenery, or the open-container law that lets you stroll through the squares avec cocktails.

A city of rich, storied, heritage, Savannah sits at an intersection of progress and past: sprawling restored Victorian and Colonial mansions are nestled beside contemporary art museums, hip coffee shops and craft cocktail bars. Throw in a few of the country’s best restaurants and close proximity to white sand beaches, and Savannah beckons you in for a weekend getaway.

Where to Stay:

Check into the Perry Lane Hotel. The just-opened boutique hotel is home to a variety of vintage-chic rooms, many decked out with oversized windows and bar carts. The Perry Lane is situated right at the apex of most Savannah sights, just 15 minutes by foot to Forsythe park and a little less to the shopping promenade of Broughton Street. While the location is ideal, you could easily spend your day within the hotel grounds. Up on the roof is the Peregrin Rooftop bar, a sprawling rooftop where you can sip icy Frosé while admiring the best view of the sunset the city has to offer. Did we mention there’s a rooftop pool?

For a full dose of Southern hospitality, look to one of the elegant B&Bs in the city as an alternative. Built in 1893, The Kehoe House is situated in a stately Renaissance Revival property on Columbia Square. Rest your head in a four-post bed, play Scarlett O’Hara on one of the private balconies, and be treated to welcoming breakfasts and full turn-down service.

Where to Eat:

Dinner is best spent sharing small plates at The Atlantic, a neighborhood eatery in a restored gas station. While it’s first-come, first-served to be seated, spend the wait time enjoying a pint of local beer by the roaring fire on the patio. Designed to highlight local purveyors, the menu is best tackled by ordering a selection of the ever-changing sharing plates and paired with a bottle from the expansive (and very impressive) wine list.

Because no trip to the South is complete without gratuitous BBQ, make a pitstop at The Streamliner Diner. It is a 1930’s converted railway car-turned-BBQ-joint that serves up house-smoked sausage, beef brisket and pulled pork alongside homemade pickles.

Where to Drink:

After dinner, head down a charming alley off Broughton Street to a dimly-lit door, which is the gate to an underground craft cocktail mecca Alley Cat Lounge. In place of a traditional menu, a custom-printed newspaper finds hundreds of cocktail recipes from the last century alongside curated spirit flights. Or just ask a bartender to surprise you – they know what they’re doing. A few other standout outposts for cocktails in the city include The Original Pinkie Masters for ice-cold beer and frozen cocktails, Congress Street Up in the Prohibition Museum for speakeasy-inflicted drinks, or The Artillery for wine in a romantic space.

Where to Shop:

A sunny afternoon is best spent strolling through the art-fueled Starland districts.  For the music-obsessed, Graveface Records is a haven for old and new vinyls. Hit the uber-chic The Rat on Bull and browse through cozy home décor, apothecary essentials, stunning jewelry from Studio Lab, and hand-poured candles. The thoughtfully curated apothecary-meets-atelier space feels more like your chic friend’s abode than a storefront.

Closer to downtown, ShopSCAD is home to handmade goods by the Savannah College of Art and Design’s alumni, graduates, and faculty. Stop by Satchel for stylish leather purses, clutches and wallets made right in their downtown studio.

What to Do:

Spend a slow Southern morning gallery hopping. Nestled in the heart of Telfair Square is the Jepson Art Center, a towering, modern presence of an art gallery that is home to a host of rotating exhibits (think Monet and Nick Cave) to impactful showings by Savannah-based artists. Continue your crawl at the SCAD Museum of Art. The sprawling contemporary art museum is home to one of the most expansive African American art collections in the country, as well as an impressive collection of vintage Haute Couture. Post soaking in the collections, stop into The Gryphon Tea Room for a traditional high tea complete with sweets and English loose leaf tea.

In the afternoon, Tybee Island beach – you may recognize it from Baywatch – is well worth the 30-minute drive. Take a right off the main drag to find a more secluded strip of beach with quiet swimming waters and a surprising lack of tourists. Savannah boasts an open-container law so pick up a spritz to sip while you enjoy the sun.

On the way home from the beach, cool off from the day with happy hour at The Wyld. Perched on the edge of a river, the open-air bar’s menu spans fresh seafood fare and cheeky vacation-inspired cocktails. A fire pit and bocce courts, all under strings of fairy lights, complete the scene.