Steeped in history and undeniably charming, Savannah feels like traveling to a bygone era of carriage houses and lavish Southern balls. These days, the coastal city’s complicated past mixes with its future with the arrival of new design-driven hotels, inventive restaurants, and craft cocktail bars.
Grab a seat at these new eateries
In a historic Queen Anne house off of Thomas Square, Common Thread is the reason to beeline it to Savannah, setting itself apart thanks to its marriage of the region’s bounty and global flavors. The year-old restaurant, helmed by chef Brandon Carter of beloved Farm in Bluffton, South Carolina, is an absolute standout. Tuck into dishes such as tempura sweet potato with Singaporean black pepper sauce and candied kumquats, grilled cabbage with coconut and turmeric broth, and chicken with strawberry harissa yogurt and farro tabouleh.
Keep an eye out for the latest addition to Ele Tran and her husband Sean’s Savannah foodie empire, Flock to the Wok, which dishes out Chinese classics such as Shanghai fried rice, braised spicy tofu, and sautéed green beans. The couple’s Little Duck Diner, a modern twist on an all-day diner, is a longtime local favorite.
Ardsley Station had big shoes to fill when it opened last year in the Atlantic space, a beloved New American restaurant that closed during the pandemic. By all accounts, the newcomer is winning over locals and visitors alike with approachable, flavorful dishes such as pork tacos, chilaquiles, and pecan pesto linguini. Go for brunch, lunch, or dinner . . . just go!
Want wine? No problem. Close to the river and opened last year, 208 Wine Bar aims to up the wine game in Savannah, with nightly live music, wine flights paired with treats from local Byrd Cookie Company, and charcuterie and crudité boards. Owners James Divine and Christina Pirovitz worked with Repurpose Savannah to reclaim old pieces to use as part of the interior, including paneling salvaged from the Mercer Family cottage on Moon River.
Make a new (or historic) artist pilgrimage
This fall sees the annual return of both the Savannah Jazz Festival and SCAD Film Festival, two premier events in town. The jazz festival celebrates Savannah’s rich history with the genre and supports Savannah’s Jazz Orchestra. In October, the eight-day SCAD Film Festival hosts special screenings, workshops, and lectures. Last year’s festival brought big names such as Belfast director Kenneth Branagh and Academy Award–winning actor Adrien Brody to town.
Learn about Savannah’s history on an architectural tour with Jonathan Stalcup, a SCAD alumnus, who runs 90-minute guided walks through the city. Sharing stories about famous residents and pointing out design details along the way, Stalcup brings color and context to several of the city’s Georgian-, federal-, and regency-style homes.
Walk into Southern history
The city also debuted an expansion to the Davenport House Museum this spring. The Murray C. Perlman & Wayne C. Spear Preservation Center, with support from the Historic Savannah Foundation, tells the untold story of urban enslaved workers who resided on the premises.
First-timers will also want to visit the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters for a somber glimpse into the relationships between the wealthy masters and enslaved people who once lived within the walls of the 1819 mansion.
Lay your head at these new hotels
Book now: Thompson Savannah
The arrival of the 193-room Thompson Savannah less than a year ago is lending fresh energy to the city’s riverfront. Picture the brand’s usual sleek aesthetic married with jewel tones and greenery for a Southern touch. Rooms feel spacious, so take advantage of the riverfront perch with sweeping views. Even if you don’t stay, hit the rooftop bar, Bar Julian, the highest rooftop in the city, for the panorama and cocktails, such as the tequila, plum, and coriander-laced Sugarplum.
Book now: Perry Lane
Comprising two five-story towers, the Perry Lane, opened in 2018 as part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection, feels elegant and cool all at once, and sits within blocks of museums and restaurants. Details such as midnight blue walls, velvet banquettes, and leather chairs add to the property’s moody, intimate vibe. Cozy rooms, 167 in total, are outfitted with writing desks, tiled showers, and pieces from the hotel’s extensive art collection, which includes more than 3,600 objects and antiques, and 1,200 pieces of art, including an original Paul Gauguin as well as works by alumni of and students at SCAD.
Read before you go
A requisite and colorful primer, nonfiction Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, tells the story of art dealer James Williams’s murder trials and eventual acquittal. See the famous Bird Girl statue, immortalized on the book’s cover, at the Telfair Academy.