We're not at all like the rest of Georgia. We have a saying: If you go to Atlanta, the first question people ask is, 'What's your business?' In Macon they ask, 'Where do you go to church?' In Augusta they ask your grandmother's maiden name. But in Savannah the first question people ask you is 'What would you like to drink?'
- John Berendt, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Sustenance Since Savannah does not appear to take Covid as seriously as I would prefer, I decided I would only take my meals al fresco, with a view and a medicinal dose of alcohol. • Moon Pie Sky Lounge: A long non-social distanced line, leading to an elevator made me nervous, so when the attendant said the place was packed with young kids doing young kid's stuff, it made for an easy decision, we moved on to: • Myrtle & Rose Roof Top Garden: This place is the AAR Best Rooftop Bar in Savannah, which also served us the best meal we had in Savannah (Roasted Garden Beets & Ahi Tuna Crudo). It had only opened the previous day, so service was a little slow while they worked out the kinks. It didn’t matter though, as it was a perfect evening: A slight chill in the air with no humidity, tasty* fusion tracks, and a sophisticated vibe, plus great river views, and the midnight blue night sky with a smattering of magic white clouds was like a Bob Ross painting. All that and I was given the last Two Tides Tan Lines pilsner before their last keg was kicked. * Did I just say "tasty?!" Well compared Moon Pie, the whole scene was more my bag . . . man.
• Sorry Charlie: Great views of Savannah, looking west with fresh and juicy oysters for $15/dozen. This place also has a first-floor bar, though why would I drink my medicinal alcohol in a tight, indoor first-floor bar when I can drink it on an expansive rooftop deck with a great view? • The Rail Pub's outdoor patio: The lack of a view was compensated by free fried chicken Friday, which could have made for an economical dinner (if it wasn’t for all the $2 Coors Lights). • The Treehouse: A dive bar, exuding Bourbon Street "charm" with a modest third story deck that looks out over St. Julian Street. A little nervous about a bar that cards and has the stickiest floor I ever trod on. The beer was cold though and the place relatively empty. You can look across W. Congress Street at an opposing rather toney roof deck called “The Grove" (say it like Mr. Howell), and see how the other half lives. • Top Deck: I had a rewarding conversation with my bartender Cameron regarding bourbon (good) and business (not so good). I shared with him my Pappy 23 Year Old epicurean adventure, he shared with me a solid Old Fashioned (with Bulleit rye). • Rocks on the Roof: Nice place, no complaints. Classy.
• Hyatt Regency Garden Terrace: It's not a bar just a terrace on the fourth floor. Could be a BYOB opportunity.
• The Original Pinkie Masters ("Pinkie's"): Made an al fresco exception to drink at the most famous bar in Savannah. It was opened in 1953 and the inside appears to be unchanged except for a plaque built in the bartop where President Jimmy Carter stood to eulogize the eponymous owner on March 17, 1978. Hungry? Then get a Turkey Bacon Avocado sandwich (with a side of Brussels sprouts²) next door at The Diplomat Luncheonette, eat it at the bar, and wash it down with $2 Miller Pony, $3 domestic, or $6 shot. Bring cash for the jukebox and for your very modest tab.
- With its landmark PBR sign out front, it can't be missed.
You can't visit Savannah without visiting at least some of its squares. Over the course of three days and 40,000 steps, I visited every single square. Instead of listing them in the order that I toured them, I used ExxonMobil personal management techniques to force rank them.
The Waving Girl
Florence Martus (1868–1943), also known as "the Waving Girl", took it upon herself to be the unofficial greeter of all ships that entered and left the Port of Savannah, Georgia (handkerchief by day and a lantern by night), between 1887 and 1931. A statue of Martus has been erected in Morrell Park on the historic riverfront of Savannah. It was created by renowned sculptor Felix De Weldon, the sculptor of the Iwo Jima Memorial. I only really mention this as De Weldon also sculpted a statue of St. Stephen, that is mounted on the church I was married in.
You ever search for a hotel on booking.com, and when you see all the high prices listed say “Wow!!!“³, but then buried in this list of costly hotels, you find a well-reviewed hotel that is significantly cheaper than the rest? You wonder, is it too good to be true? Then you notice in the fine print (or upon check-in) that it has a shared bathroom, has only one twin bed, or is a youth hostel. Well, our lodgings in Savannah were the exact opposite, a reasonably priced flower in the middle of an overpriced dessert. • Thunderbird Inn: This place was 50% cheaper than almost any other hotel in the Savannah historic district, yet gets a very respectable 8.6 on booking.com. I used the third protocol in The After Action Report: The Lodging Protocol to book this place. First, I made a fully cancellable reservation at the Best Western Savannah Historic District for $134/night (tax incl). Later, when 15 miles out from Savannah inbound, I checked booking.com and noticed the Thunderbird Inn at $104/night (tax incl), I immediately booked it and then canceled the Best Western. Voilà! The Thunderbird Inn is a 1950s style two-story motel, with bright pastel colors, piped in 50s music, a free Krispy Kreme donut each morning, and is located on the western edge of the Historic District. Its spacious rooms are super clean (with modest, but super clean bathrooms). It’s across the street from the Savannah Bus Station, which fortunately deters some from booking it (winning!). Each room comes with two cans of RC Cola which were used to make Thunderbird Cuba Libras.
I had one very minor issue with my stay, which I only bring up so I could work in a European travel connection. The light switch on the inside of the Thunderbird Inn bathroom was motion-activated, which reminded me of Europe. Every bathroom in Europe has the light switch on the outside of the bathroom. Now think about it. If the light switch is on the outside and you are sleeping with someone, how can you turn on the bathroom light in the middle of the night without lighting up the entire bedroom? What happens is you close the bathroom door until your arm is just barely able to fit between the door and the jamb, then you flip the switch on, and attempt to pull your arm into the bathroom at the speed of light. When I mentioned the idea of putting the light switch on the inside of the bathroom to various European hoteliers, they all looked at me like I was loca, verrückt, fou, gek, őrült or lud.
Parking at the Historic District hotels will run between $15-35/night. Street parking during the week is metered. If this is an issue then park at Lincoln Parking Garage ($10/day) which is adjacent to Warren Square.
• Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is the MOARR if you're visiting Savannah (Mother of all Required Reading). During my visit, I "reread" it via Audible. I also reviewed a PDF version, which I can forward to you by request, just email me.
Endnotes: I wanted to provide some very specific details which while vaguely interesting did not contribute to the overall narrative. Perhaps just wait until the end to read.
¹ In Savannah, the Savannah River is bridged by the Talmadge Memorial Bridge. It is a cable-stayed bridge, built in 1991 to replace the previous Talmadge Memorial Bridge, which due to its lower height was impeding access to the largest single ocean container terminal on the U.S. eastern seaboard. As the eponymous Eugene Talmadge was a segregationist and white supremacist, some have argued that a name change is in order, although if the port of Savannah is to accommodate Neo-Panamax vessels, then a new bridge may be in order.
² Brussels sprouts are all about the S's (esses). This bitter-tasting member of Gemmifera Group of cabbages is called "Brussels" not "Brussel", as it is named after the Belgian capital. Also, sprouts is not capitalized, as the generic noun in any dish, the chili in Cincinnati chili, the “salad,” in Waldorf salad, and therefore the "sprouts" in Brussels sprouts is always lowercased.
³ “Wow!!!, is right between Ouch and Boingggg!!!”