In historic Savannah, innkeeper Diane McCray suggests, “It’s time to give in and be a tourist!”
A favorite – yet one of the smallest among Savannah bed and breakfast inns – the little 4-bedroom inn has earned a top-tier reputation among international and cultural travelers as the go-to spot to experience Savannah up close and personal. The former corporate professional, now innkeeper McCray, calls the unique experience “The Softer Side of Savannah”. McCray’s happy attitude and love of Savannah make it immediately clear that guests have chosen lodging that feels more like staying with their favorite aunt – the one with a treasure of insider tips and endearing laughter!
“I love the little spots, so I’m eager to find the great little places to shop eat and explore. Why not enjoy a great getaway while shopping?” suggests the passionate innkeeper. “My experience helps guests to bypass the iffy-ness, while still finding unique purchases and deals,” McCray adds.
The innkeeper’s fresh ideas point to the little local spots where beauty and fun are sure to be found. “My recommendations are not intended as a checklist,” McCray assures, “but rather pointing out the consistent places that I enjoy and my guests repeatedly praise.”
“The Inn’s recommendations are adjusted to compliment each guest’s interests,” McCray assures. Below is McCray’s picks for “Three Gals, One City – Historic Savannah!” for a holiday any time of year.
“The inn’s staff will draw on a map to get the gals out to explore a small portion of the downtown. We identify the high points to discover historic places, shop, and little spots to nibble and refresh. From the Greene Square, the route is down Broughton Street to check out some of the boutique shops and have a late lunch at in small place favorites. Then, weave back through downtown discovering interesting places. As foodies ourselves, we do recommend nibbling to discover Savannah’s wonderfully diverse cuisine,” Diane explains. Following an afternoon of moseying about, guest return to the inn in time for shower and dress for dinner, meet fellow guests over complementary wine and tempting hors d’oeuvres.
Leopold’s Ice Cream Shop (212 E Broughton St., 912/234-4442). This is the city’s favorite spot for nostalgic-style soda fountain lunch and home-style ice cream. Savannah native son and Hollywood producer, Stratton Leopold and his wife, Mary revived this family institution.
Papillote French Cuisine to Go (218 West Broughton St., 912/232-1881). Delightfully casual, light French fare to go, or eat-in with shared-table dining. Closed on Monday.
The Paris Market & Brocante (36 West Broughton St., 912/232-1500). A must-stop to capture the international feel of downtown Savannah. Eifel Tower sugar cookies (treats made by Two Smart Cookies) and refreshing beverages are here too.
Red Clover (53 Montgomery St., 912/236-4053). Guests love this value-packed boutique.
Ellis Square, Savannah’s newly restored square. Johnny Mercer’s life-size statue, entertainment, and comfort-break facilities are here. Ellis Square is one of the original squares and was historically the site of the Savannah City Market, where farmers and hunters brought products for sale.
Jen’s & Friends Martini Bar (7 E. Congress St. 238-5367). Stop at this cozy little spot for afternoon martinis. A few street café’ style tables for people watching on Bull Street between Broughton and Congress streets.
Jazz’d Tapas Bar (52 Barnard St., 912/236-7777), a fun-loving nightspot for sharing small plates, enjoying live music and more martinis.
PediCab (912/232-7900), a rickshaw-type bike ride, recommended for a late night shuttle downtown.
Full Day One
McCray advises that her favorite time of day is when she is serving a full gourmet breakfast and talking with her guests. “By learning about each guest’s explorations the previous day, and their favorite experiences, I keep well informed”.
This full day of explorations will find guests discovering Savannah’s beautiful heritage spots and stories, and picking up gifts along the way.
Savannah Heritage Tours (912/234-8365). On a 2-hour tour with Angela, your southern native tour guide will take you in the comfort of a climate-controlled van. Take in the City’s wonderfully rich history or head out to Bonaventure Cemetery to explore the awe-inspiring beauty of this famous colonial plantation. Bonaventure is the final resting place for some of Savannah’s best-known citizens, including Pulitzer Prize writer Conrad Aiken, and Johnny Mercer. Mercer’s grandfather, General Hugh Weeden Mercer, is buried also in Bonaventure. General Mercer began the construction of Mercer House on Monterey Square, famous today at the centerpiece location in the novel and movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
City Market (Office 912/232-4903). In the St. Julian Street corridor you’ll catch the joyful vibe of the little marketplace. Explore the little memento shops, vibrant workshops of local artisans, and local artist studios and galleries, local wine tastings, and sweets stores.
Franklin Square. On Franklin Square, give a node to Haitian Memorial, honoring French Haitians who fought in the American Revolutionary War. Also here is First African Baptist Church (23 Montgomery St.,-912/233-6597), highlighted in Underground Railroad and stories of America’s earliest African converts to Christianity.
Jere’s Antiques (9 N Jefferson St., 912/236-2815). If you’re into antiques, the largest selection of furniture is at Jere’s, located just off Bay Street north of Jefferson Street and City Market. More boutique size antique shops are scattered in the Design District and along side streets as you crisscross downtown.
The Bull Street Corridor. To see some of our largest squares and take in the living museum of history for which Savannah is famous, walk from Johnson Square to Forsyth Park. Stop along the way at the Gryphon Tea Room (337 Bull St., 912/525-5880) for a quick snack and light afternoon tea.
SCADShop (342 Bull St., 912/525-5100). This shop features one-of and products from the students and alumni of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), whose campus is dotted throughout the Landmark Savannah Historic District.
E. Shaver, Bookseller. (326 Bull St., 912/234-7257) regularly on the Top Ten lists, Esther Shaver’s little neighborhood book store is a favorite for finding connoisseur quality vintage and children’s books, cookbooks, plus signed copies of recent releases. Closed Sunday.
Forsyth Park (912/651-6610). This is Savannah’s central park, where the much-photographed French Fountain and beautifully manicured gardens welcome the city’s guests year around. You’ll wonder at the amazing architecture and the late 19th century homes around the park. As one guest said, “At the end of every walkway is a beautiful mansion.” Mid-park, the Forsyth Fort Visitors Center Complex and Forsyth Park Café offer opportunities for a comfort stop, or casual fare and beverages, including Starbuck Coffee.
Alligator Soul (114 Barnard St., Lower Level, 912/232-7899). Graceful fine dining with delightfully fresh Southern and World cuisine are the highlights at this top-three Savannah restaurant. Co-owners Maureen Craig and Chef Christopher DiNello deliver with superlatives on service and imaginative cuisine, whether ordering vegetarian, the signature Hilbo Steak, salad with Parmesan Cheese Croutons, or the signature Cherry Bomb cocktail. On chilly nights, a fireside dessert or cocktails is an experience not to be missed!
Full Day Two
Sleep in. A late morning rest is a welcome indulgence after a full Day One discovering Savannah. McCray’s gourmand breakfast around 10:00 a.m. is just the ticket for rejuvenation, and special moments to share a lifelong friendship. Today the Inn recommends heading to the Savannah Harbor Riverfront, Design District and beautiful churches. Snacks and relaxation will be waiting for guests on return to the Inn. Plenty of homemade desserts is self-serve, but not too much to spoil a wonderful dinner.
Savannah River Walk (River Street Office (912/234-0295) Start on the east end of the River Street river walk at the Waving Girl Statue, and take in the full length of the River Street. East/West shuttles are available on “Dottie”, the River Street Streetcar 756. Walk at a moseying pace, in and out of shops, to capture a Christmas present or two, and to sample Savannah Pralines you’ve heard so much about. If you want to snap a mid-river photo, take the round-trip water taxi (free). On the west end of River Street is the new World War II Memorial, just west of the Hyatt at river level.
Wright Square Café (21 W. York Street, 912/238-1150).. On the faithful Bull Street corridor, walk over to Wright Square and stop into, Savannah’s top chocolatier. It’s the perfect little spot for a refreshing drink or roll-up sandwich, plus the shop’s latest artisan and imported French chocolates.
Wayne Chamber’s Gallery (7 West York St., 912/234-6899). Art galleries dot the downtown historic district. The wonderful watercolors of Savannah painted by Wayne Chambers are among our favorites. Affordable small prints, as well as fine art originals are here. Mr. Chamber’s art is the showpiece in the Savannah Holiday Tour of Homes, annually.
Design District. Starting on historic Jones Street, around the Whitaker Street area, stop into some of Savannah’s little hidden treasure shops. The famous Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room is here if you prefer a hearty southern lunch, and your timing has you in the area between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. (Note: The Friday after Thanksgiving 2010, Mrs. Wilkes is open.)
La Paperie (409 Whitaker St., 912/443-9349). Fabulous stocking stuffers and thoughtful housewarming gifts are here. Debbie and Gary will help with excellent recommendations, even personalized gifts.
Congregation Mickve Israel (20 E Gordon St., 912/233-1547), America’s third oldest Jewish Synagogue has a Judaic shop and synagogue tours: 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday (with the exception of holidays).
St. John the Baptist Catholic Cathedral (222 East Harris St., (912)233-4709). French Catholic émigrés established Savannah’s first parish, called the Congrégation de Saint Jean-Baptiste, shortly before the end of the 18th century. Cathedral ornaments and bookmarks would make a treasured gift.
Cha Bella (102 E. Broad St., 912/790-7888) is consistently delicious, serving organic and seasonal fare in a repurposed, innovative space just around the corner from Green Palm Inn.
Full Day Three
After breakfast, head out to visit a few of Savannah’s famous house museums. Today you’ll also visit Tybee Island (only a 20 minute ride east), and take a look into the home places of some of the city’s most prominent families. “It is fascinating to learn how from little or nothing the pioneers of industry, innovation, culture and civility laid the foundation for which Savannah is famous today,” says the devoted innkeeper.
Telfair’s Owens-Thomas House (124 Abercorn Street on Oglethorpe Square, 912/790-8800). North America’s best example of Second Regency architecture, the house museum features the Owens’s family art, beautiful English-inspired parterre garden, and an original carriage house—which contains one of the earliest intact urban slave quarters in the South. Wednesday evening tours are really special.
Juliette Gordon Low House (10 E Oglethorpe Ave., 912/233-4501). Built in 1821, the mansion is the birthplace of the founder of Girl Scouts of the U.S. In recent years an elevator was added to accommodate senior travelers. The home is elegantly restored to reflect the 1880s, and furnished with many original Gordon family pieces, including artwork by Juliette Gordon Low.
Green-Meldrim House. The most expensive 19th century house in Savannah, the mansion built by cotton merchant Charles Green is perhaps best known as the in-city headquarters of Union General William Sherman during the American Civil War.
Tybee Island (Highway 80 east, 912/786-5444). Mid-afternoon, jump into your car and head to the Atlantic Ocean, about a 20-minute drive. The Tybee Lighthouse is one of the oldest on the America’s Atlantic Coast. Tybee Pier is a place famous since the early 1900’s as THE place to dance and socialize. Walk the sunny Tybee Beach, wading with the refreshing surf at your feet and salty air breeze. Dinner on Tybee Island now is a must. Choose the Back River waterfront dining at AJ’s Dockside Restaurant (1315 Chatham Ave., 912/786-9533) for a beautiful sunset. Or, head to the Sundae Cafe (304 First Street, 912/786-7694) for a fabulous chef’s fare experience in one of the most unpretentious places around. You’d never choose Sundae Cafe on your own, which is part of the reason for Diane McCray sharing her best picks here!
One writer had said that he stopped into Savannah simply because he was intrigued to learn what a city calling itself the “Hostess City of the South” had to offer. Hostess Diane McCray proves that that the City’s reputation remains true, thanks to passionate, one-on-one enthusiasm to make it so.
ABOUT GREEN PALM INN
The former seamen’s cottages (circa 1897) on Greene Square are now cozy Green Palm Inn, an historic bed and breakfast inn with private baths and 4 large bedrooms. Validating its “Swoon-worthy, Lazy-delightful” tagline, Fodor’s guide describes the favorite B&B as a “pleasing little discovery” and “a little gem of an inn.” Rated in the top-10 Savannah B&BS in TripAdvisor.com, recommended by Washingtonian (2010), and featured in American Way and Destination magazines, the historic inn exudes a calm, homey yet smart-travel ambiance. In a 3-minute online video, “The Softer Side of Savannah” Innkeeper Diane McCray showcases the historic inn’s charm, homemade hearty breakfast, and a walking introduction to world-famous Savannah. For more information: 548 East President Street, Savannah, GA USA 31401; International Telephone +1-912/447-8901; USA and Canada Toll Free 1/888 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; On the web: www.greenpalminn.com; Twitter @GreenPalmInn and on Facebook.
# # #
SAVANNAH Georgia (November 1, 2010) – Green Palm Inn offers discerning travelers the rite of passage to blending year around shopping with the tourist and foodie experiences. Just in time for Christmas, a special rate for a 3-some of gals makes the idea more enticing.