If you live in the south-eastern region of the US, one of the BEST places for a quick, weekend vacation is the Savannah, Georgia/Hilton Head Island (HHI), South Carolina area. Even though there is plenty to experience in Savannah and HHI, enough undoubtedly to fill an entire week’s long vacation, you can still experience so many amazing parts of this area in just a short, weekend trip. I spent this past Memorial Day weekend in Savannah & Hilton Head with my family and want to share just a few suggestions of places to eat, things to do, and sights to see for a couple-day stay in the area.
Flying into Savannah on Saturday morning, we wasted no time before going straight to the beach. There are several beach options in the Savannah area, some even as close as 20 minutes outside of the city, like Tybee Island. But, I am always partial to Hilton Head, even though it is about a 45-minute drive outside of the city. The public beach access on the island is located at Coligny Plaza. Even though this is a public beach, it depends on what time of the year you are traveling as to how crowded it will be. Since it was Memorial Day weekend, the beach was quite packed, but I have also been to Coligny in early October and there were no crowds at all.
After a day at the beach, we headed to the Sea Pines area of the island, specifically Harbor Town. To enter this area of the island, you do pay for a day pass, but Harbor Town is worth it! Walking around the harbor, listening to live music, seeing the sunset off the pier, and looking up at the beautiful red and white candy-striped Harbor Town lighthouse is a perfect way to end a lazy beach day.
While at Harbor Town, one of the staples we always try to hit for food is the Crazy Crab…their seafood (and especially the complimentary hush puppies) is never short of delicious! And, it wouldn’t be a vacation night in Harbor Town if we didn’t end the evening with some after-dinner ice cream while sitting and looking out at the boats docked in the harbor.
After spending some time in Harbor Town, we left the island to head back to Savannah for the night. Instead of traveling through main highways to get back to Savannah, we drove through a cute, quaint town called Bluffton. It was a lively Saturday night in town, so we decided to walk around for a bit. Since we had just eaten, we did not stop in any restaurant or shop, but Bluffton is a definite must for the next time we travel to the area. You could spend an entire day on their main drag of road between the restaurants, stores, and little park area to rest in.
Sunday morning began with a visit to a local church that has a few satellite campuses in Savannah: Compassion Christian Church. We visited their Downtown campus on Jones Street. If you are in Savannah on a Sunday and are interested in visiting a local church, I would highly recommend Compassion Downtown. Their greeting team was so inviting, the worship was powerful, and the message was impactful.
Now, if you have never been to Savannah before, there are a few experiences I would highly recommend such as taking a trolley tour of the city to learn about its history and spending some time on River Street by the Savannah River. But, if you are familiar with the city and have had some of those more tourist-y experiences before, then Savannah is a perfect city to just wander around and get lost in for a day, which is what Sunday became for us.
After church, we drove further into the historic district to park the car for the day, and walked a few streets down from Liberty Street to one of the largest parks that the city is famous for: Forsyth Park. Pictures in front of the gorgeous fountain located here make for a great keep-sake from the trip. The fact that this fountain is located at the end of a walkway lined with mature trees complete with branches covered in Spanish moss is an added bonus for your viewing pleasure.
From Forsyth, I would suggest taking your time exploring the city and the various smaller parks laid out in the squares that make up the historic district of Savannah. There are so many boutiques, outdoor shops, and art galleries perfect for any area of interest. One of my favorite places to frequent in Savannah is the bookstore, E. Shaver’s Booksellers, located on Bull Street. This book store is so unique in its layout, decor, and patrons, featuring a few in-house cats that you may stumble upon as they lounge in oversized chairs or windowsills.
Coffee shops in Savannah are not in short supply, and I have been to some great ones. But, this weekend, we visited one we had not before: Gallery Espresso, also on Bull Street. As soon as you walk into this shop, you are greeted with an eclectic mix of music, mismatched furniture, and a sense of welcome. As we waited in line to order, we saw one group of guys playing chess to our left and a few individuals reading and studying on their own to our right. We were able to snag a window table which was perfect for people watching and seeing the park square while we snacked. Speaking of which, the food and drink here were phenomenal! Our group had a mixture of iced coffees, root beer floats, baklava, bagels, and chicken salad sandwiches, all of which hit the spot perfectly after a couple of hours of walking and shopping.
A few hours of resting were necessary after a day full of walking and exploring around the city. But, after recuperating from our busy day, we had dinner outside of the historic district at a restaurant called Pearl’s Saltwater Grille. Here we had our final AMAZING seafood meal of the weekend with a beautiful view of the Herb River. The entire back wall of the restaurant was made up of windows, and there was also a wrap-around walkway and deck to make it easier to see the tide come in around the marshes while waiting for our food.
Like I mentioned earlier, there is so much to do in Savannah and the surrounding areas, from learning about the history to shopping at modern boutiques to spending a lazy afternoon in a coffee shop. While it may be considered a shame to only have 48 hours in a place this magical, there is also something to be said about getting just a taste of a city so beautiful that it keeps you wanting to return soon with Georgia undoubtedly on your mind.