For me, a staunch northerner, coming to Savannah for college was like being a fish out of water. Having grown up in Washington DC all my life, I was coming to a city where the pace nowhere near matches that of our capitol city and where buildings tend to be smaller, not taller.
However, once I got over the heat (even in February!) and the occasional whiff of the nearby paper mill – reminding us all of its presence – I discovered Savannah’s many hidden gems. They’re not on the top of every tourist’s list, but to me, they really encapsulate Savannah’s character.
One of my favorite areas of Savannah is one that is free of charge – Forsyth Park. Located in the heart of the historical district, Forsyth Park covers 30 acres and dates back to the 1840s. Whether you want to sit and relax or play with a Frisbee, Forsyth is the perfect place to do so. With two beautiful fountains, a stage, tennis courts and a basketball court, Forsyth always has a plethora of activities happening. Jazz festivals, outdoor concerts and movies in the park are just a few of the city organized events that have happened there; just walking through under the overhanging Spanish moss gives you a sense of calm.
It is the South, so food does play a huge part in Savannah’s culture. When you think of Savannah, the food that comes to mind is usually grits, biscuits and gravy. However, whenever I miss food in Savannah, I always want Zunzi’s. The food that they serve is nothing short of extraordinary; a mix of South African, Swiss, Italian and Dutch cuisine, Zunzi’s never fails to impress. They say you know how good the food is by how long the line is – walking by Zunzi’s, I always see the line snaking out the door.
If you’re not in the mood for a lot of food (which Zunzi’s always gives you), then make sure you stop by the neighborhood coffee shop, Gallery Espresso. Gallery is not the only coffee shop in Savannah, but it’s my favorite. I always see people I know there (which may be a bad thing when I’m trying to do homework!), no matter what time of day it is. Although I’m not a coffee drinker, Gallery always has something I want to try; from their hot chocolate to their quiches. One of my favorite things to do is to sit in one of their comfy chairs with a book – it’s a relaxing way to spend an afternoon if I don’t have any pressing need to be somewhere.
The last place in Savannah that I will introduce you happens to be a little off of the beaten path. Located a couple minutes from downtown, the Starland Café is one of my favorite places to eat lunch. Right next to the Savannah dog park, the Starland’s bright orange exterior is what immediately draws your attention. Just sitting and eating in their back patio takes you away from the rest of Savannah; it’s as if you are sitting in your own backyard talking to your neighbors. The food…oh, the food! I don’t think I’ve tried anything there that I didn’t like. From their amazing Panini’s to their delicious salads, I don’t think you will be disappointed.
I hope that by telling you a little bit about some of my favorite places in Savannah, many of you will be able to experience the city as I have! Even if you've been to Savannah before, you may not have discovered these places. For those who haven't, maybe it will inspire a trip down South!