We’ve visited Savannah over a dozen times and it never disappoints; it’s an easy city to see without much of an itinerary outside of parking your car and going for a walk. On our first trip, we started at Savannah History Museum, and it provided a good overview of the city. It also houses Forrest Gump’s bench and the statue from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (a movie that’s still worth a watch; the icky presence of Kevin Spacey is made up for with the fantastic Lady Chablis). There are many other art and history museums; we have yet to be there on a rainy day, so our short stays have focused primarily on the outdoors. The Telfair and SCAD museums are high on our “next visit” list. Now that Alice and Jen are both registered Girl Scouts, a visit to the Juliette Gordon Lowe House is also in our future.
There are heaps of hotel options in the center of the historic district. Because of our last-minute stops, we have used discount sites and stayed in primarily chain hotels. The Hampton Inn & Suites and Fairfield Inn & Suites were convenient to the western side of town. Staybridge Inn & Suites was our favorite, located in an updated historic building and very close to the riverfront. The large Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort is across the river from historic Savannah, but the convenient water taxi ride added a fun excursion for Alice.
I can’t blog about Savannah without talking about food. It’s not easy being a vegetarian on a road trip through the American South, but with a little research Savannah came through. (It’s not all celebrity chef and high-butter content establishments). The Sentinent Bean is one of my favorites; a low-key, all vegetarian coffee shop & café that is conveniently located next to Forsyth Park. Huey’s, a New Orleans style restaurant located on the river, offered an extremely hard to find vegetarian muffuletta. Vic’s on the River was a more upscale option with great views of the river. Moon River Brewing had good food and good beer.
Forsyth Park is the most iconic location. The city, like many other historic cities in the South, will likely continue to grapple with whether to remove, or to better contextualize, the many monuments to the Confederacy, one of which towers over the south side of the park.
King & Prince Resort, St. Simons Island
One of the biggest reasons we kept going back to St. Simons Island was the King & Prince Beach Resort. The 80-year old hotel is registered with the Historic Hotels of America; we loved the heated pool, lobby and ballroom, and the small courtyard garden. The beach was enormous, and gave us some of the best East Coast sunsets. If chasing seabirds was a sport, Alice would hold an Olympic gold medal from her time on the beach there (okay; admittedly not the most nature-friendly activity, but the seagulls always prevailed and we never had to face what would happen if she actually caught one.) Despite visiting in December each year, the mild weather and heated pool allowed us to swim. Echo, the onsite restaurant, was excellent. More casual restaurants were also easily walkable from the resort.
St. Simons Island
St. Simons Island provided us tons of photo ops, including the grounds of Christ Church Episcopal. We stamped our National Park Passport before exploring Fort Frederica National Monument, a British fort started in 1776.
Downtown St. Simons had great shopping in a picturesque downtown (interestingly just used in the movie adaption of Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep as a quaint New Hampshire town). The Ocean Inn & Suites was a nice stay for walking distance to downtown. Alice enjoyed the large public playground and a small mini-golf course at the Lighthouse. Our favorites were Del Sur for fancier fare, Iguanas for over the top deco, and Barbara Jean’s for classic southern food.
South of St. Simons is Jekyll Island, which is much less developed than St. Simons and very tourist-friendly. We rented a condo at Villas by the Sea, which gave us easy walking access to the island’s main attraction, Driftwood Beach. Dining options are much more limited on Jekyll island than other destinations, so we found a long (but well worth it) wait at our resort restaurant, the Driftwood Bistro.
We didn’t stay at the historic landmark hotel, Jekyll Island Club, but enjoyed walking around the grounds and small shops. At Christmas they offered free drive-through lights. A large portion of the island is accessible on a bike path also.
In 2018 a large shipping vessel, the Golden Ray, capsized in the Sound, leading to a rescue operation with no fatalities. On our 2019 stay it was still fully intact. As of today, the removal of is on its third of seven cuts, and still poses concerns about environmental contamination.
4 Steps to Get Ready to Visit the Georgia Coast
Decide Where to Stay
Do you like museums, horse-drawn carriages, and ghost walks? Stay in Savannah!
Do you prefer beach resorts or small inns with a small, quaint, town for shopping and dining? Stay on St. Simons Island!
Are you a fan of outdoor adventures and learning about sea turtles? You’ll love Jekyll Island!
Don’t worry about your choice; each spot is an less than a one hour drive from the other destinations.
Watch movies filmed on the Georgia coast
- Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil
- Forrest Gump
Read Advice From Alice
“The beach at St. Simons Island has a lot of shells for you to look for. Sometimes I love to run with the birds and I like to take a long walk on the beach.”
“I also love Savannah because the fountain is pretty and I like to take pictures there. You should try the playground by the fountain. It is my favorite!”