To 10,000 students, faculty and alums at the Savannah College of Art and Design (see “Inside the Savannah College of Art and Design”), the city is more than a charming coastal town—she’s a muse. Georgia’s first settlement is decadent, eccentric and blithely tongue-in-cheek. She’s better known for her celebration of books, films, music and food than for any routine social schedule. Her beating heart: the two-and-a-half-square-mile Historic Landmark District. Checkered with 22 garden squares from founder James Oglethorpe’s groundbreaking urban plan, this communal grid houses peculiar treasures fit for a city of artists—or one wry, wonderful Southern lady.
At the south end of Forsyth Park, this farm-to-table eatery is crowned by Perch, a treetop bar where the after-work set sips crisp caipirinhas and refreshing jalapeño-lime spritzers. Downstairs, the former Savannah Bank vault is a chic spot in which to savor chef Brandy Williamson’s tender scallops. At 1110 Bull St.; 912-790-9000; local11ten.com.
Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room
Decades before Paula Deen put Savannah on the Southern food map, the late Sema Wilkes was passing platters of flawlessly seasoned fried chicken at her iconic boardinghouse. Her spirit lives on both in her recipes and in the generations of families who honor her no-reservations policy. $ At 107 W. Jones St.; 912-232-5997; mrswilkes.com.
Circa 1875 Gastropub
Ghost hunters flock to this city, but locals’ favorite spirits are the ones sipped on strolls down Congress Street. Such evenings often start with a handcrafted martini and truffle fries at this period pub. At 48 Whitaker St.; 912-443-1875; circa1875.com.
A veteran of eight Michelin-starred restaurants, French chef Hervé Didailler has gone on to perfect the art of prêt-a-picnic fare. Dishes—try the Melted Angel: brisket smoked in the alley at Angel’s BBQ and served on brioche—are designed for dining in your favorite square. $ At 218 W. Broughton St.; 912-232-1881; papillote-savannah.com.
Rare specialty clothing, grooming lines and other fresh finds await in Kyle Hinton’s beautifully cultivated vintage shop. The newly opened second floor is men’s-only—a welcome addition in a city that’s bursting with ladies’ fashion. At 320 W. Broughton St.; shop-arc.com.
The Paris Market
In Paula Danyluk’s fragrant flagship, sip a lavender sweet tea from the café bar while perusing an assortment of coastal accents (from $80), artisan jewelry (from $100) and local artworks, like this Mercury shell bust (pictured above) by Cathy Jarman ($2,000). At 36 W. Broughton St.; theparismarket.com.
Sim Harvey and Phillip Hunter wisely edit their selection of antique and modern decor treasures, from heirloom silver julep cups (from $100 for set of four) to steel martini tables (from $650) that the proprietors designed. At 346 Whitaker St.; 912-236-6000.
Suites on Lafayette
In Lori Judge’s apartments and townhomes overlooking Lafayette Square, marble fireplaces and four-poster beds vie for appreciation with homey amenities, like gourmet kitchens. $ Rooms start at $160; 201 E. Charlton St.; 912-596-1506; suitesonlafayette.com.
Restored to become the city’s first B&B, this former bordello is packed with refurbished antiques. Attentive staffers tempt the taste buds with a gourmet breakfast in the courtyard. Rooms start at $180; 14 E. Oglethorpe Ave.; 912-236-1484; ballastone.com.
Captain Mickey Youmans
This Savannah native and filmmaker will pick you up at the nearest waterway (even on River Street) for a tailored tour in his restored, limited-edition 1970 Boston Whaler. Not your average “old salt,” Capt. Mickey fished and sailed the seven seas—and has the lore to prove it. 912-596-5259.
Works in Progress
Savannah’s art scene is happening in-studio, and no one knows that better than Natalie von Loewenfeldt, a mixed-media artist and philanthropist who creates studio tours that grant buyers face time with blue-chip talents. 912-376-9835.
$ Establishment accepts no charge/credit cards or accepts cards other than the American Express Card.