There’s something extremely seductive about Savannah. It might be the Spanish moss that dangles from the trees — a sight we don’t see too often up north — the 22 squares filled with lush greenery, the colonial architecture or the fact that it’s perfectly legal to walk down the street with an alcoholic beverage in your hand (as long as it’s in a plastic cup). The charming Southern city is also a thriving cultural hub — thanks to the Savannah College of Art and Design, an institution of higher learning that was founded there in 1978.
We arrived in Savannah and checked into the conveniently-located sleek boutique hotel, the Andaz Savannah (14 Barnard Street; 912-233 2116), which overlooks Ellis Square.
After freshening up, we headed over to the SCAD Museum of Art (601 Turner Boulevard; 912-525-7191) to begin the evening’s SCAD Gallery Hop — an event usually reserved for the first Friday of each month, scheduled to coincide with deFINE ART — an annual showcase of panels, exhibitions and artists. We were greeted by Odili Donald Odita’s colorful site-specific installation “Heaven’s Gate.” Then we perused through the museums exhibitions, which included Jack Whitten’s abstract paintings, the late Antonio Lopez’s glamorous fashion illustrations and the burgeoning art star Angel Otero’s 3-D sculptural paintings.
Next up was Pinnacle Gallery (320 East Liberty Street; 912-525-4950), where we saw SCAD alum Marcus Kenney’s black-and-white photographs of masks, fauna and his family. Then we headed to Gutstein Gallery (201 East Broughton Street; 912-525-4375) to see Gabriel Dawe’s mesmerizing and vibrant site-specific sculptural thread installation. Finally we got to see the work of two SCAD students: Honor Bowman, whose glittery takes on suburban life are on view at Fahm Hall Gallery (1 N. Fahm Street; 912-525-4727), and Willy Penny’s enthralling 3-D optical illusion paintings at Alexander Hall Gallery (668 Indian Street; 912-525-4948).
The next day we awoke and headed downstairs to eat a tasty traditional Southern favorite, shrimp and grits made with Savannah shrimp and Anson Mill grits, at 22 Square (The Andaz Savannah, 14 Barnard Street; 912-233-2116).
We took an architectural walk through Savannah’s historical district, where we saw 19th-century Greek revival homes and a magnificent example of Mad Men-era mid-century architecture, the 12-story limestone and green glass encased residential building, Drayton Tower (102 East Liberty Street) and the Owens-Thomas House (124 Abercorn Street; 912-790-8880) a stunning instance of English Regency architecture that was built from 1816 to 1819.
That evening, we sampled the local fare as we dined on a succulent grilled Savannah River Farms pork chop served with creamed Carolina rice, braised pork belly, carrots, beets and radish with an orange vinaigrette at Local 11 Ten (1110 Bull Street, 912-790-9000). After our stomachs were filled, we settled down for a nightcap at Pinkie Master’s Lounge (318 Drayton Street; 912-238-0447), a Savannah institution that’s so divey, yet so perfect, with students and local characters hanging out at the bar a jukebox blaring tunes and rebel flags on the walls. Grab a beer or martini in a plastic cup for a ridiculously low price and mingle before taking your drink to go and into the Savannah night.
Other Places to Check Out in Savannah:
You must try the Foie à la Mode — seared foie gras served with a grilled Krispy Kreme doughnut, pineapple chutney, white truffle black pepper ice cream and a pomegranate reduction — need we say more?
309 West Congress Street
They only play vinyl at this student favorite, known for its alchemic cocktails and live music.
36 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
24e Design Co
Go here if you want to purchase some animal horns and skulls for your wall, or some incredibly stylish custom furniture for your abode.
24 East Broughton Street
Grab something from the next Eames or Karim Rashid for your girlfriend, mom or yourself at this design boutique, which carries creations by SCAD students.
340 Bull Street