Going Places: The Itinerary

by Rachel on May 9, 2011

Eric and I are leaving for our vacation in Charleston/Savannah on Wednesday and we spent way too much time playing with our new TV over the weekend and seriously no time planning our itinerary!

We have a list of things we want to do in Charleston (ghost tour, plantation tour, distillery tour), but it’s not totally finalized so we’re open to suggestions!

As for Savannah, we have no idea where we want to go exploring or (more important!) where we want to eat. We are meeting my imaginary friend Ashley and her fiance for lunch in Savannah and we’re having trouble making plans.

Ideally, we’d like to do a yummy Southern lunch in Savannah and then head out on foot to do a little light shopping. Should we go to Paula Deen’s restaurant? Ashley has heard mixed reviews, but the menu looks pretty good, so we kinda think it’s worth checking out for ourselves. And where should we go shopping? We’ll have the guys with us, so we want to definitely hit an area of town that has good shops…that aren’t just for girls.

In terms of where to eat in either city, we love good food and good drinks. We’re fine with a total hole-in-the-wall that has amazing food or happy to go someplace trendy that is totally worth the hype. We like all types of food but I’m going to try to steer clear of BBQ, simply because we have so much of that here in Texas. I’d rather have fried chicken and biscuits…or something else entirely!

Everyone had such good suggestions of where to go on vacation and what to do in each city, so I’m counting on you guys to help me out here!

Also, if any SC or GA natives who can advise me on the weather and what to pack, it would be greatly appreciated. I’m trying to pack light and if I don’t know what the weather is like, I’m definitely going to bring half my closet with me.

HOLLER.

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

1 zenlizzie May 9, 2011 at 11:52 am

Of all the times I’ve been to Charleston… I always just end up wandering around shopping/trying new places. I can’t think of any recommendations off the top of my head, but I just read a feature about Charleston in Southern Living : http://bit.ly/jVpYWP, and they seem to have a pretty good guide to the city.
I’ve been to Paula Deen’s restaurant and I really enjoyed it. We ended up not having to stand in a really long line like I’ve heard some people do, but we only had a party of 2, and I think that helps you get seated quicker. I had the chicken pot pie, and it was pretty much the best chicken pot pie I’ve ever had.
And as a native South Carolinian… just be prepared for warm AND humid. Luckily it is breezier by the coast, but I’ve heard “outsiders” say it is the humidity that gets them more than the heat. It seems like as the weather gets warmer, there is a short daily thunderstorm too. If you’re going to be walking around outside, I would recommend light, breathable clothes. And it is already skimpy clothes season in S.C., so feel free to show some skin.

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2 Rachel May 9, 2011 at 4:19 pm

I think after life in Houston, where the humidity punches you in the face, we’ll be OK with that…but thanks for the warning!! Good to know we might be getting more of the same!

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3 Summer May 9, 2011 at 11:55 am

Howdy from SC! I live in Columbia, but I’m only an hour and a half from Charleston. It’s an awesome city, you’ll love it!

Definitely wander around King Street for fantastic shopping, hit Market Street for the massive outdoor farmer’s market (and a great bar selection!), East Bay Street for more bars and restaurants… Charleston is full of friendly, fantastic people so if there’s something you heard about and want to find, just ask and somebody will undoubtedly be able to point you in the right direction.

Have a great time on your trip! Charleston is amazing, I almost moved there before I bought my house here in Columbia and part of me still regrets not going Chucktown instead. The historical charm is absolutely through the roof.

I’m not familiar with Savannah, have not been there yet (although I’m running the Rock n’ Roll marathon there in November), but I do know people who have eaten at Paula Deen’s restaurant and raved about it. I think it’s pretty much a quintessential Savannah experience, so you probably should go at least for lunch.

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4 Summer May 9, 2011 at 11:58 am

How could I have forgotten to mention the weather? Yes, be prepared for heat (80+ degrees) and humidity. Sundresses and other lightweight clothes are a must. Oh, and beware the cobblestone streets of Charleston should you opt for heels! I’d highly suggest flats for wandering around during the day.

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5 Rachel May 12, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Even in flats, I’ve tripped quite a few times! Kinda brutal!!

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6 Anon May 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Girl, Charleston is the BEST for good eats.

Hominy Grill for INSANE breakfast/brunch: serious shrimp & grits, pickled okra in your Bloody Mary, and pots of homemade jam on the table for spreading on your giant biscuit.

FIG (short for Food Is Good) is a splurge-worthy dinner. Don’t miss the shrimp, pancetta, and arugula salad.

Head out to the beach on Sullivan’s Island for the day and grab burgers and beer at Poe’s Tavern at the end of the day.

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7 Amy @ amyBITES May 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm

As a Savannah-ian, I can definitely recommend NOT to go to Paula Deen’s. Tourist trap, overpriced, terrible food, etc. Instead, go to Mrs. Wilkes’ Boarding House. Family-style Southern cooking, way better than Paula. You’ll have to plan ahead because you have to line up outside for it. Other great eats: Cha Bella, Rocks on the River, Local Eleven Ten, Green Truck Pub…I could go on and on! Talk to @visitsavannah on Twitter for other suggestions, she’s fantastic.

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8 Sarah May 9, 2011 at 3:26 pm

I also live in Savannah, and wanted to make that exact same comment. Please do not waste your time (or calories) at Paula Deen’s. Mrs. Wilkes’ Boarding House is SO much better! I totally agree with the suggestions. Cha Bella, Local Eleven Ten, for dinner. A wonderful bakery, called Back in the Day Bakery is so charming. A coffee shop that is a must is Gallery Espresso. Zunzi’s has great food too! I could go on and on! Enjoy your time in Savannah.

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9 Rachel May 9, 2011 at 4:17 pm

We really wanted to do Mrs. Wilkes but we’ll be in Savannah on Saturday and they aren’t open!! But I will check out some of these others…thanks, ladies!

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10 Nicole May 9, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Last April/May, we went to Charleston/Savannah for our honeymoon. We did so much and ate so much, too much to recall right now in a comment, but I did blog about it – I think there’s 10 blog posts May 1- 10, 2010 if you want to see what we did, where we ate, what we ate. We had a fabulous time, loved the Southern charm and pace of life, and I definitely urge you to try some shrimp & grits and fried green tomatoes! http://blueeley.blogspot.com/2010/05/honeymoon.html (the first post, day 1 in Savannah)

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11 Suzanne May 9, 2011 at 12:48 pm

I was in Savannah a few years ago and HAD to go to Paula Deen’s restaurant. We stood in line under monsoon rains for probably an hour. The food wasn’t bad, and it’s not even that I wouldn’t eat there again, but of course, your expectations are HUGE. You make yourself believe that it’s going to be the best southern food out there. And, it’s not. Let’s just say that you shouldn’t feel like you missed out if you happen not to go.

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12 Christa May 9, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Sundresses and shirts with tanks for sure. Maybe a couple long sleeve blouses and jeans for night time (it’s still a little cool in the evening). In Savannah you absolutely have to go to Riverstreet. There are amazing bars and shops and great places to eat…there’s a reason the phrase is “I got river-faced on Shit Street”. Savannah Candy Kitchen = Orgy in your mouth. Try Churchill’s Pub. They have a rooftop terrace to sit at as well as a huge drink menu. I agree with the opinion on Paula Deen’s…unless you just want to say hey we went, bypass it. If you really want to go though, tell them you are willing to sit at the bar upstairs; it will cut your wait time tremendously. In Charleston I’m sure you know you are required to have the shrimp and grits at Hominy Grill. BEST. FOOD. EVER. Hit up the market in Charleston as well. Make sure you check out the Battery for great views as well as Rainbow Row. Hope you guys have a fantastic vacation!!!! Can’t wait to hear all about it :)

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13 Christa May 9, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I meant shorts*

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14 Elisabeth May 9, 2011 at 1:04 pm

I live in Atlanta, and it is currently in the humid 80s in this neck of the woods.

As far as Savannah goes, I’m a big fan of the bar food (chicken fingers and fries) at Spanky’s on the Riverwalk. It is maybe the fattiest ever (the fries are also breaded), but it’s totally delicious! Maybe split a basket as a late-night snack?

Also, there is a great Marc Jacobs store downtown. You can check out all his designer stuff, but there’s also a whole section in the front of moderately-priced goods if you’re looking for a fun souvenier. Last time I was there, I scored a fabulous $10 tote.

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15 Rachel May 9, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Oh nice! There was one of those in NYC and it was great for cheap little accessories!! Thanks for the tip!

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16 Elisabeth May 9, 2011 at 1:06 pm

And by Riverwalk, I meant Riverstreet…where open container laws are not in effect.

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17 Rachel May 9, 2011 at 4:18 pm

STFU. WHAT?!

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18 Lauren May 9, 2011 at 9:52 pm

The lack of open container laws apply to all of the historic district, not just River St., meaning as long as your libation is in a plastic cup you’re free to carry it around the city. River St. itself is more of a tourist trap than anything, but worth a quick stroll if you’ve never been to Savannah. Especially for a glass of Chatham Artillery Punch from the Shrimp Factory (you get to keep the glass, order a side of hush puppies while you’re at it) and to watch a barge or two squeeze through the narrow passageway.

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19 Ashley@fromashleywithlove.com May 9, 2011 at 1:08 pm

I wish I was a native of either of the destinations but unfortunately I live in Connecticut! Ha! Have fun though! :) Looking forward to pictures & stories ;)

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20 Elise May 9, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I’m a sucker for this store in Charleston that sells old maps. It’s called Carolina Antique Prints. They’ve got all sorts of other cool stuff – art prints, antique books, and the like – but I’m a SUCKER for maps. It’s just a nice place to duck into while you’re strolling around. http://www.carolinaantiqueprints.com/

My family goes to Folly Beach every year, it’s a little island right outside of Charleston. They have a a ton of cool little restaurants and it has a really laid-back atmosphere. They have a fun event called “Shaggin’ on the Pier” which yes, is ridiculously cheesy sounding, but it’s a lot of fun. They play a lot of fun summery music and there’s lots of alcohol to be had and tasty seafood. I’ve gone and it’s just super happy/alcohol-y/dancey/beachy (without getting all sandy and wet).
http://www.charlestonlowcountry.com/specialpages/moonlightmixers.html

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21 Bess May 9, 2011 at 2:45 pm

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Savannah but I remember having a great breakfast at Clary’s (the diner from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) and doing a fun walking tour of the city.

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22 Margaret May 9, 2011 at 2:54 pm

82 Queen in Charleston is great!! Best she-crab soup in town! The Chart House in Savannah was really good too!

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23 Michelle May 9, 2011 at 3:02 pm

We did the Savannah/Charleston trip one Christmas. So much fun! In Savannah, just get dessert & go to the little shop at Paula Deen’s. We had a group of about 15 & no one LOVED their entrees when we went there. Instead, go to Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room for your southern food fix. It has fried chicken, etc and is served family-style. Take a tour of a few houses in Charleston & Savannah. They’re beautiful. There are some great walking tours in Savannah (& probably Charleston) that you can download on your iPhone. The trolley tours are pretty great too. Have fun!

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24 Stephanie @ LoveLaughterLight May 9, 2011 at 3:38 pm

A friend of mine went to Paula’s restaurant when she was in Savannah and she said the food was good, but you had to wait a while to get in. Seems people are always lined up around the block to eat there.

Have fun on your vacation!

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25 Michael May 9, 2011 at 4:29 pm

We went to Charleston last year to celebrate our 10th anniversary… The city was fantastic, and the food was fantastic-er. My top two places to hit up while you’re there – Baked (coffee and pastry shop – they even make their own marshmallows!) and Magnolias for incredible Southern cooking. Their fried green tomatoes were so good we went back a second time just to have them for lunch.

Have fun!

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26 [SMASH] at Sweat. Style. Swoon. May 9, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Jealous of your upcoming vacay! Sadly I’ve never been there & can’t offer any recommendations. Just stopping by to say yo.

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27 Rachel May 10, 2011 at 9:57 am

Yo yo!

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28 Triz May 9, 2011 at 5:32 pm

I just added you to the Akinator :)

Have fun!

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29 Triz May 10, 2011 at 11:41 pm

Ha, you have now been successfully searched and found a half dozen times! I don’t think I did a great job of the description thing though.

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30 Triz May 11, 2011 at 12:24 am

Also, I just took the picture from your consulting one … you could probably contact them to change all of that. But how fun that people are searching for you!

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31 Rachel May 11, 2011 at 9:36 am

I’m not really familiar with Akinator! I Googled it but explain it to me in your words!!

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32 Triz May 11, 2011 at 11:44 am

It’s this crazy thing that I think is magic, but according to my boyfriend is somehow science. But he has to be wrong! You think of someone, and the genie asks you a series of questions. If it doesn’t get it in three guesses, then you win, and it asks you to tell it who the person is. I’ve searched for random people, like Snoopy, Ben Johnson (the runner) and Eliza Orlins from Survivor, and it got them so fast! It is bizarrely fun.

http://us.akinator.com/

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33 Amy Brock May 9, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Hi there!
So thrilled to hear you’re going to check out both Savannah and Charleston! So much to be explored in both cities, we can say with great authority: Pack comfortable walking shoes!

Here are some suggestions:
Dining in Savannah [Breakfast] Goosefeathers Cafe, B. Matthews, Clary’s Cafe or Huey’s [Lunch] Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room is a must, family-style Southern dining; they serve lunch M-F, it’s cash only and you’ll want to get in line around or before 11 am to get in on the 1st seating. They’ll seat until 2pm or the food runs out – whichever happens first! Other lunch ideas: Soho South Cafe, Green Truck Pub, Wileys BBQ, Olde Pink House, Papillote. [Dinner] (higher-end) Cha Bella, Local 11 Ten, Alligator Soul, Elizabeth on 37th, Circa 1875, Noble Fare. (Casual dinner) Tubby’s Tankhouse (locations on River St. & in charming Thunderbolt), Despositos, Jazz’d Tapas, Crystal Beer Parlor, Sol. If you make it out to Tybee Island, Tybee Social Club, Sundae Cafe and North Beach Grill are wonderful dining options! Dessert or a sweet treat: Try LuLu’s Chocolate Bar and Back in the Day Bakery.

Attractions/Tours: Architectural Tours of Savannah – Jonathan, the guide is a graduate of Savannah College of Art & Design and a local expert on the amazing structures around Savannah. Check out Telfair Academy at Telfair Museum (it’s where “The Bird Girl” is kept). Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, Bonaventure Cemetery, Colonial Park Cemetery and Forsyth Park are cool to see. If you’re wanting to get a good overview of the Historic District, a trolley tour with Old Savannah Tours is a great way to see everything and kind of get the feel for the layout.

Savannah is best explored on foot, as there are so many parks and squares to discover. You’ll find tons of boutiques and shops tucked into unexpected places such as the “Downtown Design District” along Whitaker Street. Some not to be missed shopping stops: shopSCAD, Savannah Bee Co., River Street Sweets, The Book Lady Bookstore…

Hope this helps! Tweet us at @VisitSavannah with any questions/specifics we can help with!

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34 Megan May 9, 2011 at 6:54 pm

I live about 20 minutes from Charleston and my office used to be at 2 Court House Square and later on the corner of King and Queen Streets in downtown Charleston. The Old Slave Market is nice to stroll through but if you plan on buying any sweetgrass baskets you should take a drive down highway 17 north just past Mount Pleasant and you will find vendors on the side of the road with much better prices. There are too many tours to mention but you might enjoy a carriage tour or a harbour cruise. Maybe plan a night time walk on the beach as the weather is really nice here right now (just make sure to check the tide if you got to Folly Beach because the beach pretty much disappears at high tide). All the hotels and restaurants also have brochure stands with lots of tourisy things to do. Enjoy your visit to the Holy City!

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35 Kris G. May 9, 2011 at 8:30 pm

You’ll love Charleston! I live in Columbia but know Charleston well! Here are my recommendations:

Brunch: Joseph’s on Meeting St.

Dinner:
The Fleet Landing: Try the flounder.
Hank’s: Get the grouper and try the she crab soup.
High Cotton
Poogan’s Porch: you can get your fried chicken and it’s haunted supposedly.

Dessert at Kaminsky’s on Market St.

Drinks: We love a rooftop in the south!
Rooftop at Vendue Inn
Rooftop at Grill 225
Southend Brewery

If you want beach time, go to Sullivan’s Island. Eat at Poe’s. Yep, as in Edgar Allan. Close by on Isle of Palms is the Windjammer which is a dirty yet fun bar. Good music lots of times and a porch overlooking the beach. If you want fitness, run along the Battery. Super pretty in the morning.

There are about 8000 other things to do, but Charleston is pretty much about the food and drinks. It will be humid, be warned!

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36 Sarah May 9, 2011 at 9:11 pm

My husband and I vacationed in Savannah last summer and I’ll tell you about our three best meals. One was at the Olde Pink House, which is literally an old pink house with a lot of history. Tip: if you don’t make a reservation, you can tell them you’re willing to be seated in the downstairs bar. We went for an early dinner, 6ish, were seated downstairs and were really happy about it–their bar menu was fantastic and cheaper than the upstairs menu, and it had amazing old haunted mansion atmosphere! I still remember how awesome my meal was (and I’m not even a food blogger)–it was a salad with fried green tomato and something like apple or jicama. Strange, but so good…

Our other awesome meal was lunch at Belford’s in City Market. So fresh, so southern! Beautiful interior, great food, distinctly Savannah vibe.

Then–a MUST!!–Vic’s on the River on River Street. We went there twice because we liked it so much! The food was amazing and their bar upstairs is great too. We watched the sunset over cocktails and made some fun new friends, then returned a few nights later for dinner.

I’d rent Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil if possible while you’re there–it’s an intriguing movie and then you’ll have fun trying to find all the spots from the movie. Forsyth Park was my favorite!

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37 Sarah May 9, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Okay, I re-read my own post on Savannah (://www.bearingeatingbeing.com/2010/07/breaking-into-blossom/) and realized that I forgot to mention one thing we loved–a rooftop bar on River Street located on the top of the Bohemian Hotel. It had stunning views of the bridge and the river, a cool young professionals kicking back vibe, and delicious cocktails.

Aaaaaaaand now I want to go to Savannah. Have so much fun!!

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38 Rachel May 12, 2011 at 10:29 am

Thanks for this!

PS I read Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil in high school and have been enchanted by Savannah ever since!

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39 jessi May 9, 2011 at 9:35 pm

having visited charleston many times i would advise you to be prepared for hot and humid weather. i like to walk around downtown (lots of cool shops/houses to dream of living in one day/restaurants that are incredible) so a sundress and comfy sandals (read: rainbows) are fab for this! you may want to stuff a reusable bag in your purse for purchases. you should DEFINITELY go to “the market” which is a fabulous market place, originally created to sell slaves :( but they have tons of great foodie goodies as well as local crafts and just great things in general. walking around the battery is nice and great for photo ops. also very shady trees in the battery.

as far as savannah, i’ve heard paula deen’s restaurant is to die for and the buffet is worth the splurge. can’t wait to hear all about it!

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40 melissa May 10, 2011 at 4:48 am

I was born and raised in Atlanta and visited Savannah for St.Patty’s Day a few years back. We really stayed on river street and went bar hopping. It’s a BEAUTIFUL city and River street is a must!

As for the weather. Humid. Bring sun dresses and tank tops for sure. :)

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41 Melissa May 10, 2011 at 7:14 am

Echoing what everyone else has said–the line at PD’s looked crazy long and we skipped it without another thought. It’s such a pretty city that you don’t want to waste time in a line! Highly recommend Riverstreet as well . . . cute little markets and booze-ified slurpees (that you can take with you while you walk). What could be better?

I would go for cute summer dresses and sandals. It’s not hella-hot in Virginia yet, but I’m already wearing my dresses every day! Have the best time!

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42 Sarah May 10, 2011 at 7:42 am

Paula Deen’s place is actually pretty cool – definitely a kick. A secret is that if you ask to sit in the upstairs bar area, you get seated RIGHT AWAY- no one knows that! My mom and I arrived at noon, were told there was an hour wait, asked if we could sit in the bar (where there were tables), and were instantly seated! They don’t tell you this, you have to ask!! Also – the Pink House has AMAZING broiled oysters!! Have a blast :)

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43 Nikki May 10, 2011 at 6:54 pm

In Savannah: You will regret it if you miss out on the Crab Shack! NO joke! Where the elite eat in their bare feet! Best seafood in Georgia.

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44 Anna May 10, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Charleston is a great place to visit, and eat! For great seafood try Fleet Landing. If you’re in the mood for something good, but not necessarily southern, there is a great Italian place downtown called Il Cortile Del Re (amazing mushroom ravioli) . There is also a great (but fancy) steakhouse downtown called Grill 225. They also have a rooftop bar, if you’re looking to go out for drinks. Have fun!

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45 Ashley May 11, 2011 at 7:00 am

I forgot to tell you that we are DEFINITELY going to Leopold’s ice cream. It’s probably my favorite place in Savannah.

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46 Shannon May 11, 2011 at 7:37 am

Definitely try the Artillery Punch at the River House Seafood Restaurant (yummy food there too)! It’s on River Street in Savannah. We ended up taking the drink recipe home and we make it for parties :-)

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47 Courtney May 13, 2011 at 7:24 am

We vacation in Charleston every summer (actually Isle of Palms, but whatever) and were married there in 2004. It is my favorite place on earth! If you are okay dropping some money on dinner, you can’t miss the Peninsula Grill. We go every summer and the food is hands-down the best ever and it’s a sin to miss their coconut cake. We also like SNOB downtown, and had our rehearsal dinner at 82 Queen (best pecan pie in town… yeah, I focus on desserts) and loved it. Check out Sullivan’s Island for Poe’s, as someone else already mentioned. Find a rooftop bar downtown one night to hang out and have drinks.

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48 Alice May 16, 2011 at 7:19 am

Skip Paula Deen. Please. Paula Deen =\= real Southern food.

Little Tybee Island is cool. Tybee Island is a beach, at least.

River Street is a trap and overpriced. But you should get a praline from somewhere!

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