Southern Charm in Savannah, Georgia

At least twice a year, Kevin and I like to take a trip down to Savannah. It is only 2 hours away- so close that we don’t even have to get a hotel room. The first time we went a few years ago, we stayed for the weekend, but have since learned that we can get in pretty much everything we want to do in a day. Since something might be keeping us from doing much traveling in the near future, we thought we should take advantage of the beautiful weekend and take a day trip to Savannah.

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Our trips always start here. The Sentient Bean is an organic coffee shop at the end of Forsyth Park, and for some reason we always manage to find the exact same (free!) parking spot along the park. We love to grab a coffee and a scone or other treat (this time it was a chocolate croissant, which I ate too quickly to get a photo of), and then take a walk through the park.

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Forsyth Park is hands down our favorite part of Savannah. It’s huge and charming and beautiful. There are large grassy areas, winding paths through flowering bushes, and old fountains. And so many families running around, playing frisbee with their dogs or just soaking in the sun. Before, when we came to this park, we always noticed all of the couples and their happy dogs. This time, we noticed all of the children. I pointed out a toddler lying on the grass next to her baby sister, giggling as she blew raspberries on her sister’s sweet round pot belly. Kevin saw the little boy, newly accustomed to walking, tottering toward the swings as his father tried to keep up.

Penny is going to love this park.

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Our second favorite thing about Savannah are all of the squares. If you walk from one end of downtown to the other, you will walk through several squares, or parks, along the way. They show up every few blocks, and really add to the charm of the city. I wished we could sit and take in each one, but we had some shopping (and eating!) to do.

Our next stop was to visit my sister’s good friend Tracy’s new vintage and handmade clothing shop, Ollie Otson. She has done a great job, and has some amazing inventory at very reasonable prices. You can check out her blog at www.ollie-otson.blogspot.com. We found it right in the heart of the city, on the third floor of a very old building. Her shop was so cute, and I could have done some serious damage had I been able to fit into any of the adorable clothes.

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Penny was letting me know she was hungry by that point, so we headed over to Papilotte, a french cafe with amazing food. Kevin always gets the same thing (an open-faced sandwich with crab, grapefruit and avocado on homemade brioche) but I tried something new- a goat cheese, spinach and tomato pie. It was delicious, and exactly what I was craving.

After a very satisfying lunch, we did some shopping. We got a few things for ourselves, but the day was mostly about finding things for Penny. Some of our favorite purchases:

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Her first bathing suit! We heard in a documentary that babies instinctively know how to swim from birth, but forget how if they are not exposed to swimming early on in life. Kevin and I were both terrified of learning how to swim when we were kids, and learned a lot later than we should have as a result. Our plan is to get Penelope into the water as soon as possible and as often as possible.

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I found a copy of “Gone with the Wind” from 1964 in the basement of this really great used bookstore, The Book Lady. I could tell as soon as I walked in that I was going to love this place. A musty smell greeted me as soon as I walked in (a smell that any true lover of books inhales deeply), and among the piles of old books were velvet wingback chairs and a sooty brick fireplace. I could have spent all day there. But once I found “Gone with the Wind,” I was set. I read Margaret Mitchell’s book last summer when I happened to see it on a shelf in the library, and devoured it so quickly that I didn’t even accrue any late fees (quite an accomplishment as it is almost 1,000 pages). It was one of the best books I have ever read. I absolutely loved it. It gave me a whole new appreciation for the south, and is full of so many great characters.

If she is anything like her parents, Penny is going to adore reading. I imagine her reading this exact copy of “Gone with the Wind” one day, and finding Scarlett and Rhett both frustrating and endearing at the same time. I hope that she will love that she lives in a city that is part of one of the greatest classics of all time.

We love going to Savannah. We love it because of the strange mix of eclectic and art and antebellum charm. The art school and students make it feel edgy and new amid all of the old. And we love it because it gives us the chance to feel as though we have gotten away and recharged, even if only for a day. But we also love Savannah because it makes us love Charleston even more. Something about traveling always makes you appreciate home. As we headed back home that night, feet aching and a chill creeping back into the air, I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite quotes from Rhett Butler at the end of the novel:

“I’m going back to Charleston, back where I belong.”