Streets lined with Southern Live Oaks draped with Spanish Moss, elegant homes dating back to the 1700’s, and situated in a county with over 650 miles of waterways.
Outdoor activities such as kayaking miles of beautiful marshes that line the barrier islands and fishing with one of the area’s many charter captains are just a couple things you can do. Foodies will be thrilled with the plethora of great restaurants offering nearly any cuisine from traditional low-country favorites to authentic Italian to vegan.
Soak up the sun on Tybee Island, only 20 minutes from downtown Savannah. Explore nearby barrier islands, take a trolley tour through the historic district or visit the countless museums, galleries and shops.
Soak up the sun in the vibrant city of Savannah, set on the uppermost corner of Georgia, and spend an unforgettable and scenic weekend cruising up the southernmost part of South Carolina. Walking around downtown Savannah feels like taking a step back in time. Scattered throughout the city are 22 historic squares, all unique, fully restored and shaded by abundant oak trees covered with swaying Spanish moss. Savannah is known for its lively arts scene and many festivals. Sip locally brewed beer while listening to oompah bands during Oktoberfest (Oct. 4-6), or spot the many famous movie stars and producers who flock to town for the Savannah Film Festival (Oct. 26 to Nov. 2).
If you're ready to shop till you drop, you'll find dozens of fantastic boutiques along Savannah's Broughton Street. If a day of relaxation is what you need, visit the gorgeous beach on nearby Tybee Island. The light station, a historic landmark built in 1732, is one of the few remaining lighthouses still functioning today. For some Southern-style comfort food, stop by Paula Dean's restaurant The Lady & Sons (912-233-2600). With three floors of dining, you'll be sure to snag a table, but first, you must wait outside for the dinner bell to ring. Dock at the world-class Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa (westinsavannah.com, 912-201-2021), within walking distance of downtown.
Head about 20 miles north of Savannah to Hilton Head. This island destination is filled with breathtaking beaches, golf courses galore, and endless amounts of family activities, including bike riding and zip lining. Dock at Harbour Town Yacht Basin (seapinesresort.com, 843-671-2704) or Skull Creek Marina (theskullcreekmarina.com, 843-681-8436) to make the most of your Hilton Head adventure.
For a short day trip from Hilton Head, cruise north up the Beaufort River to the town of Beaufort, the second-oldest city in South Carolina. This charming Southern town has been a popular site for famous movie productions, including Forrest Gump, G.I. Jane, and Something to Talk About. Sail up to Beaufort on the first Friday evening of every month to enjoy live music, crafts for kids and stalls selling locally grown produce in Habersham Marketplace. For a tranquil evening, dock at the Downtown Marina of Beaufort (downtownmarinabeaufort.com, 843-524-4422).
Charleston is just 60-miles north of Hilton Head, along the Atlantic shore. Known as the oldest city in South Carolina, Charleston is packed with traditional Southern charm. Explore historic Boone Hall Plantation, still actively producing crops today. Charleston has an incredible selection of restaurants, from the wellknown Magnolias (843-577-7771), where you can indulge in fried oysters and blackened catfish, to Fig (eatatfig.com, 843-805-5900), a local favorite known for seasonal specialties such as fish stew with white shrimp, mussels, squid and, of course, grits!Dock at Charleston City Marina (megadock.us, 843-723- 5098). If you can, plan to be in town for the Billfishing Tournament ( July 10-13). This is the biggest fishing event in South Carolina you don't want to miss it.
The last 50-mile stretch of the trip brings you to Georgetown. Located on Winyah Bay, Georgetown has one of the largest seaports in South Carolina. Dive in with one of Captain Sandy's tours (843-527-4106). The Georgetown-born historian will help you navigate ghost stories, gators, campfire cooking and a plantation and swamp tour. In the mood for some fresh seafood? Stop at the waterfront River Room Restaurant (843-527-4110) set in the historic J.B. Steele building. To step back in time, visit Mansfield Plantation, a preserved 1,000-acre rice plantation.Tie up at Georgetown Landing Marina (georgetownlandingmarina.com, 843-546-1776) and venture out to explore this area that occupies a unique place in American history.
Whenever we pull into a new port, I always like to learn about the local foods and meet the people at the markets to find out what they're cooking. It's my way of soaking up culture. When we visited Savannah, that meant one main thing: shrimp.
Paul, a local fisherman, agreed to take me out on his shrimp boat so that I could see first hand how the shellfish were caught. It was early morning when we boarded Bo-Nita, his 52-foot trawler. Like most shrimp boats she was rugged and well-worked in appearance, her wooden hull battered from hauling equipment. We cruised along the Wilmington River in the tall marsh grass. Sunlight filtered through the leaves of large oaks, which looked as if they would topple from the weight of Spanish moss hanging from their limbs. A cool breeze blew off the water, rustling the palm fronds and causing me to don my sweater.
"So, you're interested in shrimpin'?" Paul asked as he toured me around. He had the broad physique of a defensive end, and the width of his shoulders showed how physical the work must be.
"I like to know where my food comes from." I said.
"Well, this ain't no grocery store shrimp you'll be seeing here today," he replied.
Bo-Nita's outriggers held the trawls, large bag-like nets that were dragged through the water and scooped up wild Atlantic white shrimp as the boat moved along. Every hour, the nets were reeled in and dumped onto the boat's aft deck. The catch flopped wildly as the crew sprang to work. One man sorted the shrimp into baskets while another rinsed them with fresh water. The third crew member transported them to the hold, where ice was added to keep them fresh. They all worked furiously and finished the task by tossing the by-catch (jellyfish, sand dollars, starfish) back into the water. The extruder gear allowed larger creatures such as dolphins and sea turtles to escape without harm.
A few blue crabs were in the mix that day. They were stored in a separate red bucket. "Dinner tomorrow," one of the men grumbled as he laid out the nets to be lowered back into the water for the cycle to begin again.
Late in the day, the crew took a break. Paul pulled a basket of shrimp from the cold water and waved a rough, thick-fingered hand over the display like Vanna White presenting that day's prizes. "These here shrimp go straight to market," he beamed. He plunged his hand into the pile. Long wisps of their antennas trailed through his fingers. His eyes danced and the sunburnt lines etched in the sides of his face creased deeper. "Today's a good day."
Paul returned to the wheelhouse and picked up the radio to tell the other captains on the water about his catch. Come to find out, fishing wasn't the only important information they regularly shared. "Falcons are down by 12," Paul said into the mike, "they can't keep it together. Looks like you owe me a round of beers."
After signing off, he set a large pot of water on the stove in the galley and sprinkled in Old Bay seasoning. The smells of peppercorns, allspice, and bay leaves wafted through the air. As the water came to a boil, Paul layered ingredients into the pot: first the onions and potatoes, then kielbasa sausage.He returned the lid to the pot and smiled mischievously at me. "Do you like a little heat?"
"Of course," I replied.
Turning back to the pot, Paul added more seasoning and then corn, still on the cob. It wasn't until the last minute that he poured in the shrimp, so that they wouldn't get overcooked."
This is what we eat here in the fall when the shrimp are best," he drawled. "A low-country boil."
Paul piled plates high with corn, sausage, and potatoes for everyone. I took my cue from the others and dolloped a generous amount of cocktail sauce on the side. We sat on Bo-Nita's aft deck among the nets and equipment, and as we tucked into our food, nobody spoke-we were all too busy peeling, dipping, and chewing. As a cook, Paul had a heavy hand with the spices, and all the food had a delicious kick to it. Juices from the kielbasa sausage drizzled down my chin, and the plump shrimp burst in my mouth, exploding with sweet flavor. Paul was right, these weren't like the shrimp I bought in the grocery store. These were moist and firm, and not at all rubbery as cooked shrimp so often are.
As the last of the day's sunlight fell from the sky, I smiled at this grizzly bear of a man and thanked him. I could get used to being docked here in Savannah. Between the food, the scenery, and the characters, everything was peppered with spice. Just the way I liked it.
This is the easiest recipe for a crowd. Everything is boiled in one pot and ready to eat. There are many brands of spice mix to use: Old Savannah Crab and Shrimp Boil, McCormick's, Old Bay, and Zatarain's Crab and Shrimp Boil. Don't be afraid to leave the shells on the shrimp. Peeling them is half the fun. Make sure to put dishes out to collect the shells or place extra newspaper on the table to wrap up the remains afterwards. The condiment to serve this with is cocktail sauce for dipping.
In a large pot bring water, lemons, onions, potatoes, sea salt, and spice mix to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add sausage and corn and simmer another 7 minutes. Add the shrimp and bring back to a boil. Strain. Mix ingredients for cocktail sauce and serve on the side for dipping. Serve with lots of bread and cold beer. Serves 6
The Georgia Coast is the western-most point on the Eastern seaboard and one of the last remaining stretches of pristine marshlands and estuaries left in the U.S. Known as the Jewel of the South, Savannah, Georgia is also the heart of Southern charm. Streets lined with Southern Live Oaks (Quercus virginana) draped with Spanish Moss, elegant homes dating back to the days of General Oglethorpe, the city's founder, and situated in a county with over 650 miles of waterways, there's something for everyone.
Outdoor activities such as kayaking miles of beautiful untouched marshes that line the barrier islands alive with dolphin, great blue heron, bald eagles, snowy egrets, nesting osprey and pelicans. Hire one of the area's many charter captains and spend a morning with lines in the water fishing for species such as flounder, spot-tailed bass and speckled sea trout. You can also utilize one of the area's many fishing piers.
Foodies will be thrilled with the plethora of great restaurants offering nearly any cuisine from traditional low-country favorites such as shrimp and grits or fried green tomatoes to Japanese fusion, authentic Italian to vegan, and everything in between. Whatever you have a hankering for, you'll find it in Savannah.
Savannah has an active and eclectic nightlife. Visit the must-see visitor favorites such as live music outdoors in City Market or the many bars and clubs on the famous River Street. Or for a more local flavor, hang out with the locals and yacht crews at Tubby's Tank House in the nearby village of Thunderbolt or at Doc's Bar on Tybee Island. There is no end to your choices.
If you enjoy stepping back in time, there are several historical forts nearby including Fort Pulaski National Monument and Old Fort Jackson, both with live cannon firings and frequent re-enactments. You'll also find multiple Revolutionary and Civil War markers throughout the area, and the tabby ruin at Wormsloe Plantation is the oldest standing structure in Savannah.
Soak up the sun on Tybee Island, only 20 minutes from downtown and known as Savannah's Beach. Explore nearby barrier islands, roam the eerily beautiful Bonaventure Cemetery or take a trolley tour through the historic district with unlimited on-off stops. Savannah also boasts a number of museums, including the beautiful Ships of the Sea museum and the Telfair museum, as well as countless galleries and shops.Savannah has so much to offer, and you won't find friendlier people anywhere on Earth. Y'all come on down and visit a spell. You won't be disappointed.