This past weekend Ryan and I went on a whirlwind, two and-a-half day trip to Saint Simons Island and Savannah! It was Ryan’s 25th birthday Saturday and I surprised him with the trip about a week ago- I wanted him to be able to pack accordingly so I gave him about a week or so to prepare, haha! I think this tops the list of my favorite surprises ever, because it ended up being a totally new adventure for us. Plus, we crossed off two places from my Atlanta bucket list!
I had never been to Saint Simons Island before, but I have been to Savannah once in middle school for a Girl Scout trip to visit Julliette Low’s birthplace. I did a lot of planning since I was not familiar with Saint Simons (which honestly wasn’t that much work, it’s a small island, haha!), but hadn’t realized during my research that Savannah is actually on the way there from Atlanta. We actually weren’t planning on going to Savannah at all- but once we realized that the two were essentially next door to each other, we changed our plans. We realized sitting in the car on the way there as Ryan gently commented that my geographical estimations were way off, and decided to add in Savannah to the trip. It worked out well because we have plans to go to Savannah for my birthday in August, but those are tentative due to Ryan’s job, and figured we would combine both weekends into one!
Going to Savannah and Saint Simons in one weekend turned out to be the perfect blend of social & beach relaxing, plus the stop at Savannah on the way in and out broke up the drive. It was a lot to do in two and a half days- writing this I’m now realizing why I was so tired on Monday! We definitely made the most of the weekend and have no regrets, haha. If we go back, we decided we are going to plan the trip this way every time- it was great to have a little bit of both city and beach.
Here’s the full itinerary of what we did in just two-and-a-half days, with no time to spare!
Friday afternoon: Drove from Atlanta to Savannah! The trip was about 4 hours. We left around 3 and showed up just in time for dinner. Ry looked up restaurants in the car and called ahead for a last minute reservation!
Friday dinner: Huey’s on the River
Huey’s is a riverfront restaurant that is known for its classic southern fare. We had the fried green tomatoes, complimentary cornbread, and shrimp and grits (my fav!) and loved them all. In hindsight, it was a little aggressive to eat all of that knowing I had to put on a swim suit the next day, but it was Savannah food to the core and the best way to start off the weekend, haha.
Friday evening: Savannah Waterfront and River Street Sweets
After dinner we walked around with our drinks from dinner (Or I should say I did, I’m a lightweight and drink slow, Ry got another beer just to make the most of Savannah’s open container laws!), and we walked around the riverfront.
There are a ton of cute little shops around, and I made a beeline right to River Street Sweets for my favorite pralines! We were full from dinner (no surprise after listing out everything we just ate) and saved them to eat on the beach the next day, which was the perfect beach treat.
Friday night: Drove to Saint Simons
Saint Simons is about an hour and a half away from Savannah, so we waited and drove around 9 PM, after walking around the riverfront. Originally, I had planned for us to drive straight to Saint Simons from Atlanta- I’m glad we didn’t because I feel like we really made the most of our Friday evening and broke up the drive. If we were to go back and do it again, we might stay the first night in Savannah, but I’m pretty glad we didn’t because we got the drive over with and I wanted to get to the beach early Saturday.
Saturday morning-afternoon: East Beach
I packed lot’s of snacks in the cooler for us on the beach for Saturday, so we went straight to East Beach bright and early! It’s a large beach with plenty of space, gentle waves (at least it was on this day) and sandbars you can wade out to. There are bathrooms, outdoor showers, and it even had a snack bar! We got hot dogs (y’all know me and my hot dogs!) and extra drinks and had the best time relaxing on the beach.
Late Saturday Afternoon: Avenue of Oaks
After we freshened up for the afternoon, we wanted to explore the island and town a little. I had read about the Avenue of Oaks online as a cool picture spot- Saint Simon’s is known for its beautiful oak trees, and this collection is planted beautifully. It’s a quick five minute detour, but worth a stop. We took a few photos and I’m glad we did- I love the way they turned out!
Saturday Evening: Saint Simons lighthouse, Pier, and Pier Village
Pier Village is the main area of Saint Simons with shopping, restaurants, and all the other beach town favorites. We spent some time walking around and shopping, and caught the beginning of the sunset off the pier. I bought a few dresses and browsed for coffee mugs, and we just soaked up that summer beach feeling. We also walked to the lighthouse just to see it- it was nice to walk around and just be in a little beach town!
Saturday Dinner: Porch
I desperately tried to get us a nicer dinner (I read a lot of great things about the Georgia Sea Grill), but totally failed to get us a reservation. So, we ended up at Porch, a popular but casual (you order at the counter) fried chicken restaurant, for dinner…and we loved it. We sat outside under the oak tree and lights, had fresh strawberry frosé, and had some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. I was a little worried that it wouldn’t be great for Ryan’s 25th birthday dinner…but he was adamant that it was perfect. The food was amazing, it had a great local feel, and it was nice to be outside. All in all, a win!
Saturday Dessert: Saint Simons Sweets
We stopped for dessert for ice cream at Saint Simons Sweets- it was no birthday cake, but I got Ry a scoop and I sang to him on the sidewalk while strangers stared at me, ahah! The ice cream was pretty good- I tend to be a tough critic, so it wasn’t my favorite, but I might’ve just been bitter that they were out of White House, my favorite.
Early Sunday Morning: Walk on the beach
Our hotel didn’t have an option for a late checkout, so we opted to make the most of the day by skipping a full “beach day”, and took a nice long walk with our morning coffee instead. We ended up skipping breakfast all together to save time, and just doing coffee- it was the best way to start the day and so peaceful.
Late Sunday Morning: Fort Frederica National Monument & Christ Church
We did a quick stop by the Fort Frederica National Monument and Christ Church after our beach walk. Ryan loves history so he loved the fort- I’ll admit it was pretty neat, but I was more interested in the church, which is full of Christian history and very picturesque! Both were worth the stop and are located right next to each other, which made them quick- we went to both in under an hour.
The fort site has both the remnants of the fort and town from 1736. The fort was founded by James Edward Ogelthorpe, who used it to defend the colonies from Spanish troops. It’s cool to see where the streets used to be (they even have signs up), and the remnants of the old town.
Christ Church was much more interesting to me, as I am fascinated by all things related to historical Christianity! It was the site of John and Charles Wesley, who preached there and later founded the Methodist Church in England. The church that you see is not the original church- the original structure was partially destroyed by Union troops in the civil war, and later rebuilt. There is also a graveyard on site, which houses the graves of a few notable Georgians such as author Eugenia Price.
Sunday lunch: Southern Soul Barbeque
Ryan and I each heard from multiple people that Southern Soul Barbeque is one of the best (if not the best) places for barbeque in the state. It did not disappoint! It was one of the best pulled pork sandwiches I’ve ever had. We waited in line to order for about a half hour, and it was worth every minute. The location is a little divey, but it just adds to the charm. A sweet tea, barbeque, hush puppies, and fries…I will never go to Saint Simons without stopping here, haha!
Sunday Afternoon: Shopping at Savannah City Market, Broughton Street, & The Paris Market
We arrived at Savannah Sunday afternoon around 2 PM with the whole day unplanned- we did a little research in the car and went straight to the City Market. They had live music, shops open, and we ended up wandering around and shopping our way all the way down the boutiques on Broughton Street, which is known for its boutiques. Of course, I bought a coffee mug to add to my travel collection! My favorite store was The Paris Market- it was fun to look at all the things inside and felt like a trip to Paris itself. It’s a fun, unique store that also has a cafe with croissants and coffees.
Sunday Late Afternoon: Savannah Sights: Chippewa Square, Juliette Low Birthplace, Riverfront Shops
We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering to a few of the Savannah “classics”- we didn’t go to all of them, but hit a few of the highlights- Ryan wanted to see the famous Forrest Gump bench location at Chippewa Square (we were sad to discover the bench was a prop and not actually there, haha). We also stopped at the nearby Juliette Low birthplace- I’m a proud Girl Scout that made it from start to finish and earned all three awards!- and I took my obligatory scout photo. Then, we ended up back at the riverfront shops! It was fun to just wander around a bit- we were very relaxed, haha (there may have been open container beverages involved).
Sunday Late(r) Afternoon: Treylor Park
A shopkeeper at a boutique recommended Treylor Park as a fun bar and we stopped for a drink and snack. It’s a trendy bar with outdoor seating and simple southern food and great drinks. Also, the menu is funny- as in, we ordered popcorn shrimp and it arrived…on a bed of popcorn, haha! It was a great place to stop for a quick drink and a place to rest our feet before walking around some more.
Sunday Dinner: The Grove
We ended our evening at the Grove for a quick rooftop dinner. It was a fun spot and good for a few appetizers as a light dinner before the long drive- the view was pretty nice, but I think I would try another place next time. It was close to the city market which was convenient, but there was smoking allowed on the roof, which really upset my throat. The food was good, but the smoking ruined the whole experience for me.
So that’s our whirlwind coastal weekend…I’m realizing now why I am so tired and my credit card bill is so high, haha! We definitely had fun and did a lot, and I’m so happy we were able to do so much.
Of course, there were a few things we missed- here’s what I would do next time we went:
- Other Islands: Cumberland, Tybee, and Jekyll Island- I really wanted to see Jekyll (especially Driftwood Beach!) but ultimately we couldn’t in such a short amount of time and chose more time in Savannah.
- Savannah Food and Drink Spots: The Pink House- this was my first choice for dinner but we ate too early due to our drive. I also wanted to stop by the Little Duck Diner and a few other bars- the Grey Diner Bar, The Wyld Dock Bar, Jen’s and Friends, Rocks on the Roof…so many great choices!
- Savannah Sights: Forsyth Park, Bonaventure Cemetery, Wormsloe Historic Site
All in all, we had a great time! I’m so happy we managed to pack everything into such a short trip. Let me know if you’ve gone to any of these places, or recommendations of your own, in the comments!