Secrets to Savannah: Summer Edition
Updated: 6 days ago
Savannah is a charming city - full of natural & architectural beauty, rich history, outdoorsy escapes, & enjoyable adventures for everyone. But sometimes it can be hard to know where to find your ideal experience in Savannah. There’s so much to do that sifting through it all can be overwhelming, & yet another thing to juggle if you’re one of the many military families who just PCS’d to Savannah. Not only that, but there are some hidden gems that can only be accessed if you have local, under-the-radar info. That’s what this post is for! Whether you’re a new military family at Hunter Army Airfield or Fort Stewart, or just wanting to explore Savannah this summer, keep reading & let’s see if we’ve got something for you to enjoy.
If you enjoy ANY of the following: sports, family-friendly entertainment, delicious drinks, dancing, laughing, fun mascots & merch - you will love a Savannah Bananas game. The Savannah Bananas are arguably the most fun sports team out there. Most don’t even think of them as a sports team - yes, they play quality baseball. But from the ticket-scanning “Scanner Nanners” to the players’ choreographed dances between innings to the elderly dance team “Banana Nanas,” everything the Bananas do make the games feel closer to a circus. Here are our tips for you if this sounds like your thing:
a. Their season is about 30 home games from the end of May through the end of August & usually sells out by mid-June. As I write this, there are no tickets left for any June games, & only a handful left for July & August that will go on sale June 8th. If you want first dibs on these, sign up for their priority list & keep your eye on your email (including the spam folder). You can buy tickets right on their website - no fees or taxes, just $18. If you find a website selling them for much more, it’s likely a scam. By the way - kids (“little Bananas”) 3 years old & younger do not need a ticket & will get in for free, & everyone in the stadium gets access to an all-you-can-eat menu of cheeseburgers, hamburgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers, water, soda, chips, & cookies.
b. If you’re there to drink, get tickets to a Thursday game if any are available - they have $5 25oz beers on Thursday games only. The best place for a great scenic view & good drinks is going to be Top Deck. Ask any friendly face in a yellow “Fans First Teammate” shirt & they can point you in the right direction.
c. If you’re reading this just a smidge too late & there are no tickets available on their website, don’t fret yet! Check facebook - marketplace, Bananas fan groups, local nonprofits, etc. People often try to sell their tickets through various places on facebook if they can’t make it last minute or they bought a season ticket & can’t make it to every game.
d. If all else fails, sign up for the Bananas’ Waitlist & keep an eye out for your chance to buy tickets next season (likely in early April) - being on this list will also get you first access to any off-season game tickets, like their Thanksgiving game & spring series games. They also have a way to watch & engage with every single game online through a $5/month facebook subscription called Bananas Insiders - a great option for those who would prefer to watch from the comfort of their couch (& A/C).
e. If you’re a military family & you are lucky enough to snag tickets to a game, go to the fan services booth right inside the main entrance & let them know you’re military - you will likely get some kind of unique, military-only Bananas gift!
2. Local parks
Savannah is a rather spread-out city, which leaves lots of room for greenery & pockets of nature that leave you feeling like you’re hours from any town or city. Downtown, you’ll find 22 squares that act as places to rest & to immerse yourself in a moment of history or priceless art. Originally, the idea of having these park “squares” was to help create a classless agrarian society. T
hey also helped make the city more walkable & helped with traffic, so they're a win in our book!
Looking for the bench spot from Forrest Gump? Head to the north end of Chippawa Square & you’ll find where it was in the movie (the actual bench is now in the Savannah Historical Museum). Our personal opinion - the area looks like most of the other squares. But considering it’s an open area & there’s not much to look at, it’s usually not overly crowded & you could absolutely get a picture & pretend to be Forrest for a moment.
For a shorter walk, you can head to the famous Forsyth Park. Built by the engineer of Central Park in NYC, it’s pretty & not unlike most city parks you’ve probably seen - lots of activity, photo shoots, pickup sports, & dog meetups. On Saturday mornings, there is a farmer’s market that is full of local, homegrown/homemade goods that will be sure to put a smile on your face & in your belly. Be prepared for a crowd if you go, but we promise it’s worth it. The park is almost a mile around, with a few coffee shops & places to eat within a block around the park. While you could walk to Forsythe from the squares & more central downtown area, plug it into your phone’s map & make sure you’re up for the walk before committing. (Especially in the heat!)
If you really want to get away, explore nature trails, & go bird watching, drive out to Skidaway Island State Park! This park is fairly popular with locals, so expect to say hi to plenty of people (& dogs) if it’s a nice weekend day. If you’re a military family looking for activities to fill up summer days, this place is great for kids of all ages - little ones love the playgrounds throughout the park, & older ones would love to hike to the marshland vantage points. It’s only $5 to get in for the day, & they have miles of trails to pick from. One of the marshland vantage spots is the observation tower off the Big Ferry trail. The other is off of the Sandpiper Trail heading into the Avian Loop Trail. All the trails are loops, so you can let yourself get “lost”, follow the trail, & focus on the beauty.
Pro tip: bring bug spray (any time of day) & be mindful that the trails may be muddy & you may be forced to walk through some puddles if it’s rained there the past few days. If you take your pups, they usually have some doggie bags & trash cans at the trail entrances, & you’ll need to keep them leashed to respect others enjoying the trails. As always, remember to hydrate! Yourself & your kids, & your pup - bring an expandable bowl so they can have a drink before hopping back in the car.
3. The beach!
Tybee is of course the first beach to come to mind when thinking about Savannah & a beach day trip. From downtown Savannah, a drive to Tybee during slower parts of the day could be as little as 45 minutes. Tybee island has few roads for lots of summer vacationers, so the island itself always has pretty bad traffic in the summer & will take you longer to get to the south end. If you head to the beach around 8-11am, expect the trip to be anywhere from 60-90 minutes with more time to find parking.
In our opinion, Tybee is best enjoyed when you leave super early in the morning or in the afternoon - consider catching a sunrise or sunset, or both! (Just be sure to google the sunrise/sunset times & be early - Tybee sunsets can start 30 minutes earlier than what google tells us.) If you’re on Tybee, we highly recommend AJ’s Dockside restaurant for a sunset view. Remember to bring bug spray & cover up as much skin as you can - depending on the wind, bugs can be really bad by the beach at night. Getting to Tybee is much easier if you have friends staying on Tybee with a parking spot for you.
Otherwise, you might be better off heading to Hilton Head. Hilton Head Island is about a 60-minute drive, although more miles from Savannah than Tybee. It also allows dogs before 10am & after 5pm from memorial day through labor day. If you want another pet-friendly beach option, think about driving 2 hours to Jekyll beach. Jekyll allows dogs at any time on most of their beaches so long as they’re on a leash & you clean up after them.
4. Eating & Drinking
You’ll find lots of places to eat & drink in Savannah. After all, we’re a city & we’re in the south, so we like good food! But here are some recommendations you may not find online - we find most people aren’t aware of these & they are worthy of the fame lots of others in Savannah get:
a. Corleone’s (Italian) - Everything there is phenomenal! Just make a reservation a day or two in advance. It’s one of those places you could dress up for a classy date night, or just go in your “I spent all day exploring Savannah in the middle of July” clothes. Their atmosphere feels like Italy, & they have lots of great wine selections. Cost is pretty middle-of-the-road - it could be anywhere from $10/head to $60/head depending on appetizers (get the bruschetta!), drinks, entrée choice, & dessert.
b. Zunzi’s (sandwiches, South African cuisine) - If you’re not an adventurous eater, don’t be afraid of this place. They let you know in the menu what’s spicy, & they have the best sandwiches we’ve ever had. Be sure to try their tea! Tastes like peach sweet tea but better. I always get their award-winning Conquistador sandwich & put both the sauce & dressing on it before digging in. (Side note - I’m a complete wimp when it comes to spicy foods, so here is your assurance if you’re like me - it’s not spicy.) The place is very casual. If you have kids, the food may not be the best for picky eaters & Zunzi’s claim to fame is their slogan, “Shit Yeah!”
c. Starland Yard (Drinks, pizza, & food trucks) - This is a great open-air space made from shipping containers. It’s in a really fun part of Savannah called the Starland District, where you can find tons of Victorian style homes, lots of bright colors, & more eclectic, artsy shops. Starland yard has a full bar, pizza/Italian place, & areas to relax, play games, & enjoy live music or trivia. They also have 1-2 different food trucks at any given time - check their social media to find which ones will be in & when so you can catch the one that sounds best. The pizza is awesome, dogs are welcome, & it’s extremely family-friendly with all the open space to play. One note - they close earlier than you’d expect, especially on weekends (10pm). If you want to grab dinner at Starland Yard & keep the games (& drinks) going afterward, hop next door to
Two Tides Brewing - they have great craft beer & tons of board games. Pro tip for Two Tides - if you want to hang outside, they have porches with tables & chairs - just climb through the open windows (don’t worry, they’re big windows) in the rooms behind the bar.
d. Hop Atomica (Pizza) - Similar vibe to Starland Yard, this place is in a parallel part of town that is just beginning its journey from drab to fab. It’s a brick & mortar but also has a large outdoor space with games & plenty of room to spread out. The inside has some cool artwork & a bar. We’re in love with the aesthetic - simple, pretty & modern. (And their pizza is hands-down the best our Philly-raised office manager has had in Savannah.) Highly recommend if you enjoy wood-fired pizza!
e. Leopold’s (Ice Cream) - But you’ve definitely already heard of this one, & we’re trying to give you tips you won’t find on all the usual posts. Yes, Leopold’s is worth the wait. But no, you don’t need to wait. If you’re willing to sacrifice seeing the inside of Leopold’s (which is kinda cool - feels like an oldies ice cream shop) & are cool with getting your ice cream in a tub instead of a cup or cone with toppings, go to Auspicious Baking Co. They’re open 8a-3p Friday, Saturday, & Sunday. You can grab Leopold’s ice cream in single-serve or pint-sized tubs just inside the entrance. (The ice cream is pricey, but not anymore so than if you waited in line at Leopold’s, so go with the pint-size.)
Bonus - Auspicious is the best bakery in town, known for their unique, delicious sweet & savory treats baked from scratch. So you can pick up your ice cream & your breakfast or lunch all at once with much less of a wait than going to Leopold’s shop. Auspicious’s bakery menu does change each day, so look at their social media if you want a sneak peak of their yummy options before heading there. (Note: Cutter’s Point Coffee is a way-underrated coffee shop right across from Auspicious. They're not super well-known due to the location being technically just outside Savannah in “Sandfly.” But it’s an easy 10-minute drive from downtown Savannah & they have phenomenal coffee to go with your Auspicious baked goods & your tub of Leopold’s.)
What’s important to keep in mind being in Savannah during the summer is the heat - if you’re doing anything outside, be sure to dress in breathable clothing, have your sweat-proof sunscreen on hand, & lots of water (or sweet tea) to keep you feeling your best throughout the day. (However, if you came from New Hampshire like me, where not many places even have air conditioning, note that you will ~freeze~ when you’re in any indoor facility. We use A/C like our only job is to cool off the devil, so keep a sweatshirt or jacket in the car if you plan to eat indoors, & layer up if you’re going to be spending the day inside.)
At the end of the day, if you’re looking for history or if you’re a foodie, most anything you find online will be the real deal & will be an awesome adventure. After all, what’s not to love about Savannah?? But if you like the more off-the-beaten-path activities like nature trails, spots that your pets &/or kids will love, & places to eat that aren’t all over the internet (yet), we hope this provides some insight! Savannah’s local businesses are special, even if they haven’t been widely discovered. We’ve got lots more recommendations & tips that seemed too niche for this post, so please let us know what you’d like to know more about or if there are any specific recommendations we can help you out with!