Are you new to the 912? Use this cheat sheet to help you navigate the city’s favorite people, places and things.
While known around the world as John Berendt’s “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” Savannahians have shortened our references to “Midnight” or simply “The Book.” However, that doesn’t mean we won’t discuss the captivating story (which spent more than 200 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller List) at length — even 40 years after Jim Williams was first tried for murder. (He was ultimately acquitted). Case in point: Savannah native Dep Kirkland, who served as the chief assistant district attorney at the time of the murder and published his own account of the trials.
Dating back to 1846, this scenic cemetery is best known as the final resting place for famous Savannahians like the music industry legend Johnny Mercer and the original home of the Bird Girl statue, featured on the cover of The Book.
This refers to three educational entities in one, including Telfair Academy (the oldest public art museum in the South), the Jepson Center and Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters. Mary Telfair — daughter of former Georgia Governor Edward Telfair and the founder of the Mary Telfair Hospital for Women (now a part of St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital), among other impressive accomplishments — left her home, art collections and the remainder of her money to establish the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences after she died in 1875. Today, the Bird Girl statue is on display at the Telfair.
The strikingly modern building, opened in 2006, is named for Bob and Alice Jepson who adopted Savannah as their hometown in 1989 and have generously donated not only to the arts, but also to various philanthropic and economic efforts.
The descendants of West and Central Africans who were enslaved and brought to the lower Atlantic states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia to work on the coastal rice, Sea Island cotton and indigo plantations. Because they were isolated on coastal plantations, sea and barrier islands, they were able to retain many of their indigenous African traditions — which are reflected in their foodways, arts and crafts and spiritual traditions. They also created a new language, Gullah, a creole language spoken nowhere else in the world.
Not to be confused with Globe Shoe Company, Savannah’s iconic globe is a 60-foot diameter steel sphere painted to look like planet Earth. Sitting near the corner of White Bluff Road and DeRenne Avenue since the 1950s and counting, the globe has a storied legacy that includes Santa Claus, Girl Scouts and, soon, a Parker’s convenience store, kitchen and gas station, plus a Chick-fil-A and a Starbucks.
You may already know the acronym for Savannah College of Art and Design, but do you know how SCAD came to be? In 1978, the school was founded here and later expanded to additional campuses in Atlanta and Lacoste, France. To learn more, stop by SCADstory — an immersive 4D experience that brings Wallace’s journey to life.
North of Gaston Street. The Garden Club of Savannah hosts its Annual NOGS Tour of Hidden Gardens every April, unlocking the garden gates of selected private gardens and historic gardens for self-guided exploration.
Encompassing neighborhoods of Ardsley Park, Chatham Crescent and Parkside, this picturesque part of town attracts families and young professionals with its early 20th-century craftsmanship and oak-lined avenues. (For more info on surrounding neighborhoods, check out Visit Savannah’s Relocation Guide at savannahchamber.com/relocation.)
CHATHAM ARTILLERY PUNCH
Savannahians past and present have always seen fit to raise their collective spirits through a boozy batch of this punch. The history behind the concoction is a bit hazy, but one indisputable fact is that this drink is wickedly strong, so enjoy it wisely.
Ask for one of these cups at the bar to take your drink along with you, as long as you are within the confines of the Historic District boundaries (River Street to Jones Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to East Broad Street).
Made with crusty French bread, baked chicken, Romaine lettuce, tomato, Zunzi’s sauce and dressing, this popular sandwich can be found at the South African-inspired eatery known as Zunzi’s.
Located next to Zunzibar on Drayton Street is Parker’s Market, a.k.a. Fancy’s Parker’s. While you can still fill your gas tank, just about everything else is unexpected for a convenience store — from imported cheeses to fine wines, and fresh-cut flowers to craft beers — and it’s open 24 hours/7 days a week.
THE BIG PARK
That would be none other than Forsyth Park, a beautiful 30-acre park named for Georgia’s 33rd governor and the site of the city’s most famous fountain. There’s always something happening here, such as the Forsyth Farmers’ Market, a picnic, a pick-up soccer game, an outdoor concert, a birthday party, a marriage proposal or a wedding ceremony.
Download on your phone right now (if you haven’t already). This app is the fastest way to pay for parking Downtown — and add more time if you’re not ready to get back in the car just yet.
J. PARKER LTD.
Originally opened in 1972, J. Parker Ltd. has dressed men (and more recently women) of the Coastal Empire in fancy threads for half a century and counting. (No relation to Parker’s convenience store.)
One of the city’s oldest and most prominent east-west corridors (and routes to Tybee Island), this road is lined with hundreds of palm trees. The first trees were planted in the early 20th century as a military memorial in honor of those who died in World War I. The road, originally named Estill Avenue, also distinguishes the end of the Starland District to its north and Midtown to its south.
THE STARLAND DISTRICT
In 1999, two SCAD grads with degrees in historic preservation embarked on an adventure to revitalize the old Starland Dairy. Today, the funky and fun area is home to beloved independent businesses including Cheryl Day’s famed Back in the Day Bakery, Pizzeria Vittoria and Graveface Records & Curiosities — to name just a few.
In addition to the Starland shop, the Graveface family also includes a small independent label and the adjacent Graveface Arcade. In 2020, owner Ryan Graveface expanded his collection of weird wonders to the Graveface Museum of Oddities at Factors Walk. Enter if you dare.
This could be a reference to the legendary pirate or the Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge — one of Georgia’s barrier islands, which protects the coastline and habitat for a diversity of wildlife, including summertime nesting sea turtles and year-round shorebird activity.
Whether you’re heading out on the water for work or pleasure, checking the tide times (tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov) is an essential part of your regular routine.
The city’s smallest craft brewery, Two Tides is housed in a building dating back to 1910 that originally served as the manager’s residence for the adjacent Starland Dairy, which supplied milk to neighboring residents well through the 1980s.
This community park is a local hotspot for recreation, with available activities ranging from small boat races to pickleball to street hockey to basketball. The Truman Linear Parkway Trail also begins here.
The folk artist whose ubiquitous work — bright colors and bold quotes from familiar faces — can be seen around the city, adorning walls, windows and fences alike with doses of inspiration.
The appropriate greeting when you pass someone wearing Savannah Bananas gear. After all, there is no place else quite like Savannah, and there is no baseball team quite like the Bananas.
WORLD’S BEST BANANA PUDDING
This title proudly belongs to Sweet Potatoes Kitchen following a visit from Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food.”
Savannah’s answer to UberEats and Doordash, this mobile app allows you to place orders for pick up or delivery from favorites like Green Truck Pub, Sentient Bean, Sly’s Burger & Fries and many more.
LEOPOLD’S ICE CREAM
A great day in the 912 often ends with Savannah’s favorite ice cream, owned by local native and Hollywood producer Stratton Leopold.
Special thanks to Polly Powers Stramm for her input. For more fun vernacular, check out Stramm’s book, “Bless Your Heart & Mind Your Mama: Sassy, Sweet and Silly Southernisms.”
What did we miss? Send submissions to [email protected] for a chance to be featured.