City Market and River Street
Two of the main things we wanted to explore were City Market and River Street, which worked out well since several of our tourist trap spots were in both of those places. We explored City Market Friday as we were traveling from square to square and then the girls and I returned Sunday before heading out for a little more investigating in the shops and artists’ studios. What started out in 1985 as the rehabilitation of the four block area has resulted in a must destination for artists, shopping, dining and entertainment fit for locals as well as visitors.
As we crossed through Ellis Square on our way to City Market I was impressed with the how clean and welcoming everything was. Fountains sprayed upward as children ran back and forth playing in the water, families played chess with life-size pieces, and couples lounged on the grounds soaking up the sun. The traffic was barely noticeable as we soaked in the sights, sounds and smells.
City Market caters to just about everyone. There was fancy dining, The Velvet Elvis Lounge Bar, pubs, working art studios, candy stores, eateries, and even my cigar store. I could hang out here all day and have fun.
When we first arrived it was for lunch at Wild Wings and as we browsed the menu we stopped a lady walking by and asked about the Tree House. The first thing I noticed about her was the whiskey she held in her hand. Not a bottle, mind you. Nope, an open glass, or rather plastic cup. “You can get whiskey to go?” I asked.
She smiled and nodded. “Of course. Welcome to Savannah.” I was going to like this place even more now.
The Tree House was a bar and not a restaurant so we passed for now, but not for long. After lunch at Anna’s we then scooted up to the Tree House for an afternoon adult beverage. While we sat on the balcony of this second story bar, drink in hand as well as my cigar from Savannah Cigars, we were able to look down on the streets as those passing by. It was here where I saw the Slow Ride, Savannah’s bar on wheels powered by pedaling people. Basically, it was one giant table surrounded by bicycle pedals that people rode around the city barhopping. Some were even attached to a ghost tour, but the premise was a pub crawl on wheels. Personally, it is way too much work for my booze and on top of it, you have to purchase your own alcohol. It’s not part of the price. I’ll keep my tush on a stationary barstool, thank you.
We walked through some of the artists’ studios, enjoying their creations and even engaging them a bit in conversation. We browsed knickknack stores and a candy store where the taffy was made fresh before our eyes. People wandered around, locals and tourists. Some were signing up for trolley tours and others just enjoying the cool afternoon at City Market. It was an outdoor mall, but better.
Later that night, we ventured down to River Street on our way to dinner and the ghost tour. It was a giant party, people wandering out of one bar and into another, enjoying the dining opportunities available. It had inns and hotels, tourist shops as well as high end stores. There was also plenty of history there and when the girls and I returned Sunday, we visited the Waving Girl, Florence Martus. From 1887 to 1931, Florence took it upon herself to greet the ships that entered the Port of Savannah. By day she waved a handkerchief, which is how she is portrayed in the statue, and by night she waved a lantern. Felix de Weldon was the sculptor.
We also saw the African-American Monument, erected in 2002, depicting a family of four, the chains of slavery at their feet. The inscription on the statue reads, “We were stolen, sold and bought together from the African continent. We got on the slave ships together. We lay back to belly in the holds of the slave ships in each other’s excrement and urine together, sometimes died together, and our lifeless bodies thrown overboard together. Today, we are standing up together, with faith and even some joy,” by Maya Angelou.
River Street is one of history and celebration. There is plenty there to enjoy and explore as paddle boats float back and forth on the river. We’ll have to hop one of those boats on our next visit. It will be nice to step back in time for a bit.
Out of the two, City Market and River Street, I much preferred City Market. River Street was great to experience and I loved being by the water, but City Market had the better atmosphere and welcoming spirit. We will definitely venture back there again.
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