#lifewithteamrickards : top 10 things to do in savannah

I always have so much fun sharing personal posts with y’all, but it can also be a little challenging because I don’t want to over-share and bore you to death!  We did so many fun things in Savannah (and ate at SO. MANY. amazing restaurants) that there’s just no way I could give you a play-by-play rundown of our trip chronologically without it getting monotonous (“and then we ate here, and then we had coffee here, and then we ate here…” haha!).  So instead, I decided to share our top 10 things to do in Savannah – aka the 10 best experiences that stole our hearts and made us fall in love with this enchanting city.

First, though, my disclaimer.  We’re totally not travel bloggers.  We’re not party animals (so we were indifferent to the legality of carrying adult beverages through the streets) and we’re not ghost-chasers (so I won’t be able to tell you which ghost tour was the creepiest).  BUT we sure do love some delicious food + good local coffee shops, an entertaining history lesson, and getting acquainted with new places in a personal way.  And we get super excited about beautiful old architecture and 100-year-old live oaks draped in spanish moss.  (OK, maybe I get a little more excited about those last two things than Jason does.)  So if you love meeting new places, wandering beautiful historic streets hand-in-hand, finding unique and memorable culinary experiences, and soaking up all the classic southern charm (and spanish-moss-covered live oaks) you could dream of, then I can promise you Savannah is a city you’ll want to meet!  And I hope this humble little post gives you some helpful tips & inspiration for when you get the opportunity to fall in love with this enchanting city for yourself!

So, without further adieu, here are our top 10 recommendations of the best experiences in lovely Savannah, Georgia:

1. Stay in an Airbnb, in the historic district.

Specifically, if the Marmaduke Carriage House (or any of Cindy’s “Marmaduke” properties) are available for your dates – STAY THERE!  You will not be disappointed.  Jason and I are huge fans of staying Airbnb anyways (there’s no better way to feel like a local!), but I just cannot say enough good things about our experience in the Marmaduke Carriage House!  I am 100% certain that a large part of why we loved our experience in Savannah so much is because we stayed here.

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First of all, the location could. not. be. better.  We were almost dead-center in the historic district, so literally any destination in the historic district was less than a 15-minute walk from our accommodations.  Cindy (our Airbnb host) is a local and was able to answer all of our questions and even provide some restaurant and sightseeing recommendations that we were so grateful for!  Lastly (but oh-so-important), the unit itself was as clean and tastefully decorated as any top-rated hotel, with infinitely more character (and at a better price point) than you would find in a hotel.

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(I was especially obsessed with the weathered, wide-planked wood floors.  No faux distressed finish here – these gorgeous floors were the real deal.  GAH!)

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2. Go ahead and be a tourist for a day (minus the fanny pack). Do the on/off trolley tour.

There are a couple of trolley tour companies, but (at Cindy’s recommendation!) we went with Old Savannah Tours and we absolutely loved it!  We did the on/off option, which I think is only $6 more per person than the basic tour, and in our opinion, it was 100% worth it.  When you do the on/off option, you can ride the trolley as many times that day as you want to, and you can get off and back on at any of the trolley stops throughout the day.  Definitely the best way to get your bearings and make some mental notes (or real notes, on the handy-dandy map the tour company gives you) of where you might want to stop and spend more time during the rest of your visit.  We learned a ton about the history of Savannah from our various tour guides – and they all put their own flavor on the history and the tour routes, which made jumping on and off that much more interesting!

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(Also, if you’ll be spending more than one day in Savannah – which, by the way, you definitely should do – and you purchase your on/off tickets after 2pm on your first day, the tour company will extend them through the full next day at no additional cost.  #winning)

3. This one’s our top choice for our fellow foodies: have dinner at Alligator Soul.

And make reservations because, friends, this is legitimately one of the best places to eat in Savannah – and people know it.  In my opinion, it has a bit of a speakeasy feel with its main entrance below ground level, a dramatic bar area that steals the focus of the room, and a collection of various jazz instruments mounted on the exposed brick walls.  It’s a fine dining experience with a seasonal menu of fresh, farm-to-table food that is absolutely delicious.  If you appreciate expertly prepared farm-to-table menus with a creative flair, I’m confident you’ll love Alligator Soul as much as we did.

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You know we love a good charcuterie board… check out the bone marrow (on the left)!

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best Ahi tuna steak I’ve ever had…

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4. Get a scoop of Leopold’s ice cream.

Specifically, Jason & I would recommend the honey almond & cream.  And I would also recommend that you get it as a Caffe Leopold, aka with a shot of espresso poured over your ice cream.  because Y’ALL.  New favorite dessert E-V-E-R.  The ice cream cools (and sweetens) the espresso, so after you’ve spooned the ice cream out, you can sip the remaining iced + sweetened espresso and wonder why on earth you don’t have one of these every single day of your life.  for reals.

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5. Pick up a handful of unique tea or spice blends from The Spice & Tea Exchange.

OK, I realize this franchise is not unique to Savannah.  BUT if you come from a small town like ours that is hundreds of miles away from the nearest Spice & Tea Exchange storefront, it’s totally worth popping in here!  They have SO many of their proprietary spice and tea blends on display and they allow you to open them up and have a little sniff before you make a purchase, so you can be confident you’ll like the blends you choose!  If you have a chef in your house, take them here.  We definitely spent a while in this store and I think Jason bought at least five different spice blends.

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6. This one’s for my fellow spanish moss lovers. Take a 10-minute drive out to the Wormsloe Historic Site JUST for the breathtaking tree-lined drive.

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And ooh and aah (and dream of coming home to an entrance like this one day), and take all the photos your little spanish-moss-loving heart desires.  And definitely donate a few dollars for upkeep of the facility, but we wouldn’t necessarily recommend paying the $10/person admission fee to see the rest of the site – unless you’re really into marsh vegetation and the crumbling remains of a really old house foundation.  Honestly, we both felt like after this stunning view, the rest of the site was a little underwhelming.  (Don’t judge.)

But this view, though.  Totally worth the short drive out there, in my opinion!  It’s the stuff my southern-plantation-inspired future home dreams are made of.

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(Special thanks to the other couple who happened to be visiting at the same time as us and who were OK with a quick camera-swap so we could get a cute photo under this moss!)

7. Make the 30-minute drive to Tybee Island for dinner at Tybee Island Fish Camp.

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And don’t let the exterior of the building scare you off!  It doesn’t have much going for it on the outside (although they do have a super cute deck area with outdoor seating and string lights!), but the atmosphere inside is fantastic.  The dining room is intimate and strikes a surprisingly chic balance between coastal and modern décor.  And the food is phenomenal!  I think we both would recommend the seafood risotto, but truthfully, everything on the menu sounded amazing and everything we ordered was delicious.

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(Aaand you’ll be less than a mile from the Atlantic coast – so if sunset beach strolls are your jam, you could totally make that happen before or after dinner if you time it right!)

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8. Take a stroll down Broughton Street and stop in The Paris Market.

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And ladies, leave your wallets in your hubby’s hands.  Because I can promise you’ll want to buy #allthethings.  From proprietary scented candles and beauty products to stunning French country-inspired home décor, it’s all dainty and pretty and arranged oh-so-perfectly.  And 99% of it was decidedly beyond what my budget would allow; however, I did indulge in a couple of French macarons and a cold brew (coffee) that was absolutely heavenly.  For real, stop here – even if it’s just for the cold brew and a little window shopping.  It’s totally worth it.

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Basically the best spot ever to sit and enjoy a good cold brew!

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9. Taste all the honey at Savannah Bee Company.

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I mean it.  They offer tastings of all of their different varieties, much like you might see at a winery or a brewery, and believe it or not, every different variety really does have its own unique flavor profile – and it’s so much fun to discover each one!  Jason is a bit of a honey connoisseur, so we knew ahead of time that this would be a necessary stop for us and it did not disappoint!  We use honey (instead of sugar) to sweeten our coffee at home, and we also love to whip up a quick meat & cheese platter for a weekend snack and frankly, it’s just not complete without a little honey to spread on our favorite sharp cheddar.  Our favorites from Savannah Bee Co. were the Tupelo and the Sourwood but everything we tried was delicious!

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10. Make it a point to spend some time wandering on foot.

I realize this one might sound unimaginative, but I’m serious.  It 100% deserves its own spot on the top 10 list.  Block off one afternoon just to wander around the historic district on foot with no real destination in mind.  This city has so much charm and character around every corner, and I promise you’ll want to see as much of it as you possibly can!  Each of its 22 squares (basically mini-parks all over the historic district) are surrounded by beautiful old homes and Spanish-moss-covered live oaks.  And they’ll all take your breath away.  As will the fountain at Forsyth Park.

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And if you need a break from #allthewalking, find the nearest local coffee shop (there are SO many good ones!), grab a cold brew, and enjoy it on a park bench in the nearest square.  Y’all, for real, you can’t go wrong with this plan.

Bonus Restaurant Recommendations (because I just can’t help myself):

If you’ve already made your reservations at Alligator Soul and Tybee Island Fish Camp and you still have open evenings, don’t worry.  I’ve got you covered.  A.lure was another of our most notable dinners, with creative dishes and a modern, sophisticated atmosphere.  If you’re feeling less adventurous, The Pink House is a great option with a more traditional menu and fine dining atmosphere in one of the historic homes in the city.  And for breakfast (arguably my favorite meal of the day), you can’t go wrong with either B.Matthews or The Collins Quarter – if you’re like me and you love a fancy espresso beverage with your breakfast, The Collins Quarter will most definitely be your jam.

So, there you have it – the 10 experiences (plus a few bonus restaurant recommendations) that most contributed to our romance with this enchanting city!  Y’all are the best for sticking through this whole post with me!  I hope you enjoyed it – and, if you haven’t ever visited Savannah, I hope you get to visit soon!  (And feel free to pin this post so it’s handy when you do go!)

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schroeder family {blacksburg, va lifestyle session}

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Y’all, I just adore this little family!  And I’m so honored that I was able to photograph a newborn session for them last year and now a family session (with a few one-year photos of miss Avery!) this year.  I know I say this all the time, but it truly is such a joy for me to capture many different seasons of life for the same couple or family.  It’s how my clients turn into friends, and that’s one of the sweetest perks of this job.  😉

Daniel and Monica went from being high school sweethearts to husband and wife, and then they became a family when miss Avery Claire arrived last November.  It’s always so sweet to watch a mom and dad interact with their littles, and work together as a team to make sure everyone is taken care of.  Monica is one of those amazing mamas who manages to think of everything (like making adorable onesies with the word “one” on the front in sparkly gold script!) and Daniel is always ready and willing to do whatever he can to make the most of their session (like pushing the stroller loaded with #allthethings up and down a million hills! haha!) and the results are always SO worth it – as you’re about to see for yourself!  Enjoy my favorites from the Schroeder family’s session at Heritage Park in Blacksburg!

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Seriously, how adorable is Avery’s outfit?!

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Do you see what I mean when I say Monica has thought of everything?  Down to the confetti balloons that coordinated with Avery’s birthday outfit!!!

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Then we switched things up and took advantage of the gorgeous mountain views that Heritage Park has to offer!

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Y’all, this next image.  I’m a little obsessed with it.  Monica, you are gorgeous, and I love this sweet moment with your baby girl!

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LOVE this romantic moment!

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I couldn’t resist including this shot on the right … because sometimes this is real life with a one-year-old, am I right?!  (In Avery’s defense, this was the only breakdown she had and I’m pretty sure she recovered in about 30 seconds!  haha!)

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Another super sweet shot of these two … ❤

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And I’ve saved one of my favorites for last – I love how natural and joyful this little moment feels!

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Monica, Daniel, thank you again for trusting me with these moments.  I hope y’all love these images as much as I do and that they always remind you of the sweetest parts of this season in your lives!

Big hugs to all three of you!!

savannah & matt {sweetheart session}

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Savannah and Matt have been dating for several years now, but didn’t have any professional photos together and they decided this was the year to do it!  We met up at Claytor Lake State Park (one of my favorite places to spend a summer afternoon!), found some pretty, tucked-away little spots to shoot at during the first part of our session, and then ended on the sand right in front of the water!  They brought their shelty pup, Madeye, who (of course!) made quite a few appearances throughout our session!  Have I mentioned that I love including fur babies in sessions?  😉  Partly because I just love dogs, but also because those moments always end up being some of the most treasured images from the session!  Our pets hold such a special place in our hearts, and I’m all about making special memories with them!

Before I get to rambling, how about I share some of my favorite images from Savannah & Matt’s session with y’all?  😉

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How adorable is Savannah in this next shot on the right?!  I love it.

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This next one on the right is one of my FAVES!  I can’t help but smile along with these two every time I see it. 😉

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We had an uncharacteristically warm October day for our session, so they were able to kick those shoes off and take a barefoot stroll through the sand …

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Also, have you ever tried to snuggle up close on a floating boat dock?  Not easy.  These two were troopers!  Haha!

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This next one is another of my faves!!  I asked Matt to twirl Savannah and after he twirled her, he brought her in close for a little kiss!

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And they did some slow dancing and snuggling by the water!  😉

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This next one is definitely another fave!  Such a sweet little moment!

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I’ll end with two more of my FAVES!  I’m basically obsessed with this shot on the left (all the heart eyes!), and then I love how perfectly Madeye sat and looked right at the camera for the shot on the right!

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Savannah, Matt, thank you for trusting me to capture this season for y’all!  I hope these images always bring back the best feelings from this time in your lives!  🙂

Big hugs!

ashley & ricky {sweetheart mini-session}

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Y’all.  I can’t even tell you how warm & fuzzy my little heart feels when I look at these images.  One of the most special things I get to do as a photographer is capture moments for the people closest to me (like my cousin’s wedding last year, my brother-in-law’s wedding this spring, and my sister-in-law’s family session this summer!).  Ricky and Ashley didn’t ask me to shoot an actual session for them – they just wanted a handful of images because they didn’t have any professional photos of the two of them together.  But let’s be honest, when you’re a portrait & wedding photographer (and photographing couples is your JAM) and your only sibling asks you for “just a few” photos of him and his girlfriend (who you just adore), you can’t help but go a little above and beyond “just a few” images.  Am I right?!?

I could go on and on all day about how grateful I am for my relationship with my little brother, and how Ashley stole my heart from the moment I met her, and how my heart feels like it just might burst when I see how sweet they are with each other.  But I’m going to pull it together and instead, I’ll give you a few of my favorites from their impromptu mini-session at The Trolley Barn in Atlanta.  Get ready to swoon over these two because I’m telling you, it just doesn’t get any stinkin’ cuter than this.

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GAH, I love both of these next ones but especially the one on the left.  I can’t even with these two.

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And another fave.  they. are. the. CUTESSST.

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LOVE this next wide shot!  #allthehearteyes

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and this next one, OHmygoodness.  this one makes me so happy because it was a completely natural moment – ricky just pulled ashley close like this without any specific direction or prompting from me, and it’s genuine and precious and I just love it.

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and I’ll end with this soft, romantic moment because I absolutely adore this shot!  (and it’s stunning in black & white, don’t you think?)

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Ricky, Ashley, I love you both!  I loved every minute we got to spend together in Atlanta and I already can’t wait until we get to see each other again.  Wish I could give you both a big hug right this second!  I hope you love these images as much as I do!

holzer family {newborn}

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I had such a great time getting to know Kelly and Matt (and little miss Audrey – don’t you just love that name?! – and their fur babies, Poe and Luna) during their session!  Matt and Kelly both grew up in southwest Virginia, but did not meet until they were both living in Charlottesville after college!  They relocated back to the Roanoke area not long before finding out that little Audrey was on the way, which has worked out nicely since both sets of grandparents are now close enough to lend a helping hand when they need it! 😉 Even though I hadn’t met Kelly and Matt before our session, it was so easy to see during our brief time together that these two make a great team.  They seemed to work together so effortlessly to make sure Audrey’s every need was met, and it was such a sweet thing to witness!

Without further adieu, enjoy my favorites from my time with the Holzer family!

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Poe was definitely convinced that I was only there to see him! Haha!  (Also, I loved this sweet little nursery!)

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This next shot is one of my favorites!!

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Just look at this precious little face!

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Love this next one of the whole family on the left!  Luna and Poe did so good for these!!

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How adorable is this next frame?!  I love it!

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Aaaand another favorite … how cute is Luna?

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I love this next shot of Kelly and Audrey on the left!

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Another favorite!  Such a sweet little moment!  (Also, can we talk for a second about how perfect the light was in every room of their house?!  It made every image feel so soft and airy!)

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Sweet daddy-daughter moments!

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Baby toes!!

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Another FAVE!  Love this sweet shot!

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Kelly, Matt, thank you so much for inviting me into this season of life with you (and into your home for the morning!) – I so enjoyed getting to know both of you and I hope these images always bring back the best memories of these first few weeks with your little girl!

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