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Savannah: Charm Squared

No Calories Here

From sightseeing excursions to a Sunday brunch cruise, Savannah Riverboat Cruises offer journeys on the Savannah River that can include the best of Southern cuisine and entertainment. For an authentic cultural experience, try the Monday-night gospel cruise, where local performers provide the spiritual music beside platters of fried chicken, pulled pork and turnip greens.

Smeltzer sighed when discussing all the culinary options in her city. “You can eat your way through Savannah,” she said. “And I have.”

“One of our most popular establishments is the Old Pink House, famous not only because of its sophisticated yet casual atmosphere and menu, but also because it’s pink. It is inside a spectacular 18th century mansion. And Mrs. Wilkes’ Boarding House is a family-style restaurant where the stars are the incredible bowls of Southern specialties on every table.”

Travelers with a sweet tooth may want to save room for dessert and visit Leopold’s Ice Cream, a 1950’s-style parlor that boasts some of the best ice cream in the world, according to Smeltzer.

“It is owned by a local film producer, and the place is filled with movie posters and memorabilia,” she said.

Edible items, or at least sweet-smelling necessities, are also on the top of Smeltzer’s list when it comes to souvenirs.

“Paula Deen’s The Lady & Sons restaurant has a great gift shop,” she said. “I would recommend perusing that store and absolutely taking home a banana pudding chap stick — it’s the best,” she said.

“Of course, bringing home some pralines from the River Street Candy Kitchen is a must,” she added.

After loosening up those belt buckles, head for the Historic Savannah Theatre, where song, dance and comedy are provided by a cast of performers from all over the country who have chosen this venue as their home. “Every production they do is a special experience,” said Smeltzer. “They are so talented, and they love to pull people from the crowd and make it an interactive experience.”

If your group needs some exercise to burn off all those calories, try climbing the 146 stairs to the top of the Tybee Lighthouse. Located on Tybee Island, Savannah’s favorite beach, the lighthouse has been the guardian of the Savannah River since 1736. Built in 1897 as a coastal artillery battery, an adjacent museum features exhibits of early life on the island, Indian and Civil War weaponry and dolls.