Cheers Sippin Gypsy Team Vodka! This post comes to you while enjoying my Sippin Gypsy Peach Sorbet Sparkler! In a word, Savannah is enchanting. Her sleepy squares and streets lined with beautiful Live Oak trees draped in a veil of moss make you feel dreamy (and relieved if ducking under them for a break from the southern sun!) The hotels and inns that Savannah offers are the epitome of southern hospitality. I find myself comparing my stays in other hotels and inns to my experiences in Savannah. The hotels and inns I selected below were chosen for this list based on the trifecta of a beautiful ambiance, cleanliness and comfort, and the hospitality of the staff.
1. Hamilton Turner Inn
This bed and breakfast style inn is my favorite place in Savannah. The historic home is built facing the Lafayette Square next to the Cathedral of John the Baptist. Each room preserves classic southern elegance. The Hamilton Turner Inn is ideally located just a few blocks from most of the shops, restaurants and museums in the area. Each morning we were indulged with a splendid breakfast, and in the evenings the Inn offers a wine reception with hor d'oeuvres. I would not advise this inn if traveling with children, save this escape for a special getaway with your sweetheart or a girls weekend.
2. The Mansion on Forsyth Park
This beautiful hotel reinstated my faith in small chain hotels. Owned by the Kessler Group, this hotel blends luxury and art with an amazing staff that is attentive and sincere. The rooms are spacious and inviting with touches of art everywhere and welcomes you in with soothing jazz music and ambient mood lighting from a chandelier. This impressive hotel faces Forsyth Park which leaves you a hearty walk to the rest of the locations you would probably frequent during your stay, however the hotel offers a shuttle to and from their sister location down by the river. If staying on this property, indulge yourself at the Poseidon Spa.
3. The Marshall House
Another great hotel in the heart of Savannah. The Marshall House preserves its historic elegance and places you in quick and easy access to everything. Situated directly on Broughton St, you can easily stroll to an abundance of shops, restaurants and bars. Each room highlighted individual details and was a great layout if traveling with a group or with children.
Cheers to my Sippin Gypsy Team Rum! This post comes to you while enjoying my Sippin Gypsy Sparkling Lemonade, inspired by the history of piracy in Savannah GA.
I adore Savannah. She is a beautiful city that has blended careful preservation of history with luxury and hospitality. The historic part of the town is very easy to navigate and almost everything is in walking distance. As usual, I want to offer a few tips before I list my favorite activities to help you enjoy this charming southern city.
1. Walking, walking and walking. This town is set on an easy to navigate square grid. But plan for time to get from one place to another. Each street offers such beautiful architecture that you find yourself slowing down to enjoy the details. As in most historic towns, many of the streets and side walks are a bit uneven. Bring comfortable shoes.
2. Savannah is very protective of her peace and quiet. Live music is well contained inside various establishments. You won't be able to simply follow your ears from one place to the next based on the music you hear. Plot out what you want to hear for music, most live music wraps up by 10 p.m. or 11 p.m.
3. Savannah gets very hot and humid. The historic town center was cleverly designed with well shaded squares for public use. These squares are a good place to slow down and enjoy the shade for a few minutes.
4. A Sippin Gypsy favorite: Savannah is also an 'Open Container' town within the heart of the historic city center. You can enjoy one of their many restaurants and bars, try amazing southern cuisine and beverage and take a second cocktail to go.
Savannah is a town most easily enjoyed in at least 3 days in my opinion. Be flexible to the whims of the weather. The South often welcomes her guests with afternoon rainstorms, but as long as you are prepared and can shift plans and timing slightly, these refreshing afternoon showers can be a welcome relief to the heat of the day and force you into a shop or restaurant you may not have even noticed!
1. Old Savannah Tours. This tour group offers a variety of ways to learn and enjoy Savannah. My first visit we enjoyed the trolley tour with the 'on and off' option. As we were driven to our next destination along their route, we could hear about the history of the buildings or squares we passed. This also gave our feet a much needed break from all the walking. They have several different packages to help you pick what your group would enjoy the most. As always I recommend starting your visit with a tour package. This gives you the fastest overview of the city and you can make note of places you are passing that you want to get back to visit!
2. Savannah Taste Experience. What another fun way to see Savannah and try locations you really may not have plotted out for your visit. This tour takes you to various iconic and historic food businesses around the city center. You taste a small portion of the most popular item from each establishment. The guides are personable and give you additional fun facts of their beloved city as you stroll. This was easily enough food collectively to replace a meal. Don't forget, Savannah is an open container city, plan on ordering cocktails as well and take it with you!
3. Tybee Island. No trip to a coastal southern city is complete without a day at the beach. Tybee Island is a beautiful retreat well worth the drive. The beach area offers several restaurants, or pack a lunch and just post up on the sand for the whole day. If lounging in the warm Georgia sun for an afternoon isn't your preference, Tybee Island also has trails and tours to enjoy. Either way, the sun is direct. Layer and protect yourself and hydrate while sippin!
4. Sip and Stroll. If you can find a copy of "The Savannah Walking Tour and Guide Book" or even one of the towns helpful green and white free maps, just grab a cocktail and start exploring. My favorite trek includes Bull Street from Foryth Park up to Bay St. This road takes you along many of the historic homes and monuments. Bay Street and River Street offer a lot of great restaurants and bars. Visit Broughton St. for Leopold's Ice Cream and the Savannah Bee Company. But make sure you trek up and down the other streets as well. Try to never take the same route each time. You'll find an abundance of local owned business, many SCAD alumni, that offer beautiful boutiques that are artistically designed and offer quality products. Take a few minutes to take in the Colonial Park Cemetery as well as the awe and splendor of the churches that overlook many of the squares.
Cheers to my Sippin Gypsy Team Tequila! This blog post comes to you while enjoying my Jalapeno Margarita inspired by my favorite sip from Fontera Cocina in Disney Springs.
Conquering Orlando as a tourist takes a blend of strategy mixed with flexibility. Between the restaurants, clubs and parks (nature and themed), one could try to fill every second of the day with something and you can still leave feeling you missed a great option. I've lived in Orlando for the better part of a decade and still haven't exhausted this town. I feel quite certain I am not alone in having my mood and tolerance change within the hour when it comes to this tourist destination. One day I might be up for a day at Disney with the kids, then two hours in I feel hot, tired and stressed out. Other days I'm the one pulling my kids from ride to ride anxious to get in that one more experience. (The latter may have been assisted by various libations greatly improving my tolerance for heat, long lines and general attraction congestion.)
1. Orlando is spread out in her offerings of entertainment. If you drive in or rent a car while here, give yourself time between destinations. Going 10 miles up the street can take you 30-40 minutes only to find you have parking to deal with also...then the walk from the parking lot to your attraction. Just breathe, and take your time.
2. Plan out what you want to do and try to stay in that general are for the whole day. For example if the family wants to do some shopping, then grab dinner and a movie consider just planning on your whole day down near the Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets and Disney Springs for the day.
3. Stop to eat and hydrate. Our heat and constant stimulation from everything to do can catch up with you. Plan on at least one meal a day (either late lunch or early dinner) where you stop, sit and recharge yourself and your family. I see too many over exhausted families that are rushing to try to get in every experience possible that they ruin their own vacation by being run down, over heated and drained. We have a lot of unique dining options that still make the 'Orlando Experience' magical and memorable, I've listed a few on my blog: Sippin Gypsy Quick Tips for Sippin': Orlando post.
4. Many of the places you can go offer a one stop experience where the family could split up to do individual interests then come back together for a shared experience. For example, Universal's City Walk, Disney Springs and Pointe Orlando all offer shopping, dining with live music and movie theaters. Set the kids up with a movie, then you and the honey go and enjoy a cocktail and live music for a bit.
5. Orlando offers so much more then the lights and excitement of the tourist areas. If you have a car and the time, take a drive to experience some of the charming city centers in our neighborhoods like Winter Park, Kissimmee, and Baldwin Park. You can read more about my suggestions outside of the theme parks here.
As I stated above, the options are endless here in Orlando. My list below are things that may take more planning within your trip, but don't forget the quick fun things you can sprinkle in like the movies, laser tag, miniature golf and real golf (on world famous courses)!
1) Disney Springs at Walt Disney World.
This is one of the only places in Orlando that is open container. I love the option to shop and sip! Disney Springs has truly something for everyone. My kids enjoy the Lego Store, Splitsville and the AMC movie theater, and I enjoy the shopping, live music and cocktails especially the margaritas at Fontera Cocina...the spicier the better!
2) EPCOT at Walt Disney World
Visit Orlando in the spring to enjoy the Flower and Garden Festival or the fall for the Food and Wine Festival. EPCOT sets up additional themed booths where you can try beer, wine or cocktails and food from literally 'Around the World'. I try to get Fast Passes for Soarin' and Mission Space or Test Track as soon as we know when we are going, but EPCOT usually isn't a place I recommend for thrill rides. This park is designed for tasting and sippin and exploring. If your travels bring you here in the winter, EPCOT is beautiful at the holidays and sets up a sort of holidays around the world experience, to see and taste what other countries do during the winter festivities. Cocktails are available at every country around the World Showcase, but my favorite is the la Cava del Tequila in Mexico for their jalapeno margarita...extra spicy. For quick service food, our family favorite is Sunshine Seasons in The Land Pavilion . But for a nice sit down, cool off cocktail and tapas just for adults, please visit Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar, it's a great getaway from the tourist traffic.
3) Dr Philips Center for the Performing Arts
Orlando is a destination for aspiring artists. The talent that migrates to this city to perform and get recognized is humbling. Sure you can see great shows while staying on Disney or Universal properties, but the Dr. Phillips Center hosts shows and performs them with the passion and quality of Broadway. Check out what is playing while you are in town and enjoy our charming downtown in the City Beautiful! For dinner before your show, try Ceviche or The Rusty Spoon.
4) Islands of Adventure at Universal Studios
Fun! This is your park for thrill rides and immersing into the sets of your favorite movies. If you ever enjoyed a Harry Potter book or movie or not, you will be impressed with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I recommend this park once you have children of age (and height) to truly enjoy this park. You can start early morning and power through all day and get to most everything in this park, but then you are missing out on details and probably hot, sweaty and tired. With any theme park in Orlando I really recommend giving it two days, or picking the five or six things that are really important to try to get to. Plan your day to visit Three Broomsticks for quick service food and the world famous Butter Beer (non alcoholic). However, if you need a libation to enhance the fun, grab the Bloody Mary from from Backwater Bar.
5) Sea World
Sea World is one of the few parks that is honestly perfect for every age. There are informative shows and exhibits as well as thrill rides, and who doesn't love the chance to interact with animals and smell fishy for the rest of the day! I grew up in Ohio and enjoyed Sea World every summer as a kid so when we moved to Florida, this was a nostalgic mecca for me (especially since my childhood one closed). My kids have enjoyed as toddlers the chance to press their little faces against a shark tank wall, and feed the sea lions, and now its a day of roller coasters and the Pets Ahoy show. Keep sippin and enjoy some of the refreshing cocktails with lunch at Sharks Underwater Grille, this is one of the few places I order a frozen cocktail, usually the raspberry Lighthouse Margarita.
6) Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World
Oh how to choose! If you can do both, please do! If Animal Kingdom is you only destination, I must say, Disney has finally blended the perfect experience for family theme park enjoyment. The quick service food in this park is one of the best in their four Orlando resort parks, I like the Harambe Market in Africa. There are also little spots to grab cocktails or a beer as you enjoy your day, and there are fun rides and exhibits! I try to get Fast Passes for Flight of Passage in Pandora (ride a banshee!!), Mount Everest and Kali River Rapids. We enjoy the Kilimanjaro Safari ride at night, and use the Dinosaur ride as our chance to cool off (its inside and air conditioned). There is a petting zoo that requires a train ride to get to for your younger travelers. If possible, splurge and enjoy the Wild Africa Trek for a more in depth behind the scene experience of the animals at Animal Kingdom. Try to arrange your visit for Pandora at night. The lighting is spectacular and breathtaking. Disney may charge an arm and a leg for tickets, but you won't be disappointed in experience immersion, details and quality.
If Hollywood Studios is your destination, make sure your audience loves Star Wars or Pixar. Disney really takes you into the center of these beloved worlds. Dining in Hollywood Studious is themed and a real delight. We have enjoyed the 50's Prime Time Cafe as well as Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano many times. Don't worry Sippin Gypsies, this park is also well stocked with libation watering holes to keep you refreshed. The easiest is the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge. Walk up (or sit and enjoy) the outdoor bar, grab a cocktail and keep going... ah the magic of Disney! As of right now, this park is under a lot of construction. I will keep my Sippin Gypsy teams posted as more exhibits open up and the park grows. But don't pass on this park just because its a work in progress!! Fast Passes should be planned for the Rockin' Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. Do not miss the Star Tours ride, even if you aren't into Star Wars, the ride is fun and the details Disney has put into this exhibit is really 'stellar'.
7) Cocoa Beach
Cocoa Beach is a short 45 minute drive from Orlando. There are several spots along the coast to park and access the beach. For a quieter experience Lori Wilson Park is a beautiful clean location with pavilions to eat at and showers to rinse off. Our family enjoys the Cocoa Beach Pier. Clean bathrooms and showers to rinse off help make this an easy spot to spend the day. Bring cash for parking, and make it easy on yourself, just pay to stay in the lot all day. Instead of packing the car full of chairs, cheap umbrellas and tents, we simply rent chairs and umbrellas right on the beach. We only bring a cooler for ice and our beverages (no glass!!) and snacks. There are several restaurants and bars on the pier that offer fresh catches and other entrees and dangerously delicious beachy concoctions.
Cheers to my Sippin Gypsy Team Tequila! This post comes to you while enjoying my Bloody Maria with a special hot sauce I found in my travels to New Orleans!
New Orleans is rich in history and culture. There is a passion that resonates in this city found in the most gracious of restaurant owners to the spirited musician that plays on the sidewalks of Royal St. For those of you who have never been....yet...I'm sure you've heard stories of Bourbon St. and all the indulgences offered there. But before I list some of my favorite excursions, I wanted to offer a few tips to help you plan your next adventure!
1. You will be doing a lot of walking. The side walks are charmingly uneven. There are a lot of puddles, and on Bourbon St. after 10 pm I can not begin to guess what those puddles may consist of. I prefer comfortable closed toe shoes for meandering the French Quarter.
2. New Orleans is an 'Open Container" city. This means you can order a nice cold sip at a bar as you stroll by and take it "to go" so you can get to your next destination. This allowed me to see so much more of New Orleans, and as The Sippin Gypsy, I was in absolute heaven sippin and strollin! Just be polite, finish your drink before stepping into the next establishment, they want your business too!
3. Many of the bars and lounges with live music do not charge a cover, but they do require a 1 or 2 drink minimum to enjoy the air condition, use the restroom or listen to the music. So be prepared to keep sippin!
4. Most of the bars and lounges will not accept a charge to a credit card for less than $10. So order a few and charge it, or bring cash if you just want one beer at a time.
5. Many venues start live music around 5 or 6 and the musicians wrap up around 11 or 12, so get out early in the evening if you want to hear live music.
6. The bands you hear predominantly play for tips only. Please support the arts and talents of these people, bring cash and tip well...live music is an art worth preserving.
There is so much to do in New Orleans. The following is just a few of my most memorable adventures,
1. French Quarter Phantoms
I love starting my visit to a city with a tour of the historic area. For my first visit to New Orleans we stumbled (literally) upon the French Quarter Phantoms tour given in the cool of the evening encompassing the history and legends of the city. On my next visit to New Orleans our group did the cemetery tour with this same company. The tour guides are all witty and knowledgeable. It was a great way to see the city and formulate places we wanted to go back to and spend more time.
2. Live Music, Live Music, Live Music!
There were several venues that offered live music in the evenings. As I stated above, be prepared for at least a 1 drink minimum to sit and listen, and be ready to tip the musicians. Some of my favorite spots for music are: Bourbon O Bar, Fritzels European Jazz Pub, The Spotted Cat Music Club, Maison Bourbon, Preservation Hall and RF's Martini Bar.
3. Take time to tour the other neighborhoods of New Orleans
Treme and the Garden District are both rich in history and offer so much to appreciate in this city. Whether you choose to leverage a guided tour group (the French Quarter Phantoms offers tours of Treme) or you simply pull out your phone and do your own self guided tour. These are distinctly unique and special neighborhoods that will add flavor your New Orleans adventure. The street cars across Canal Street are a great way to travel up to the Garden District to start your stroll!
4. Cemetery Tours
Due to how low New Orleans sits at sea level, the dead they burried would just keep popping out of the ground every time it rained and try to rejoin the living! So New Orleans had to create cemeteries that housed above ground tombs. The St Louis Cemetery #1 in the French Quarter requires you tour with a group, but this cemetery is worth the tour. You will see the tomb of the famed Marie Laveau and the tomb purchased by Nicholas Cage. The Layfayette Cemetery #1 in the Garden District is free to tour during operating hours.
5. Pick up a local map and walk up Decatur St to indulge on a beignet from Cafe Du Monde, explore the artists around Jackson Square. Continue your stroll along Royal St with all its tempting boutiques and historic buildings and back up Bourbon St. Watch for hidden treasures along the side streets including the famed shops of Reverend Zombie's House of Voodoo, or the Boutique du Vampyre. Just start sippin and strollin! There is so much to see!
Lover of travel to charming places dusted with unique flavor. Join me as I explore the world sip by sip. Cheers!