The Women of Savannah, Georgia…

January 4th, 2012

Teresa Jacobson (Azalea Inn & Gardens), Jackie Heinz (Zeigler House Inn) Shannon Romine (Dresser Palmer House), Diane McCray (Green Palm Inn.)

By Leigh Cort

What could be more memorable than visiting one of the most gorgeous cities in America and staying at a luxurious historic inn with an innkeeper who really cares about you?  The four historic Savannah Inns are a radiant collection of bed & breakfast inns in Savannah, Georgia’s historic district. Spanning the years 1856 to 1897, they grace the City with their genuine warmth and Southern hospitality.

The four inns offer luxury and impeccable personal service that’s definitely a cut above – in a city where accommodations are already extraordinary!

The Zeigler House Inn in Savannah, Georgia

I wasn’t surprised when I first visited Savannah to learn that Conde Nast Traveler positioned it in their list of BEST CITIES IN THE WORLD (October, 2011). It won for ambiance, friendliness, culture, historic sites, restaurants, lodging and shopping. Only months before, U.S. News & World Report announced Savannah as their “BEST U.S. VACATION’ and Travel + Leisure Magazine ranked Savannah as a ‘WORLD’S BEST CITY’.

Savannah's Dresser Palmer House

Feeling that I had landed in the heart of one of the South’s exquisite treasures – Savannah, I knew that I met my match with a city that could fascinate me for at least the next 100 years. With a camera and detailed map of the historic city, my exploration took six visits to be able to find my way around the legendary 22 squares (small public parks).

The Green Palm Inn

Finding a theme to my travels was the primary goal. Once I realized that the innkeepers are all women…the task was easy. This year, with the 100th anniversary of The Girl Scouts, founded by Savannah native Juliette Gordon Low, it had to be the LEGACY of the Women of Savannah.


Azalea Inn & Gardens Circa 1856 ~ Arrive on Jones Street “most beautiful street in North America” says Southern Living. Spacious 7 rooms with In-room kitchenettes and option for catered private parties. Lots of private entrances and gardens that complement the quiet avenue and neighborhood. Circa 1876 ~ Relax on Savannah’s longest and most stately front porch (called a gallery in Savannah). Enjoy 16 distinctively appointed rooms and suites, elegant parlor with Steinway grand piano and heart pine bar for ordering your favorite cocktail. Circa 1885 ~Rendezvous near beautiful Forsyth Park. Discover heirloom gardens, new southern cuisine and ten luxurious rooms & suites that include a secret garden guest house. The hidden garden pool is a perfect spot for relaxing or hosting an intimate private event. “Best Innkeepers’ by  Circa 1897 ~ Escape the crowded tourist scene for a bed & breakfast exuding ‘the softer side of Savannah’ near the riverfront. Four cozy yet oversized bedrooms are historically an old seaman’s cottage. It’s just like coming home. “A gem of an inn” says Fodors.


Take a tour with me and let the adventure begin…



Whether indulging in fabulous dinner fare or day tripping for fun & food, restaurants in Savannah are as dazzling as a galaxy of stars…from star chefs to award-winning waterfront cafes. The culinary scene is dancing to a new beat, keying in on local seafood, tantalizing themed ethnic menus, classical cuisine and trendy gourmet…all within a short walk or pedi-cab from the

It’s a city surrounded by water that boasts great watering holes and bars, considered one of the top dining Mecca’s in the Southeast USA. We’re always cooking up something tasty in an intimate dining room, waterfront terrace, brick courtyard or rustic retreat.  For those who take lunch and dinner seriously or those out for casual neighborhood ‘eats’, going to a restaurant isn’t something to do before you go out;  it’s why you go out.

Dining in Savannah is ‘serious pleasure’. Whole new generations of exciting young chefs have opened some of the area’s best and most innovative restaurants while classic dining establishments consistently offer famous dishes that haven’t changed in decades!

With everything from soul food and fried green tomatoes to blue-crab and local wild-caught Georgia shrimp, Savannah’s historic district restaurants truly offer something for everyone.


May we suggest…?

The Tea Room,  7 E. Broughton St.,  (912)-239-9690.

Owners: Elizabeth Ruby and Becky Wright, serving Classic Tea Menus and Lunch daily from 11:30-3:30 (except Sunday). The Tea Room proudly bakes and serves scrumptious scones, pastries and sweets. Sandwiches and Salads are served with a pot of tea, edible flowers and exquisite garnishes. The Full Afternoon Tea is something to delight in ~ finger sandwiches, clotted cream, preserves, sorbet, savory scones ~ all presented in a charmingly appointed dining room. Visit the Menus!


Leopold’s   212 E. Broughton St., (912) 234-4441

Owners: Mary and Stratton Leopold founded in 1919 by three immigrant brothers from Greece (George, Peter and Basil Leopold). They perfected the art of candy and dessert creating the world famous Leopold’s VeriBest™ ice cream. In the early years, patrons would jump off the streetcar to treat themselves to something memorable. Today Stratton and Mary continue the magic & legend where one can always find a long line of ice cream devotees dreaming about their richly rewarding flavors and lunch specialties. www.LeopoldsIceCream.comCreating Tasty Memories Since 1919” Visit the Flavors.


Alligator Soul   114 Barnard St., (912) 232-7899

Owner Maureen Craig and partner Chef Chris DiNello. Once an underground grain warehouse in 1885, there is a sensual vibe that is masculine yet flawlessly detailed from the bar and fireplace to the intimate dining room. Chef showcases the unpretentious art of fine dining that has been winning awards since 2003 when it was begun by Chef Hilary Craig. Today Maureen and DiNello continue the tradition nightly. Take a culinary tour of the South and you’ll find the road is clearly and creatively paved with today’s favorite specialties with a sprinkling of pizzazz. Visit the Menus!


Vic’s on the River  26 E. Bay St., (912)721-1000

Vic’s illustrious pedigree began in 1859 in a building originally used as a cotton warehouse and then Steven Shipping Company ~ housed on two levels of the famous Savannah riverfront. New York architect John Norris designed this, the famed Cotton Exchange and the Johnny Mercer House (among others). Notoriously, General Sherman’s lesser officers used the building for housing and planning during the War Between the States! Today it’s a stunning contemporary A+List fine dining spot that wows the senses as soon as you enter – creating an expansive waterfront ambience that is equaled in style with its eclectic menu that marries southern traditions with contemporary savoir faire. Visit the Menus!



There are endless places to shop in Savannah…closet-augmenting delights up, down and around the 22 Savannah Squares. From kitchen gear and stationery to art, antiques and home furnishings, shopping is one of Savannah’s greatest charms. Hundreds of shops are housed in an eclectic potpourri of mansions, warehouses and stunning homes; window-shop fabulous men’s & ladies apparel, gifts for the home and gifts for the kids, confectioners, fine wine, dance wear and antiques-to-boutiques. It’s an artistic City where clusters of specialty shops are walkable throughout the historic district with convenient parking everywhere!


Savannah Bee Company ~ Two Locations in the Historic District; #104 West Broughton Street OR #1 West River Street. 800-955-5080

This is one of the most distinctive and unique shopping adventures of the decade, owned by creator Ted Dennard who is ‘redefining honey’. His goal is to share his passion for honeybees through education, premium beeswax-based body care and bottling the most delicious honey one could ever taste. When you walk into one of his shops, allow yourself to be swept away to a magical land of sampling honey perfection. Whether you choose Tupelo Honey tasted on a little spoon or are interested in nurturing your skin with the luxury of body care products that bring the natural heating powers of beeswax, the shop professionals will enchant you with their knowledge and genuine interest in guiding you through the offerings.


C.H.Brown Antiques – #14 West Jones St., (912) 236-0732

Charlie Brown loves 18th and 19th century American and English silver, crystal and their heritage. People are interested in a decorated dining table again which creates the centerpiece of his small exclusive shop on tony Jones Street. The neighborhood exudes luxury and images of grand parties of ‘yesterday’. The collection of unusual serving pieces, exquisite utensils and vintage china & glassware help to create a wonderland of fantasy. His philosophy is to “save and buy one good piece at a time and build a collection gradually with things of good quality”. Charlie Brown’s goal revolves around helping collectors in their quest to set a beautiful table whether they’re eating a peanut butter sandwich or filet mignon. His historical tales are enchanting enough to entertain for hours!



The city of Savannah, Georgia was established in 1733 and was the first colonial and state capital of Georgia. It’s known as America’s first ‘planned’ city, obviously enchanting visitors with 22 ‘squares’ or parks that have told the city’s story for centuries. It boasts many ‘firsts’ including one of the South’s first public museums (Telfair Academy of Arts & Sciences), one of the oldest black Baptists congregations in the United States (First African Baptist Church), the third oldest synagogue in America (Temple Mickve Israel) and the oldest standing antebellum rail facility in America (Central Georgia Railway Roundhouse). Today Savannah’s downtown area is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States.

Georgia Historical Society   501 Whitaker St., (912) 651-2125 Contact: Brandy Mai Georgia Historical Society (GHS) is the premier independent statewide institution responsible for collecting, examining and teacher Georgia history. GHS houses the oldest and most distinguished collection of materials related exclusively to Georgia history in the nation. Chartered by the Georgia General Assembly in 1839, it is the oldest continuously operated historical society in the South. It publishes the award-winning Georgia Historical Quarterly, maintains a library and archives, manages the Historical Marker Program for the State of Georgia and is headquartered in Savannah with an office in Atlanta/ It has 6,000 members and nearly 200 affiliates in 80 counties. $5/daily fee for non-members.


Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home  207 E. Charlton St., (912) 233-6014

Toby C. Aldrich, Resident Manager.  Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964) was the 3-time winner of the O.Henry Award and posthumous winner of the National Book Award for Fiction for ‘The Complete Stories’. Director John Huston made two movies from her acclaimed novels ‘Wise Blood’ and ‘The Violent Bear It Away’. Visitors to her childhood home are invited into the authentic museum house that is restored to the Depression-era…receiving a guided tour that reveals the quiet domestic life of young Mary Flannery and her family. When author Pat Conroy attended the home’s ’20 Finalists for National Book Awards’, he stated “I consider Mary Flannery O’Connor the greatest short story writer in the history of our republic’ and ‘her home is one of the temples of world literature’. The museum house is dedicated to the work and life of the acclaimed novelist and short story writer now widely considered one fo the most important writers of the 20th century.

Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace #10 E. Oglethorpe Ave., (912) 233-4501

Fran Harold, Director. Katherine Keena, Program Manager.  Dreams really do come true at the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace. This architectural and cultural treasure opens the doors to her remarkable family and their recognized achievements in industry, government, the military and humanitarian organizations. In 1912 when Juliette Low placed a phone call to announce “Come Right Over! I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah and all American AND all the world AND we’re going to start it tonight!”, she launched the Girl Scouts which is celebrating their 100th Anniversary in 2012. The magnificent home graciously welcomes you into her privileged and educated world of art and furnishings where she and her family hosted international statesmen and celebrities. Director Fran Harold states “Just as Juliette Low said it in 1925….”Truly ours is a circle of friendships united by ideals”.


Old Savannah Tours #41 Wahlstrom Rd., (912) 234-8128 

Renae Scott, Director of Marketing.  Old Savannah Tours is the only locally owned and operated Trolley Tour company in Savannah, providing captivating ‘overview’ and on-off tours for 30 years. Their easy to identify white vehicles, trolleys and vans transport guests through more than two and a half centuries of history…riding along cobblestone paved streets, beneath moss-draped oaks and enchanting those aboard with fabulous narration about the ‘Old South’. Old Savannah Tours provides a comprehensive look at Savannah’s fascinating past, stately mansions, historic and beautiful squares, romantic riverfront and hundreds of tidbits from the famed ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, “Forrest Gump” and the original “Paula Deen Tour”. They are professionally organized to arrange tours that might include historic haunts, Pirates’ House and ‘Land and Sea Tours’.


Sellers & Higgins Walking Tour Company, (912) 358-0700

Philip Sellers and Tony Higgins offer much more than a typical walking tour. They paint a true picture the City’s colorful people and rich heritage sprinkled with a little spice and humor. If you’re crazy about being entertained by two standup philosophers delivering a quality tour of uncommon value, you’ll be glad to know that the ‘stars’ of their tours are the stories about Savannah…not the guides. Philip Sellers is a captivating storyteller and writer. Tony Higgins hails from Great Britain with an uncanny knowledge of Colonial Georgia History. Their tours begin daily on Chippewa Square; a complimentary shuttle is available from various city locations. Immerse yourself in: ‘Savannah Women’, ‘The Classic Tour’ or ‘The Backstory Tour’. Pair Philip and Tony together for a lively repartee that will endear you to Savannah forever.


Shannon Scott Tours ~ 1215 E. 48 St., (912) 604-4423

Savannah’s very own Master of Macabre, Shannon Scott has amassed, more than anyone to date, the most complete set of cemetery, ghost, occult and uncanny tales for 20+ years. He is the ultimate insider to the city’s more Gothic quarters. He personally conducts day and evening tours of famed Bonaventure Cemetery, along with his latest adventure into the unknown…”The Lucky Thirteen”. For videos, photos, tour descriptions and fun see

Shrimpin’ Aboard the Lady Jane off of St. Simons Island, Georgia

December 27th, 2011

Lowering the Shrimp Nets

By Debi Lander, Photos Copyright © Bylandersea

Like most folks, I’d never been on a shrimp boat or watched fishermen trawl– except for scenes of Bubba shrimpin’ in the movie Forest Gump. All that changed recently while I was a guest at the King & Prince Resort on St. Simons Island, Georgia. I boarded The Lady Jane in nearby Brunswick for a two hour outing that not only let me see the operation up-close, but taste it, too.  And, there was even an on-board expert to explain all the sea-life that came up in the net.

I watched as Captain Larry Credle lowered the nets and commanded the boat at a slow pace, approximate 3 miles-per-hour. The real fun started when the crew pulled in the catch and emptied it onto a stainless steel table.  Along with jumbo sized opaque shrimp, the haul included string rays, Horseshoe Crabs, Puffer Fish, Amberjack, Crocker, Blue crab, Skate, baby octopus, some anchovies and jellies. Not to worry, all creatures except the shrimp were quickly released back into the water.

Our second catch also brought up a Loggerhead turtle. They rarely catch a sea turtle, so we were very lucky to see one. Captain Credle quickly snapped a photo, took some measurements and filled out a form for a state project following the turtle population.  The Loggerhead was then returned to the marshy water where conditions are right for him to continue to thrive.

Freshly Caught Georgia Shrimp

True to Captain Credle’s word, we got to taste some shrimp and it really doesn’t get any fresher.  A plate of beautiful boiled Georgia shrimp was served with a side of crackers and delicious cocktail sauce. I learned that most Georgia shrimp are consumed within the state because of the popularity of the local delicacy.

An excursion aboard the Lady Jane, a 60-foot United States Coast Guard certified 49 passenger steel-hull boat couldn’t make a better family outing. Adults and kids will be fascinated with this unique experience. The boat leaves from Spanky’s Marshside where you can park your car.  The decks are safe and wide, the cabin is air conditioned and bathroom facilities are available. Don’t forget to bring your camera.

Now like Bubba said in the movie,” Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp Creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burgers, shrimp sandwiches. That- that’s about it.” Well said.

For reservations and information:

Tel: 912-265-5711

$39.95 Adult
$25.00 Children (under 6 yrs)

Where is “Santa’s Village”? Rovaniemi, Finland

December 23rd, 2011

Where does Santa Claus live? Finland!

By Summer Whitford

Have you ever written a letter to Santa and wondered if he actually read it? Don’t worry, it’s never too late to send one in. He may be busy making toys and presents for boys and girls everywhere, but he never forgets to put anyone on his list.

And, if you had the chance to visit the place where all the magic happens, would you take it?

Well, hold on to your reindeer harnesses, boys and girls. It turns out you can visit jolly old Saint Nick at his “crib” at the North Pole… more specifically, at his home is in Finland.  That’s right. The Santa’s home is just 8km to the north of Rovaniemi, (which the Finns refer to as “Santa’s village,”) in Lapland, a region located along the Arctic Circle.

This sparkling, snow-bound wonderland is an oasis of Christmas pleasure. The landscape is breathtaking in its desolate silence and majestically untouched, with tall conifers and softly rounded white hills that look like mounds of whipped cream. Now, imagine spending the Christmas holidays in this winter wonderland. Sounds fabulous doesn’t, it? Whether you’re five or ninety-five, Finland, but especially Santa’s village and SantaPark, are incredible destinations during the holidays.

For most of us, Rovaniemi is so far away, it’s a once in a lifetime trip, but traveling there is fairly straight forward–you fly to Helsinki and then take a shuttle flight directly to Rovaniemi. The village is about 8km north of SantaPark and lodging to suite everyone’s preferences, from four star hotels, to B&Bs, to camping, and snow hotels. In addition to the activities at SantaPark, Rovaniemi offers all kinds of diversions and activities for children and adults.

For a special treat however, you might want to consider staying in one of the 38 cabins Santa, or Joulupukki, as the Finns call him, built for his new Holiday Village. Each cabin is just steps away from Santa’s Work Shop and the rest of SantaPark. He and the elves built these cabins to accommodate their friends who visit from all over Finland and the globe, and they welcome either adults alone, or adults with children.

Santa Taking a Break

Each charming wooden cabin offers cozy, inviting quarters with room enough for indoor fun and entertaining. They come fully equipped with everything you need for a typical Finnish breakfast. If you want to do as the locals, there are also kitchenettes, an authentic Finnish sauna, and of course TVs for those who can’t be separated from their regular programs. If you don’t want to go into the center of Rovaniemi for lunch and dinner, Holiday Village also has the Christmas House Restaurant and Coffee Bar where guests can grab a quick lunch or enjoy dinner with the whole family.

For a child, nothing can compare with the joy of seeing Santa, and for that, you have to head over to the adorably decorated Post Office, where every week thousands of letters arrive from children from around the world. Another surprise that awaits you is SantaPark itself, which is a fantasyland devoted just to Christmas buried deep beneath the ground. The entire place is set in a series of caverns where year round you can see hundreds of elves hard at work making toys and other treats. Amid the bang and clatter of the Elf Workshop, ambitious kiddies can join the elves and make their own Christmas ornament for the tree.

Budding chefs will recognize the tempting aromas of cinnamon and spice as they float in the air from the Gingerbread Kitchen where kids can make their own cookies under the watchful eye of brightly dressed elves. For ambitious children, there is also Elf School, Santa’s training center where children can all of the things they need to know to become one of Santa’s special helpers. If you have a child that loves to shop, there is plenty for them to buy at Santa’s Shopping Arcade, which sells handmade items created by the local Sami people of Lapland, as well as all sorts of tempting Christmas decorations, toys, souvenirs, and gift items.

Finland is a Nature Lover's Paradise

If you are exhausted and in need of a reviving beverage after your visit to SantaPark, there are plenty of welcoming spots where you can laze by a fire and sip glögi. This Finnish mulled wine is always served during Christmas and is just the thing to warm up your bones when you come in from the cold. For travelers who adore music, art, and history, Finland is a hidden treasure trove of world-class museums, music festivals, and enriching experiences. Her capital city, Helsinki, nicknamed “the white city of the North,” is a hub of cosmopolitan sophistication that has become an international center for design, communications, and technology.

The Finns may be a bit shy and reserved at first, but they are warm and friendly once you get to know them. They are also more conservative about personal space and value your privacy, so you won’t have prying people staring or getting over familiar. If you are an English speaker who’s terrible at languages, you will love Finland. Most everyone, particularly the young people, speaks English well, and the Finns enjoy the chance to flex their linguistic muscles with a native speaker.

Once you’ve done the Santa and elves thing, there are also diversions that seem custom made for culture vultures. You can also meet the wonderful Sami people, or Laplanders as outsiders call them. They are a fascinating part of Finnish culture and have extraordinary traditions and a distinct lifestyle. These hardy people survive in the frigid Arctic by fishing, hunting, and herding reindeer, and they are the last remaining indigenous people in Europe. Anthropologists believe the Sami have lived in this region for an estimated eight to ten thousand years, and that they created the Finns’ beloved custom of sauna.

As much as Finland is known for her incredible design aesthetic and vibrant, modern society, her natural charms are her most endearing feature. It is a gorgeous, unspoiled country covered in pristine old forests and thousands of glittering, ice covered lakes, streams, and rivers. In fact, Finland is a land where water, after forests, is a central theme in the people’s lives. The Finns love fishing and boating, and even their capital city overlooks the breathtaking Gulf of Finland and the Åland Archipelago.

The country’s incredible scenery makes it a nature lover’s paradise that offers visitors the chance to commune with native flora and fauna in unspoiled wildernesses found in one of the many preserves, wildlife sanctuaries, or national parks.

Husky "Dog Safaris" in Kuusamo

If you count the days until the mercury drops and prefer a more active vacation, Finland will entrance you with all its huge selection of winter sports and entertainment like ice fishing, skiing, skating, boating, snow mobile racing, and hiking. Continuing with the outdoors theme, there are other exciting activities that are only found in this part of the globe, like Reindeer Safaris.

Who can resist being warmly bundled under layers of fur and woolen blankets in a beautiful wooden sleigh drawn by reindeer and expertly driven by Sami people? Each Sami driver dresses in traditional, colorfully braided red, white, and black coats and hats and acts as your charming guide as your sleigh swiftly glides over the snow. Snuggled safe in the sleigh, the only sound you hear as the rolling countryside unfolds before your eyes is the whisk of the sleigh across the snow and the tinkling of the reindeers’ harness bells.

For those who feel the need for speed, there are Husky Dog Safaris for hire in Kuusamo pulled by teams of Siberian huskies. This fast-paced tour is a whir of sparkles and sunlight as the sun hits the frozen snow and ice that dangles from tree branches and the ice-borne lakes and streams. There is nothing quite like this sort of ride. It offers a close-up view of Santa’s pristine, arctic haven that won’t soon be forgotten.

The Northern Lights

Just when you think you have had enough of the cold and snow, you won’t want to miss a visit to the enchanted snow castle known as Kemi. A work of genius, each year this sparkling white fortress is re-designed and constructed over five very long, stress-filled months. The design is different from year to year and includes elaborately carved towers, block walls, turrets, steeples, and intricately carved sculptures and bas-reliefs made entirely from snow and ice. When the castle is lit, inside and out, it glows in a rainbow of colors that match the enigmatic, swirling, pastels of the Northern Lights.

All of this may sound spectacular, but if you can’t make the trip, you can still see the hustle and bustle and scenic countryside, no matter how far away you are. Thanks to Santa’s clever elves, a live video feed shows views of the village and captures all of the activities year round.


If you or one of your friends would like to send Santa a letter, the address is:

Santa Claus

Santa Claus Village

FIN-96930 Arctic Circle



Remember, no matter what time of year it is, it’s always time for Christmas in Santa’s Workshop. As they say in Finland, “Hyvää Joulua!” Merry Christmas.



Photos courtesy of the Finland Tourism Board: Visit Finland.

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