Savannah on my Mind…

ForsythFountain

STAY

  • Hamilton-Turner Inn (330 Abercorn St.)–Built on 1873 with very high ceilings and some lovely architectural details, the H-T Inn is well-located on beautiful and quiet Lafayette Square in the heart of the historic district. Good breakfasts, plus cakes and cookies throughout the day, plus cheese/crackers/wine at cocktail hour, plus port after 8 pm. Mostly pretty décor.
Hamilton-Turner

Hamilton-Turner Inn

  • The Brice (601 E. Bay Lane at Houston St.)–If staying in an old house on one of Savannah’s squares is not your thing, stay at The Brice. It is a Kimpton Hotel—and decorated stylishly, as expected—& near (not on) the waterfront, which is touristy-tacky though historic and active.

OF NOTE: The Ballastone Inn and the Mansion on Forsyth Park get lots of positive press but the former is not on a square and the latter has faux-Greek statues out front & is located on large park versus small, charming square.

EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY

  • The Grey (109 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.)–in a revamped Greyhound bus station with fabulously renovated art deco architecture, great food (its chef worked at NYC’s acclaimed Prune restau for years), good service, excellent staff…and it’s full of life.
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The Grey (photo by Quentin Bacon)

  • Collins Quarter (151 Bull St.)–fun ambience, good music (not live, except on occasional Sundays), attractive décor (candlelight, gorgeous flowers, exposed brick, big windows), excellent food, warm & friendly staff, and a service-oriented owner.

View More: http://joshmorehousephotography.pass.us/cq

SHOP IT!

  • E. Shaver Bookseller (326 Bull Street at Madison Square)–a DREAM of a bookstore with knowledgeable staff, a small tea room, beautiful books in a beautiful location! Reminds me of the charming bookstores of London.

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  • Satchel (4 E. Liberty St. at Bull)–beautiful leather goods (mostly purses) designed and produced on the premises by SCAD students and alums, seven of whom were sewing away when I was there…no barrier between store front and workshop, and if you would prefer your chosen purse in a different color, the staff offers an array from which to choose. I am still lusting after a bag I saw there…matter of fact, that one in the photo looks pretty great!
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Satchel creation (photo by Izzy Hudgins)

  • SCAD Shop (340 Bull St.)–creative, artistic jewelry, paintings, stationery, etc. made by some of the 12,000 SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design) students in Savannah

SCAD

SEE THE SIGHTS

  • Town Squares–Walk (or take a pedi-cab) the historic district’s 26 squares, filled with live oaks dripping with Spanish moss…nothing finer than looking at the GORGEOUS old houses in and around the squares.
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Owens-Thomas House

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  • SCAD Museum (601 Turner Blvd.)–beautiful architecture (American Institute of Architects award-winning) meets world-class exhibits (contemporary art, plus some fashion)

SCADMuseum

  • Ships of the Sea Museum (41 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.)–If you like ship models, those displayed here are excellent; if you don’t, the pre-Civil War house in which they’re exhibited is fun to see and has an interesting history.
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photo by Attic Fire

  • Bonaventure Cemetery — If you’ve read, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” which I loved, you will want to visit Bonaventure Cemetery. Even if you haven’t, it’s a wonderfully evocative place…Spanish moss, romantic tombstones, very Southern.

SavannahBonaventure

DAY TRIP

Tybee Island–A very pretty, 20-min drive from Savannah’s historic district, Tybee Island is a beach town-that-time-forgot meets a-little-bit-of-kitsch. No pretense or McMansions here; instead, think small, 1950s beach cottages on small lots. Gidget would be right at home here. Tybee is an little barrier island w/a fun feel on the Atlantic Ocean, so bring your beach wear.

SavannahSurf

BONUS: If you’re a history buff, check out well-preserved Fort Pulaksi National Park on the drive back. FP  has informative docents, exhibits and signage.

Reading companion: To get you in that Savannah state of mind, read, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”

-posted April 2016

 

 

 

Old Florida: Gasparilla

Gasparilla water

The second you cross the bridge over the wide-water-views onto Gasparilla Island, you will be happy. Gorgeous Bermuda-blue water, relaxed vibe, small town, more golf carts than cars, though GI is not golf-centric. The preponderance of carts are populated by a human driver and a canine passenger…charmante! Most of the houses here are in Old Florida cottage style, pristinely-renovated, and none over two-stories tall. Lots of “financial wherewithal” here but almost no ugly McMansions. Also, no crime, as reported to me by two, long-time residents. Soooo relaxing!

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gigardengate

STAY

  • Gasparilla Inn: beautifully decorated (if you like happy colors, shells and lots of tropical references, which OF COURSE you do!), immaculately landscaped, expensive and worth it. Here’s the façade (below):
Gasparilla Inn
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Interior of Gasparilla Inn

  •  The Innlet: less expensive (by more than half) affiliate property of the Gasparilla Inn. The reason its less is twofold: (1) The décor is simple & not as stylish as the GI & (2) It is farther away from the center of Boca Grande, but not by much. While I have only viewed the rooms on the website, I have seen the outside in person, which is neat and cheery.
  • Rent a house via Parsley-Baldwin Realty (1-800-741-3074) in the historic district, where they’re prettier and the walk into town is short.

SEE THE SIGHTS

  • The beach–long walks on white sand, good shelling, no building over two stories, really low-key
  • The town…the only town…on Gasparilla Island is called Boca Grande. It is tiny, quiet and very cute w/charming houses. Walk down Banyan Street to see the 100-year old Banyan trees–so evocative!
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Banyan Street, between Gilchrest and Park

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One of several beautiful houses on Banyan Street, between Park and Gilchrist

  • Bike the trail that runs the length of the island (more interesting riding around town and south) and to the two lighthouses at the south end, especially Port Boca Grande Lighthouse (circa 1890) & its museum.
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Port Boca Grande Lighthouse

  • Boating/fishing: Boca Grande is known as the “tarpon capital of the world!”
  • Boca Grande Historical Society Museum : very small but interesting.
  • Golf: four courses.
  • The Boca Grande Community Center offers good lectures, yoga, and a small fitness room. During the week we were there, the CEO of the National Geographic and a railroad history expert spoke. In addition, a recorded performance of the Broadway play “War Horse” was being shown in its auditorium.
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Boca Grande Community Center

EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY

  •  The Gasparilla Inn (500 Palm Ave.): pretty, old-fashioned dining room with sophisticated tropical décor. Food is good. Go to the Inn’s attractive bar for your pre-prandial libations!
Gasparilla Inn

Gasparilla Inn

  • The Temptation: very good food and Old Florida ambience, friendly bar and two adjacent dining rooms. The best DR is the front one, with uplighting on its blue walls painted with old Florida scenes=retro and transporting. It is waaaay more fun than this photo conveys!
Temptation Boca Grande

The Temptation’s interior

  • 3rd Street Café (Third St. & E. Railroad Ave.): Sometimes excellent and other times unremarkable food here, but I like it a lot. Eat in the outdoor courtyard with its pretty banana leaf/palm tree garden, up-lit dramatically. It has a small attractive bar and good service.
  • South Beach Bar & Grille (777 Gulf Blvd.): GREAT place to watch the sunset. This is a simple, non-fancy restaurant on the beach all by its lonesome…no competition and no need for it. Go to the bar, buy your drink, and toddle on out to the Adirondack chairs as you watch the sun go down. Very peaceful!
  • Gasparilla Island’s signature cocktail is the Hummer, made with vanilla ice cream, Kahlua and Rum. It is not listed on all drinks menus but ask the bartenders. They’ll know!

SHOP IT

  • The Palm on Park (444 4th St.): Lilly! Need I say more?
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The Palm on the  Park

  • Grapevine Gourmet & Gift Shop (321 Park Avenue): excellent carry out cocktail food, PLUS really attractive ceramic dip-bowl-attached-to-plates, like Lilly Pulitzer would’ve used to serve Fritos and onion dip.
  • The Inn Boutique (at Gasparilla Inn) has a good selection of pastel beach dresses, tops and pretty jewelry (e.g., Meg Carter)
  • The Gasparilla Inn hosts frequent trunk shows open to guests and non-guests, alike.
  • The Patio Shop at Fugates (4th St. & Park Ave.)–is chocked full of cheery resort wear and cheery staff to match.
  • Newlin’s (446 4th St.)–upscale carry out (one entrée per day is made and residents reserve them in advance; when I was there, they offered chicken pot pie, coq au vin, shrimp and grits) plus attractive dish ware for purchase.
golf carting in Boca Grande

Of Note: This is a happy, fun place. The natives are friendly. It is small. Few street lights at night and few cars, too. It can be dark walking back from dinner but that makes it easier to peer into the cozily lit-up houses (so MANY attractive tropical-cottage-style houses). No crime here, so the darkness is not spooky. If you like a go-go pace, this is not for you. We spent two, relaxing weeks here, never bored.

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 gipinkcart
 palm-leaf
-posted February 2016

Palm Beach Beauties

 

Colony Photo Use in Ad_

Palm Beach bound? Lucky you! Following are recommendations from articles in Mimi’s Travel File and my 2015 trip to PB.

STAY

The following are my top two fav’s (additional hotels listed at the end of this post)–

The Colony (155 Hamon Ave.)–Love it, love it, love it!

5e Premium Suite Bedroom

  •  80 rooms plus “villas.” The villas have two bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and balcony.
  • On-site bar, restaurant and pool
  • What makes it unique: The Colony has a very attractive, “intime,” 1940’s-style nightclub, with little-shaded lamps on tables for two and four, and a small stage…like NYC’s Café Carlyle.
  • The dėcor screams, “Welcome to the fun, happy, tropical-glam Florida!” The guest rooms are individually decorated in sophisticated splashy colors. No beige here.
  • Great location: The beach is a block away (chair/towel in nifty, lightweight backpack provided by the Colony), as are Worth Avenue’s restaurants and boutiques. The Colony is located in a pretty neighborhood, which is excellent for house-ogling, on foot or bike, available at the hotel.
  • Nice touch: Their car will transport you (gratis) around town, within limits.

The Brazilian Court Hotel (311 Australian Ave.)–lovely! It is part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group and Historic Hotels America. If you prefer muted-Mediterranean color schemes to splash, stay here.

BC Canopy Entrance (TB)-2

  • On-site bar, glamorous restaurant and pool
  • Location: two-blocks from the beach
  • 80 studios and suites

EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY

Top Two
Café Boulud (as in, the famed Daniel) at the Brazilian Court (301 Australian Ave.) : beautiful, intimate, Hollywood Glam courtyard setting with good food, sophisticated menu, and friendly staff. Near The Colony.

Brazilian Court-Courtyard wide

Renato’s (87 Via Mizner): Charming location in one of the courtyards off of Worth Avenue; lovely, romantic Italian restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating and good food; near The Colony & Brazilian Court.

Sargent Photography

Renato’s lovely courtyard

Honorable Mention
Surfside Diner (314 S. County Rd., near The Colony & Brazilian Court)–classic diner food and décor, best for breakfast; recommended by an Elle Décor article (March 2015).

SEE THE SIGHTS

  • The sun, sand ‘n’ surf of the wide, Atlantic Ocean beach, of course!
  • Flagler Museum: Built by PB’s founding father in 1902, the FM gives interesting background on the development of PB. Right next door, but not open to the public, is PB’s oldest house, Sea Gull Cottage, built in 1886. Right next to that is the beautiful Royal Poinciana Chapel.

Flagler Museum Facade from NE Corner RGB 72 1000px W

 © Flagler

  • Norton Museum of Art (a jewel, according to my in-the-know friend, and also recommended by Elle Décor (2015)

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SHOP IT

Worth Avenue: Some truly wonderful PB-unique boutiques are located in between the ubiquitous, upscale chains, as well as in the NOT-TO-BE-OVERLOOKED charming, small courtyards off of Worth. Specifically:

HIBISC INTERS SHOPPERS

  • Susan E. Riley (240 Worth, in the Hermes Courtyard)–custom-made lace dress (& other treasures) shop
  • Il Sandalo (240 Worth, in the Hermes Courtyard)–handmade, STYLISH and feminine sandals, Italian, of course
  • Kassatly’s (250 Worth)–since 1923, selling BEAUTIFUL linens, nightgowns and robes, as well as a sprinkling of men’s clothes
  • Maryanna Suzanna (313 Worth Avenue, in a courtyard)–beautiful, beautiful Italian ceramics
  • Trillium (315 Worth)–a nice, upscale traditional men’s clothing store, with some women’s clothes; recommended by Elle Décor (2015)
  • Pomponner (Via Mizner, in the same courtyard as Renato’s restaurant, off Worth)–great beaded clutches and feminine, gauzy tunics, small and wonderful.

Antique Row Art & Design District (South Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach)–Gotta get in a car for this BUT Elle Décor (3/2015), Travel + Leisure (12/2013), and other respected travel pub’s highly recommend it. What’s there? Antiques shops, galleries, restaurants and upscale resale boutiques.

Studio 1608 (1608 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach)–Housed in a former 1930’s car dealership, this is a collection of local artist studios, located between the Norton Museum (2 blocks) and Antique Row. Recommended by Travel + Leisure article (December 2010: old article but Studio 1608’s website looks promising).

Circa Who (531 Northwood Rd., West Palm Beach)–My design-savvy friend highly recommends this store, which specializes in stylish vintage Palm Beach furniture and decorative items. Excellent web site. Can’t wait to check out the store in person!!

CircaWho interior

USEFUL TO KNOW: PB is 16 miles from north to south and about half a mile across at its widest point, and is made up of three distinct neighborhoods–the north end (The Breakers), the south end (Four Seasons & Eau), and the middle (The Colony, Brazilian Court & Worth Ave.).

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: Mid-island PB (Worth Avenue/Colony area) has it all–the beach, nice restaurants, shops, galleries and hotels–within walking distance.

MORE HOTELS

NORTHERN END of PB
The Breakers (1 S. County Rd.)–This is PB’s famous resort. It’s an old-but-not-faded (they spend $25 million p/yr. on renovations!), grand dame hotel on the beach (though its beach is small) with 140 acres of grounds, including a golf course and four pools, tennis, restaurants, and a nice staff. All good but if you want to have the pleasure of walking around the ‘hood and exploring restaurants, shops and cultural sites, not happening. The distance from the front door of The Breakers to the street is not short. If you don’t mind that, the area around The Breakers is not particularly fun or interesting. IF you aren’t interested in exploring PB on foot and would prefer to totally relax in a HUGE resort setting, The Breakers is your place. 538 rooms

SOUTHERN END of PB
Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa (100 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan, FL)–Ever heard of it? Probably not BUT this is the former Ritz that super-successful and cheery-with-a-capital-C interior designer Jonathan Adler recently re-did and the photos look grrrreat. Happy rooms and tropical chic! The Washington Post featured a glowing article (9/6/15) on it, as did Travel + Leisure (12/2014). 309 rooms

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Photo credit: Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa

MID-ISLAND
The Colony–The best! (see top of this post)

The Brazilian Court Hotel–Top Pick (see top of this post).

WARDROBE TIP: In the Fall and Winter, the stylish locals wear F and W colors in temperature-appropriate fabrics.

-posted January 2016