Holidays to the Hilt

Photo by JEREMIAH HULL at THE THOMPSON SAVANNAH

What Savannah lacks in snow, it more than makes up for in style. Embrace the seasonal spirit at every turn with this neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide.



RIVERFRONT

Plant Riverside District / courtesy PLANT RIVERSIDE DISTRICT

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Stroll the riverfront for a thoroughly Savannah experience. At Plant Riverside District (400 W. River St.), the annual Savannah Christmas Market, held Nov. 25-Jan. 2, includes kid-friendly, outdoor experiences like a tree lighting ceremony, Santa meet-and-greet, a spectacular gingerbread house and live music. For a different view of River Street’s holiday charm, hop on the Savannah Belles Ferry any time during the season (except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day). On Nov. 26, the river really gets glowing with the Boat Parade of Lights, beginning at the dock at Eastern Wharf (101 Port St.), with proceeds benefiting Greenbriar Children’s Center. And from Dec. 9-11, Savannah’s waterfront is merrier than ever during Christmas on the River, a three-day festival along River Street featuring live music performances and the Lighted Christmas Parade on Dec. 10. 

The Lost Square / courtesy THE ALIDA

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Shoppers will love browsing the Plant Riverside Savannah Christmas Market’s wares, which include goods from a variety of local artists and vendors. Explore retail outposts from local favorites like 13 Secrets (300 W. River St., Building C, Unit 4), J. Parker Ltd. (300 W. River St. Building A, Unit 6C) and Urban Poppy (400 W. River St. No. 1), among others. 

Stevedore Bakery / MICHAEL HRIZUK courtesy STEVEDORE BAKERY
Thompson Hotel / photo by JEREMIAH HULL

Sips & Snacks

For kids and kids-at-heart, Plant Riverside District is hosting Holiday Cookie Decorating on Dec. 3, 10 and 17 at 2:30 p.m. in Generator Hall and is open to all ages. For more grown-up fun, toast the season at Starry Nights at The Lost Square, atop The Alida (412 Williamson St.) Open daily from 2 p.m. to midnight from Nov. 25 through Feb. 13, the rooftop will be transformed into a winter wonderland with greenhouses, fur blankets and twinkling lights. (Editor’s Note: hours have been updated to 4 to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 2 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 to 10 p.m. on Sundays.) Eastern Wharf, the Thompson Hotel’s (201 Port St.) on-site restaurant, Fleeting, or rooftop Bar Julian both offer superb drink menus any time of year, but the hotel will also host Miracle on the Eastern Wharf beginning Nov. 18. This popular Christmas-themed cocktail pop-up assures to get even the grouchiest Grinch to grin. Plus, the hotel’s newly opened Stevedore Bakery features pastries fit for the most decadent time of year.



THE HEART OF THE HISTORIC DISTRICT

Perry Lane Hotel / photo by JEREMIAH HULL

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On Dec. 1, kick off the height of the holidays at the Telfair Museums’ annual tree lighting at the Jepson Center (207 W. York St.), on view through Jan. 9. Catch “ELF the Musical” or the signature Christmas show, “A Christmas Tradition”, at Historic Savannah Theatre (222 Bull St.), then admire the grandeur and music of the Cathedral Choir and Cathedral Brass’ Christmas at Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist (222 E. Harris St.) on Dec. 18. There’s something about the bustle of a hotel during the holidays that just feels special. Perry Lane Hotel (256 E. Perry St.), already known for its elegant confines, gilds the lily at Christmastime, presenting beautiful décor and holiday greenery across its two distinct buildings. 

Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist / photo by MARY CLARK RECHTIENE

Sips & Snacks

Launching on Dec. 1, Perry Lane’s craft cocktail bar, The Wayward, will be decked out with over-the-top holiday décor and menu, including horchatas and ciders. The hotel’s locale in the heart of the historic district also means you can take your cup of holiday cheer to-go. Or, for more cozy holiday charm indoors, pop into Six Pence Pub (245 Bull St.) — dishes like shepherd’s pie, open-face roast beef and French onion soup are warming picks for chilly days.

The Wayward / courtesy PERRY LANE HOTEL

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While at Perry Lane, check off the wish lists of even the most discerning women in your life with high-end, contemporary brands like Merlette NYC and Hunter Bell at Muse boutique.



DOWNTOWN DESIGN DISTRICT

PW Short General Store / photo by PARKER STEWART PHOTOGRAPHY

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The Whitaker Street corridor may be an evergreen destination for shopping, but there’s no better time to browse than during the holidays. The annual Downtown Design District Holiday Walk, held on Dec. 1 this year, is an opportunity to hobnob all down the block, popping into charming stores like Hannah E. (412 Whitaker St.), Custard Boutique (422 Whitaker St.), StoneLords (415 Whitaker St.), PW Short General Store (414 Whitaker St.), Jones & Bull (1 W. Jones St.), Madame Chrysanthemum (101 W. Taylor St.), Gaston Crue Lifestyle & Interiors (412 Whitaker St.), One Fish, Two Fish (401 Whitaker St.) and Brick House Interiors (413 Whitaker St.).

Sips & Snacks

For gifting any time during the season, Asher + Rye offers a wide selection for kitchen, home, men, women and kids — and a wide variety of price points, too. 

With a small café and fireside seating, it’s also a great vantage point to soak in the season and watch passersby, preferably with a seasonal latte and an Auspicious Baking Co. croissant in hand. Later, warm up with a traditional tea service at Gryphon Tea Room (337 Bull St.) or sip something stronger with a spiked hot toddy or spiked vanilla chai from Franklin’s (5 W. Liberty St.) around the corner. 

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The district’s south end is anchored by the Mercer-Williams House Museum (429 Bull St.), adorned in its holiday best. Loop around Monterey Square to admire wreaths, garlands, bows and other festive trimmings; you might just hear holiday music wafting from the nearby Armstrong-Kessler Mansion (447 Bull St.) as you pass by, too.



BROUGHTON STREET

Savannah Holly Days / courtesy SAVANNAH HOLLY DAYS

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Broughton Street is postcard-worthy at Christmastime, with twinkling lights and wreaths on every lamppost, but it’s the area’s events that truly draw a crowd. Case in point: the sold-out Holiday Tour of Homes on Dec. 10, when the tour’s headquarters is also located on Broughton Street at the Savannah Repertory Theatre (402 E. Broughton St.). If you didn’t score a ticket this year, don’t fret. Visit Savannah compiles a full calendar of holiday events at visitsavannah.com/savannah-holly-days.

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If you’ve got a gift list to tackle, this is the place: hostess gifts are a cinch at Nourish (202 W. Broughton St.) and Capital Bee Co. (421 E. Broughton St.); outdoorsy types will love something from Rivers and Glen Trading Co. (103 E. Broughton St.); splurge on that special someone at Levy Jewelers (2 E. Broughton St.); and the fashionable set will fall for clothing and accessories from stores like Edgewater Drive (319 W Broughton St.) The Edition Shop (212 W. Broughton St.) or Morgan Rae Boutique (301 W. Broughton St.). For extra cheer, visit Paris Market and Brocante (36 W. Broughton St.), known for its eclectic holiday décor and whimsical window displays.

Sips & Snacks

Continue the Noël theme with a meal at Circa 1875 (48 Whitaker St.), then finish on an extra-sweet note: Le Macaron French Pastries Savannah (204 W. Broughton St.) offers seasonal macarons like gingerbread and champagne alongside the many craveable, giftable flavors.



STARLAND DISTRICT

Starland Yard / courtesy STARLAND YARD

Sips & Snacks

Get outside in the Starland District, whether enjoying fare and drinks at Starland Yard (2411 DeSoto Ave.), dining alfresco at La Scala Ristorante (119 E. 37th St.) or, on Saturday evenings, sipping fireside wine and dancing to live music in the courtyard at Foxy Loxy Café (1919 Bull St.). For an antidote to the hustle and bustle, head to Sobremesa (2312 Abercorn St.), a wine bar named for the Spanish tradition of relaxing at the table for an hour or so following a meal — it’s a tradition that, in Spain at least, lasts even longer during the holidays. Want to DIY a little something special? Visit Superbloom (2418 DeSoto Ave.) for a Watercolor Wine Wednesday and create a custom art piece as you sip on vegan wine. This Starland shop is also a great gifting spot, stashed with artisan pieces. Bonus: Their superfood lattes help ward off any winter ick — try the turmeric cocoa for a sweet treat with anti-inflammatory properties.

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A great destination for unique, local gifting, shoppers can pick up handmade baubles from Metal Sugar Jewelry (114 E. 40th St.), entertaining essentials at Emily McCarthy Shoppe (2428 Abercorn St.), best stocking stuffers at Starland Strange and Bazaar (17 W. 41st St.) and whimsical kids outfits at Lovelane Designs (25 E. 40th St.) or with Southern sensibility at Sara Jane Children’s Boutique (202 E. 37th St.).

See

With an ever-rotating line-up of food trucks, live music, trivia nights and more, there’s always something happening at Starland Yard. On Dec. 11, expect a makers market, a caroling performance by the Holiday Harmonies and a dance performance by students from The Studio Savannah. Keep an eye on social media (@starlandyard) for a complete rundown of events.



SANDFLY & ISLE OF HOPE

Wormsloe Historic Site

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Holiday fun in Sandfly centers on Cohen’s Retreat (5715 Skidaway Road), which hosts its annual two-day Pop-Up Party each November. First up is Girls’ Night Out on Nov. 11, where gal pals can shop and let loose at a pop-up featuring dozens of vendors, including both local makers and regional artists making the trip from places like Charleston and Atlanta. The vendors remain on-site through Nov. 12 for the general pop-up, where food, games and music round out the itinerary — and make for a kid-friendly atmosphere. For Christmas plants beyond poinsettias, visit Herb Creek Landscape Supply (7402 Skidaway Road) to deck the halls and the porches, too. 

See

Stay attuned to Skidaway Island State Park’s (52 Diamond Causeway) calendar for holiday events like last year’s “Chair of Cheer,” an outdoor holiday movie night, and Colonial Christmas at Wormsloe Historic Site (7601 Skidaway Road), which brings traditions of Christmas past to life through live period music, carols, games and the burning of the yule log. 

Sips & Snacks

Nearby Auspicious Baking Co. (7360 Skidaway Road) is a tempting pit-stop for holiday pies and pastries like pumpkin cheesecake croissants, maple walnut bear claws, maple cheesecake with walnut brittle, Christmas stollen loaves and more.



BLUFFTON

Wilson Village at Montage Palmetto Bluff / courtesy MONTAGE PALMETTO BLUFF

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Just over the Talmadge Memorial Bridge, Bluffton’s holiday charm awaits. In Old Town Bluffton, make a dent in the holiday shopping list at stores like Leah Bailey Interiors (1299 May River Road, No. 101) or The Haven Boutique (6 State of Mind St.) — and don’t forget the buzzed-about Serena & Lily Outlet (1254 Fording Island Road, Suite 210). For a holiday staycation, no one embraces the holiday season quite like Montage Palmetto Bluff (477 Mt. Pelia Road). With beautiful and festive décor at every turn, Montage amplifies the spirit of the season and gives visitors a chance to make holiday magic and memories. Don’t miss the Holiday Artisan Market at Palmetto Bluff’s boat house lawn on Dec. 4, featuring live entertainment and children’s activities alongside original pieces from local artisans and craftsmen (it’s a great way to finish up that holiday shopping). Tickets are $15 with a portion of proceeds benefiting Family Promise of Beaufort County.

Burnt Church Distillery / courtesy BURNT CHURCH DISTILLERY

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Take in sunset views at Wright Family Park and Calhoun Street Dock (110 Calhoun St.), then stay after dark on Dec. 2 for the Town of Bluffton Christmas Tree Lighting at Martin Family Park (68 Boundary St.). On Dec. 3, the Town of Bluffton Annual Christmas Parade brings merriment through the streets starting at 10 a.m.

River House / courtesy MONTAGE PALMETTO BLUFF

Sips & Snacks

Thirsty? Head to Burnt Church Distillery (120 Bluffton Road) to sample favorites like the Sin Eater Cinnamon Whiskey, Sweet Potato Pie Moonshine or the non-alcoholic distilled spirit brand, Amethyst. Refuel for the short drive home at Cahill’s Market & Chicken Kitchen (1055 May River Road) for hearty fare like meat and three or classic fried chicken. Or, opt for an upscale experience at FARM Bluffton (1301 May River Road) — think hanger steak with potato mousseline and au poivre sauce, or cavatelli with duck ragu and parsnip purée. Or, end the day on a sweet note and staycation back at Palmetto Bluff’s Montage resort. The S’mores Baked Alaska at River House (1 Village Park Square), the property’s new waterfront restaurant, pairs smoked marshmallow ice cream with bourbon marshmallows, graham sable and notes of chocolate and rum. Share the treat with your table for a sure-fire way to get added to everyone’s “nice list.”

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