Sultry and sassy Savannah is a vibrant city of picturesque plazas, stately Spanish Moss, mouthwatering cuisine, and locals who love their pooches. Would you expect anything less from the city that is home to the most famous animal in the state – the English bulldog named Uga who serves as the University of Georgia mascot.
Established in 1733, Savannah is known as the “Hostess City” and is also America’s first planned city. An important part of that plan includes the current configuration of 21 public squares and parks throughout the city that are perfect for taking your beloved pooch for a stroll. From dog friendly happy hours to doggie carnivals, Savannah gives canines the VIP treatment with a generous dash of Southern Hospitality. Savannah is one of the highlights of the low country – an area of the United States comprised of the coastal regions of the Carolinas and Georgia.
Getting There: The Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport connects with 16 non-stop destinations. Delta, AirTran, Northwest, and several other airlines serve Savannah. The historic district is just a 20 minute drive from the airport. Savannah is a walking town, so there is no need to rent a car.
Where to Stay: To really spoil your pet, The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa (westinsavannah.com) is the most posh of Savannah’s pet-friendly hotels. Located on Hutchinson Island, the Westin is just a ninety second ferry ride across the Savannah River from the historic district. Small dogs are permitted on the ferry or you can call a taxi to drive you across the Tallmadge Bridge. Upon check-in, the Westin bribes your canine companion with a bag of swag that includes a food bowl, ID tag, and other goodies. If your pet is a little tired from traveling, the luxurious Westin Heavenly Dog Bed is certain to lull him into a peaceful doggy slumber. Dogs up to 40 pounds are allowed and a non-refundable $100 deposit applies.
If you prefer to stay in the center of the hustle and bustle, Savannah’s historic district is home to countless charming inns. The Azalea Inn & Gardens (azaleainn.com), the Olde Harbour Inn (oldeharbourinn.com) and the cozy and quaint East Bay Inn (eastbayinn.com) are all pet-friendly. Azalea Inn owners Teresa and Mike Jacobson state, “People who love animals are probably the kindest people you will find. We talk about our pets and their personalities as if discussing grandchildren, and for this reason we welcome well-behaved pets under twenty pounds in our Garden Cottage to accommodate our friends with ‘children’.”
What to Do: Begin your time in Savannah with a stroll along Savannah’s historic cobblestone riverfront – home of the famous “Waving Girl” statue. The Felix de Weldon designed statue is a tribute to Florence Martus who waved to all incoming and outgoing vessels in the Savannah Harbor for almost forty years. Immortalized alongside Martus is her devoted collie. This is a statue that you and your doggie can enjoy!
The Savannah Dog Park (savannahdogpark.com) is the perfect place to take your pooch for an afternoon of off-leash frolicking with local dogs. The mission of the park is to “enhance the bond between people and their pets in an urban environment.” Savannah’s dog park opened 8 years ago and was the first in the state of Georgia. Local veterinarian, Dr. John “The Big Dog” Schoettle of Innovative Veterinary Medicine (ivmdvm.com) was instrumental in the development of the dog park. “The dog park has been a great sociological experiment. It is nice to see Savannah coming around and embracing this.”
Another great option for a stroll is the majestic Forsyth Park but a leash is required. Forsyth Park also hosts the annual Doggie Carnival organized by the Savannah Humane Society. (humanesocietysav.org) This year’s carnival is scheduled for Sunday, May 3rd and features fun activities like paw painting and races.
The City Market (savannahcitymarket.com) is a fantastic al fresco dining option. This charming pedestrian mall in the historic district is home to several outdoor cafes where you and your dog can spend a relaxing time people and pooch watching.
The Perfect Ending: You deserve a cocktail and your dog deserves a treat after a long day of playing and walking. The Olde Pinke House (912.232.4286) hosts a Yappy Hour twice a month that will make you both happy! Your four legged friend has been such a good sport on this trip, treat him to a delicious Ollie B. organic dog biscuit baked by hand right in Savannah’s historic district by Oliver Bentley’s Barking Bakery (OliverBentleys.com). Savannah resident Eric Zimmerman named the biscuits after his adorable Cavalier King Charles and spent 2 years doing research before launching the biscuits locally. In 2009 these tasty treats became available in other locales and can also be purchased online: “Ollie B’s dog biscuits are different because they are hand baked. We don’t mass produce. It is similar to the difference between artisan bread and mass produced bread. We use higher quality ingredients.” Those ingredients include brown rice flour, salmon oil, organic egg, and local Georgia honey. While in Savannah, you can purchase Ollie B’s biscuits, and excellent honey for yourself, at the very cool Savannah Bee Company’s Honey House. You can even pick up some beekeeping tools and tips! (savannahbee.com).
Savannah residents love their dogs and have successfully made their beautiful city a pet-friendly destination. This low-country jewel proves that the Hostess City’s hospitality does not extend only to humans. Savannah may be in the low country but in this town pooches live the high life!
For more information visit: savannahvisit.com.