The "hostess city of the South" is the ideal destination for a quick getaway.

Credit: © Geoff L Johnson

With its regal antebellum architecture, lush flora, and abundant cultural character, it’s no surprise Savannah, Georgia, is nicknamed “the hostess city of the South.” The riverfront city is perched between the ripe romance of its past—a charged history perfectly captured in the book and subsequent movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil—and a forward-thinking present, with a beyond-contemporary edge and prominent arts scene, a frisson that makes for a perfect weekend getaway.

Where to Stay

The newest boutique hotel in the Historic District is The Brice. Part of the Kimpton Hotel group, it’s marked by its colorful embrace, comfortable rooms with deep bathtubs, complementary bikes for sight-seeing, and the sleek Pacci Italian Kitchen + Bar.

In the riverfront area, the Cotton Sail Hotel has choice views of the Savannah River from its rooftop lounge. The Marshall House, set in a building that was a hospital during the Civil War, is a mainstay of busy Broughton Street.

What to Eat

Savannah offers a wide gamut of restaurants, from inexpensive Asian fare at Fire Street Food to the acclaimed low country–inspired fare at The Grey. The Grey occupies a 1938 Art Deco Greyhound bus station, all burnished wood walls and vintage banquettes. Helmed by Mashama Bailey, formerly with New York’s Prune restaurant, the restaurant features such dishes as smoked collards with leek, onion, and shallots, and a seafood boudin made with crawfish, shrimp, Carolina rice, sheep, and prawn chip.

The Collins Quarter, an airy, high-ceilinged space with cultural touches of Melbourne’s own Collins Street district—‘breakkie’ includes flat whites, avocado smash, and ricotta hotcakes. Don’t miss the locally sourced fish with a chili-fried egg on a flat tortilla.

What to See and Do

The 1868 Mercer Williams House Museum (pictured), featured in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, is an evocative attraction for literary fans. Despite its long history, Savannah feels forever young and fresh, fueled by the stylish principals of The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Through September 13, the SCAD Museum of Art is presenting “i feel ya,”co-produced by Andre 3000 Benjamin. Work by SCAD students Greg Brunkalla and Jimmy O’Neal will accompany a display of 48 jumpsuits-bearing-manifestos worn by Andre 3000: one jumpsuit, from a performance at the Austin City Limits Festival, boasts the sunny dictum “It’s always summer somewhere.”

Where to Shop

On Bull Street, shopSCAD is a gallery-boutique with pieces created by the art students, alumni, and faculty: Mia Hebib’s gold-plated brass cuffs are particularly stylish. The boutique Broughton Exchange carries clothes and jewelry by local designers, from Troy Allen to Brooke Atwood. And the Savannah Bee Company has Tupelo and Sourwood honey, along with a Mead Bar featuring honey-flavored Nectar of the Hops, on offer at its flagship.

Tom Austin is based in Miami and covers the Florida beat for Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter at @TomAustin__.