Having travel perks isn’t quite as fun when your fiancé refuses to take time off of work. But recently, mine gave in and reluctantly agreed to one day. One day. I set out to find a destination that was a direct flight with arrival and departure times that maximized our short break. The long weekend challenge was on.
The decision: two nights each in Savannah, Georgia and the Inn at Palmetto Bluff just across the border in South Carolina. We landed in Savannah late Thursday evening, tired and delirious, and were immediately romanced by the sprawling oak trees cloaked with Spanish moss swaying in the wind. It was nearly midnight, but we took a long stroll through the sleepy-looking streets that actually buzzed with life, full of art students from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
In the morning, the city was even more beautiful; not visible at night were the gorgeous historic buildings thoughtfully planted along wide streets and town squares. Our guide, who leads tours almost every morning, was everything you want in a guide: prolific in his knowledge, organized in his method, and elegant in his delivery. His esoteric details wove together architecture and history, and information so detailed it drilled down to the actual bricks—early 19th-century architect William Jay (of the Owens-Thomas House) sourced his from a quarry outside Boston. After two hours with our guide we had lunch at Soho South Café, an adorable carriage house turned art gallery that was teeming with boisterous locals.
That afternoon, we hopped in the car and cruised north over the bridge into South Carolina. In less than forty minutes we had arrived at Palmetto Bluff, tucked into the May River delta, which opens to the Atlantic Ocean. The majority of the expansive land is untouched, and remains as it did in the early 1900s when the property belonged to New Yorker Richard T. Wilson. Today the estate is home to more than 200 privately-owned houses, a main street with shops and a market, a natural spa nestled in the forest, an excellent tennis pro presiding over the courts, a world-class golf course, picturesque stables and trails for exploring.
The Inn consists of fifty cottages along the water. Our weekend there was spent riding bikes through the woods, playing tennis, lounging at the pool, kayaking through the inland waterways and sitting in rocking chairs on the dock, watching dolphins leaping.
There are a few restaurants on property, and the inn puts together frequent special dining events like the winemaker dinner party we attended, hosted by two Sonoma vineyard owners. Every night after dinner, guests gathered for s’mores and nightcaps around huge bonfires within rings of Adirondack chairs. Over the three days, twice I took lazy afternoon naps on the daybed in our screened-in porch. I was floating among birds singing, wind swishing through the trees, the scent of honeysuckle and the sun setting over the lagoon. Both times I felt like I had awoken in a Southern heaven.
Late Sunday afternoon we pried ourselves from the Inn at Palmetto Bluff and returned to Savannah. A long afternoon stroll ended with the best meal of the trip—dinner at the chic and modern Local 11 Ten, which boasts a lively rooftop bar and dishes from a well-traveled Southern chef. Just after dawn Monday morning, we returned to the easy Savannah airport for our flight back to New York. Arriving at the offices from which we departed Thursday evening, we felt as if we’d indulged in a weeklong retreat—mission accomplished.