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Hidden Gems By Jasmine Ford
  • Not to be mistaken with the popular gasoline retailer, but I must note they serve a damn good cup of coffee. It is a must that Quicktrip is included in your road trip excursions. And keeping it real - it’s also the only way I can function as a mom of a growing toddler boy.

    Back in February my husband Bryant surprised me with a family getaway to Savannah and I was excited. It’s one of my favorite cities in coastal Georgia and a beautiful spot for romantic getaways. While I can admit the open container law is a thrill and reminiscent of New Orleans, Savannah is a thriving city that uniquely wows the crowd. The first time I traveled there was for a previous gig I held as a project manager, and to my surprise it was only 3.5 hours away from Atlanta. I was happy to be returning with my family. What a pleasure it is to witness our son travel to different cities and gain a new perspective of the world. Such a simple and pure gesture that will provide lasting memories. We were so anxious to begin our trip that we hopped into my SUV at nearly 7pm in the evening to make our journey. I know – you are probably thinking I am insane for traveling with a toddler in the middle of the evening, but it’s not that challenging (check out my blog – Tips on Traveling With A Toddler). There is something so innocent and fun about traveling across the highways and enjoying all of the tiny details we don’t get to enjoy during our air travels. I am usually the designated DJ and I take pride in my eclectic taste of music. It makes the perfect backdrop for conversations over long car rides and intimate bonding with my husband.

    First things first, if you are anything like my family, you are in the business of saving a dollar and enjoying good old fashioned fun. We stayed at the LaQuinta Inn just outside of Savannah. Why? Because the rooms were clean, affordable, and most importantly – free HOT breakfast. While we do splurge at times, a 5 star hotel isn’t necessary for us during family travel. Growing boys eat a lot and if I can save money on food expenses then sign me up! After our first night we lounged in the bed and gathered up our energy to head out for some afternoon fun. We made our way to Historic Downtown Savannah and parked in a garage for only $5! All of my Maryland, DC, and Virginia readers will appreciate cheap parking on a Saturday. In the DMV you can pay a small fortune for all-day parking. Who wants to break the bank before even having fun? Still not convinced Savannah is the perfect destination for you? Well we made our way to the bustling streets filled with locals and tourists alike. The view of River Street is absolutely beautiful – filled with brick pavement, hoppin’ bars, and a variety of restaurants for the food enthusiast in you. We were casually exploring the streets and taking in all the wonderful sights when we stumbled across Tiffany Taylor art gallery. I highly recommend that you include art galleries in your itinerary. Savannah is saturated with diverse artists and it’s also a great educational activity for children. Who said traveling with your kid has to be boring? Hectic, yes, but that’s when pizza and to-go drinks come in handy as you take a walk over to Ellis Square to enjoy a pit-stop in the sun. If the sun is shining, don’t forget to grab a to-go Georgia Peach Sangria.

    As a frequenter of Savannah, this trip was not about enjoying my favorite local restaurants, but some notable hidden gems are The Olde Pink House and Treylor Park. Since we enjoyed to-go drinks on our first day from Sorry Charlie’s Oyster Bar, it was only right that we returned to indulge in oysters for lunch the next day. I remember leaving the garage to begin our walk and smelling the “rain” as some of country folks often say. That damp smell lingering in the air as droplets fell on our casual gear. We sat next to the window in Charlie’s and stared at the many faces passing by. Some riding in trolleys and witnessing the historic beauty, while others were walking and making the best of a rainy day. We met an amazing couple as we dined who took interest in our sweet Aiden and how we were bonding as a family. Quite often, I am usually the one who chats up conversation with anyone. I recall my best friend once saying that I would go hiking with a random stranger – and it’s true. Meeting people where they are and just seeing them as they are is an organic feeling that I crave so often. Savannah is a place that can quickly begin to feel like home and the southern hospitality is such a delight. I recall that last day as we drove into the city from our hotel, I gazed up at the weeping willows. It was as if each one was crying out a song of despair. While they are a reminder of the plight of racism, I felt this euphoric feeling as if my ancestors were telling me it would all be okay. I looked over to my right and saw a rainbow of people protesting to make America stronger. No division. No hate. Just pure love. The unity and rhythm of their voices gave me hope. In that tiny moment our quick trip to Savannah had already served its purpose, and as our SUV faded into the interstate to head home, I paused and silently listened to Junie by Solange.

    Perhaps I had found my seat at the table after all and I left with the utmost gratitude for enjoying life’s simple pleasures.