Where to Start:
Start your day at the Foundery Coffee Pub on the corner of Habersham and Anderson Streets near the historic district. The location is centrally located and should be easy enough to find if you want to meet up with people. There’s a small parking lot in the back and usually some on-street parking available in the front. Inside you’ll find plenty of space to take off your gear and spread out. Grab a coffee (they make great espresso drinks) and a snack while you wait for your travel companions.
This route will take you past Forsyth Park and through downtown (feel free to weave through a couple of the historic squares) and over the Talmadge Bridge into South Carolina. You’ll get some nice views of Savannah’s more iconic buildings this way, both up close and from above. As you cross the Savannah and Little Back Rivers, you’ll start to enter the marshy flood plain and may even see some wildlife wading in the shallow waters along Highway 17.
The Scenic Route
If you are passing by on any day other than a Sunday, drop by the visitor center (entrance just off Hwy 17), otherwise continue to Hwy 170 and on to the Wildlife Drive entrance and parking lot of Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. Here you can relax for a minute and remove your helmet (it is South Carolina, after all) for the slow cruise through the refuge. As you continue on to the hard-packed dirt road (easy to navigate, even with street tires), keep an eye out for alligators sunning on the banks of the canals and streams, as well as herons, egrets, turtles, and the occasional raccoon or deer. The speed limit on the drive is 20 mph, but you’ll probably want to go even slower so you don’t miss anything.
To continue on to Hilton Head Island, you’ll pass through Bluffton, staying off Hwy 278 for as long as possible. Your final destination is Skull Creek Boathouse Restaurant, a working dry dock marina and waterfront restaurant and bar. If you are expecting fried fish baskets and bottled beer, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by fresh sushi, grilled fish dishes, a raw bar with local oysters, and a creative cocktail menu. After eating, don’t be in too much of a rush to get back on the road. Grab a seat facing the water and watch the staff bringing boats in and out of storage or catch a sunset.
This post is the beginning of our “Recommended Rides” series. Subscribe to learn about more interesting local destinations and if you have stopped at any of these places or have suggestions for other stops along the route, please leave your comments below.