The creative class is leaving New York City in droves, but you knew this already. Of those who aren't decamping to Los Angeles, Miami or Toronto, many are trading in MTA price hikes for vintage bicycles and matcha for sweet iced tea. Charleston, Austin and Nashville are already carving out their niches in the fashion and retail industries, and Savannah — the oldest city in Georgia, nestled beneath a canopy of Spanish moss and against quaint, picturesque 18th-century architecture — isn't far behind. It certainly helps matters that one of the world's top art and design universities, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), has helped to form the city's bustling art scene since it was founded in 1978.
You may not be ready to up and move to Savannah (yet), but a 24-hour trip there — paired with the city's fried chicken and hush puppies — might change that. We rounded up a handful of Savannah's must-see spots for any fashion and beauty junkie making a quick Southern pit stop.
Check out the local vintage shops
My most recent trip to Savannah led me to purchasing a so-ugly-it's-awesome silk Hawaiian shirt from a thrift store down by the Savannah River, but the city offers so much more vintage and consignment shopping than gaudy beach apparel. SCAD employees and students recommend The Future on Forsyth (with its on-trend palm-printed wallpaper, above), Two Women and a Warehouse and Cherry Picked Consignments; elsewhere, more mainstream shopping can be done on the buzzing retail stretch of Broughton Street.
Don't miss SCAD student work — and even take some home
SCAD is an integral part of the Savannah community — both culturally and geographically — and the school's goings-on are frequented by residents as much as they are by students and faculty. Visitors can see all that SCAD students are cooking up at ShopSCAD, a sprawling retail gallery located on the ground floor of the university's flagship building, Poetter Hall. Everything in ShopSCAD is created and designed by SCAD students, alumni and faculty, and the inventory grows daily with everything from furniture to greeting cards. Before you head to Savannah, you can meet all the featured artists here.
Hit up the city's best antiquing
Savannah is known for its antique scene — the city reports there are 20 shops in the historic district alone — and they're worth perusing, even if you're only window shopping. Alex Raskin Antiques, pictured here, is perhaps the most well-known of the bunch; originally a five-story Victorian home, the shop's rooms are all piled high with pieces that date back to the 1700s and 1800s. (It's also a prominent stop on one of Savannah's famous ghost tours, and if you step one foot in this place, you'll understand why.) Other centrally located stores include 37th Abercorn Antiques and Design, The Vicar's Wife and Duncan V & J Antique Maps & Prints, the latter of which is a gem for those of us charmed by period maps.
Get your Southern comfort food fix
Each time I've visited Savannah I've returned to New York a pound or two heavier, which isn't uncommon for tourists looking to sample all the food the city has to offer. Southern-style lunches and dinners — where deep-fried goods are ubiquitous and the service is impeccable — are all but obligatory for a trip to Savannah, and you can find those at all price points at Soho South Cafe, The Grey, The Public Kitchen & Bar and The Lady & Sons. Get breakfast — might I suggest biscuits and gravy? — at Clary's Cafe, The Collins Quarter and for vegetarian and vegan fare, The Sentient Bean. For dessert? I'm glad you asked: Leopold's Ice Cream is a Savannah classic, as are Savannah Candy Kitchen and Mirabelle Cafe, and don't miss out on marshmallow cookies, pictured above, at Back in the Day Bakery.
Enjoy the art scene
With an increasingly creative population (and a top art and design university in its city center), Savannah boasts a thriving art scene that extends beyond your typical slew of art galleries — though it certainly has those, too. On the topic of SCAD, start your art tour at the university's SCAD Museum of Art, a premier contemporary educational museum that serves as a resource to SCAD students in addition to attracting visitors from around the world. Take in fine art at Reynolds Square Fine Art Gallery and Daedalus Gallery, and enjoy more local talent at Kobo Gallery, Signature Gallery of Savannah and A.T. Hun Art Gallery. And if you find yourself in Savannah between September and June, take part in the city's Art Walk, every second Saturday for 10 months out of the year.
Take yourself on a historic walking tour
Savannah is home to 22 historic squares, designed to intersperse lush greenery equally throughout the city's businesses, residences and university buildings. In the old part of town, you can't walk more than five minutes without running into one; just walk up from the river on Bull Street to come across five before hitting the world-famous, 30-acre Forsyth Park. Savannah's squares are an especially good way to see the city, as some of the region's most significant landmarks — including churches, homes, inns and museums, are placed against oak trees around the squares' perimeters. One standout stretch, Jones Street, is buried beneath a canopy of Spanish moss and said to be the prettiest street in Savannah.