Georgia Coast Road Trip
Drive along the coast on scenic US 17 from Savannah to St. Simon's Island for a two-day trip you'll never forget.
Day 1: Lunch in Savannah
Start off with a lunchtime cooking class at Kitchens on the Square (kitchensonthesquare.com or 912/236-0100; $25) in Savannah. In their little demo kitchen inside the store, just off Ellis Square, learn how to make a four-course menu of Southern classics, such as shrimp and grits, pimiento-deviled Tybee Island crab, and savory succotash. And, even if you don't have a Betty Crocker bone in your body, you get to eat whatever's prepared.
After lunch, browse the shops on Broughton Street (pictured).
Day 1: Savannah Bee Company
Be sure to stop in the Savannah Bee Company (savannahbee.com or 912/233-7873), where you can learn how honey is produced and taste the differences in artisanal varieties, from tupelo to sourwood to orange blossom.
Late afternoon, head down Scenic Highway 17 as it meanders through towns shrouded in Spanish moss.
Day 1: Old School Diner
For dinner, stop at the Old School Diner just off Harris Neck Road near Townsend (oldschooldiner.com or 912/832-2136). Chef Jerome (pictured) is a character. You go for the experience, not the food (but the fried shrimp are pretty dynamite). Imagine a juke joint crossed with your favorite country kitchen. The cavernous, maze-like interior has walls covered with photos of everyone who's eaten there (including Ben Affleck), resulting in a sort of pixilated wallpaper. Fair warning: The waitress will take your photo at the end of your meal.
Day 1: Bed & Breakfast
After dinner, hop back onto Scenic Highway 17 and head into Darien to check in at the Open Gates Bed & Breakfast (opengatesbnb.com or 912/437-6985; doubles from $99), a two-story Italianate-style inn, complete with magnolia and live oak trees and a white picket fence. Ask for the first-floor Island room.
The next day enjoy a homemade breakfast at the inn (waffles, creamy egg soufflés), and then let young owners Jeff and Kelly (she doubles as the town mayor) point you in the right direction to explore Darien, a tiny coastal town founded in 1736.
Day 2: Explore Darien
Stroll the waterfront where the shrimpboats dock, and check out the tabby ruins, built using an old coastal construction technique that mixes oyster shells with concrete. For lunch, stop by Waterfront Wine & Gourmet (waterfrontwineshop.com or 912/437-3410). Claim an outside table under an umbrella and order a Holy Moses sandwich (chicken, spinach, artichoke, and pepper Jack on grilled cheese bread) from The Purple Pickle (912/437-2391). In the spirit of a small town, they'll deliver it from across the street.
Day 2: Lady Jane in Brunswick
Drive down to Brunswick to board the Lady Jane shrimpboat for a 2-hour afternoon cruise (shrimpcruise.com or 912/265-5711; $39.95). Captain Larry Credle plows the marshlands, dragging a net, and teaching you all about shrimping. In addition to the wild Georgia white shrimp, he might pull in 5-foot-wide stingrays, horseshoe crabs the size of tennis rackets, baby hammerhead sharks, or cannonball jellyfish. Whatever shrimp is caught, he boils for you to taste. It doesn't get fresher than that.
Day 2: St. Simon's Island
Clean up at the The Village Inn & Pub (pictured) (villageinnandpub.com or 912/634-6056; doubles from $99) on St. Simons Island, a 28-room boutique hotel designed around a restored 1930 beach cottage, with a pub that doubles as an island meeting place.
For dinner, go local with some of the best Brunswick stew (the area's namesake staple) and 'cue at Southern Soul Barbeque (southernsoulbbq.com or 912/638-7685).