Guide to Georgia’s Literary Landmarks

Jump into the pages of your favorite books at these Georgia literary landmarks.

Photo courtesy of The Wren's Nest

Photo courtesy of The Wren’s Nest

The Wren’s Nest: Located in Atlanta’s historic West End, the Wren’s Nest is Atlanta’s oldest house museum and is currently in its 100th year of operation. The mission of the Wren’s Nest is to preserve the legacy of Joel Chandler Harris and the heritage of African-American folklore. Docents provide tours Tuesday through Saturday, and storytellers tell every Saturday at 1 p.m. and by appointment. Admission is $8.

Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home: From 1925 to 1938, O’Connor lived on 207 Charlton Street. In 1989 the property was restored and turned into a museum with a book collection, toys, family pictures of O’Connor and a tiny desk that was especially made for her as a child. Admission is $6.00.

Mercer Williams House/Creative Commons

Mercer Williams House/Creative Commons

Mercer Williams House: When journalist John Berendt visited Savannah, he was inspired to turn a local murder case into the acclaimed novel, “Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil.”  The Mercer Williams House, the location of the murder, is open to tourists 7 days a week. Admission is $12.50.

Georgia Writers Museum: The Georgia Writers Museum in Eatonton focuses on promoting the rich, literary heritage of the state. Permanent exhibits honor the three most famous local authors, Alice Walker, Flannery O’Connor and Joel Chandler Harris. Works and artifacts of the other authors are featured in the museum on a rotating basis.The museum is open Friday – Sunday.

Margaret Mitchell House/Photo by Lauren Cleland

Margaret Mitchell House: Tour the apartment where Margaret Mitchell penned “Gone with the Wind” in Atlanta. Guided tours of the Margaret Mitchell House are offered daily and include visits to her Crescent Avenue apartment, which she affectionately nicknamed “The Dump.” On your visit, you can also explore two exhibitions, “Margaret Mitchell: A Passion for Character” and “The Making of a Movie Legend: Gone With the Wind.”

Uncle Remus Museum. Photo courtesy of Lauren Cleland

Uncle Remus Museum/Photo by Lauren Cleland

Uncle Remus Museum: Gather around the fireside for the adventurous tales of Brer Rabbit, and learn about the life and writing of Joel Chandler Harris at the Uncle Remus Museum in Eatonton. The museum is open 7 days a week and adult admission is only $5.

Photo courtesy of Andalusia

Photo courtesy of Andalusia

Andalusia: Explore the picturesque farm where Flannery O’Connor lived with her mother for more than a decade in Milledgeville. It was on this 544-acre estate that she wrote her last book. Andalusia is only open Sunday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday. Admission is free but donations are welcome. Click here for a virtual tour of Andalusia.

LaurenLauren Cleland is the voice of Explore Georgia on social media. She loves ice cold sweet tea, anything peach flavored, channeling Scarlett O’Hara in her daily life and sharing the wonders of her beloved Georgia with all of you!

Savannah St. Patricks Day 2015 Guide

IMG_2596

Historic Savannah square with springtime azaleas. Photo courtesy Sandy Traub

If one Irish tradition — the day begins after sunset – holds true, then St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah, Georgia will begin at 7:33 p.m. on Monday, March 16, 2015.  We can say assuredly, though, that upwards of 200,000 revelers won’t be watching for a St. Patrick’s Day clock to begin their party! In fact, a few days beforehand, the city’s public fountains – from staid, simple ones like that in Orleans Square to the elaborate Victorian confection of a fountain in Forsyth Park — begin to flow a brilliant green in a visual nod to the Emerald Isle.

It will be 10:15 a.m., Tuesday, March 17, 2015, when one of America’s biggest Irish heritage parades — resplendent in shamrock green and lilts of Irish music and fetching laughter — departs from Forsyth Park in downtown Savannah, Georgia USA.

IMG_0227

Green Palm Inn’s Irish Dinner with inspired desserts from “Gone With The Wind”. Photo courtesy Diane Crews.

Rich Old Irish Traditions: Intimate, Generous Hospitality Is Revived in Historic Inns

Amid the St. Paddy’s Day good humor and tomfoolery, the simple, authentic Irish farmhouse foods will be showcased on the historic home tables at many of the small Romantic Inns of Savannah. Winsome cooks and chefs at the restored stately and cottage inns rally to serve up the charming hospitality reminiscent of Ireland, where “the best food was generally for guests, and the warmest hospitality was often to be found in the most humble cabins.” – Source: The Complete Book of Irish Cooking by Darina Hall, owner of Balleymaloe Cooking School in Shanagarry, County Cork, Ireland.

Even if you’re not Irish by birth, in friendly Savannah’s hospitality style — famously “The Hostess City of the South” — the intriguing cues to be energetically Irish or celebrate as though a Colleen or Patrick during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are not by accident. Thomas Paul Thigpen writes in his “Lay Leaders as Cultural Mediators: The Catholic Experience in Nineteenth-Century Savannah, Georgia” of the “cultural mentors” and the “aristocracy of the heart” which welcomed nearly arrived Ireland immigrants into Savannah. “Catholic lay leaders in Savannah built for themselves and their fellow parishioners a home where they could think, speak, and act confidently as Catholics, Americans, and Southerners.”  We read in Ancestry.com that “many of the Irish who came to America in the mid-19th century did not speak English, an obstacle to smooth adjustments. Groups such as the Hibernian Society helped to teach newcomers the English language.” (Source: Heritage Quest, Ancestry.com, “Irish to Georgia (USA) — 1700s and early 1800s.)

This inclusive, orientated, welcoming spirit of welcoming every stranger as “a kin” drives the celebration of Irish heritage in Savannah, Georgia USA.

Diane Crews at Celtic Cross Monument, Emmet Park, downtown Savannah GA. Photo courtesy Green Palm Inn

Diane Crews at Celtic Cross Monument, Emmet Park, downtown Savannah GA. Photo courtesy Green Palm Inn

Generous Savannah Hospitality: Small Inns Honor Irish Ancestors

“Wide open is the door of the little cottage.” – Irish Saying

Helping newly arrived travelers get closer to the culture and learn Savannah’s ways are happy traditions.

Behind the scenes at Zeigler House Inn (121 West Jones Street), the Kentucky-born caterer-turned-innkeeper is preparing her traditional Irish fare. “Grandma and Grandpa Carroll were both Irish and she is the inspiration for my cinnamon rolls, biscuits, scones and the Colcannon I make for St. Patrick’s Day,” shares Jackie Heinz. Jackie uses an antique potato masher, reminiscent of the one she and her cousins scrambled to use in her grandmother’s kitchen.  The mid-day St. Patrick’s Day menu is an annual tradition featuring Irish Coffee, Irish Colcannon, Reuben Quesadilla, and Irish Pancakes with maple syrup and Kerrygold® Irish butter. Jackie’s Irish recipes are here.

Kindness was the currency amid Irish farm cottage families, for the humble Irish in Savannah welcoming potato famine immigrants, and for Irish heritage celebrants on St Patrick’s Day today. Fleeing the Great Potato Famine in Ireland (1840s), Irish immigrants lived in the most humble of housing in the Old Fort District east of East Broad Street near Savannah’s historic Trustees’ Gardens, and in the shanty towns off of West Broad Street (today’s MLK Jr. Boulevard) near Yamacraw and Frogtown. The Celtic Cross, located in Emmet Park is near the old Irish neighborhood along the Bay Street strand, reminds daily travelers of the hearty Irish pioneers of the American south who exemplify still random acts of kindness.

Near the Old Fort District today, there is welcoming old Irish charm at Green Palm Inn (548 East President Street), a 4-bedroom cottage inn, once townhomes to sea captains.  Innkeeper Diane Crew’s Irish ancestry comes through her mother’s paternal Skelly family — O’Scolaidhe in Gaelic. “My farming grandfather came to the United States, settling in Minnesota, by way of Nova Scotia and Canada.”

THE O’HARA’S “GONE WITH THE WIND” DESSERTS IN SAVANNAH

In tribute to her Irish heritage, the St. Patrick’s Day holiday lunch menu (called dinner in Ireland) at Green Palm Inn features three “Gone With The Wind” inspired desserts from the O’Hara’s table – Four-Layer Chocolate Cake, White Chocolate Pudding (mange blanc), and Champagne Pound Cake Minis with Champagne Glaze. In Irish style, the inn’s hearty menu – complementary to lodging guests — will include also Poached Salmon, Leek and Bacon Potato Soup, Pear and Dried Cranberry Chutney, and market plates including pork loin marinated in garlic and honey mustard, banger sausage, smokehouse ham, Murphy and Kerrygold Irish cheese, butter, and Irish Soda and brown breads. Beverages are red wine, sparking wine, and Emmet’s Irish cream.

Celebrate all of March, Irish-American Heritage Month, with festive homemade desserts. Photo courtesy Jackie Heinz, Zeigler House Inn.

Celebrate all of March, Irish-American Heritage Month, with festive homemade desserts. Photo courtesy Jackie Heinz, Zeigler House Inn.

40 SHADES OF GREEN ARE IN SAVANNAH STREETS ON ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

Savannah lacks Ireland’s green mountain cliffs and rolling hillsides, renowned for the island’s “40 shades of green” nature-scapes. However, on St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah anyone who meanders along the 191st Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade route through the National Landmark Historic District is sure to see 40 shades of green and more.

The “Wearin’ of the Green” in Savannah is quite the picturesque scene, with shades of Clover Green, Emerald Green, Kelly Green, and Shamrock Green trumping Army Green, Tea Green or Screaming Green for the day’s favorites.

Led by Irishmen walking with fashionable shillelaghs, Savannah’s Irish families join hundreds of parade floats and invited bands playing heritage-conscious tunes like “McNamara’s Band” and “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.” The crowd-pleasing Irish farm horses, now America’s iconic Budweiser® Clydesdales, prance majestically along old town streets under live oak tree canopies dancing with Spanish Moss (which is gray, not green!). Early rising revelers attempt to temporarily homestead the choicest of spots in the historic squares (small garden parks) and line the parade route for the front-seat vantage points to watch a three-hour long parade.  Reserved bleacher seating is available at Bay Street, Colonial Cemetery, and Cathedral locations.

WHAT IF IT RAINS ON ST. PATRICK’S DAY?  

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a rain or shine event, all the more akin to a Top o’ the Mornin’ day in Ireland, we’d say!

“…I live in Ireland every day in a drizzly dream of a Dublin walk….”
― John Geddes, A Familiar Rain

IS SAVANNAH GA AT THE END OF THE IRISH RAINBOW?

Both Savannah and Ireland are celebrated for natural beauty, golf, romance, religious traditions, historic heritage, and food.

If Guinness in Dublin Ireland is where the Irish rainbow begins, then Guinness ice cream could very well be the end of that dreamy rainbow in Savannah, Georgia USA. The annual Irish favorite is served during the month of March each year from the nostalgic Leopold’s Ice Cream shop (212 East Broughton Street; closed St. Patrick’s Day).

One critic dubbed author Margaret Mitchell’s Remington typewriter the harp, the official symbol of Ireland. It is the Irish harp music that was played by traveling bards reading the Psalms.

This trail of Irish music and faith reminds us, too, of Irish worship observed at Savannah’s majestic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (Lafayette Square) during the St. Patrick’s festivities. John Paul Thigpen relays the story of brawny and charismatic Irishman named John McMahon, a captain in Savannah’s Irish Jasper Greens. “[W]hen McMahon marched his whole company to the Catholic Church for Mass on Sunday morning, the Jasper Greens felt a sense of pride: Under McMahon’s leadership, as one said, they were ‘testifying their respect for religion, and proving to all that soldiers should not blush to bend the knee to their Creator.’”

GETTING HERE

Airlines at Savannah/Hilton Head International airport offer over 45 daily nonstop flights – American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, United, and U.S. Airways. Allegiant begins service in May 2015.

ST PATRICK’S DAY DINING TIPS

Ask any Romantic Inns innkeeper where the best Irish pubs in Savannah are. Expect the hearty Irish drinking songs, including “Wild Rover” and “Beer, Beer, Beer Tidily Beer, Beer, Beer”.  Everyone has favorites!

Make dinner reservations early. Or, plan ahead or stop in spontaneously at The Fresh Market (5525 Abercorn Street, Savannah) to fill a last-minute picnic basket with a wide variety of Kerrygold® Irish cheddar cheese and butter, fresh-cut corned beef, deli Rueben Panni, mustards, St. Paddy’s Day cupcakes, pretzels, cookies, Irish Soda Bread, Moonstruck’s Bailey’s Irish Truffles, Guinness® Draught, and the freshest of seasonal berries.

Wishing all a happy St. Patrick’s Day, and hoping you are in Savannah, Georgia, on March 17, 2015!

““These things I warmly wish for you:
Someone to love, some work to do,
A bit o’ sun, a bit o’ cheer,
And a guardian angel always near”
– Irish blessing.

A Guide to Duluth, Georgia’s Korean Restaurants

By Kate Parham Kordsmeier

For those of you following allowing on my Instagram adventures, you likely saw that I recently took a tour of Duluth’s Korean eateries. I have to say, the city wasn’t kidding when they called Duluth the Seoul of the South—the sheer number of Korean restaurants in town is enough to warrant the nickname, but when you consider the authenticity of the cuisine, it’s even more deserving. To wit, here are five restaurants serving up some of Korea’s most iconic dishes:

Suwanee Chicken & Pizza - Kate Parham KordsmeierYangnyeom (Fried Chicken) at Suwanee Chicken & Pizza: Southern Americans aren’t the only ones with a penchant for fried chicken—in Korea, lightly battered (read: less greasy) and extra crispy wings are eaten frequently, often after work, and washed down with beer. Head to this fast-casual spot for an ultra-crunchy version—I recommend getting the sweet garlic sauce on the side, as it tends to weigh down the skin—served alongside pickled radish.

Jang Ju Sang - Kate Parham KordsmeierJeon (Pancakes) at Jang su Jang: When locals are craving homestyle cooking like their grandmother’s, they head to Jang su Jang for bona fide bites, like tofu soup, steamed pork, marinated beef, cold noodles and jeon (a savory, pan-fried fritter often filled with kimchi or seafood and dipped into a soy-vinegar sauce). Go for the mung bean jeon paired with roasted barley tea. Simply push the call button on your table when you’re ready to order—speed is paramount here.

Tree Story Bakery - Kate Parham Kordsmeier

Red Bean Bbang (bread) at Tree Story Bakery & Café: Few bakeries make the majority of their products from scratch multiple times a day, but at this hip café, fresh is the name of the game—a bite of their bbang (egg bread) bursting with housemade cream and red bean paste filling (a common Korean ingredient) proves as much. The dozens of baked goods found here, from cakes and cookies to mochi, manju and sugar balls, are best washed down with a sweet potato latte or Misugaru (a healthy grain tea that’s the equivalent of our breakfast smoothies).

Yummy Place - Kate Parham KordsmeierKimbab at Yummy Place: After school, children in Korea often head to cafés and food carts for snacks like donkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlet with BBQ sauce), ddukpokgi (rice cakes in spicy sauce), kkochi o-deng (fish cake soup) and kimbab, a roll resembling Japanese sushi that employs steamed white rice seasoned with sesame oil and wrapped in dried seaweed sheets. Fillings range from tuna salad, crab stick and eggs to veggies like cucumbers, carrots and radish, all of which can be found at this street food specialty shop, Yummy Place.

Breakers BBQ - Kate Parham Kordsmeier

Korean Barbecue at Breakers Korean Bar-B-Q: Korean barbecue is nothing if not communal—not only do you share food with your tablemates, but you even cook the food yourself, on an open grill in the center of your table. This Duluth newcomer (which has plans for nine other locations throughout the state this year) is upping the BBQ ante by serving top-tier meats (think 20-day dry-aged short rib and pork belly from a Minnesota farm akin to Korea’s legendary Jeju Black Pig) in a swanky, upscale setting where the table grills use down-draft vent technology, eliminating smoke and lingering smells.

All photos courtesy of Kate Parham Kordsmeier. Follow her culinary adventures on Instagram.

KateKate is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and a freelance food and travel writer for more than 100 publications. Click here to read more culinary content from Kate

What to Order at Five Must-Try Buford Highway Vietnamese Restaurants

By Kate Parham Kordsmeier

Photo courtesy of Lee's Bakery

Photo courtesy of Lee’s Bakery

The Restaurant: Lee’s Bakery

The Order: Banh Mi (sandwich)

This traditional Vietnamese sandwich—pâté and/or various kinds of pork and deli meat comingle alongside pickled veggies (think jalapenos, daikon, carrots and cucumbers) and fresh herbs (usually coriander or cilantro) in between a crusty French baguette smothered in mayo—is not only made from scratch at this sandwich and soup shop, it’s also the steal of the century at just $2.99. Go for the Grilled BBQ Pork version.

 

The Restaurant: Nam Phuong

The Order: Gỏi cuốn (spring rolls)

Gather up a group and head to this unsuspecting Vietnamese mecca where you roll your own spring rolls, also sometimes called salad rolls or summer rolls. I’m partial to the BBQ pork, but the shrimp is also great—simply dip rice paper into warm water and pile it high with your choice of fresh herbs, rice vermicelli and julienned carrots and cucumbers. Dipped in a tangy fish sauce, these rolls are DIY delicious.

 

The Restaurant: Chateau Saigon

The Order: Bò Lúc Lắc (Shaken Beef)

Like many Vietnamese dishes, this French-inspired beef creation is named for its cooking method: tender beef is tossed back and forth in a shaking motion over high heat. At Chateau Saigon, you’ll find it served authentically over greens with sautéed onions, scallions and tomatoes, alongside rice.

 

The Restaurant: Pho Dai Loi #2

The Order: Phở (Beef Noodle Soup)

This soup shop, tucked away in a corner of a strip mall, is the undisputed master of Vietnam’s iconic dish of phở. Here, a deliciously rich broth chockfull of spices (think cinnamon, star anise, roasted ginger, roasted onion, cardamom, coriander, fennel and clove) teems with rice noodles and a variety of beef cuts, from eye round steak and well-done flank to marble brisket, soft tendon and bible tripe (mix-and-match the cuts to customize your soup). Each steaming bowl comes with a bounty of fresh herbs, bean sprouts, lime and jalapenos for toppings.

 

The Restaurant: C’om Grill

The Order: đu đủ (papaya salad)

Though papaya salad is often thought of as a Thai dish, the Vietnamese version is equally bright and packed with flavor. At this casual eatery, you’ll find their signature salad brimming with green mango, papaya, Fuji apple, roasted peanuts and crispy scallions in a fish vinaigrette sauce. It’s the perfect balance of textures and flavors, and comes with the option to add pork, beef, chicken, lamb, shrimp or fish.

KateKate is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and a freelance food and travel writer for more than 100 publications. Click here to read more culinary content from Kate

Make a Splash at These Indoor Pools

By Lesli Peterson

atlanta hotels with indoor pool

What makes a hotel family-friendly? It could be the in-room amenities, like refrigerator or bathtub. It could be special touches, like children’s programming or a babysitting service.  For this family, the number one rule of thumb is a pool.  Our city-exploring happens during the day, but pools provide entertainment for my kiddos in early morning and late evening, when we would otherwise be stuck in the room.  It helps to start the day by getting the wiggles out, and it relaxes and calms them before bed…also ensuring they sleep through the night.  You’ll find numerous hotels around Atlanta with pools, but the number dwindles a bit for winter guests looking for an escape from the cold. Here are details about our favorite family-friendly Buckhead hotels with indoor pools, and a list of additional hotels as well.

RC Buckhead

Ritz-Carlton Buckhead

Ritz Carlton Buckhead’s pool is one of my family’s favorites.  It is a saline pool, heated to perfection.  The ceiling is glass, and while the cold outside weather created a dew on the ceiling that prevented us from star-gazing, we did enjoy the open feeling that came from a view of the sky.  You’ll find boogie boards and noodles strategically placed around the pool deck, which our boys enjoyed.  Guest services even provided the kids with rubber ducks, as swim partners.

The pool is attached to the fitness center, so we were able to leverage the locker rooms.  There were lockers, showers, plastic bags for holding our wet suits, extra towels, and fruit for the boys to munch on.  I must also admit that hubby and I tried out the sauna and hot tub, as well. Heaven!

See more photos of our pool adventures here.

MO Atlanta

Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta

Mandarin Oriental is one of Atlanta’s most beloved hotels, with inescapable opulence and grandeur. Don’t let this fool you, though; they love children.  Strollers, cribs, and even baby monitors are available on request. Be sure to inquire about the Little Fan’s Passport program, also. But the real fun is at the pool.  Through a beautiful hallway, and down an elevator, kid’s will love the secret entrance to the swimming area.  The heated pool is only steps away from an extra restroom, perfect for little one’s “emergencies.” In warmer months the doors open to a view of the sunken courtyard and garden, as well as the views of Buckhead.

Learn more about our stay at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta here.

JW Marriott Buckhead

There are many things to love about JW Marriott Buckhead and its conveniences. One of my favorite: it is adjacent to Lenox Mall.  That small detail opens a world of family-friendly options for shopping and dining.  Until September 1, 2015 Marriott is offering complimentary valet parking to ease your unloading, and a free kids’ meal at the onsite restaurant with the purchase of an adult meal. Kids will also enjoy the heated pool and whirlpool for exerting the leftover energy that kid’s pack during vacation. You’ll also enjoy the glass ceiling, allowing in ample light for your swim.

See their site for more details about this Kids Eat Free package.

Additional Atlanta hotels with indoor pools:

Atlanta Airport Marriott

Atlanta Marriott Marquis

Comfort Inn & Suites Galleria

Embassy Suites Atlanta – Buckhead

Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta

Hampton Inn & Suites Galleria

Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta Airport

Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta Downtown

Renaissance Atlanta Waverly

Sheraton Atlanta Downtown

Sheraton Suites Galleria-Atlanta             

Springhill Suites by Marriott Atlanta Buckhead

Staybridge Suites Atlanta – Buckhead

The Westin Peachtree Plaza

Wingate Inn & Suites Atlanta Galleria

LesliLesli is the Georgia’s official Family Explorer and the owner of 365AtlantaFamily, which offers a daily dose of inspiration for metro-area families. Click here for more Family content from Lesli.