Savannah and Tybee Island – Part 2

August 21, 2015

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Continuing on our journeys through Savannah and Tybee Island, Georgia! You can catch up by reading part one here. One bright and humid day we toured the Georgia State Railroad Museum, an impressive collection of old trains and buildings, including the original, still-working turntable. We took a ride on Sally, the #30 tank engine here.

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The short ride takes you through the grounds, on a couple spins of the turntable, and into one of the old roundhouses, where they’re slowly restoring old train and trolley cars.

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There’s a whole series of passenger cars, box cars, and engines you can tour. Specialized tours offered throughout the day take you inside some of the cars.

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Sally is an honest-to-goodness working coal engine, complete with engineers to take care of her.

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Before our railroad museum tour we popped into the Distillery Ale House, a small craft beer haven housed in an old distillery. After being closed by Prohibition, it served as a pharmacy for many decades before being purchased and renovated into a restaurant in 2008. The design is modeled on a late nineteenth century saloon. There’s a delightful old-timey feel, great food, and a huge beer list.

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One of the more interesting and creepy things we’ve done lately, in our continuing saga to explore lighthouses, is kayak out to Cockspur Island Light. Cockspur is an old channel marker – there used to be two – guarding the mouth of the Savannah River. It’s close to Fort Pulaski, an old Civil War fort. The Cockspur Island Light is maintained by the National Park Service, and while it’s open to the public, it’s accessible only at low tide. It sits on a giant oyster bed, and at high tide the water laps around the base of the lighthouse.

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We rented kayaks from North Island Surf and Kayak. There were some communication issues with the company throughout the week, but ultimately it worked out and we paddled out to the island. The island in many ways is hard to navigate. It’s slippery and covered with sharp oyster shells. We had to beach the kayaks in a certain area, and even then we had to carry them onto the island or the shells would cut the boats. (The east-facing portion of the island is reinforced with stones to protect the lighthouse.)

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After slowly climbing our way over to the lighthouse, we made our way inside. After climbing a few stairs, some of our party (read: the children) abandoned the adventure when giant pale cockroaches went scurrying away. You can actually climb to the very top of Cockspur, but it involves a partial brick stairway, a wooden ladder, and then crawling through a small metal doorway out onto the ledge.

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Once you’re up there, the view is pretty cool. Although still creepy. A tour guide who was on the island with another group said it was perfectly okay to crawl out on the ledge. I did, although the railing’s looking pretty rusted, so it required some careful climbing.

That area off Tybee Island is also perfect for dolphin-spotting. Kayaking back we saw many of them, some of them popping up within a few feet of the boats.

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One of Tybee’s most-visited restaurants – and, yes, it’s a little touristy – is the Crab Shack. The sprawling restaurant is nestled on the marshes facing the mainland. There are multiple dining areas, including a huge covered dining room and an outdoor bar. The main dining room and several of the entryways border a small pond with nearly 70 baby alligators.

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We did another giant Low Country boil – it can be scaled for 1-4 people, although we found the four-person easily fed five. It was full of crabs, shrimp, crawfish, and more. Paired with a North Carolina IPA, it was simply delicious.

The most fun part of the meal was the fact that the skies opened into a complete downpour, one of the heaviest rains I’ve witnessed in my life, and the power went out. It keep flickering back on, but largely it remained out while we ate. But it simply didn’t stop any of the proceedings. The dining room was open but screened in, so we listened to the thunder, lightning, and pounding rain while we ate. Eventually when we left, the parking lot was flooded in over six inches of water. Needless to say, the meal was great.

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One of our last nights we tracked down a sandwich shop in Savannah named Zunzi’s. It was one of the better discoveries on the trip.

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The shop is geared to take-out. There’s a small patio on the side of the building, but it was pouring rain. Still, the close quarters make for good conversation. While I was deciding on sandwiches, the chef plied me with samples of their house-made sausages.

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We chose two sandwiches, on the recommendations of the Zunzi’s crew. The Fisherman’s Deck is loaded with salmon, lettuce, and tomato.

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The Conquistador features a baked chicken breast. Both sandwiches were massive – easily enough for two people. Between the house-made sauces, the meats, everything – these were excellent sandwiches. Well worth the stop in Savannah!

That does for it our travels to Savannah and Tybee! As with any trip, we loved what we found and were left with more to discover in the future.

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FOOD + TRAVEL WRITER

I go by Dr. Breakfast, but in addition to restaurants and recipes, I write about family travel, breweries and distilleries, the arts, outdoor fun, and so much more.

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