Four Tips for Your Most Rockin' Savannah Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Weekend
You've written your training plan and done your long runs while the kids were still asleep on the weekend. You've even picked out your race day outfit. Now, all that's left to do is to take care of a few planning details that will give you and your family a fun-filled weekend at the Savannah Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. This famously music-centric race series features a full slate of activities in charming, historic Savannah, making it a perfect destination for you and the kids to enjoy together, even outside of race day. Put on your favorite playlist for run-spiration and plan a weekend that totally rocks with these tips.
Book Your Hotel
With live bands every few miles and over 25 race destinations across the globe, it's no wonder that the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series attracts more runners than any other running series in the United States. Keep that in mind when booking your accommodations, and plan to book sooner rather than later (at least two months in advance is ideal).
Once you're ready to book, think about what's most important to you for the weekend and on race day specifically. Do you love spending time at the race expo but want to avoid being on your feet all day before the race? Consider staying at the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Spa (1 Resort Dr., Savannah, GA), which is one-tenth of a mile from the expo at the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center (1 International Dr., Savannah, GA).
If you prefer to sleep in until the last possible moment on race day, choose a hotel that's close to the starting line for your event. The Hyatt Regency Savannah (2 West Bay St., Savannah, GA) is one-tenth of a mile from the starting line of the half marathon and full marathon, making your race day morning a little less hectic.
Looking for a hotel that will entertain the whole family? Again, the Westin may be your best bet. Not only does it offer a host of health and wellness initiatives to help you run (and recover from) your race, but it also has family-centric activities to keep everyone active. For example, at check-in, you'll receive the Westin Family Travel Journal and a Local Activity Guide to encourage your kids to explore Savannah.
Plan Your Expo Visit and Packet Pick-Up
Before race day dawns on Saturday morning, you'll need to pick up your race packet, which will include your bib, gear bag, and t-shirt. Pick up your packet at the race expo on Thursday or Friday before the race, but be warned: the expo is a large event filled with stalls from race sponsors featuring everything from running apparel to the latest in energy gels. There are also usually some interactive exhibits that may allow you to film your running stride or try out a new shoe.
If you're traveling with younger kids, you'll likely want to get in and out of the expo as quickly as possible. In that case, going on Thursday is your best bet, since it tends to be less crowded. If your travel schedule doesn't allow for a Thursday arrival, go as early as possible on Friday morning to avoid the crowds. The expo is open on Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and on Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
On the other hand, older children may enjoy the expo, especially if they're also athletes. In that case, plan to dedicate a couple of hours to roaming the exhibits and testing all the new gear and protein bars you can find. Careful, though: you don't want to spend too much time on your feet before your big race, so keep an eye on how much you're walking.
Sightsee with the Family
Sure, the race is the main attraction of your weekend, but Savannah has plenty to offer the whole family during your downtime leading up to or after the race.
Since the Savannah weather is relatively cool in November, bring the family to the Savannah Children's Museum (655 Louisville Rd., Savannah, GA). Built on the site of a former rail yard, the entire museum is outdoors and filled with over a dozen kid-friendly activities and exhibits to enjoy. Try your hand at the exploration maze with a giant Lego panel, or play a life-size game of tic-tac-toe. Need a break? The reading nook inside the old railcar gives you a shaded, quiet spot to cool off. Admission is $7.50 for anyone over the age of 18 months, and the museum is closed on Sundays.
Are your kids into ghost stories? Savannah is infamous as one of the country's most haunted cities, and the Creepy Stroll Haunted Walking Tour of Savannah (201 West Oglethorpe Ave., Savannah, GA) takes you through the city's main haunts over the course of an hour and a half. You'll hear spooky stories and tour haunted buildings, but never fear: the tour is age-appropriate for all children (Girl Scouts can even earn a badge for participating). The nightly tour meets at the Colonial Park Cemetery at 8:30 p.m. and costs $20 for adults and $15 for ages 15 and under; children under 5 are free. Book online in advance to guarantee your spot.
No race is complete without a filling pasta dinner the night before. "Carbing up" is a revered race eve tradition among runners, and it's a ritual the whole family can enjoy.
Bella Napoli Italian Bistro (18 E. State St., Savannah, GA) and Cuoco Pazzo Cucina Italiana (606 Abercorn St., Savannah, GA) both rank highly on Yelp and TripAdvisor as the best Italian places in Savannah for families. Bella Napoli Italian Bistro is a cozy, traditional Italian joint, complete with red and white tablecloths and an owner who's likely to serenade you at your table while you dine on Spaghetti con Polpette (spaghetti and meatballs). Since space is limited, reservations are strongly recommended.
Cuoco Pazzo Cucina Italiana, meanwhile, features a grassy back area where kids can work off some energy while waiting for their food. This family-run restaurant will treat you like one of their own, and the homemade pasta dishes are as authentic as they come. Try the Pappardelle alla Norcina to satisfy your pre-race carb cravings.