Shawndra Russell

Shawndra Russell is a freelance writer who has contributed to numerous publications and sites, including Forbes Travel Guide, Visit Savannah, Travel+Leisure, Cigar Aficionado, BeerAdvocate, and Savannah Morning News, to name just a few. As a digital strategist, Shawndra also helps small businesses invigorate their social media through compelling storytelling. Calling beautiful Savannah, Georgia, home base between her travels, she is a craft-beer geek, thrill-seeker, and published author of women’s fiction and career-minded e-guides.

recent posts

Sweet Home Alabama

Since 2000, Natalie Chanin has helped revitalize her hometown of Florence, Alabama, through Alabama Chanin, her lifestyle company that creates and curates handcrafted clothing, accessories, and home goods. In 2013, Chanin opened a café at The Factory, her shop in Florence. The small menu is as cultured as their products, changing day by day featuring soups, salads, quiches, and desserts for lunch and housemade granola or scones with bacon jam for breakfast. Like her commitment to sourcing local ingredients, Chanin also sources local women—retired factory workers, teachers, [... more]

Young and Bold

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina’s Westbrook Brewing Company has caused quite the splash since opening its doors in 2010. Publicly lauded by peers such as top-quality Cigar City Brewing, Westbrook crafts their brews in barrels that once housed wine, apple brandy, or rum. And for young brewers, husband-and-wife co-founders Edward and Morgan Westbrook don’t shy away from experimenting with lots of flavors, from anniversary editions to seasonals to collaborations with other breweries. In fact, 36 different offerings have already hit the market at one point or another in [... more]

Like Home, But Better

When investment banker-turned-chef Harrison Keevil opened Brookville Restaurant in Charlottesville, Virginia, he vowed to deliver “honest home-cooked food” using ingredients from the region—many within 100 miles or less. This obsession with freshness means new items on the menu daily, with some staples—Chicken and Waffles, Tasso Grits—making regular appearances along with a few “out-there” choices such as Fried Pig Head or interesting spins on such classics as the BLT (gouda, bacon, and Granny Smith apples served on French bread). Keevil’s “homey” pledge extends to the restaurant’s cozy second-floor [... more]

Jekyll Island Club Hotel

Jekyll Island, Georgia, served as an exclusive destination for wealthy families whose names still grab headlines, such as the Rockefellers, Morgans (as in J.P.), Goodyears, and more. Since money and power go hand in hand, many milestones in American history took place here—the think tank meetings for the creation of the Federal Reserve and the first transcontinental phone call, for example. Lucky for us modern-day folks, the Jekyll Island Club Hotel is now open to the public and has kept its old-world charm and pristine landscape. To [... more]

Let’s Do Lunch

When a beloved dinnertime restaurant announces weekend lunch service, foodies rejoice. So celebrations are eminent at Cane & Table in New Orleans, which launched brunch-heavy lunch service from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. in February. Some favorites from dinner (such as the whole fish choices) make an appearance, along with lunch-only sandwiches (the Cuban and Ropa Vieja get shout-outs) and an omelet option. And since Cane & Table was founded by bartenders, drink specials abound along with their already-famous cocktails by mixologist Neal Bodenheimer.

Raising the Brewpub Bar

Take a burgeoning craft-beer mecca, add a high foodie quotient, and you have a recipe for lofty expectations for new Charleston, South Carolina, brewpubs. But Edmund’s Oast has a special ingredient: Charleston native chef Andy Henderson, who worked under James Beard award-winning chef Mike Lata at FIG. Taking that experience, Henderson developed a made-from-scratch meat-lovers’ menu including a charcuterie program, cured swordfish, lamb meatballs, and more savory choices with the aim to “be authentic without being pretentious.”     

Moored in Paradise

Ahh, the Florida Keys. Scuba-diving mecca. Premier sport-fishing destination. Beach-bum heaven. The question isn’t what to do here; it’s where to stay. One popular answer, The Moorings Village and Spa on Islamorada, offers luxury accommodations with nearly limitless amenities. A former coconut plantation, the resort boasts 18 secluded cottages and 1,000 feet of beach—one of the largest private beaches in the Keys. And while a whole lot of nothing might be your desired itinerary, the on-site spa, fitness center, tennis court, kayaks, bicycles, and more are ready [... more]

A Southern Gastropub

In Jacksonville, Florida’s funky, artsy Riverside community, The Blind Fig has gone through several transformations with solid support throughout its evolutions. First a food truck, then an eatery bearing the name The Salty Fig for its first year, The Blind Fig is the brainchild of brothers Jeff and John Stanford. Being dubbed a forward-thinking restaurant, The Blind Fig delivers by creating a gourmet, seafood-heavy Southern menu. Try the pork belly and oyster sandwich (yes, “and”) or the cast iron blue crab mac ‘n’ cheese with a truffled [... more]

Chic Shacks!

Embrace your inner redneck and book a stay at the brimming-with-character Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale, Mississippi. It’s a popular choice for travelers following the Mississippi Blues Trail, which marks the living history of the blues culture throughout the state. The hotel’s Juke Joint Chapel features a stage that has welcomed the likes of Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, and Robert Plant. Shows still take place frequently here, or blues aficionados can head to one of several live music venues nearby. Opt to stay in the converted cotton [... more]

Odd Duck

The announcement that the Odd Duck food trailer was closing in 2011 devastated many Austinites—especially after chef Bryce Gilmore was named a Food & Wine “Best New Chef” and the Food Network featured Odd Duck on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” So you can imagine the jubilation at the recent opening of the brick-and-mortar reincarnation of the trailer—on its original location on South Lamar Boulevard. Even more good news: Gilmore carried over his strict farm-to-table commitment, refusing to source ingredients from outside the state of Texas. [... more]

Grown-Up Treehouses

Remember what it was like to monkey around in a treehouse? You felt like you were in your own little hideaway, with a great vantage point. If you crave that feeling again, head to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, home of the Original Treehouse Cottages. There, you can choose from one of seven hand-built treehouses—four in a hidden, 33-acre forest and three within walking distance to town yet still nestled among the trees. Before you go, get “rustic” out of your mind: These tree structures feature touches of luxury [... more]

Skiing, Anyone?

Snowshoe in West Virginia is the quintessential ski resort. It’s upside-down layout means everything you need is steps away, including 20 pubs and restaurants, more than a dozen shops, and of course, gorgeous accommodations. Superior lodging options include Soaring Eagle and Allegheny Springs, both with bold-colored exteriors and community hearths. Soaring Eagle boasts an underground heated garage and private bar, while Allegheny Springs has on-site hot tubs and full-kitchen options. Both sit merely feet away from lifts and provide amazing views of the Allegheny Mountains, part of [... more]

Zero Complaints

Zero George Street, a gorgeous European-style boutique hotel, was the first of its kind to open in upmarket Charleston, South Carolina. The grounds consist of five carefully restored, grand 19th century historic buildings connected by picturesque courtyards. Guests laze away the day on sprawling piazzas that exemplify Charleston’s architectural style, sign up for a cooking class in the restored Kitchen Carriage House, or stroll the city’s high-end shopping corridor on King Street, located just steps away. The on-site Zero Café + Bar dazzles dinner guests with a [... more]

Sleep in a Gas Station

Two miles from the French Quarter in New Orleans, a funky renovated gas station lures travelers who reject conventional lodging. Although simple on the outside, the rental boasts an eclectically cool interior. Owner and artist Robert Guthrie used his talents to beautifully restore the space, which he calls his “greatest art project.” Gearheads will love the scavenged remnants of the gas station—from car hoods to old pumps—as well as the pieces that pay homage to service stations of yesteryear, such as metal Gulf and Mobile logos. Wide-open [... more]