Savannah Travel Guide – Top Things to Do
Nestled on the southeastern coast of Georgia, Savannah is a city teeming with history, charm, and unparalleled beauty. Known for its cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and grand old oak trees draped with Spanish moss, the city offers a unique blend of old-world charm and modern sophistication. Whether you’re a history buff, nature enthusiast, or food lover, Savannah has something for everyone. Here’s your ultimate travel guide to this Southern gem.
History and Architecture
Historic District: At the heart of Savannah is its Historic District, one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the U.S. Here, you’ll encounter a maze of cobblestone streets lined with antebellum homes, historic churches, and beautiful squares. Each square has its own unique character, often featuring a monument or fountain at its center.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: The Mercer-Williams House became famous because of the book and subsequent movie, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” This mansion offers guided tours, providing a deep dive into Savannah’s history and the events described in the book.
Bonaventure Cemetery: This historic cemetery, established in 1846, is a place of beauty and tranquility. The ornate tombstones, sculptures, and the overarching canopy of oak trees make it a must-visit.
Nature and Outdoors
Forsyth Park: Spread over 30 acres, this park is the perfect place to relax and soak in Savannah’s beauty. The park’s iconic fountain, numerous walking paths, and children’s play areas make it a favorite among locals and tourists.
Savannah Riverfront: Stroll along the Savannah River and enjoy the bustling scene of shops, restaurants, and cafes. The Riverfront also provides spectacular views of the Talmadge Memorial Bridge and passing ships.
Tybee Island: Just a short drive from downtown Savannah, Tybee Island offers sandy beaches, a historic lighthouse, and the opportunity to indulge in water sports.
Food and Drink
Savannah boasts a vibrant culinary scene that’s deeply rooted in Southern traditions but with a modern twist.
The Grey: Housed in a 1938 Greyhound bus terminal, this restaurant offers dishes inspired by Southern ingredients but with an innovative touch.
Leopold’s Ice Cream: Established in 1919, this retro ice-cream parlor offers classic flavors that take you on a nostalgic journey.
Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room: For a taste of traditional Southern cuisine, this is the place to be. Think fried chicken, collard greens, cornbread, and more, all served family-style.
Arts and Culture
SCAD Museum of Art: Run by the Savannah College of Art and Design, this museum showcases contemporary art across various disciplines, from painting and sculpture to fashion and design.
Savannah Theatre: Established in 1818, it’s one of the oldest continuously operating theaters in America. The theater hosts a range of performances from musicals to comedies.
First Friday Art March: On the first Friday of every month, the Starland District comes alive with art exhibitions, live music, and street food, celebrating the city’s vibrant arts community.
From boutique stores to antique shops, Savannah provides a unique shopping experience.
Broughton Street: This historic street is lined with a mix of national brands and local boutiques, offering everything from fashion to handmade crafts.
City Market: A hub of activity, City Market is a blend of art studios, souvenir shops, and eateries, making it the perfect spot to pick up gifts and mementos.
Tips for Travelers
Weather: Savannah has a humid subtropical climate. Summers can be hot and humid, so pack lightweight clothing. Winters are mild, but it’s wise to carry a light jacket.
Transport: While the Historic District is best explored on foot, the city also offers a range of transportation options including buses, trolleys, and bike rentals.
Events: Savannah hosts numerous events throughout the year, from the famous St. Patrick’s Day Parade to the Savannah Film Festival. Check the city’s events calendar before your visit.
Accommodation: From historic bed-and-breakfasts to modern hotels, Savannah offers a range of accommodation options catering to every budget.
Savannah is more than just a city; it’s an experience. Its rich history, combined with its modern vibes, make it a destination that entices and enchants. Whether you’re sipping on a mint julep in a historic square, exploring a museum, or enjoying a beach day at Tybee Island, Savannah promises memories that will last a lifetime.
While Savannah’s popular attractions are certainly worth the visit, the city also offers a plethora of lesser-known gems that will make your trip even more memorable.
Wormsloe Historic Site: A breathtaking avenue sheltered by live oaks and Spanish moss leads to the colonial ruins of Wormsloe, the oldest standing structure in Savannah. It offers a glimpse into the life of colonial settlers and the history of the Georgia coast.
Skidaway Island State Park: A haven for nature lovers, this park offers miles of walking trails, boardwalks that venture into salt marshes, and beautiful camping spots.
Jepson Center for the Arts: While many tourists flock to the larger SCAD Museum, the Jepson Center, with its modern design and fantastic exhibitions of contemporary art, often goes under the radar.
Kayak Kafe: For those looking to get a taste of local favorites with a healthy twist, this kafe offers dishes like the famous kale salad or shrimp tacos.
Nightlife and Entertainment
Savannah might be historic, but it’s far from sleepy. Once the sun sets, the city comes alive with a vibrant nightlife.
The Rail Pub: An authentic dive bar experience, The Rail offers travelers a chance to mingle with locals, enjoy live music, and even partake in their famous “Happy Hour of Horror.”
The Savannah Smiles Dueling Pianos Saloon: A unique night-out experience, this saloon features talented musicians dueling it out on pianos, taking requests from the audience and ensuring a night full of music and laughter.
Ghost Tours: Savannah is often dubbed one of America’s most haunted cities. For those interested in the paranormal, various tours offer spine-chilling tales of Savannah’s ghostly residents, from haunted inns to eerie cemeteries.
While Savannah is generally a safe city, like any other tourist destination, it’s essential to keep a few safety tips in mind.
Stay Aware: As you stroll through the city, especially at night, remain aware of your surroundings. Stick to well-lit areas and avoid isolated spots.
Parking: Ensure that you park in designated areas and avoid leaving valuables visible in your vehicle.
Local Laws: Savannah has some unique laws, such as open container laws in the Historic District. Familiarize yourself with these to ensure a hassle-free trip.
Savannah’s allure lies in its ability to transport visitors back in time while offering the comforts and excitements of the present day. With its blend of history, art, nature, and gastronomy, it is a city that caters to a vast spectrum of interests and passions.
Whether you’re dancing the night away in a lively pub, marveling at the architectural wonders, or simply lounging under a canopy of Spanish moss, Savannah ensures that each moment spent is a cherished memory.
In this coastal gem, every street corner narrates a tale, every building has a story, and every visit promises a symphony of experiences. So, pack your bags and let Savannah weave its magic around you.