Savannah, Georgia is a Southern historical gem. It overflows with charm, beauty, and a smorgasbord of activities to choose. Savannah offers so much thanks to its:
- Fascinating history
- Beautiful architecture
- And lively culture
And the high-rise buildings are impressive. This coming from Charleston, where no buildings are taller than church steeples.
Below is a guide to the top activities in Savannah, Georgia, as written by a road trippers who frequently takes the trip from Charleston to Savannah.
Starting from the historic district and working our way outwards, you’re sure to find more than a few great picks for your upcoming trip.
Table of Contents
- Be sure to explore Savannah’s historic district, River Street, and City Squares. Relax in Chippewa Square and admire Forsyth Park’s majestic fountain.
- If you have the time, visit historic attractions like Owens Thomas House or Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace for a journey through the city’s past!
- And if you’ve got more than a day or two, visit some of the outlying attractions nearby to Savannah, GA.
Exploring the Historic District of Savannah
Savannah’s Historic District is a dream come true for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts alike. The city center is awash in beautifully preserved homes, squares, and gardens. The district’s layout, with its cobbled streets and perfectly aligned green squares, showcases the charm of the city like no other. Here, you can take a walking food tour, enjoy a sunset stroll along River Street, shop, dine, and browse art galleries. Any and all will help you soak up the unique atmosphere of this captivating little city.
Strolling River Street
River Street is a must-visit spot in downtown Savannah. It offers a delightful waterfront experience lined with boutiques, restaurants, and pubs. As you stroll along the Savannah river, be sure to check out Factors Walk. Here, you’ll find unique Savannah landmarks like:
Unwinding on Jones Street
Escape the commercial bustle of Savannah and unwind on Jones Street. Colonial houses and red-brick cobblestones line this beautiful street in the historic district. Often referred to as the prettiest street in America, Jones Street offers a tranquil, picturesque setting. It’s perfect for a leisurely stroll.
Admire the stunning architecture, lush greenery, and wrought-iron gates that make this street a hidden gem in the heart of Savannah.
Admiring City Squares
Savannah’s public squares are a delightful attraction, offering a shaded respite from the heat. They’re also an opportunity to admire the city’s unique layout.
Relaxing in Chippewa Square
Established in 1815, Chippewa Square is one of Savannah’s 22 squares located in the downtown historic district. Named in honor of the Battle of Chippewa in the War of 1812, it’s an ideal place to unwind and take in the beauty of Savannah. Enjoy the lovely landscaping, take a leisurely walk around the square, or simply sit and people-watch.
Don’t forget to snap a photo with the statue of General James Oglethorpe, the founder of Georgia.
Chippewa Square is the most famous square in Savannah. It gained special renown for its role in the movie Forrest Gump, as the scene for the iconic park bench. And for fans of the supernatural, the Foley House Inn, a bed and breakfast inn on Chippewa Square, is featured on many of Savannah’s ghost tours.
Among the other charming squares, Johnson Square stands out as the oldest and largest. Pulaski Square, meanwhile, is famous for its magnificent live oaks.
As you meander through, take the time to appreciate the mature trees, statues, and gardens adorning these charming spaces. The city reminded a fellow traveler of Mexico City for its abundant greenery and mature park-like squares.
The squares are also great places to people watch! Savannah residents are known for their eccentricities, and many congregate in the squares.
Parks in Savannah, Georgia
Aside from its many historic buildings and squares, Savannah is home to several beautiful parks. They’re perfect for relaxing and enjoying the city’s natural beauty.
Delighting in Forsyth Park
A 30-acre green space on the southern edge of Savannah’s historic center, Forsyth Park provides a stunning backdrop. Its majestic fountain, walking paths, and nearby historic houses to explore are major draws.
Forsyth Park is a true gem of Savannah, offering a serene oasis amid the bustling city. Wander along the shaded walking paths lined with weeping moss-covered oaks and marvel at the park’s iconic fountain. The designers drew inspiration from the fountains of Paris and Peru.
For a unique experience here, be sure to visit the Fragrant Garden. Designed for blind visitors to experience the park, the garden is full of aromatic scents and plants with unique textures.
Museums and Historic Savannah Attractions
Savannah is rich in history, with many fascinating historic attractions well worth exploring. Delve into the city’s past by:
- Touring historic homes
- Uncovering local mysteries
- And admiring the stunning local architecture
Thanks to the compact nature of the city, pretty much everything is within walking distance of each other.
Each attraction offers a unique insight into Savannah’s storied past. If you have the time, they’re essential stops on your journey through this captivating city’s historic district.
Touring the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters
The Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters is a National Historic Landmark. It offers a glimpse into the lives of the free and enslaved inhabitants who lived there over 200 years ago. Built in 1816, this historic house museum features period rooms filled with art and decor. Interactive exhibits provide insights into the complex relationships between the various occupants.
As you tour the Owens-Thomas House, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the gorgeous parterre garden and the carriage houses. They provide a fascinating look at the daily lives of the 14 enslaved workers who ran the home, worked the grounds, and raised the children.
This guided tour is a sobering reminder of Savannah’s darker history.
Uncovering Mercer-Williams House Mysteries
The Mercer-Williams House is a historic Italian villa-style home. Filled with history, legends, and exquisite architecture, the most famous resident was Jim Williams. Local courts tried him four times for the same gruesome murder that took place inside this house overlooking Monterey Square. For obvious reasons, the Mercer-Williams House Museum is a favorite stop on Savannah ghost tours.
As you explore the three-story red brick house, marvel at the private antique collection. It features furniture from as far back as the 1700s, plus a range of styles from Greek and Italianate to Renaissance Revival. The building and chilling legends of the Mercer-Williams House make it both captivating and intriguing.
Be sure to read what locals refer to as, “the Book”, or “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, before you visit.
Visiting Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace
The Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace is a Regency-style house built in 1821. And it is a must-visit for anyone interested in the history of the Girl Scouts. As the birthplace of the organization’s founder, this National Historic Landmark offers an insight into:
- The accomplishments of Juliette Gordon Low
- And the history of the Girl Scouts
Explore the well preserved rooms and learn about the lifestyle of the family during that period. All while immersing yourself in the inspiring story of this remarkable woman.
Touring the Andrew Low House
The Andrew Low House, a historic home in Savannah, offers visitors a glimpse into the life of its namesake. Low was a self-made man from Scotland who amassed considerable wealth in the cotton industry. Admire the 19th-century furniture, artwork and the beautiful terrace garden surrounding the property.
Savannah History Museum
The Savannah History Museum is a treasure trove of artifacts and exhibits that cover 270 years of Savannah’s history. The museum and nearby Battlefield Memorial Park offer a fascinating journey through the city’s past. Explore the diverse exhibits, which include military uniforms, period clothing, and historical photographs. You’ll also find interactive displays that bring Savannah’s history to life.
One of the highlights of the Savannah History Museum is the “Forrest Gump Bench,” which was moved from Chippewa Square after the end of filming. This piece of cinematic history is a must-see for movie buffs and fans of the film alike.
Georgia State Railroad Museum
The Georgia State Railroad Museum, in a former railroad roundhouse, has many vintage locomotives on display. But it goes even further with immersion!
Visit the historic railcars, take a guided tour of the facilities (on a train, of course), and ride in the engine as a handcar is put through its paces!
Savannah African Art Museum
This museum’s collection has over a thousand West and Central African artifacts. The majority of which are traditional ceremonial and spiritual artifacts. The Savannah African Art Museum serves to highlight the strength, diversity, and spirituality of African culture and art.
Although the guided tour upgrade is always a good option, admission to the museum is free.
The other museum in this cluster is the Savannah Children’s Museum.
Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences
The Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences, also known as the Telfair Museum of Art, is Georgia’s oldest art museum. It features works in a variety of media by European and American artists. The museum’s focus is on art from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Neoclassical Regency-styled 200-year-old mansion serving as the museum’s home is impressive. The architect Detlef Lienau added a rotunda and a sculpture gallery to the structure, making it even more impressive. The museum offers both guided and self-guided audio tours that delve into the history and specifics of the exhibits.
Marveling at the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist
The Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist is a 19th-century Catholic church. It stands as a testament to the city’s rich architectural heritage. This stunning Neo-Gothic building features intricate stained glass windows and gorgeous religious murals. The entire building is sure to leave you in awe.
French colonists built the first iteration after fleeing Haiti in 1799. By the end of the nineteenth century, it had been destroyed and the locals rebuilt bigger and better than before.
Today, the church’s two twin spires rise above Lafayette Square. They’re adorned with beautiful stained glass windows and gargoyles. The interior is equally lovely. Be on the lookout for elaborate gold-leaf carvings and decorations, a lovely altar, and a spacious apse visible from above.
As you explore the cathedral, take the time to appreciate its exquisite interior. It’s considered one of the most beautiful churches in the United States.
First African Baptist Church
Another notable historic place of worship is the First African Baptist Church. It’s not far from the Savannah River waterfront. Founded in 1773, the church was built just over a century later. It is believed to be the country’s oldest African American congregation.
The church’s beautiful sanctuary and stained glass windows are worth a visit. You can also learn about how both free and slave African Americans built it and carved the pews. The sanctuary, now a National Historic Landmark, was a vital stop on the Underground Railroad.
Discovering Savannah on Old Savannah Trolley Tours
The Old Savannah Trolley Tour offers a full overview of Savannah’s history and attractions. It’s a perfect way to discover the city. This hop-on, hop-off service allows you to explore Savannah at your own pace. And costumed guides provide entertaining and informative commentary along the way.
Traversing the historic landmarks and charming city squares, you’ll see it all from the comfort of the trolley. This is a great choice for hot days, or when you just don’t feel like moving. The Old Savannah Trolley Tour is an excellent way to experience all Savannah has to offer.
Shopping in Savannah
Savannah offers a diverse shopping experience that caters to every taste. The range goes from quaint boutiques to popular marketplaces like City Market. Wandering through the historic streets, you’ll find a variety of local and national shops. On offer here is everything from fashion and jewelry to home decor and souvenirs.
With so many shopping options, you’re sure to find the perfect memento to remember visiting Savannah.
Shopping at City Market
In the historic center of Savannah, City Market is a popular destination for shopping, dining, and entertainment. This open-air marketplace occupies restored warehouses. It features a variety of vendors, art galleries, and restaurants. It’s also where you’ll find the American Prohibition Museum.
With its lively atmosphere and unique offerings, City Market is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. Browse, dine, and soak up the local culture.
Shopping on Broughton Street
Broughton Street, the main commercial avenue in Savannah, is lined with a variety of shops, cafes, and restaurants. This bustling hub is ideal for a little retail therapy. From the popular Savannah Bee Company to the Paris Market, something will delight you on Broughton Street.
Whether you’re in search of the perfect gift, a stylish outfit, or simply looking to indulge in some window shopping, a visit to Broughton Street is a must.
Savannah’s historic cemeteries offer a unique and haunting glimpse into the city’s past. Beautiful landscapes and storied histories provide a fascinating and peaceful experience. Pay your respects and explore the city’s history in a more tranquil way.
Take a self-guided tour of these beautiful cemeteries or join a tour to learn more about the history and stories of the people buried there.
Paying respects at Colonial Park Cemetery
Colonial Park Cemetery, the oldest burial ground in Savannah, is a sacred space where history and nature intertwine. Established in 1750, the cemetery contains the graves of influential citizens. It also holds a mass grave for yellow fever victims.
The cemetery is locked after dark, as there have been too many reports of hauntings. You can guess that the gates and fences are gathering places for tours discovering this haunted city.
Wandering through Bonaventure Cemetery
Bonaventure Cemetery is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Savannah’s history. It’s famous for its natural beauty and Victorian monuments. This hauntingly beautiful cemetery offers impressive views of the Wilmington River. The majestic oak trees draped in Spanish moss create a serene atmosphere.
Admire the intricate tombstones and monuments that tell the stories of those who rest here. Bonaventure Cemetery is a timeless beauty.
Culinary delights in Savannah, Georgia
Savannah’s culinary scene is as diverse and vibrant as the city itself. There’s an array of flavors to suit every palate. Traditional Southern cuisine jostles with innovative fusion dishes here. The city’s restaurants and eateries showcase the best of what the Lowcountry has to offer.
Savannah brims with culinary delights. Foodies are sure to swoon over chicken sandwiches en papillote and pork belly sliders. There’s also the requisite BBQ to satisfy the soul. Some more local delectables include:
- Fried green tomatoes
- Local honey
- And shrimp and grits
Savoring Leopold’s Ice Cream
Founded in 1919, Leopold’s Ice Cream is one of the oldest ice cream parlors in the USA and a beloved Savannah institution. This charming parlor in city center is well worth braving the long lines on a hot day for a taste of their famous, handcrafted ice cream.
A wide range of flavors, including the popular Tutti Frutti and Butter Pecan, will satisfy any sweet tooth.
Sampling Moon River Brewing Company’s Craft Beer
In the heart of the historic district, Moon River Brewing Company offers more than just craft beer. The brewery occupies a haunted building, once the first hotel in Savannah. This popular brewery and restaurant features an extensive menu of Southern pub food, including:
- Mac ‘N’ Cheese Bowls
- Chicken and Sausage Creole
- And Taco-Dillas
Enjoy a meal and a pint while soaking up the unique atmosphere of Moon River Brewing Company. And don’t forget to try their seasonal brews for a true taste of Savannah.
Olde Pink House Restaurant
This charming pink structure, which was originally built as a mansion in 1771, is now a popular restaurant serving lunch and dinner.
- Goat cheese-stuffed artichoke fritters
- Strawberry arugula salad
- Jumbo sea scallops
- Or renowned “Southern sushi.”
Keep your cameras close by and take plenty of photos of the food and surroundings!
The “Pink Lady,” one of the delicious cocktails available at the Arches Bar from the Olde Pink House, is a must-try!
Things to do in Savannah, GA, at night
I’ll admit that Savannah has just as diverse nightlife as much larger Charleston. While King Street will offer plenty of drinking options, Savannah, and River Street especially, has made it an art form.
Though not always tasteful. Visit during St Patrick’s Day for an example.
If you’re not looking to imbibe, checkout ghost tours and live performance options.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic evening out or a wild night of dancing, you’ll find it in Savannah. With its vibrant music scene, lively bars, and unique restaurants, the city is vibrant.
Experiencing Sorrel-Weed House Ghost Tours
For a thrilling evening, the Sorrel-Weed House offers a ghost tour that explores its paranormal activity and haunted past. This historic mansion is famous for its architectural charm during the day. At night, it transforms into a popular ghost tour destination.
As you venture through the eerie halls and rooms, listen to the spine-chilling tales of the spirits that are said to haunt the house. You’re sure to enjoy immersing yourself in Savannah’s darker side.
Catching a show at the Historic Savannah Theatre
The Savannah Theatre, the oldest theater in the United States, dates back to 1818. And it is still a popular performing arts venue. It continues to host live musicals and plays. This historic theater provides an unforgettable evening of entertainment.
The playbill may have Broadway tunes or contemporary productions scheduled, so check ahead. Regardless, the Savannah Theatre hosts a delightful night out for theater lovers of all ages.
Things to do near Savannah, Georgia
If you’re looking to venture beyond the city limits, there’s no shortage of adventures waiting just a short drive away from Savannah.
Day Trip to Tybee Island
Just 30 minutes east of Savannah, Tybee Island is a popular destination for beachgoers and history buffs alike. Options here include:
- Five miles of beachfront
- The iconic Tybee Island Light Station
- And the Marine Science Center
There’s plenty to see and do on this picturesque island.
Whether you prefer:
- Relaxing on the sandy shores of the Atlantic Ocean
- Exploring the military fort and the historic lighthouse
- Or learning about the local marine life
Tybee Island offers a delightful day trip.
Exploring Fort McAllister State Park
45 minutes south of Savannah, Fort McAllister State Park offers a fascinating glimpse into the city’s Civil War history. The park features well-preserved earthwork fortifications from the Confederacy era. Here, you’ll find military installations, defensive barracks, and a Civil War museum.
Fort McAllister State Park makes for an interesting day trip for history enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
Exploring Fort Pulaski National Monument
For history and nature lovers, Fort Pulaski National Monument is an ideal destination. Situated on an island close to Savannah, this historic fort played a significant role in the American Civil War. Today, visitors can explore the fort, hike or bike the nature trails. Weekend demonstrations add to the experience, including the firing of Civil War-era muskets and cannons.
Old Fort Jackson Historic Site
This was once one of the most powerful fortifications in the United States. Old Fort Jackson was built between 1808 and 1812 to protect the city from seaborne attack. It is only ten minutes by car east of the Historic District, on the south bank of the Savannah River.
It was first constructed of earth, then brick was added for reinforcement. And finally a moat was dug around it to form what is now the Fort Jackson Maritime Museum. Learn more about its role in the War of 1812 and the American Civil War, as well as explore the defenses and admire the commanding views from its walls.
Wormsloe Historic Site
One of Savannah’s top tourist attractions, Wormsloe Historic Site is also one of the most photographed. It’s only a fifteen-minute drive south of the historic city center. You can explore the plantation’s beautiful grounds as well as its fascinating history. The property is accessible via an avenue lined with giant oak trees.
Noble Jones, one of Georgia’s colonial founders, built the massive estate on the picturesque but remote Isle of Hope in 1739. It still features exquisite antebellum architecture. Aside from exhibits and artifacts, costumed interpreters show what life was like on the plantation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Savannah, Georgia, popular for?
Savannah, Georgia, is famous for beautiful coastal views, iconic antebellum architecture, and history. It’s also known for hospitable locals, fabulous shopping, and excellent restaurants and bars.
From romantic strolls through Forsyth Park to unique shopping in City Market, there’s plenty to delight here!
Is two days enough in Savannah?
Two days in Savannah should give you a good taste of the city’s southern charm. You’ll be able to check out some of the main attractions and historic sites. And a few of the area’s iconic restaurants will be easy additions to your itinerary.
Plus, if you’re looking for some beach time, Tybee Island is just a short drive away.
All that said, you may regret not allocating more time to visit Savannah once you’re here.
How many days should you spend in Savannah, GA?
I recommend at least three days to explore all the wonderful sights that Savannah has to offer. You’ll be able to visit downtown and the riverfront for two days, then take a day trip outside of Savannah on your third day.
Is Savannah, GA, expensive to visit?
Savannah is likely to be more expensive than other nearby destinations. Accommodations in particular tend to be more expensive here than they are in beach towns such as Hilton Head or Tybee Island.
But it’s definitely cheaper than Charleston, South Carolina. But hey, you’d really be missing out on the Lowcountry if you only visited Savanah.
Not a dig at Savannah. But both are worth visiting, in their own right. And seriously, the drive from Savannah to Charleston, with pit stops along the way, is so much fun.