Savannah, Georgia is a town that has a way of capturing your soul with its southern charm and beauty pouring from its city streets and steps. With so much to offer, planning a trip to this coastal town can be a challenge but whether it is your first or fifth time visiting you'll find something below to satisfy both your inner tourist and laid back local. Read more to find everything from what to do to how to get there to where the best dessert places are and more.
We have always loved the beautiful landscapes and culture of the American South but had never traveled together to the port town of Savannah but God provided. We had the amazing opportunity to travel once more, this time to Georgia in celebration of a friends wedding which gave us the opportunity to soak in some of this southern charm together.
Separated from South Carolina by the Savannah River, this picturesque, historical landmark of the South is complete with live oak trees, horse drawn carriages and quaint park squares.
It's footprints began in 1773 when General Oglethorpe and his passengers landed amidst the Savannah River. Georgia was named the "13th colony," with Savannah being the first city of Georgia. Savannah played historical roles in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars as well as the invention and advancement of the cotton gin which was created right outside of Savannah.
Savannah's historical district is one of the largest and most visited in the country. Filled with cobble stone streets, beautiful, historic architecture as well as the natural charm that comes from the scenery that encompasses streets and parks throughout the city, it is a must visit when seeking some southern charm and hospitality.
How to get there
Car - The most popular method of getting to Savannah is by car. Savannah is located about 20 minutes off of I-95 making it very easy to get to. Good parking is generally available in the downtown area for an average of 5-10 dollars.
Air - Savannah is home to a small international airport that is about 15 minutes away from the downtown historic district. There are over 20 non-stop flights to and from Savannah with a variety of airline choices. From the airport you can rent a car or take public transportation into downtown.
How to get around
Savannah is unique due to the fact that you can literally see this historical charm via horse drawn carriages, foot or tour buses like the one pictured above. This method of getting around will certainly take you a step back in time. You can check out these options at Savannah Tours.
While Savannah is truly a walking town it is possible to drive around downtown and find public parking. However, when visiting, be sure to wear comfortable shoes. Once you park and start exploring you will find that it really is more convenient to walk to your destinations downtown. Other options include the local shuttle that circulates downtown as well as the rental bike option which we believe is a great way to see any city!
When to visit
In our opinion there is truly not a bad time to visit Savannah. Fall and spring are nice times to visit with warm days and cool evenings. In the spring, you may even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse at the beautiful blooms of the Azaleas.The summers can be hot and humid, especially if you plan to be out walking around all day so that is something to keep in mind.
You can catch up on the southern festival scene during the fall, with festivals such as the SCAD Film Festival and the Food and Wine festival. These can be fun times to visit but also can cause hotel prices to rise and create larger crowds.
During the month of March, Savannah turns green for one of the largest St. Patricks Day Festivals around the world. For those that enjoy a big crowd and want to connect with their Irish heritage, this can be an enjoyable time to visit.
Christmas can also be a beautiful, well known time to visit with all the beautiful decorations around town, making this southern charm a festive wonderland.
Where to lodge
Staying downtown is definitely a more convenient option but can be pretty expensive without some careful planning. There can be affordable options in downtown Savannah if you just search hard enough.
Airbnb is certainly a popular choice when staying downtown. Many of the airbnb options also provide inclusive parking which is something that you would want to make sure of, because without this option, you could find yourself with a hefty parking deck fee at the end of your stay. You can often also find great hotel deals on sites such as Groupon or Travelzoo.
Hampton Inn Historic District
The Marshall House
Staybridge Suites Historic District: * This was where we stayed last time we were visiting. It has an amazing location and the staff was amazing. This would be the perfect spot for a long time stay too because each room comes with a kitchenette and seating section. Breakfast was included and the view was wonderful.
Westin Savannah Harbor Resort
Outside of Downtown:
Tybee Island: If you're looking for more of a beach scene be sure to head over to Tybee. You can stay in a beach inn or a rental house.
Midtown: There are great chain hotel options that may allow for a more affordable option with a drive into downtown that still isn't too far or unaffordable.
What to do
1) Park Hop!
If you love nothing better than a good park then Savannah, Georgia is YOUR place! It is loaded with so many parks and squares that are all different and have their own unique character and charm that you just can't miss out on trying to see as many as possible! The downtown area is laid out in a grid which makes it easy to stumble upon many of it's 22 squares just when walking from one destination to another. However, there are a few notable parks that you might be interested in outside of the tourist zone.
Tiedeman Park: This was one of our favorite parks that we visited. We grabbed a sandwich and drove over to Tiedeman, found a quiet park bench and enjoyed the beautiful scenery and calmness of being away from the hustle and bustle of downtown. Parking was simple too. Since Tiedeman is located right in the middle of a neighborhood in Midtown we were able to just pull off to the side and park on the side of the park. We were the only ones there for most of our time at the park other than the occasional dog walkers and bike riders passing through.
Forsyth Park: Serving as the largest park in the historic district of Savannah, Forsyth Park covers 30 acres of land just a few blocks away from the river front. It's easily accessible by foot and/or car. This park is a center of activity, hosting everything from a weekly Farmers Market to concerts and recreational events. It's a must see when visiting the city for the first time and the impressive fountain that centralizes the park won't leave you disappointed either.
Emmet Park: This is your park if you find yourself close to the riverfront desiring a bit of lush greenery and spanish moss. Located right on Bay Street, Emmet Park is also one that finds itself hosting many events and activities throughout the year. It's a central spot for those taking a break from River or Bay Streets that also offers scenic and historical views of downtown.
Chippewa Square: This square, like many of Savannah's squares offers beautiful green scenery and a lovely opportunity to take a break from walking or just to enjoy the world passing you by for a moment. However, Chippewa is a bit unique because is was made famous by a well-known movie scene. That's right, this is the famous spot where the bench from Forrest Gump once sat. The bench has now been moved to the Savannah History Museum. However, you can still walk by and remind yourself that "Life is like a box of chocolates." Last time we were at Chippewa I happened to look down as we were walking off and I had a white feather laying on the ground between my feet. Not kidding - for all of my Gump fans!
Washington Square: Located just on the edge of downtown but still easily accessible by walking just off Bay street, this park, in my opinion was one of the most beautiful due to the secluded, quiet nature of the park. It was like stepping outside of downtown into a glimpse of the past. You could almost imagine walking around in historical attire, spending your Sundays after church sitting in the park reading or having a picnic with the family.
Reynolds Square: This is one I had to document because when we first visited Savannah we parked in a deck nearby to this square and the second we exited the parking deck we were facing Reynolds square. At the time there was a perfect, small southern wedding happening in the park. The sound of the Violin and the scene of greenery mixed with the extravagant attire was breathtaking. It was so beautiful and it has stuck with me ever since. Due to that moment, this square easily became one of our favorites.
2) Take in the Beautiful Architecture
As you visit the beautiful, free squares and parks of Savannah, be sure to stop and take in the historic architecture that is flooding throughout this coastal city. There are historical homes and buildings on every corner but a few places that you may want to document as you're walking around are:
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Known as The Sistene of the South, The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is a beautiful sight in the middle of historic downtown Savannah. After being destroyed in a fire the structure was rebuilt creating a beautiful center for worship for centuries. Self-guided tours are available Monday-Saturday - 9:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Juliette Gordon Low House
The birthplace of the founder of Girl Scouts of America, Juliette Gordon Low's home is still owned and operated by The Girls Scouts of the USA. Scouts from all over the country come to volunteer, learn and explore this historic landmark that honors the first Girl Scout.
Olde Pink House
This historic home, that showcases lovely colonial architecture was one of the only surviving structure from the fire of 1796. It is in fact painted Pink.
Located at 429 Bull Street this italianate style home is best known for it's role in a murder mystery between a well known Jim Williams and his assistant Danny Hansford in 1981. The book & film, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil depicts the tale of this non-fictional murderous trial between this self made millionaire and his assistant.
3) Take a Tour
This is a city worth touring. Probably due to it's highly historical representation, as well as it's natural beauty and lively charm. It makes for that perfect place to tour around and learn something new.
You can participate in anything from a self-guided historical tour, a ghost tour, wildlife tours, or a number of their brewery and culinary tours. Check out the Savannah Guide to choose your next adventure. We also recommend checking out Groupon or LivingSocial for great deals on Savannah's tours as they can get quite pricey without a coupon.
Last time I was visiting, a few of my gal pals and I did an evening ghost tour that we had booked on Groupon. It ended up being a very neat experience! I was skeptical at first but I was pleasantly surprised by the end of the tour because of how much history I learned about the city just within two hours.
4) Visit the Museums
Savannah History Museum
The Savannah History Museum is a historical landmark in itself. Located in an 1800's Railway passenger shed, this structure is filled with large amounts of artifacts that enhance and display the history of Savannah. If you're looking for the iconic Forrest Gump bench this will be your stop. Admissions is only $7 and it's open from 9am-5:30am, daily.
Many people don't think of Savannah as a stop for arts which is pretty surprising considering SCAD - Savannah College of Art and Design is located right in the heart of downtown. You will find a number of opportunities to lay glance at some of the countries most astounding pieces of art. Telfair Square is your go to stop for a quick chance to see as much art as possible. This is because The Jepson Center for the Arts, as well as the Telfair Academy is located right there across from one another. The SCAD Museum of Art is a must stop through if you're needed a dose of contemporary art.
Georgia State Railroad Museum
The Georgia State Railroad Museum is an adventure on it's own. Serving as a major repair center, this hands-on experience allows you to actually take a train ride and learn about the major functions that each building serves in the repair functioning of the locomotive.
Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum
With Savannah being a coastal town it's only fitting that there is a true opportunity to take in some of the coastal history. The Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum houses nine galleries of models, maritime antiques, and sea history. Located in the beautiful historical Scarbrough home, the grounds are just as impressive as the artifacts.
5) Walk around Bonaventure CEMETERY
Head to a cemetery! That's right! You won't be sorry. This is one of our favorite things to do when visiting Savannah. You could spend an entire day just walking through the over 100 acres of impressive, natural landscape that is utterly breathtaking. Located on old plantation grounds just south of downtown, Bonaventure has been named one of America's most beautiful cemeteries. A few of the well known burials within Bonaventure include song-writer Johnny Mercer and novelist Conrad Aiken.
6) Wormsloe Plantation
Another location outside of downtown that is completely worth the drive is Wormsloe Plantation. We spent a wonderful afternoon hiking around the grounds and exploring the coastal landscapes and waterfront views. The mostly untouched grounds are truly breathtaking and stunning.
Personally I'm not much of a shopper gal. However, Broughton Street in downtown Savannah has some pretty neat little stop throughs. Local shops and boutiques such as Savannah Bee Company, The Salt Table, and The Red Clover will leave you feeling like a local shopper.
wine and dine
Treylor Park & Hitch
I'm probably a bit biased since on our first visit a great friend of mine took us to Hitch where we just had to try the Nachos Grande - which are actually loaded waffle fries like you've never had them before. But, now after trying both Hitch and it's sister restaurant Treylor Park I know that you just can't go wrong with it! They have a diverse selection of good foods and beverages in a urban setting which makes it the perfect place for that first date or a night out with the friends.
We stumbled into this local stop after a morning of square walking. We had wandered through downtown's beautiful square's one morning long enough that I needed a good ol' cup of joe. We found this spot right on the corner of Chippewa Square off Bull and Perry Streets and it was amazing. The atmosphere was relaxing, offering both inside and outside seating complete with comfy arm chairs and couches as well as wooden tables for those trying to complete a bit of work. This became one of our favorites.
Joe's Homemade Cafe
We just stumbled upon this place driving into Savannah. We were starving, just looking for a great sandwich and found this as an option online. We were pleasantly surprised. The staff was so friendly, we pretty much felt like family by the time we left and the food was delicious. They had delicious cookies as well!
Savannah Bee Company - Mead
One of the neatest things in our opinion is doing the Savannah Bee Company Mead tastings. If you go to the Broughton Street location they have a bar area set up in the back of the store where you can try Mead, a process of fermenting honey and water that is actually quite delicious. It's definitely a unique experience.
Moon River Brewing
If beer is more your style, there are a ton of brewery options in Savannah. Our personal favorite is Moon River Brewing. There you can choose from a wide selection of craft beers and food items while also soaking in some historical charm as it's housed in a very neat historical building right across from the River.
Leopold's Ice Cream
Just like everywhere in downtown Savannah, Leopold's Ice Cream Shop houses its own historical charm but it's the delicious smells and treats that keep the line strung outside the building and down the sidewalk. That's right, it's rare to see this place open without a line but it's well worth the stop in if you've got a sweet tooth.
Lulu's Chocolate Bar
Recently voted best dessert in Savannah, Lulu's chocolate bar not only houses delicious desserts and drinks but the atmosphere is one for experience as well. All sweet treats are made from scratch and when paired with their perfectly roasted coffee you just can't go wrong. Need I say more?
extra tips & tricks
*Wear comfortable walking shoes - remember those old southern cobble stoned streets.
*Most everything in Savannah is historical in some aspect. Be sure to research some of those hidden wanders to cross paths with.
*Make reservations for dining ahead of time. There is usually a line!
* If you plan on parking be sure to check out the rules for parking decks and street parking prior.
* Be prepared for cooler mornings and evenings - maybe a light jacket but warm days with lots of sunshine so don't forget the sunscreen either.
We are the Bests! Jo and Mo. Founders of BestCapturedTravel.
We have been immensely blessed with many opportunities to see various parts of the world. We live an average, working life in Cambridge, MA but through our many opportunities have developed a passion to see the world. Our goal is to share with other desiring travelers different tips and experiences from around the world as we begin to check them off our bucket list. If anything, we hope to provide a little sense of motivation and adventure to those wishing to embark on their own journey!
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