Savannah with its Spanish moss, Southern accents and creepy graveyards is a lot like Charleston. But this city about 100 miles to the south has an eccentric streak. Savannah College of Art & Design students mix with ghost hunters and preservationists, while Southern-fried restaurants share streets blocks with edgy cafés and restored theaters. The quirky characters in the true-crime story, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, say it all. Yes, eccentricity is the ... continue»
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- #1 Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront, Autograph Collection
- #2 Andaz Savannah
- #3 Mansion on Forsyth Park, Autograph Collection
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The best time to visit Savannah is from March to July when warm temperatures coax the tree leaves and azalea blooms out of hibernation. A cache of festivals also fill this high season. Late winter -- January and February -- is low season, and the drop in temperatures comes with a drop in hotel rates.Best Times to Visit Savannah»
Savannah's grid pattern was laid out during its founding in 1773, and is still in use today. This layout makes the Historic District easy to navigate on foot. Beyond the Historic District and the neighboring islands, Savannah is largely residential.
The Historic District
The Historic District is in the center of the city, chock full of well-preserved Civil War-era architecture. Noteworthy houses include the Andrew Low House and the Juliette Gordon Low House, which is where Juliette Gordon Low (aka Daisy), the founder of the Girl Scouts, was born. To break up the day, you can lounge and ride bikes through Forsyth Park, located at the southern end of the district.
The Riverfront area is made up mainly of River Street, which, as the name suggests, runs along the Savannah River at the northern boundaries of the Historic District. Formerly abandoned due to a yellow fever outbreak, it was later transformed into the bustling and artsy scene it is today. River Street now fills with some of the best restaurants and shops that Savannah has to offer, not to mention a vibrant nightlife scene with jazz bars and clubs.
City Market, located in the northwest of the Historic District and also along the Savannah River, is the latest up-and-coming area in Savannah. The region attracts a younger crowd with trendy restaurants and music venues. Some of the best shopping, especially for antiques, is here.
One of Savannah's major attractions is its historic homes, which the city has made huge efforts to preserve. The most popular include the following:
Andrew Low House
The Andrew Low House, on Lafayette Square and near the Savannah River, was built in the mid-1800s by a wealthy Scottish merchant that was passed down through generations. Today, its antiques- and silver-filled rooms are open to visitors. And if you're a history buff, you might find it interesting that one of the home's storied guests was a pre- Civil War Robert E. Lee. The house was later home to Juliette Gordon Low, the ex-wife of Andrew Low's son. It was here that she founded the Girl Scouts of the USA.
Sitting on Madison Square in the middle of the Historic District is the Green-Meldrim House, which was originally built by a wealthy cotton merchant in 1850. The house, which was once used as Union General William T. Sherman's headquarters during the Civil War, is filled with lavish furniture and interiors, including porcelain doorknobs.
Isaiah Davenport House
The Davenport House is where the historic home preservation efforts in Savannah began in 1954. At the east end of the Historic District, the house is built in a Federal style and features a majestic elliptical stairway. Although still beautiful, writers lament the condition of the reproduction furniture that doesn't quite match the decadence of the originals from the early 1800s.
Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace
Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts, was raised in this house built in the early 1800s. Located in the middle of the Historic District by Wright Square, the house is run by the Girl Scouts of the USA and features artwork, including some of Low's own. Also be sure to walk up Drayton Street to visit the Andrew Low House, which the Girl Scouts founder called home in her later years.
Sitting a couple blocks northeast of the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace is the Owens-Thomas House, built between 1816 and 1819. The extravagant house is often referred to as a "jewel box." The Visitors' Center sits in the former slave quarters and stable.
Located south of the Historic District, the Victorian District was the first suburb of Savannah. Although it is mostly residential, the area is worth a visit for what writers describe as some of the best Deep South architecture built after the Civil War.
A short 20-mile drive east from downtown Savannah will bring you to the city's islands. The most well-known island in Savannah is Tybee Island. The five-mile-long island has charming beaches, cute restaurants and shops that make for a pleasant day trip. For the adventurous types, Tybee also offers spots for fishing, jet skiing and kayaking.
Southeast of Tybee is the quaint Isle of Hope, which features charming cottages and beach homes. Farther south, Skidaway Island is known for its golf courses and numerous trails for jogging and biking.
Savannah is known for its Southern hospitality and in turn, is generally very safe. Visitors most likely will not run into any problems, especially in the touristy Historic District. However, you should still use common sense when exploring the area and keep an eye on your valuables. Use a cab if you're unsure of where you're going, and walk in groups. River Street in particular can get quite rowdy at night.
The area outside of the Historic District is relatively seedier, so you should not go south of Forsyth Park.
The best way to get around Savannah is by foot and by car. This compact city of 22 squares, filled with spurting fountains, eclectic sculptures, shade trees and flowers, is most easily (and enjoyably) explored by walking. Driving will enable you to go where your feet can't, but be sure to come prepared with lots of quarters to feed the hungry parking meters. Savannah also operates a fleet of buses, which make stops throughout the city and its outskirts. Cabs are another pretty affordable way to get around, and these can be hailed or called ahead. To get from the Savannah/ Hilton Head International Airport (SAV), you can take a shuttle, bus, rental car or taxi.Getting Around Savannah»