Savannah Travel Guide

USA  #1 in Best Relaxing Getaways in the USA
Credit

Courtesy of Chris Moore - Exploring Light Photography/Getty Images

Best Things To Do in Savannah

Much of Savannah's charm lies in meandering through the Historic District's verdant squares – all 22 of them. Along the way, you'll happen upon numerous historic homes like the Mercer Williams House, popularized by "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," and the home of Juliette Gordon Low, who founded the Girl Scouts. There's the famous Bonaventure Cemetery for a Spanish moss-canopied stroll, and there's the City Market, which is an ideal place to pick up a few souvenirs. You can also take a quick car ride over to the beach at Tybee Island.

How we rank Things to Do
  • #1
    Forsyth Park
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    #1 in Savannah
    Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Go to this 30-acre park in the heart of Savannah's Historic District to relax after a long day of sightseeing. Keep your camera ready, though, as there is plenty to see here as well. Stroll past the stunning white-stone Forsyth Fountain, memorials dedicated to the Confederacy and the Spanish-American War, the Fragrant Garden for the visually impaired and the 300-year-old Candler Oak tree. From the park, you can see several historic sites within walking distance, including Hodgson Hall (home to the Georgia Historical Society) and the old Poor House and Hospital, which was used to treat wounded soldiers during the Civil War.

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  • #2
    History Tours
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    #2 in Savannah
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Savannah's history stretches back to 1733, when General James Oglethorpe docked his ship on the Savannah River and named this new territory (and America's 13th colony) "Georgia." You can hear all about Savannah's past and the events that shaped its present on a history tour. What's more, you won't have any trouble finding a tour that suits your interests, Savannah boasts a bevy of city tours – from architecture to ghosts to photography – for a variety of travelers.

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  • #3
    City Market
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    #3 in Savannah
    Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you're planning to tour Savannah's Historic District, City Market is a great place to start. Spread out across four blocks, the open-air marketplace features restored warehouses sheltering everything from restaurants to boutiques to art galleries. When you're not shopping, listening to live music or enjoying a casual bite to eat, simply sit and people-watch: past visitors said this area is great for resting weary feet and taking in the Savannah scene. Plus, City Market is also home base for trolley and carriage tours, so if you need to kill time before or after your tour, you'll find plenty to see and do here.

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  • #4
    Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
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    #4 in Savannah
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Towering over Lafayette Square in the Historic District, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist's Gothic towers should lure in any architecture buff. The original cathedral was constructed in 1799 by the first French colonists to arrive in the area. At the end of the 19th century, the old building was torn down to make room for the larger, stone cathedral that you see today. If you've ever seen photos of it, you've likely seen the cathedral's intricate gold-leaf designs, Italian marble altar and stunning stained-glass windows.

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  • #5
    Bonaventure Cemetery
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    #5 in Savannah
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    While a stroll through a cemetery may sound a little morbid, recent travelers agreed that a visit to the more than 100-acre Bonaventure Cemetery is a must for lovers of the written word. Keep your eyes peeled for the tombstones of such celebrities as poet Conrad Aiken and lyricist Johnny Mercer. You should also make a point of looking for the grave of Danny Hansford (buried in the neighboring Greenwich Cemetery), whose murder inspired John Berendt's best-selling book, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil."

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  • #6
    River Street
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    #6 in Savannah
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Running alongside the Savannah River in the Waterfront district is River Street, a lively area perfect for afternoon strolls. According to recent visitors, this area has renounced its seedy identity from 30 years ago; once a hot spot for cruising sailors and unruly teens, the cobblestone street is now lined with more than 75 souvenir shops, galleries, restaurants and pubs housed in old cotton warehouses. However, River Street is still the place to go for pub crawls, making it attractive to party-seekers and slightly less family-friendly after dark. Plus, the area comes alive with street musicians after the sun sets.

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  • #7
    Wormsloe Historic Site
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    #7 in Savannah
    Natural Wonders, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Natural Wonders, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Right up there with Forsyth Park and River Street, Wormsloe Historic Site is one of Savannah's can't-miss attractions. Even if you never heard of the site, you've likely spotted it in pictures: its star attraction is the mile-long avenue leading to the plantation, which is lined on both sides by towering live oak trees dressed in Spanish moss.

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  • #8
    Tybee Island
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    #8 in Savannah
    Beaches, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    When you've had your fill of ghost stories, green squares and historic homes, head to Tybee Island. Just a half-hour east of the Historic District, Tybee Island is home to 5 miles of beachfront, the famous Tybee Island Light Station and the Marine Science Center, among other attractions. On your way to the beach, consider a stop at Fort Pulaski Monument, a Civil War landmark sandwiched between Savannah and Tybee Island.

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  • #9
    Fort Pulaski National Monument
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    #9 in Savannah
    Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Named for Revolutionary War hero Casimir Pulaski, it was here that General Robert E. Lee was first assigned after graduating from West Point. Today, you can explore the fort's colossal ramparts, intimidating stone towers, drawbridges and moats. Frequent re-enactments allow you to see what life in the fort was like back in its heyday. After you've gotten your fill of Pulaski, head to the nearby Tybee Lighthouse (situated about 5 miles east of the fort) for some fantastic views of the coast and a stroll along the barrier island's 5-mile-long beach. 

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  • #10
    Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters
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    #10 in Savannah
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Museums, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Museums, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    George Welshman Owens was a wealthy planter, lawyer and politician who lived in this house with his wife, six children and 14 slaves beginning in 1830. Unlike the other two Telfair Museums, the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters focuses less on art and more on architecture, which is sure to impress. In fact, recent visitors described the house as both simple and elegant. If you like history, then an hour or two at the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters should definitely make it on to your to-do list. A tour of the facility reveals what life was like for the upper-class in 19th century Savannah: You'll see Greek-inspired craftsmanship and beautiful stained glass, not to mention the old carriage house and slave quarters.

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  • #11
    Mercer Williams House Museum
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    #11 in Savannah
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Museums, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Museums, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    According to some recent visitors, a stop at the Mercer-Williams House is a must when in Savannah. While it was once home to lyricist Johnny Mercer, this house is much more famous for its other resident, Jim Williams, a noted Savannah antiques dealer and the central character in John Berendt's best-selling book "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." In fact, Williams is the only person in Georgia to have ever been tried four times for the same crime: the murder of Danny Hansford, which allegedly took place in this very house. While the upstairs is off-limits, you're invited to explore the ground floor, which is ornately decorated with 18th- and 19th-century furnishings, Chinese porcelain and portraits dating back to the 1700s. 

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  • #12
    Telfair Museum of Art
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    #12 in Savannah
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Telfair Academy, along with the Owens-Thomas House, and the Jepson Center for the Arts comprise the oldest public art museum in the South. If you're a fan of artwork from the 19th and 20th centuries (or if you just need a break from the Georgia heat), you'll want to spend a few hours perusing this mansion-turned-museum. Housing more than 4,500 works of art, including paintings from the Impressionist period, plaster casts of such renowned works as the Venus de Milo and period furniture left over from the Telfair family themselves, this marble-clad museum shelters a diverse array of pieces. But according to recent visitors, it's Sylvia Shaw Judson's famous "Bird Girl" statue, which appears on the cover of John Berendt's bestselling book, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," that's the real highlight of the museum.

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  • Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace
    View all Photos
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

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  • Savannah Taste Experience
    View all Photos
    Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Read More »

  • SCAD Museum of Art
    View all Photos
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    The SCAD Museum of Art, which occupies a building originally constructed in 1853, is an extension of the Savannah College of Art and Design. The museum hosts a rotating roster of exhibits, but also boasts a permanent collection of more than 4,500 works, including the Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art, couture pieces from Yves Saint Laurent, Oscar de la Renta and Givenchy, among others, as well as works from Salvador Dalí, Nicholas Hlobo, Annie Leibovitz, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol, among many others.

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