Last Updated on August 12, 2023 by Soumya
Savannah is a beautiful historic city in the southern state of Georgia in the United States. In fact, it was one of my first long weekend trips to Savannah when I fell in love with this southern town. There were so many amazing things to do in Savannah GA. And so much history to experience. I could not stop gushing about Savannah long after.
I adored Savannah! It is one of those cities that makes you fall in love with it. Instantly!
With well-planned town squares, moss-laden oaks, delicious Lowcountry food, and rich culture of its own, Savannah presents every culture lover a plethora of opportunities. There are so many fun things to do in Savannah that you would run short of time. Even if you spend like 5 days in this small town.
In this post, you will find everything you need to plan your trip to this coastal town including a list of the best things to do in Savannah, best places to stay, and loads of tips and tricks.
If you would like to read more about Savannah, Georgia, here are some related posts.
- 13 Incredible facts about Savannah
- The best 3-day itinerary for Savannah
- Top 13 free things to do in Savannah
16 Best Things to do in Savannah, GA
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Here are 16 inspiring reasons why you should visit Savannah in Georgia, USA.
Stroll down Savannah’s Picturesque Squares
This is absolutely the very best thing to do in Savannah, GA. Wandering through the 22 public squares in Savannah. Originally there were 24. But 22 remain today.
Charming, cool, and filled with Spanish moss-laden oaks, these tiny green patches not only provide you with a place to rest but also give you a sneak peek into Savannah’s history.
At the Chippewa Square, you will find a statue of James Edward Oglethorpe, founder of the colony of Georgia. This is also the place where Tom Hank’s character waiting for the bus in the movie Forrest Gump. The Ellis Square was once home to the Old City Market. Every square tells you a little about Savannah’s history. You can easily spend a day in Savannah exploring all of city’s squares.
Wander through Forsyth Park
The Forsyth Park, dating back to 1840, is probably the prettiest spot in Savannah’s historic district. The iconic water fountain in the center of the park is one of the most photographed spots in the whole of Savannah. Come here early in the morning if you wish to avoid the crowds.
If you cannot make it in the morning, come here anyway. Cause no trip to Savannah is ever complete without visiting the Forsyth Park and its famous water fountain. Take a stroll through those shaded trails, get a picnic lunch, or simply relax on the grass appreciating the beauty around you.
Explore the Birthplace of Girl Scout Founder
Savannah was the birthplace of American Girl Scout founder, Juliette Gordon Low. It was here that she established the first girl scout troop in 1912. You can tour Juliette’s birthplace, a National Landmark now, in downtown Savannah.
Visit the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
The Cathedral of St. John, The Baptist was one of the most stunning churches I ever saw in the USA. This is the oldest Catholic church in Georgia and is incredibly ornate and beautiful. It is one of Savannah’s prettiest historic sites.
The interior is adorned with exquisite Austrian stained glass, smooth Italian marble, and opulent Persian rugs. The French-Gothic exterior with pointy arches is also a pretty sight to behold. You can do a self-guided tour of the Savannah Cathedral for a small fee.
Tour one of Savannah’s Historic Homes (or do many)
Savannah is well known for its rich history. And the historic homes of Savannah are where you can experience this rich history, firsthand.
Most of Savannah’s historic mansions date back to the 19th century. It was in these homes that the wealthy citizens of Georgia, mostly white, lived and thrived. However, they also hold stories of enslaved workers who spent their lives in bondage here.
The historic center of Savannah is chock full of historic homes. And it is so difficult to choose which one to tour. Many have been turned into museums but a few provide honest narratives about the lives of people that lived in these antebellum homes.
If you have time for just one historic home tour, pick Owens Thomas House & Slave Quarters, a Regency-style mansion from 1819. Here you can explore the complicated, non-glossed, relationship between slaves and their masters.
Take pictures against Ivy-Covered Mansions
Even though Savannah is full of amazing photo ops, I think I was a little partial towards the absolutely-grammable ivy-covered mansions that lined every other street in the historic district.
My favorite pick would be Jones Street which is often referred to as the prettiest street in the US. Beautiful Greek revival houses draped with ivy and adorned with wrought-iron balconies play peek-a-boo with canopy oaks. A sight to die for. Take a leisurely stroll and keep the shutter buzzing.
Stuff yourself with Delicious Southern Food
Well, if you are a fan of Southern food, then Savannah is the place to stuff yourself with it. I am a big fan. Of food. In general. And this was my first go at Low Country cuisine. So, I was really looking forward to this.
If you are looking for an authentic low country boil, then head to Savannah Seafood Shack. I loved it. Totally.
Try shrimp and grits (another Southern classic) at the Olde Pink House, an 18th-century mansion turned into a plush restaurant. Apart from great food, they have rustic furniture and crystal chandeliers. Wow! That is so 18th century.
Order a biscuit sandwich at Back in the Day Bakery on Bull Street. Or try crawfish beignets at Vic’s on the River. For the best breakfast, head to Goose Feather’s Cafe. Warm croissants, delicious sandwiches, and fresh pastries will be waiting for you. You can also find pralines (I am not a big fan, but that’s just me!) everywhere around the city. Savannah will spoil you for choices.
I kind of love the names of all the restaurants in Savannah. Creative and quirky!
Taste Homemade Ice Cream
One of the most important things to do in Savannah, Georgia is to taste the homemade ice cream at Leopold’s. I say “important” because it is very important that you do not come back without tasting this amazing ice cream.
Leopold’s Ice Cream is a little more than 100 years old. It was founded by three Greek brothers who moved to the US in 1919. They have been delighting their customers with frozen delights for over a century now.
Their ice cream sundaes are pretty famous. Though I would happily settle for a scoop of the Original Tutti Frutti or the Butter Pecan. Heavenly deliciousness!
Take a food tour
If you have done enough restaurant sampling and are keen to look for secret foodie spots, try this Famous and Secret East Side Food Tour of Savannah.
You will walk through elegant squares, learn about Savannah’s history, and have tasty bites of chicken sandwiches, fried green tomatoes (another Savannah classic – remember the movie??), and some famous ice cream. There will be popular as well as secret spots.
Check out more food tour options below. Delicious and popular!
Tour the Bonaventure Cemetery
Hands down, this was one of my favorite things to do in Savannah. Wandering through the oak-lined trails of the Bonaventure Cemetery, gazing at old tombs and the varied architecture, and listening to all that spooky folklore was pure bliss.
Bonaventure covers almost 100 acres of land in an old plantation south of Savannah. You need a car to get to the Bonaventure Cemetery. We used Lyft.
There are hundreds of graves at the Bonaventure Cemetery. One of the most popular ones is that of little Gracie Watson, a little girl who died shortly after being photographed in fine Easter clothes. You will also find, here, graves of Johnny Mercer, Conrad Aiken, and James Neill.
The cemetery gained a lot of popularity when it was featured in the 1994 novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt and subsequently in a movie by the same name. You can actually do a Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil tour and learn the stories behind all the characters.
Take a Spooky Paranormal Tour
I am not into paranormal tours. I get easily scared. Also, there are so many Spanish moss-laden trees in Savannah, it is so easy to spot a ghost on them! You get it, right? I mean I could see ghosts even during the day!
However, of all the numerous things to do in Savannah at night, my friends claim that doing a paranormal tour is the most interesting. Savannah is America’s most haunted city, after all! And with all the bizarre things that have happened in Savannah, that is a fact that is hard to deny.
You can photograph orbs and apparitions. And discover some of the most haunted places in Savannah. Here’s a highly-rated 2-hour paranormal mystery tour with an actual psychic for a tour guide. Do try it if you have the heart for it. And let me know how it goes!
Shop at the City Market
Located in the historic center of Savannah, the City Market features attractive bistros and unique art galleries. There is also an Art Center where you will find art by local artists and can see some of them at work. Splurge or window shop. Your choice.
Visit Wormsloe Plantation
Plan to spend half-a-day at the Wormsloe Plantation, a state historic site about 10 miles away from the historic center of Savannah. A 15-minute drive will get you here.
Once the colonial estate of a carpenter named Noble Jones, Wormsloe is more than 250 years old. The ruins of Jones’ tabby home are probably the oldest standing structure in the whole of Savannah.
The most attractive bit about Wormsloe is the beautiful avenue that leads to the plantation. A mile-long boulevard is lined with huge live oaks with sweeping branches covered all over with Spanish moss. This creates a breathtaking archway over the road and gives you the feeling of getting into a moss-laden tunnel.
The Wormsloe Tunnel is another picturesque location in Savannah. You can drive through it or walk to get to the ticket office. We walked so that we could stop for some really cool pictures.
Once you get inside, the ruins of the tabby fort are pretty basic. Nothing to really wow you but of course the history associated with them. Both indentured labor and slave labor were used to at Wormsloe.
Hop on a Trolley Tour of Savannah
Hop on a charming trolley bus and explore the history and architecture Savannah on the go. These tours are usually fully narrated by a friendly conductor guide who gives you ample doses of local insights, trivia, and humorous stories.
Admire the Savannah River
Stroll down the cobbled lanes of River Street for a scenic view of the Savannah River. Learn a little about Savannah’s dark past and spot houses and warehouses that were used as holding pens for slaves.
Or hop on a ferry for a ride across the river. The Savannah Belles Ferry system provides free rides across the river between downtown and Hutchinson Island. What’s interesting is that the fleet includes 4 vessels named after noteworthy women from Savannah – Juliette Gordon Low, Susie King Taylor, Florence Martus, and Mary Musgrove.
If you are looking for a guided tour with incredible photo ops, then book this awesome riverboat cruise and city tour combo.
Enjoy Savannah’s Cultural Festivals
Savannah is home to many beautiful festivals and activities. Many happen during spring and fall.
St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Savannah are huge and attract a lot of tourists. There is also the Sidewalk Arts Festival that is organized by the Savannah College of Art and Design. Participants create beautiful chalk masterpieces in Forsyth Park. An absolutely amazing time for art lovers!
A little more on the festivals below.
Best time to visit Savannah, GA
The best time to visit Savannah, Georgia is in spring and early summer i.e. between March-early July. After that, it starts getting very hot and muggy. Plus, there are too many people around because of school vacations. We went towards the end of May and the temperatures were just perfect.
But keep in mind, spring is also when a lot of spring festivals happen. I am especially keen on the Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens and plan to include it in my next itinerary.
Fall is another great time to visit Savannah. You may not see the beautiful fall colors (because Savannah’s trees are mostly evergreen) but you will get to experience lots of exciting festivals such as the Bacon Fest and the Craft Brew Fest.
Winter (between December and February) is low season in Savannah. While it rarely snows in Savannah, evenings might be chilly. Hotels are definitely cheaper.
Best Places to stay in Savannah, GA
The Historic District is the best place to stay in Savannah, GA. You will be literally living within the historical quarters, amidst beautiful architecture and splendid local squares. Here are some of our top recommendations for the best places to stay in Savannah.
- Best Western: One of the bestsellers in Savannah, GA, Best Western Savannah Historic District is a great choice for budget travelers. Best Western is located only a couple of minutes away from the Riverfront and City Market and features an outdoor pool and continental breakfast.
Click here to book your stay at Best Western Savannah Historic District.
- Embassy Suites: Located in the heart of the historic district, Embassy Suites is one of the best places to stay in Savannah. It features an outdoor pool and a complimentary hot breakfast. The suites are spacious and clean. They have microwaves and additional counter space.
Click here to book your stay at the Embassy Suites Savannah Historic District.
- Mansion on Forsyth Park: This luxury hotel is located in the heart of Savannah – at Forsyth Park. You can literally walk to all the major restaurants and attractions in Savannah. Plus, spacious rooms, marble bathrooms, and a heated outdoor pool make life so comfortable. There is also a spa where you can enjoy a relaxing massage. The breakfast spread is huge and inviting. The staff is extremely courteous. The entire place oozes of Southern charm.
Reserve your stay at Mansion on Forsyth Park here.
- Perry Lane Hotel: A Luxury Collection Hotel, Perry Lane features an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, and a sun terrace. It is located pretty close to the Colonial Park Cemetery and Owens-Thomas Museum. The hotel also offers free bikes.
Click here to book your stay at Perry Lane Hotel in Savannah.
Getting around Savannah, GA
The best way to get around Savannah is on foot. Walking through Savannah’s 22 beautiful squares is the perfect way to see this city. Plus, you need all that exercise to be able to devour Savannah’s heavenly Southern cuisine.
If you get tired of walking, you can explore Savannah on an electric bike tour. Or hop into one of the buses of Chatham Area Transit (CAT) that has 15 fixed bus routes in Savannah and Chatham County. It is inexpensive ($1.50 for one-way and $3 for a day pass) and convenient.
There is also a free shuttle service called the DOT that connects visitors with parking, attractions, shops, and hotels in downtown Savannah and the historic district.
If you are coming in from the airport, you will need to take a cab which has a fixed rate of around $28. If you plan to drive, I highly recommend parking your car and exploring the historic district on foot. Download the ParkSavannah app for easy payments. If you plan to visit out-of-town plantations such as the Wormsloe, you will need a taxi. Hail an Uber or a Lyft.
Here’s a map of Savannah’s historic district for your reference.
Here are a few helpful tips (a mix of things that I did and did not do) that will make your trip to Savannah absolutely memorable.
- Get a Savannah Tour Pass if you want to visit a lot of attractions and do a decent number of tours. Saves you money. You can buy it on Get Your Guide website here.
- Read the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. You can also watch the movie. But the book gives you serious wanderlust for this southern city.
- Read our post on the Most Incredible Facts about Savannah, GA to enjoy your trip some more.
- Savannah is an extremely walkable city because it is flat and level. I would highly recommend exploring the city on foot. So, get a good pair of walking shoes with you.
- Get bug spray and sunscreen. Savannah can be sunny even during the shoulder months. And you might encounter bugs at the plantations and cemeteries. Better safe than sorry.
- Take a lot of pictures. With a city as photogenic as Savannah, you will find great photo ops at every corner. Do not get stingy with your camera. You will regret it later.
Have you been to Savannah in Georgia? What did you like about this historic city? Are you planning to visit it again?