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Savannah is one of the most charming and historic cities that you’ll find anywhere in the world. This Coastal Georgia destination has an important place in American history, it has been featured in many movies and books, and it has come to define delicious Southern cuisine. With a beautiful riverfront area and just a short drive from the beach, Savannah’s location really couldn’t be any better.
Here are 10 of the top things to do when you visit Savannah. These are good starting points to help you discover all of the other fascinating things about the area as well!
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Join a Walking History Tour
In some places, it’s recommended to start your exploration with a guided tour, and Savannah is one of them. While you can certainly wander around town on your own, this is a place that’s packed with so much history that you’ll get a lot more out of your visit if you walk alongside a local expert. General James Oglethorpe landed in Savannah in 1733, and walking tours will get you up-to-speed on what the city has gone through since then. If history isn’t your thing, there are lots of other types of tours to choose from, such as photography tours and ghost tours.
Shop & Dine Along River Street
River Street is the place to be in Savannah if you love shopping, dining, and bar-hopping. This is a busy waterfront area that’s scenic and has lots to do for all types of visitors. The cobblestone streets bring Southern charm to the many kitschy souvenir shops, and many restaurants and pubs are housed in historic buildings with lovely views. You’ll also find old-timey candy stores that specialize in fresh fudge and unique art galleries along this walking route. This is also a popular area for street musicians, so stop for a while to listen and watch. Parking tends to be limited in this popular area, so this is a place that’s best explored on foot.
Have a Picnic in Forsyth Park
Right in the middle of Savannah’s historic district, you’ll find Forsyth Park. This 30-acre park is a lovely place to take a walk and then take a break to have a picnic. Inside the park, you’ll find the iconic stone fountain, and incredible oak trees with Spanish moss. There are lots of attractions that you can check out by walking through the park, such as Hodgson Hall. Unlike most U.S. cities, Savannah doesn’t have an “open container” law, which means that you can bring a bottle of wine or a six-pack of your favorite local craft beer to the park for your picnic. Or ask for a to-go cup from the local bar you’re at and enjoy some sips while you take a stroll.
Linger in the Iconic Town Squares
In addition to Forsyth Park, there are lots of other great places to enjoy the city’s natural beauty. Savannah is a city of public squares, and these places were planned and preserved between the mid-1700s and the mid-1800s. Take a walk down Bull Street to see many of the town squares and linger in each one just long enough to learn about the reasons for their names. Many of the squares have statutes that tell stories of history, peaceful foundations, and benches to relax in the shade. The Live Oak trees are draped with Spanish moss in a way that feels like no other city you’ve ever seen. Some of the most popular squares to visit include Ellis Square, Pulaski Square, Wright Square, Reynolds Square, and Telfair Square. To get from one area of town to the next, you could even hop onboard a carriage ride to see the city in true Southern style.
Indulge in Southern Food
It would be a shame to visit Savannah and not try all the the delicious Southern food that the city has to offer. Some local favorites that you simply must try include crab stew, BBQ brisket, fried chicken and waffles, gourmet macaroni and cheese, and shrimp & grits. There are so many amazing restaurants here that are run by top-notch and world-famous chefs. For a few places to start, try Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room, 2 Chefs Southern Cuisine, and Sweet Potatoes. Or for an even memorable experience, you can join a food tasting tour of Savannah and try a bit from several of the top restaurants in town – a must-do for foodies!
Explore Bonaventure Cemetery
While walking through a cemetery isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, the Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah is a site not to be missed. This is a large cemetery that serves as the final resting place for many famous figures and celebrities. Stop by the visitor’s center when you arrive to pick up a map of where the prominent graves are located. There is no admission fee to enter the cemetery, and guided tours are available as well if you want to learn more from a local historian. Bring good walking shoes, because this is a place where you can get your exercise in for the day as well.
Learn About History at Fort Pulaski National Monument
Another way to learn about the history of the Savannah area is to visit Fort Pulaski National Monument. Today, you can walk around the fort to see the towers, moats, drawbridges, and other structures. The ranger-led tours are a great way to experience the fort and learn about its history. There’s also a visitor’s center and an introductory film to watch. After your visit, head a few miles down to Tybee Lighthouse and the stretch of beach for a relaxing break and lovely views.
See Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace
There are lots of historic homes to see and tour in Savannah, but a great one to start with is Juliette Gordon Low’s birthplace. This was the first Registered National Historic Landmark in the city and is a romantic and historic home worth checking out. Low was the founder of the Girl Scouts of America, a group that has promoted programs for girls since it was established. When you tour the home, you can see the impressive library that inspired past generations of young women. You’ll also see the family’s well-preserved furnishings, jewelry, photographs, written material, and other memorabilia. The Owens-Thomas House is another historic home worth checking out in town.
Hike at Skidaway Island State Park
It’s easy to see that Savannah is packed with natural beauty when you visit, but you can experience this even further by visiting the nearby Skidaway Island State Park. This is an ideal place for hiking because you’ll make your way through the maritime forests and marshes to see native wildlife from the observation deck. Keep an eye out for birds, deer, fiddler crabs, and egrets here. The park is about a half hour south of Downtown Savannah but well worth the drive. You’ll also be closer to the beaches of Tybee Island when you visit this park. There are 87 campsites, three camper cabins, and five picnic shelters at Skidaway Island State Park. The campground is peaceful and scenic, and there are even some RV sites with hookups. Leashed pets are allowed, and there are six miles of trails to explore with your pup.
Treat Yourself to Leopold’s Ice Cream
Especially in the hot and muggy summer months, there’s nothing better than strolling down a Savannah street with an ice cream cone. One of the best places in town to make that happen is Leopold’s, which has been a local establishment since 1919. This is a retro-style ice cream parlor with a black marble fountain and neon signs. All of the ice cream served here is fresh, delicious, and made onsite using a tried-and-true family recipe. Just keep in mind that this is a very popular place, so expect to wait in line if you’re visiting on a hot weekend afternoon.