Fall in love with the charm and southern hospitality of Savannah, Georgia. If you’ve always wanted to explore an iconic southern American city, you need to visit Savannah. It’s my new favorite city in the South, and if you haven’t been yet – you’re in for a treat! Here are 14 fun things you must do on your first visit to Savannah.
1. Wander through Forsyth Park
A stroll through Forsyth Park is the perfect way to start your day in Savannah. Forsyth Park has a stunning fountain in the middle of the square that was actually modeled after the fountains at the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
Forsyth Park has a majestic feeling about it that makes it irresistibly romantic. We saw a wedding setting up here and another couple get engaged all in the 20 minutes we were at Forsyth Park!
2. Hop on a Trolley Tour
If you’re like me, and you want to see as much as possible on a trip, consider taking a trolley tour. It’s a great option to see more of the city in an efficient amount of time.
Both Old Town Trolley Tours and Old Savannah Tours have trolley tours that share stories of Savannah’s historic sites. The trolley’s have 15 different stops and you can hop off the trolley whenever you want to do some more exploring.
3. Go Antiquing
If you’ve never been antiquing before there’s no better place than Savannah to start. Savannah has an appreciation for all things historical, and they love retaining and refurbishing their history. Savannah alone has over 20 antique stores for every style and taste. My two antique store recommendations are Alex Raskin’s Antiques and Wright Square Vintage & Retro Mall.
Alex Raskin’s Antiques
Picture an unrestored antebellum mansion with one-of-a-kind international antiques from around the world – that’s Alex Raskin’s Antiques. The oldest piece is from the 1500s, and the newest is from 1967. Alex Raskin’s Antiques is a bit of a secret spot in Savannah that can’t be missed if you want to see some truly unique antiques in a beautiful historic mansion.
Wright Square Vintage & Retro Mall
If you’re looking for a unique souvenir to bring back home, you’ll find it at Wright Square Vintage & Retro Mall. I loved this store because they have price ranges for all budgets. I picked up a vintage camera for just $40 that I love!
4. See a Stunning Cathedral
One glimpse of the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist, and you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported to Europe. It’s one of the most photographed spots in Savannah with towering spires and over 80 stained glass windows.
The exterior is stunning, but if you’re looking to visit inside the church, is open for visitors Monday-Saturday – 9:00 A.M. – 11:30 A.M and 12:45 P.M. – 5:00 P.M.
5. Explore Bonaventure Cemetery
When the words “death” and “beautiful” are used in the same sentence, chances are likely you’re describing the Bonaventure Cemetery. I know it’s a bit strange to have a cemetery on the list of “fun things to do”, but it’s truly one of the most hauntingly beautiful experiences in Savannah.
Bonaventure was previously a plantation and became a cemetery in 1846. Because of its beauty, locals used it as a park for Sunday strolls and picnics. Today it’s still free to wander through the cemetery, or you can reserve a tour to learn the history and mystery behind Bonaventure here.
Bonaventure Cemetery’s tourism grew with the popularity of the bestselling novel, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” The statue featured on the cover of the book, known as Bird Girl, was originally from the cemetery, but later it moved to a local museum.
6. Walk Under a Canopy Spanish Moss
Wormsloe Historic Site has a paved avenue lined with oak trees covered in Spanish moss. When the sunlight hits the Spanish moss just right you feel as though you’ve stepped into a fairytale.
The pathway leads up to a colonial estate. I’ll be honest and admit to you that I didn’t drive up to the estate because we were limited on time. However, we did still pay the required entrance fee of $10 per person to snap photos of the oak tree-lined avenue.
Admission is required even if you just want to take photos of the avenue because of the high maintenance cost it requires to keep this area looking as beautiful as it does.
7. Try a Homemade Praline
A praline is to Savannah as beignets are to New Orleans. You can’t leave without trying one! I loved the hand-dipped pralines at Savannah’s Candy Kitchen along the riverfront. I got lucky and had one fresh out of the oven while it was still warm and chewy.
8. Explore the Beautiful Homes
Savannah has some of the oldest homes in the country, dating as far back as the mid 1700’s. Part of the fun of Savannah is just to wander around the Historic District and see these homes for yourself. If you visit during Halloween or Christmas, they’ll be decked out in holiday-themed decor too! My top three homes you must see are below with their exact locations.
This stunning house is one of the best examples of Steamboat Gothic architecture in America – too bad it’s not edible! If you’re planning a wedding anytime soon, the Gingerbread House is one of Savannah’s most sought-out wedding venues.
Location | 1921 Bull Street Savannah, GA
This beautiful three-story mansion looks as though it is straight out of the cover of the October edition of Southern Living.
Location | 507 Whitaker St, Savannah, GA
Rainbow Row in Savannah is a collection of charming pastel-colored row homes with Victorian-era architecture. Charleston is famous for its Rainbow Row, but in my opinion, this one in Savannah is much more charming!
Location | 508 E Bryan St, Savannah, GA 31401
9. Get Spooked on a Ghost Tour
Find out why Savannah continues to be called “America’s Most Haunted City”. Even if you’re a skeptic of ghost tours, they’re still a fun way to hear about the stories of Savannah.
I would not recommend the Ghost tour we took. It was unorganized and did not live up to its promise on its website. Instead, I would encourage you to look into booking these ghost tours other travel bloggers have recommended.
10. Watch the Sunset at a Rooftop Bar
There’s something so fun about rooftop bars. You see the city in a new way (literally) and it’s a relaxing way to end a busy day of sightseeing. ! Here are my top three recommendations for the best rooftop bars in Savannah.
I loved The Grove for their fun summer drinks. They have popsicles in glasses of prosecco and a massive 162 oz. Moscow Mule – both are very insta-worthy!
The Peregrin is my favorite rooftop for a chic and trendy atmosphere with a beautiful view of the Savannah cityscape during sunset. This rooftop bar has so many little charming details – like the astroturf where you can play a game of bocce ball.
Rocks on the Roof
This rooftop has great views of the Savannah River with a cozy fire pit and live music. It’s fun to watch the barges float in and out of the harbor. Rocks on the Roofhas specialty cocktails and creative tapas dishes, such as crab cake hush puppies.
11. Sail on a Riverboat Cruise
For a relaxing introduction to Savannah, you can book tickets during sunset on the Georgia Queen riverboat. I loved the classic look of the three-story replica riverboat decked out in American flags.
Once you’re on board, the captain will give a brief history of Savannah and its ports as you sail along. You can find more information about Savannah Riverboat Cruises and the Georgia Queen here.
12. Thin Mints or Samoas?
Any other former Girl Scouts out there? *Raises hands* A popular stop is visiting the founder of the Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low’s, birth house and learning how the global Girl Scout movement was founded. The Birthplace celebrates Juliette’s remarkable legacy of the Girl Scouts that still lives on today.
Here’s a story the tour guides might not tell you is that the house is rumored to be haunted! Staff members and guests have reported hearing the sounds of footsteps and the apparition of Nelly Gordon, Juliette’s mother. Nelly is often seen peering out a window, sitting at the dining room table in her robe, or heard softly playing the piano.
13. Dinner with a Side of History
The Olde Pink House is my #1 restaurant recommendation for Savannah! It serves upscale Southern dishes in a Colonial-era house that’s of course – pink! A fun little fact – the restaurant wasn’t intended to be pink when it was first built in 1771, but the red brick bled through the white plaster that covered it.
I’d recommend booking a table for your first night in Savannah, or your last night if you want to end your trip on a high note.
What to Drink? Order the Pink Lady, the restaurant’s signature cocktail, made with sweet lemonade with raspberry-infused vodka.
What to Eat? I first heard about the Olde Pink House from a Food Network special that spotlighted their “BLT” Salad with fried green tomatoes and the Low Country She Crab Soup. Both were absolutely delicious! If you’ve never had true southern fried green tomatoes, you need to try them here!
14. Ice Cream at Leopold’s
This isn’t just the best ice cream in Savannah, Leopold’s is seriously some of the best ice cream in America! Its decor is reminiscent of a classic ice cream parlor which makes it all the more charming. The popular flavors here are their tutti frutti, chocolate chewies & cream, and Savannah socialite.
Instagrammable Spots in Savannah
This classic roadside motel that’s right off the exit to downtown Savannah is the unofficial landmark that welcomes everyone to Savannah. The Thunderbird Inn’s bright colors and the vintage sign is the perfect photo spot. Around the corner of the Inn you’ll see a painted “Welcome to Savannah” mural. You can’t miss it!
Cocktails at the Little Duck Diner
Looking for a restaurant that’s all it’s quacked up to be? I was all about the vintage chic vibes of the Little Duck Diner. The diner is retro-inspired from floor to ceiling and serves diner classics with a modern twist.
What to Drink? For drinks that are too ducking cute, you need to order the Hari Kari bloody mary or the lavender bubble bath bellini. Both drinks come with a rubber duck floating on top. My choice is the lavender bubble bath bellini. The foam at the top of this drink makes for the perfect photo.
What to Eat? I loved the diversity of the menu here with everything from omelets to grilled cheeses. I had the Norwegian smoked salmon grilled cheese with a cup of tomato soup – so good!
Where to Shop in Savannah
With so many charming boutiques, you’ll have fun in Savannah if you love to shop. My top three recommendations of unique stores in Savannah are Satchel, The Paris Marketplace, and the Savannah Bee Company.
Savannah Bee Company
The Savannah Bee Company offers specialty honey and beauty products made with beeswax to naturally cleanse and hydrate your skin. Part of the company’s mission is to educate consumers about the importance of beekeeping and restore the honeybee populations worldwide.
Satchel is a custom handbag and leather goods boutique founded by a graduate of SCAD (Savannah College for Art and Design). They have high-end leather accessories that range from travel bags, handbags, wallets, cuffs, and tassels. Guests have the option to design their own custom leather bag inside the store – so unique and fun!
The Paris Market
The Paris Market in downtown Savannah is a slice of Paris in the South. The inventory is constantly changing to promise that no visit will ever be the same. Some of my favorite things were their collections of perfume, mugs, Christmas ornaments, lavender, and homemade soaps.
Don’t miss the chic cafe inside the market that serves coffee, espresso drinks, wine, champagne, and macarons. You can sip and shop inside the store, or have a seat at one of the marble bistro tables.
Where to Eat in Savannah
This is the best place to go for brunch in Savannah. The Collins Quarter has all your brunch favorites like avocado toast, eggs Benedict, and brioche French toast. Don’t miss their signature latte, a spiced lavender mocha.
Reservations are hard to come by, but drop your name on their waiting list and use the spare time to go sightseeing around the neighborhood.
One of the most unique dining experiences is The Grey. Formerly, a Greyhound bus terminal that was restored to its original charm The Grey is now one of the most popular restaurants in Savannah. Reservations are hard to come by, but at 5:00 p.m. they open the restaurant to walk-ins before reservations begin at 6:00 p.m.
Mrs. Wilkies Dining Room
Family-owned since 1943, Mrs. Wilkies serves all-you-can-eat southern comfort food, family-style at tables of 10-12 people. No reservations allowed. They’re only open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays. You would need to arrive at least 30 minutes before they open to avoid an even longer line later in the day. Mrs. Wilkie’s fried chicken is a local favorite!
Where to Stay in Savannah
The Ballastone Inn Bed and Breakfast in Savannah is a five-star rated hotel in Savannah’s Historic District. Don’t miss the antique hotel bar and the complimentary port and sherry for guests at the end of the day.
Perry Lane Hotel
If a modern take on luxury with a trendy vibe is more your style, check out the Perry Lane Hotel. Their rooftop bar, Peregrin, has craft cocktails with gorgeous views of the city. The Perry Lane Hotel is part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection of boutique hotels (if you’re looking to cash in any Marriott Bonvoy points you’ve been saving up)!
Kehoe HouseThe Kehoe House B&B is adult-only and is my pick if you’re looking for a romantic weekend getaway in Savannah. Unique perks are the homemade cookies, nightly turn-down service, and complimentary afternoon tea and pastries.
Savannah Travel Tips
When to Visit
Savannah is best enjoyed outside! The summer months are notoriously very hot and humid. I would recommend visiting in the spring (March-May) when the flowers are blooming, or fall (late September-early November) for cooler weather.
How Long to Stay
If you’re looking to just stay in Savannah, I would recommend three full days to really soak up the history and charm of this city without feeling rushed. However, if you want to explore more outside of Savannah, I would recommend adding on two more days. You can at least spend a full day, exploring the surrounding, area, or stay a night in Hilton Head alone.
Should I Rent a Car?
Savannah is a very walkable city if you’re traveling with smaller groups, I would still consider renting a car if you want to take any day trips, or if you’re staying outside of the city. Parking downtown was very reasonable in price (we didn’t pay more than $5 per day), and you can find a list of all the garages and their rates here.
If you’re visiting on a cool day, Savannah is very bike-friendly! This city actually has designated bike lanes! One of the larger companies you can rent bikes from is Savannah on Wheels.
Best Day Trips Outside of Savannah
The quaint lighthouse on Tybee Island caught my eye, and I knew I had to visit. It’s Georgia’s tallest and most active lighthouse. You need to pay an admission fee of $10 per person, and from there it’s 178 steps to the top!
A popular stop for lunch in Tybee is The Original Crab Shack. This is the place to go if you want to experience a Low Country Boil with potatoes, corn, and spicy sausage with peel-and-eat shrimp-messy but delicious!
Hilton Head Island
For an easy-going atmosphere – look no further than Hilton Head Island (HHI). It’s the perfect place for families or couples. HHI also has many of the top beaches and golf courses in the U.S. It’s the perfect place to rent bikes with over 19 miles of densely-packed sandy beaches that you can bike on! Sea Pines is one of the prettiest communities to bike along, and if you’re only spending one day here, I would recommend spending most of your time in Sea Pines.
Stop for lunch at the Salty Dog that’s beloved by locals and tourists. It’s an island staple, and you can’t come to HHI without at least having a drink here. They’re known for their steamed shrimp and frozen drinks. When the weather’s nice, they have outdoor live country music. Country music and a frozen cocktail are some of my personal favorite ways to end a day.
Final Thoughts on Savannah
Travel to Savannah if you’re eager to see a city that has equal parts Southern hospitality, architectural charm, and culinary delights. No matter what you end up doing, you’re guaranteed to have a memorable trip exploring this gem of the south!
Have you been to Savannah, Georgia? What are some of your favorite southern cities in the U.S.? Would love to hear in the comments below!