Savannah, Georgia is a classic southern city of the “Gone With the Wind”, Spanish moss, and peach cobbler world. Antebellum architecture, winding dirt roads outside of town, a buzzing downtown and a beautiful waterfront area along the Savannah River makes the city quite the attraction. So let’s say this Southern beauty has caught your attention and a trip is on the agenda. How do you organize a list of things to do in Savannah? Easy, just follow our lead.
1. Stroll through Forsyth Park
Yes, we’ve already beat the classic southern theme into the ground, but hey, that’s probably what you want to see and feel when you head to Savannah right? If so, Forsyth Park has to be at the top of your list. Thirty acres of manicured lawns, trees covered in Spanish moss, fountains, and Civil War and Spanish-American war memorials give this beautiful park its character. Bring a blanket and some takeout, and have a picnic on any of the shaded lawns.
2. Snap photos of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
One of Savannah’s most recognizable landmarks, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is for both architecture and history-lovers alike. French migrants built the original Cathedral at the end of the 18th-century after fleeing slave rebellions in the Caribbean. A Catholic Church in the region was highly controversial because it was feared that the congregation would be loyal to the Spanish across the border. A hundred years later, the Diocese of Savannah tore down the original structure and built the Cathedral that stands today. If you can, try to catch a mass. The choir is reputed to be spectacular.
3. Head out to Tybee Island
Just a half-hour east of Savannah, Tybee Island is for visitors craving a little ocean breeze to break up some of that thick southern heat. The five miles of gorgeous beaches, the Tybee Island Light Station (a lighthouse) and the Marine Science Center provide the entertainment. After a long day on the beach, venture into the town at dusk and grab a bite at one of the excellent seafood establishments before heading back to a quaint, maritime vacation rental in Tybee Island.
4. Get a history lesson at Fort Pulaski
Located in between Savannah and Tybee Island, Fort Pulaski is a national monument and a must-see for history buffs. The site of an extended Union siege in 1862, the fort was eventually taken by Union troops and was a key point in extending their blockade down the coast. We recommend taking a guided tour with one of the rangers on duty. They’ll take you around the grounds and bring the old fort to life. You can even see sections of the fort where they walls are heavily damaged by Union cannon fire.
6. Wander through Bonaventure Cemetery
It’s hard for a place to be both beautiful and creepy at the same time but that’s certainly the way to describe Bonaventure Cemetery. You’ll be walking down a beautiful path lined with purple liatris and live oaks covered in Spanish moss when you’ll suddenly catch a glimpse of a stone statue of a little girl peering back at you. Tour guides are available if the walk is too spooky or if you want to find the graves of the many famous poets and lyricists buried there.
7. Get a taste of Savannah’s nightlife on River Street
River Street runs along the Savannah River and is a vibrant shopping area during the day and the city’s best party spot at night. You can either walk along the cobblestone streets or take a trolley. Either way, the view of the river and of the streets classic architecture make for quite the setting. When the sun goes down the street becomes a little more party-focused and those looking to explore Savannah’s nightlife will find themselves with plenty of solid options.
8. Take a Haunted Trolley Tour
Whether it’s a tour through old town or the night time Ghosts and Gravestones tour, hopping on a trolley with a local guide is a great way to cover a lot of ground and check off your Savannah to-do list. We’re rather partial to the haunted excursions. Savannah has a reputation for being haunted. Between bloody civil war battles, fires, yellow fever epidemics, strange murder cases and slavery, the city has many a tale to tell. The moss hanging from the trees certainly adds to the spooky vibe.
9. Try some southern cooking at the Olde Pink House
Yes, trying the food is one of our favorite things to do in Savannah. Set in an old colonial mansion, the restaurant serves up everything from fried shrimp and oysters to pecan pie. You can’t fully experience Savannah without trying some of its wonderful food.
10. Go back in time at the Owen Thomas House
The Owen Thomas House is a fascinating flashback to the old South and its people. The Thomas family was wealthy and their beautiful home shows what it was like to be powerful in the antebellum South. Being a powerful southern family, they owned slaves. Both the house and the slave quarters are open to guests and a quick walk around the grounds will stretch your imagination to picture what life would have looked like on that same ground in the first half of the 19th century.