Let’s just come right out and say it: Savannah, Georgia is one of the quaintest cities on the East Coast United States, and it should absolutely be on any American traveler’s Bucket List.
People come to Savannah for the art, the architecture, the food, and to wander amidst the Spanish moss-covered live oak trees that adorn the city’s iconic, enduringly charming public squares. Much like Charleston, it’s a whole vibe.
Because Savannah was one of the first truly “planned” cities in the American South, the layout is super walkable and beautiful– more like Europe than most American cities. This makes it all the more ideal for exploring on foot (a plus in any travel situation).
From an architecture standpoint, the built landscape in Savannah is also stunning, especially in the old Victorian neighborhoods surrounding Forsyth Park– the city’s analog to Central Park. Here, as throughout Savannah, visitors will find rows of towering live oaks, blooming azaleas, and a 160-year-old fountain that is often depicted on the city’s postcards. (More on that, below. It’s a must-see location!)
The food in Savannah, meanwhile, is reliably excellent– but can be very hit-or-miss; you need to know where to go. For that, consult our Savannah Restaurant Guide for a rundown of the best places to eat in the city, whether you’re seeking BBQ and biscuits, seafood and salads, or fried chicken and sweet tea. (We also created a guide to the city’s best coffee shops here— and believe me, you aren’t going to want to miss those. Charm is the name of the game!)
The lovely public squares and streets paved in ballast stones, meanwhile, add a certain genteel charm that feels both timeless and charmingly Old Time-y. But nothing is as aesthetically unique as the city’s beautiful Victorian homes! Historic mansions and even retail architecture around Savannah is lovely, from iconic masterworks like the Mansion on Forsyth Park to less ornate (but still period correct) buildings like the Olde Pink House restaurant, a favorite local dining destination.
Riverboat cruises, walking along the Savannah Riverfront, and natural spaces further afield like Bonaventure Cemetery and Wormsloe Historic Site (all detailed below) are also gorgeously rewarding to explore. It’s all lovely, especially in spring, when the pink azaleas are in bloom and the weather is like bathwater.
Keep in mind: Spring (March-May) is the best time to visit Savannah. After then, it gets pretty hot– but no less beautiful.
Either way, you will have an amazing time if you do any of the stuff on this list. Below, we detail some of the best things to do in Savannah for the quintessential experience.
Like all of our bespoke travel guides, I think you’ll find that there is something beautiful, fun, and unique for all to enjoy regardless of taste or budget. Welcome to Savannah and enjoy your trip!
Explore Forsyth Park (+ The Saturday Farmers Market)
The crown jewel of Savannah’s Victorian District, Forsyth Park, comprises more than 30 acres of insanely beautiful green space with an ornate, 160-year-old fountain in the middle. This quintessential Savannah destination is ideal for picnics, dogs, and recreation like running and basketball.
In the spring, the borders and pathways bloom into riotous shades of pink and purple as the azaleas and boxwoods bloom beneath towering mossy oaks. This creates some of the city’s most calm, cool green spaces.
As a result, Forsyth Park is one of the most photographed parts of old Savannah, with aesthetic charm and deep historical roots coursing through its blueprint. It’s most beautiful around golden hour, when that warm buttermilk sunshine radiates through the trees at lovely, soothing angles.
Forsyth’s exterior sidewalk is also one mile in circumference, which is convenient for runners and walkers.
Saturday Farmers Market, 9 AM to 1 PM
On Saturdays, the bustling Forsyth Park Farmers Market takes place from 9 AM to 1 PM in the South end of the park. Stop by Savannah Cheese Rolls and try some of their delightful “veggie jerkies”, and be sure to buy some bags of fresh pecans and pralines– homemade, direct from the farm.
There are also 30+ vendors selling microgreens, seasonal fruits + veggies, locally-raised meat and dairy, flowers, baked goods, craft bread and pastries, jams and sauces, gluten-free items, eggs, heirloom seeds, and more.
Afterward, swing by local coffee joint The Sentient Bean for a quick on-the-go breakfast. (We love the iced chai and the ginormous vegan breakfast burritos.) It’ll be packed with locals, but the line moves fast. On a beautiful Saturday morning in Savannah, this is the place to be!
Dine at Any of Savannah’s Best Restaurants
Savannah’s food scene can roughly be described as “coastal cuisine meets classic comfort food staples”– but there are also several internationally-influenced farm-to-table dining hot spots. All of these characteristics define the bustling food scene in Savannah today.
Thus, whether you’re looking for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or a night on the town, Savannah has plenty of intriguing dining and drinking options.
Read our guide to the 15 Most Charming Restaurants in Savannah, here. (<– This insider’s guide is almost as popular as our critically-acclaimed foodie guide to the 7 Best Brunch Spots in Savannah. We also have an easy-reference list of Savannah’s Best Coffee Shops.)
^ Bookmark these guides for easy access during your trip!
Walking Around All the Public Squares
Savannah was one of the first East Coast cities designed with urban planning in mind. Today, the series of mini-parks and public squares that are central to its grid are verdant with year-round greenery, and celebrated for their genteel charm.
There are 22 historic squares in Savannah, all of which are home to beautiful towering oaks covered in Spanish Moss. This is what people reference when they talk about Savannah being charming! The mossy oaks, moreover, are a quintessential symbol of Savannah.
As a result, the public squares of Savannah are some of the city’s most unique features. There are benches, abundant gardens, stately statuary, and lovely shaded areas for relaxing and picnicking. Be sure to spend time walking around, sitting, reading, or just taking it all in.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the iconic bus stop scenes in the movie Forrest Gump were filmed in a Savannah public square. Spending time in one is a quintessential part of exploring the city on foot.
Get Old Fashioned Ice Cream at Leopold’s
You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see the giant retro sign and the line out the door. Leopold’s Ice Cream is an iconic Savannah venue, listed in every Savannah travel guide for a reason. On a warm Savannah day, there’s nothing better then curling up with a scoop of Savannah’s best ice cream.
Look out for these four original, unique ice cream flavors in particular: Honey Almond & Cream (inspired by SCAD, made using local Savannah Bee Company honey and freshly roasted almonds); Lemon Custard (a recipe that has remained unchanged since 1919); Savannah Socialite (my personal favorite, consisting of milk and dark chocolate ice cream infused with roasted Georgia pecans and bourbon-infused caramel); and Tutti Frutti (the original, iconic rum ice cream with candied fruit and roasted Georgia pecans).
Tutti Frutti ice cream was actually invented here at Leopold’s. Like their Lemon Custard, this recipe hasn’t changed since they invented it in 1919.
Also, they make their Peppermint ice cream the old school way, with crushed peppermint candies! Leopold’s, moreover, is a truly turn-of-the-century ice cream parlor where ordering a sweet treat feels like going back in time. They even have a period-authentic jukebox– and get this: it works!
Explore SCAD Museum of Art
The SCAD Museum of Art is Savannah’s premier contemporary art museum. It’s housed in a sprawling 1853 brick structure that remains the only surviving antebellum railroad complex in the country. (In 2010, SCAD architects and craftsmen renovated and modernized the building, down to the smallest details. They even reproduced the exact chemical compounds found in the 19th-century mortar!)
Today, this critically-acclaimed art museum includes more than 10 gallery spaces that showcase the work of international and emerging artists alike.
Through commissioned artworks from established voices and a constantly rotating selection of fine art exhibitions, the museum offers visitors a survey of the art world writ large. As a result, it’s a must for art and design lovers visiting Savannah.
The museum also features a master assemblage of modern and contemporary artists, but the National Historic Landmark complex and adjacent learning studios for SCAD students are a work of art in their own right.
Buy Cool Art Gifts at ShopSCAD Savannah
While not located anywhere near the SCAD Museum of Art, the amazing SCAD-run gift shop, ShopSCAD, offers unique goods exclusively designed by SCAD design students, faculty, and alumni.
Featuring everything from fashion and jewelry to fine art and decor, ShopSCAD is a must-visit for any art and design lover. Look out for Lilian Farag’s colorful wallets and change purses, as well as Erin Findlay’s silk scarves, which are personal favorites of mine.
The jewelry, pottery, and stationary here are also lovely, cheeky, and super unique. And all of it is handmade!
Beyond the things you can buy, the vibe here is just very cool and aesthetically pleasing. Note the delightful abstract rugs and bespoke art on the walls– and be sure to browse through ShopSCAD’s nicely-curated collection of design books.
Even the bathroom is super colorful and charming. (It opens to a building that is part of SCAD’s artsy campus.) And outside facing the sidewalk, there are swings! It doesn’t get any more whimsical than that.
Visit Wormsloe Historic Site
This secluded local landmark and beautiful botanical estate is also the area’s most-photographed tree sanctuary. Wormsloe Historic Site is a 1736 colonial estate that’s just a 15-minute drive from Downtown Savannah, but it feels worlds apart.
The signature mossy oaks are familiar-looking, but their impressive configuration in two parallel allées of over 400 trees are what makes this site uniquely magnificent.
Go here on a nice day during golden hour just to stroll the trails and take pictures– it’s lovely. You’ll feel like you’re in an old movie or a Southern version of Jurassic Park.
The one-and-a-half mile live oak avenue at Wormsloe Historic Site– which is easily the estate’s most photographed feature– was planted by wealthy settler Wymberley Jones de Renne in the early 1890s, to commemorate his son’s birth.
The land beyond this opening stretch was once a dairy farm and sea island cotton plantation. Today, the residence is privately occupied by descendants of Noble Jones (one of the first settlers of Georgia).
Visitors– like Henry Ford, who came here on occasion– can still walk the allée and stroll the 2.5 mile Battery Trail loops (marked in Orange). There are also four short secondary color-coded trails that wind through the maritime forest. Maps are available at the Visitor Center at the entrance.
Wormsloe Historic Park is open from 9 AM to 5 PM daily. Tickets are $10 per adult. Get more info here.
Eat Some Pralines
Pecan pralines are a classic “Georgia” treat. Pecans are a staple crop here, and Savannah in particular is famous for its pecan pralines. They’re the best!
Enjoy them while they’re fresh, warm, and local.
You’ll also probably notice that pecans and pralines are a special ingredient featured on many dessert menus, ice cream shops, bakeries, and restaurants around town. Either way, give them a try for the real local experience.
Get Some B’s Cracklin’ BBQ
This lesser-known-by-tourists whole hog BBQ joint serves what Southern Living magazine called one of the South’s Best BBQ Plates. We adore the food at B’s Cracklin’ BBQ, an excellent dine-in and take-out pit-style BBQ restaurant in Savannah.
The BBQ is excellent, but the backstory here is also part of the charm. Head BBQ Pitmaster, Bryan “B” Furman, left his day job as a welder to pursue raising local heritage hogs to make his own locally-sourced dishes using fresh, local ingredients. Today, the work has paid off.
The brisket, chicken, and ribs at B’s are all outstanding. As a result, most diners opt for the Sampler Plate, which comes with pork, chicken, ribs, cornbread, two sides, and the option to add brisket. (Do it!)
We love the collard greens and macaroni and cheese here, too– but the fried okra, house-made sweet tea, and obligatory banana pudding are also great. Right down to the unique peach BBQ sauce, this is Georgia barbecue at its finest. BBQ lovers, don’t miss out!
Enjoy The Mossy Oaks + Lovely Azaleas in Bloom (Especially in the Victorian District)
Above all, Savannah is known for her beautiful, majestic live oak trees (Quercus Virginiana), which have grown around the city’s public squares since the mid-17th century. The banner image of this guide is a picture of the iconic oak trees in Savannah’s Forsyth Park.
The city’s largest oak tree, the Candler Oak, sits just across Drayton Street from Forsyth Park. It’s 50 feet tall with a 16-foot-round trunk, and believed to be over 300 years old!
These trees are known for their enchanting curved bows, which were ideally shaped to make ships’ hulls.
As a result, ships made from Georgia wood– including, most famously, the USS Constitution– won everlasting fame as “Old Ironsides” in the War of 1812. They were called “ironsides” because they were impervious to British cannonballs.
Today, Savannah’s live oak trees have a symbiotic relationship with Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) which gives them a majestic, weeping-willow-like look. When in Savannah, these trees are a defining visual aesthetic of the city. You can’t miss them! But just because they are everywhere doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop at least once to marvel at their beauty.
In the Spring, azaleas and boxwoods bloom in gorgeous, explosive shades of pink and purple, lining every public square and park with a colorful border. This is one of the best times to get out and go for a walk, run, or cycle around the city’s lush green spaces. Then, relax on one of the city’s welcoming park benches and take it all in. Between the flowers and the trees, you’ll want a moment to savor the picture-perfect botany.
Try Biscuits at Back in the Day Bakery
This old-fashioned, James Beard-nominated biscuit bakery makes– you guessed it– the best biscuits in Savannah. Those with a car will love checking out this spacious cafe located in the eclectic, bohemian Starland District. The area showcases local artists via intriguing street murals. There’s also a cool art supply store nearby called Starlandia, which features new and reclaimed art supplies.
As we wrote our guide to the Best Brunch Spots in Savannah, Back in the Day Bakery is off-the-beaten-path, but worth the visit if you’re a foodie or biscuit lover. All of the desserts here are lovely, from cold-oven pound cake to the lavender shortbread and classic chocolate chip cookies.
Related: Don’t leave the city without eating at these 7 Charming Savannah Brunch Spots. (Yes, we’re linking to this again. Breakfast is important!)
Make The “Forrest Gump” Pilgrimage to Chippewa Square
As mentioned above, the iconic “Box of Chocolates” scene in Forrest Gump was famously filmed in Savannah. Specifically, it was filmed on a bench in Chippewa Square, in downtown Savannah.
As we wrote in our Forrest Gump Guide to Savannah, the bench that Tom Hanks actually sat on during this scene was a movie prop that has since migrated to the Savannah History Museum. Still, fans go to Chippewa Square for the photo-op.
PSA: Debi’s Restaurant on Bay Street is where “Jenny” worked in the movie. Today, they serve unfussy down-home Southern cuisine like chicken and dumplings, corn pudding, and fried pork chops.
Related: For more insight and details about other famous filming locations, read our Forrest Gump Guide to Savannah, Georgia.
Chocolat by Adam Turoni
Omg, chocolate lovers– or even if you’re not a chocolate lover, you must stop by Chocolat by Adam Turoni and experience this crazy concept! A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Adam Turoni makes his whimsical, avant-garde chocolates in-house at his two Savannah boutique chocolate shops, and the experience at both is wonderful.
I love going to the Bull Street location and filling a “book box”– like what you see in the picture above– with whimsical creations. See above his Versailles Topiary Pistachio truffle, Mexican Mayan Truffle, Coffee Caramelo De Luna, Georgia Peach Truffle, the “Let Them Eat Cake” truffle, Raspberry Chambord Truffles, and more!
All are delicious and gorgeous to behold. He also sells bars as well as various medallions and shaped chocolate items. (I once got a gold-dusted dark chocolate lion embellished with almonds, for example.)
This is fine, fine chocolate work– and it’s an amazing counterpoint to the more common pralines and caramel “gophers” you’re apt to find at other touristy candy shops in the city. (Though those have their own charm, as well.)
Life is like a box of chocolates
As we wrote in our Forrest Gump Guide to Savannah, Turoni’s beautiful, unique “chocolate library” usually has a Forrest Gump quote or joke written on the chalkboard outside of its Bull Street location, which is set up like a bookstore.
The Broughton St. location, meanwhile, is designed like a fancy dining room. Both boutiques invite guests to take a silver platter and tongs and to open up drawers and bookcases to select their truffles by hand. It’s lovely.
From the flavors to the packaging to the concept of each store, Chocolat by Adam Turoni is a magical experience and undoubtedly unique to Savannah. Cofounder Alexandra Trujillo perhaps says it best: “Our chocolate ateliers… are whimsical, luxurious places that exist in their own world, where Marie Antoinette meets Alice in Wonderland.”
Enough said. This is the most luxurious of a chocolate experience you’re apt to find anywhere, and it’s one of my favorite Savannah gems that most people miss.
Explore Bonaventure Cemetery (+ Other Iconic Cemeteries)
Of the many eerily-serene cemeteries in Savannah, Bonaventure Cemetery is easily the most beautiful. When “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” was filmed here in 1994, it solidified Bonaventure’s reputation as the most beautiful cemetery in America, as well.
Today, Bonaventure Cemetery features over 100 acres of azaleas, camellias, boxwoods, and gorgeous live oak trees. While it’s technically located a 10-minute drive outside the city, it’s certainly worth the trip when the weather is nice.
Bisected by a series of sandy, narrow passageways, this cemetery is full of intriguing statuary and history. Beyond its function as a historic cemetery, Bonaventure is a beautiful sculpture garden in its own right. This is especially true from March to July, when the flowering shrubs along the Wilmington River are in peak bloom. A gentle, quiet serenity pervades the grounds.
As John Cusack’s character in that movie says of Savannah: “this place… is like Gone With The Wind on mescaline!… New York is boring by comparison.” Indeed, there’s a lot going on in Savannah. Especially in the weirdly beautiful, garden-esque cemeteries that dot the city and surrounding islands.
Bonaventure Cemetery was converted from a plantation to a private cemetery in 1846. It became a public cemetery in 1907. Today, the cemetery is open from 8 AM to 5 PM daily– enter at 330 Bonaventure Road. The visitor center is open only on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 AM to 4 PM.
To take a personalized tour, download the cemetery’s own mobile app guide, titled “Bonaventure Cemetery Tour” from the iTunes App Store or Google Play.
I highly recommend visiting in the spring and early summer (from March to May), when the sun is sure to be shining and the most beautiful plants are in bloom. You could easily spend a few hours here just wandering around and taking it all in.
If you want to support some local businesses while you’re out this way, try an early morning yoga class at Savannah Power Yoga, then grab a warm drink at Friendship Coffee en route to the cemetery. (<— They have a great Southern Pecan Praline coffee which is almost as popular as their in-house brewed and bottled Cold Brew. Lots of regulars and a cozy, family-friendly environment.)
Brunch at The Collins Quarter
This place is so good that we had to specifically mention it by name. I absolutely love the avocado toast, the midcentury modern design, and the blended coffee drinks at The Collins Quarter (Bull Street location).
^ This is a great restaurant for people watching and exploring downtown Savannah after breakfast or brunch. The interior features exposed brick, live edge wooden tables, and beautiful bouquets of flowers. It’s very popular with the young and hip. Trust me, you’ll love it.
Read more about other cool Savannah breakfast places in our guide to the 8 Coolest Brunch Spots in Savannah. (Foodies: there are some real gems here!)
Rooftop Drinks at The Perch
The Perch is a great spot for seasonal rooftop cocktails with a lovely view of Forsyth Park. IMHO, it’s the single best cocktail menu in the city!
Enveloped by mossy oaks atop the famous Local11ten restaurant (which you can read about in our guide to the Best Restaurants in Savannah,) it’s the perfect spot to grab a cocktail with friends during the warm weather months.
This specialty open-air cocktail bar uses raw materials like metal, steel, and bamboo to blend naturally with the surrounding environment. As a result, it’s easy to feel at ease here.
The Perch– so named because it’s a great place to ‘perch’ for a while– also brings out gas-heaters during the cooler months. As a result, this is a local favorite spot for post-work meet-ups, casual dates, and social gatherings, year-round.
And as for drinks: you can’t go wrong, but we recommend the rosemary lemon martini or the ‘paper planes’ (e.g. Old Forester Bourbon, Amaro Montenegro, Aperol, and lemon; it’s basically a Savannah staple).
Related: These are the 15 Best Restaurants in Savannah for Charming Southern Meals.
Shopping On and Around Broughton Street
Savannah is full of curated boutiques nestled between historic landmarks, public squares, coastal alleys, bustling restaurants, and delightful museums. The balance of retail, design, history, and landscaping is what makes Savannah truly unique.
Below are some Savannah retail experiences of note. Most of these center around Broughton Street, the main drag through downtown Savannah.
Sweets, Treats, Bath & Body
Savannah Bee Company sells specialty honey, mead, and beauty products made from local honey, wax, and other hive products, which has earned them a reputation around the world. Honey and mead tastings are free and encouraged. We love their beeswax chapstick! (More info, below.)
If you want to check out some other truly charming stores, head to Pelindaba Lavender Savannah (we love their heavenly organic certified lavender body butter, sold in an opulent gold container), and Chocolat by Adam Turoni for the most incredible chocolate experience (detailed above).
Since you can’t go to Georgia without trying some pecans, go to Savannah Candy Kitchen or River Street Sweets for free hot praline samples and peruse the other handmade southern confections like hand-stretched peanut brittle, saltwater taffy, caramel gophers, and rustic peanut butter cups. (River Street Sweets even has a 100-year-old taffy machine that they still use to make their taffy!)
Bath and body lovers should head to Nourish for locally handmade all-natural skincare products. The store smells amazing, and they make everything in small batches using renewable resources. (Every product is biodegradable, safe for sensitive skin types, and free from parabens, mineral oil, detergents, petroleum, animal product, SLS, and other harsh chemicals.)
Clothing, Books, Design Items, & More
Visit Harper Boutique (above) for clothes in the local fashion, and stop by Satchel for unique, one-of-a-kind handmade leather bags. (These bags are a distinctly “Savannah” souvenir that develops a beautiful patina over time.)
We also like Red Clover and Terra Cotta (both for women’s apparel), and Mamie Ruth (youthful tops, and bottoms with a bohemian bent… it’s self-described “festival wear,” but they also have excellent denim outerwear and graphic tees).
Meanwhile, E. Shaver, Bookseller, has been Savannah’s best independent bookstore since 1975. It’s the place to go for fiction, nonfiction, and regionally-specific books, as well as hot tea, cats, and plenty of local charm. “Books,” a sign on their front door reads, “are a uniquely portable magic.”
And design lovers, you’re in luck: Savannah is the city for you! Picker Joes, 24e Design Co, Peridot Antiques, and The Paris Market are all lovely places to shop antiques and other lovely design items.
Honey Tastings at Savannah Bee Company
Savannah Bee Company is synonymous with Savannah– it is THE place to buy great souvenirs when you visit the city. (Especially if you’re a foodie who’ll appreciate the unique terroir of this region’s honey!)
We love the rainbow assortment of beeswax chapstick (the “Sweet Tea” and “Tupelo Honey” flavors are my favorites), as well as the wide variety of natural body products made with local honey. (Cedar-scented Bees Wax & Royal Jelly hand cream, anyone?)
They also sell raw honeycomb that’s great for cheeseboards and DIY recipes. And don’t sleep on the incredible variety of honey available for tasting, or the house-made mead. They even have “grill honey” that you use like BBQ sauce! (Savannah Bee Company honey is stocked in specialty grocery stores all over the country for a reason.)
Ultimately, every product showcases the unique terroir of Savannah. As a result, in-the-know foodies flock to this place; it’s the perfect spot to get honey or comb for serving with cheese, green apple slices, and charcuterie boards. And there’s usually always a fresh, local, honey-sweetened tea available for sampling. Yum!
Look For The Tupelo and Palmetto Honey, Specifically
Be sure to look here for special local varieties of honey, like Tupelo and Palmetto, which are both indigenous to the region. If you buy only one kind of honey in Savannah, it should be Tupelo Honey. Ask the staff to tell you all about it.
Overall, we cannot state it enough: Savannah honey is a serious business. Definitely stop by to experience this unique local staple. No appointments are necessary, the honey bar is always open!
Try a MoonShine Smoothie at The Georgia Tasting Room (Yes, That’s a Real Thing!)
One of the most unique and unusual libation experiences in Savannah can be found at The Georgia Tasting Room, where they offer moonshine smoothies, champagne smoothies, and wine smoothies that are a hit with visitors.
Sure, it’s quirky and indulgent– you can easily split one of these with your friends– but the treats are respectably tasty. And the novelty alone is hilarious! If you drink or are a fan of cocktails, this is one Savannah experience that you won’t find anywhere else.
Choose from a wide selection of flavored mixers– for example, mango, key lime, berry, peach, or pina colada. Then, the team will blend you a mixed drink that captures “the taste of the New South”. Ask the staff about their favorite combos for a fun treat on a hot summer evening.
They also offer tastings of a wide variety of local wines.
Savannah Riverboat Cruise (Cliche & Touristy, But Novel Nonetheless)
This is a somewhat cheesy, touristy thing to do– akin to posing in Times Square when you visit New York City. But nevertheless, the tourists love it. Some might even say it’s a Savannah rite of passage.
If you’re interested in touring the Savannah River the old-fashioned way, book your boat tour with Savannah Riverboat Cruises, the area’s premier river cruise operator. They offer dinner cruises, brunch cruises, lunch cruises, gospel cruises… you name it!
It’s nice to get out on the water and enjoy a cool breeze on the mid-day harbor cruise. Or, opt to experience a lavish brunch or sunset dinner on board. They also have a moonlight cruise option, with a full bar and grill available for purchasing food, drinks, and appetizers.
No matter which cruise you choose, expect quaint views and nice sunsets from the boat’s open-air top deck patio. (There are also two climate-controlled dining decks, ideal for Summer visitors who are concerned about the heat.)
Sit back and relax, or get up and dance to 1950’s-inspired music as performed by the tour company’s in-house musicians, the Riverboat Entertainers. When the mood is just right, it’s quite the scene.
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is one of TripAdvisor’s Top 10 Historical Landmarks to Visit in the South.
Built in 1876, this massive church with 207-foot-high steeples is known in particular for its 81 epic stained glass windows. It also features century-old murals, which were restored after an 1898 fire destroyed everything except the building’s outside walls.
Architecture buffs marvel at the twin gothic spires outside, while music enthusiasts take note of the massive 34-rank pipe organ inside. (It has 2,308 pipes.)
Today, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist rises high above Lafayette Square, just across the quad from the home where author Flannery O’Connor grew up. (There’s a plaque that tells her story outside, and private tours are available. Get details in the “Other Things to Note” section, below.)
The church is open for self-guided tours from 9 AM to 11:30 AM and 12:45 PM to 5 PM Monday-Saturday. Expect some modifications for weddings and holidays. There is a huge Irish Catholic population in Savannah, so this place is hopping on St. Patrick’s Day.
Explore Telfair Academy (+ Associated Museums)
Telfair Academy is the oldest public art museum in the South, and the first art museum in the country that was founded by a woman (Mary Telfair). Today, the Telfair Academy hosts an award-winning collection of fine art and American Impressionism by the likes of George Bellows and Robert Henri.
Since 1886, guests have enjoyed this art in a stunning architectural setting: a period mansion designed by European Architects William Jay and Detlef Lienau.
The Telfair Museum’s circuit also includes access to the Telfair Academy, the Owens-Thomas Historic House & Slave Quarters (both of which are National Historic Landmark Buildings,) and the super modern Jepson Center, which features contemporary art from classical European Masters to daring emerging artists, as well as world-class traveling exhibitions.
This unique blend of art + history + architecture makes this museum trio one of Savannah’s most popular art-related attractions. (One ticket will get you access to all three, and all are within walking distance from one another. Find more information here.)
Next Level Discoveries
Hidden gems that most people miss.
- Cookie Butter Truffles at Fox & Fig Cafe are some of the best things we’ve ever eaten!
- Driving around to see the cool homes east of MLK and north of 40th Street is a free, lovely experience if you have a car.
- We love going into Byrd’s Famous Cookies and tasting all the free cookie samples! There are SO many interesting flavors and you could easily eat more than your fill, especially if you want to try them all. (And hey, they encourage it!)
- In search of relaxation? Check out our guide to the 4 Best Yoga Studios in Savannah.
- Experience High Tea at Gryphon Tea Room, a renovated pharmacy operated by the Savannah College of Art and Design, which serves traditional afternoon tea with pastries, tea sandwiches, petit fours, and classic scones with Devonshire cream. It’s delicious and so classy!
- The Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens takes place each year in March. Go inside some of the most insanely beautiful homes and gardens in the region. More info here.
- Cat Lovers: Check out Pounce Cafe & Cat Lounge. The cats are available for adoption, and they have wine, beer, Italian soda, and great pastries.
- Yaupon Tea House & Apothecary has lovely locally sourced, sustainably-made skincare, tea, herbal salves, and other botanical products featuring Yaupon Holly, a Native American medicinal plant.
What to Buy in Savannah
Remember to take pictures under the city’s towering, iconic oak trees. That’s the best “Savannah” souvenir of them all!
- art + design objects
- pecans from the Forsyth Park farmers market
- pecan pralines
- Savannah Bee Company Products, specifically Tupelo Honey
- Cookie Butter Truffles at Fox & Fig
- cloth headbands
- quarter-length skirts in the local fashion
- chocolate from Chocolat by Adam Turoni (detailed above)
- Yaupon Tea House & Apothecary products
- Perc coffee (See our guide to the 9 Coolest Local Coffee Shops in Savannah)
- Savannah bloody mary mix, salts, and seasonings from The Salt Table
- moonshine (if you dare)
- handmade soap and natural body products from Nourish
- lavender products from Pelindaba Lavender Savannah
- leather bags from Satchel
- creative curiosities from ShopScad Savannah (detailed above)
- antiques (this is a good city for collectors)
Other Cool/Useful Things to Note When Visiting Savannah
- The city of Savannah operates over 3,000 metered parking spaces, 5 public parking garages, and 6 parking lots downtown. As a result, parking is super easy in Savannah. Use the ParkSavannah mobile parking app to pay for street parking, which is very cheap (usually around $2 an hour). Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are also available.
- There are several bike rental services around Savannah. Try Savannah on Wheels near Forsyth Park or Pedal Pub Savannah for group party bikes. (<— These are the boisterous, trolley-like mobile bars that you are apt to see shuttling party groups around downtown Savannah.)
- Chatham Area Transit (CAT) operates 19 fixed bus routes around Savannah, and the fare for local one-way service is $1.50 with discounts for weekly/monthly passes.
- Ghost Tours are “a thing” in Savannah, but they can be very hit-or-miss. It depends on who you get. Try Blue Orb Tour Company.
- IT GETS VERY HOT IN THE SUMMER. Savannah summers are known for their heavy, humid heat. If you don’t like humidity, consider moving your visit to the Spring or Fall months. Savannah is most beautiful in the spring– but allergy season hits hard when the flowers bloom. Plan accordingly if you’re sensitive to pollen.
- Savannah is a cocktail-friendly city where drinking on the streets is allowed (much like Bourbon Street in New Orleans) as long as you don’t use any glass containers. No, those people walking around with beers aren’t breaking the law!
- Regarding the occasionally sulphuric smell in the air– that’s the Union Bag Paper Mill! You can usually only smell it when you are downwind or on the outskirts of the city.
- It’s generally very safe, but remember to lock cars and secure valuables when parking in Savannah.
- Most hotels have shuttles to downtown, which is the most walkable part of Savannah (where the riverfront is located, etc).
- The Girls Scouts of America was founded in Savannah. This is why you’ll often see families selling Girl Scout Cookies around the city in early spring. The next time you enjoy a Thin Mint, remember where it comes from!
- Flannery O’Connor’s Childhood Home is located in Savannah, and you can walk by it and read the commemorative plaque outside. Interested folks can also tour the house, which has been preserved with period furniture.
- A number of tour companies like Old Town Trolley Company offer affordable, hop-on, hop-off trolley tours around the city.
- Fitness fan? Check out the 4 Best Yoga Studios in Savannah. There are a number of great places to enjoy a restorative and relaxing practice in and around the city!
- Want to dip your feet in the ocean? Consider making a day trip to Tybee Island to walk on the beach, bike through the marshlands, and eat fresh seafood.
Related: 20 Cool Things to Do in Atlanta, Georgia.
Find more intimate insider guides to America’s coolest cities in our Travel Well section.