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Are you planning a vacation to the South and looking for the best things to do in Savannah, Georgia? Savannah is amazing for a summer vacation, a winter getaway, or a spring honeymoon. Any time of year, travelers enjoy multiple parks and squares, Southern food, gorgeous mansions, and even movie sets.
You’ll find it here if you’re searching for Southern hospitality, Spanish moss-draped oak trees, horse-drawn carriage rides, and much history. Savannah is one of the oldest cities in the Peach State, and it was settled in 1733. It was also one of the first planned cities in the country.
The coastal city sits along the Savannah River, which separates Georgia from South Carolina. While you’re here, check out the Savannah Historic District, Midtown, Forsyth Park, the Victorian District, the Starland District, and the Savannah waterfront for starters.
It’s important to note that, during hurricane season, Savannah is at risk. If traveling between June and October, get travel insurance if the weather changes your plans. Search for a plan on TravelInsurance.com to find several options to compare.
You’ll need a rental car to get around Savannah, especially if you plan to explore beyond downtown. Rentalcars.com is the best site for booking reliable transportation while on vacation.
- Things to Do in Savannah, Georgia
- 1. Tricentennial Park
- 2. Forsyth Park
- 3. Savannah Botanical Garden
- 4. Plant Riverside District
- 5. Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum
- 6. Historic Homes
- 7. Fort Pulaski National Monument
- 8. Tybee Island
- 9. Old Fort Jackson
- 10. Wormsloe Historic Site
- 11. American Prohibition Museum
- 12. Fort McAllister State Park
- 13. Skidaway Island State Park
- 14. UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium
- 15. Lafayette Square
- 16. Chippewa Square
- 17. Savannah National Wildlife Refuge
- 18. Haunted History Tour
- 19. Horse-Drawn Carriage Tour
- 20. Sip and Savor Savannah Cuisine
- 21. Riverboat Cruise
|Most Significant Landmark||Fort Pulaski National Monument|
|Best Park||Chippewa Square|
|Best Free Activity||Tybee Island beach day|
|Best Activity for Kids||Tricentennial Park|
|Best Activity for Adults||Savannah Food Tour|
|Best Food||Plant Riverside District|
|Best Place to Stay||JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District|
Things to Do in Savannah, Georgia
1. Tricentennial Park
Address: Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Savannah, Georgia 31401
Get in three sites at once at Tricentennial Park. The 25-acre area is home to three museums: the Savannah History Museum, the Georgia State Railroad Museum, and the Savannah Children’s Museum.
The history museum features apparel, textiles, transportation, and other unique historic exhibits central to the city’s past.
Tour rail cars, engage in experiences such as a working handcar, and take guided train tours at the Georgia State Railroad Museum. Located at the Central of Georgia Railroad Savannah Repair Shops, the original construction was completed in 1855.
The celebrated war flick Glory (1990), an Academy Award-winning movie starring Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, and Matthew Broderick that was filmed at the site, inspired the city to operate it as a historic site.
The Savannah Children’s Museum is a terrific place to let the kids explore and use their imaginations. All exhibits are outdoors. Kids can participate in arts and crafts, explore a sensory garden, and discover the natural world at the nature kitchen.
Battlefield Memorial Park, the site of the second bloodiest battle of the American Revolutionary War, is also right here. It’s worth touring, and the history is chilling.
2. Forsyth Park
Address: Savannah, Georgia 31401
Located in Savannah’s historic district, the 30-acre Forsyth Park is bordered by Gaston Street, Drayton Street, Whitaker Street, and Park Avenue. Walking trails, playgrounds, water play areas, picnic facilities, basketball courts, and a swimming pool exist.
Don’t forget to check out the historic fountain, added in 1858. Other attractions in the historic Savannah district near the park include the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), the SCAD Museum of Art, and the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum.
Hotel Bardo, formerly known as The Mansion on Forsyth Park Hotel, is situated next to Forsyth Park. Originally built in 1888, the Victorian mansion was converted into a hotel in 2005.
It’s currently undergoing renovation, expected to be complete in spring 2024, and features 126 luxurious guest rooms. Guests can enjoy a spa, an art gallery, a cooking school, and upscale business accommodations.
3. Savannah Botanical Garden
Address: 1388 Eisenhower Drive, Savannah, Georgia 31406
The 10-acre Savannah Botanical Garden is designed for garden lovers and offers formal and natural gardens accented with fountains and walking trails. Check out herb gardens, native plants, pod, bog, and rose gardens. Admission to the gardens is free, making this one of the best free things to do in Savannah.
The property has an amphitheater, an archaeological exhibit, and the historic Reinhard House. Built in 1840 in downtown Savannah, the Reinhard House was moved to its current home at the botanical garden in 1990. The house is a terrific example of German vernacular farmhouse architecture.
4. Plant Riverside District
Address: 400 W. River Street, Savannah, Georgia 31406
Looking for live entertainment, dining, and nightlife on the Savannah waterfront? Head to the Plant Riverside District for Savannah nightlife.
The former power plant has become a shopping and dining district with art galleries and businesses like Byrd’s Famous Cookies, the District Smokehouse, the Grand Bohemian Art Gallery, and the District Boutique.
Enjoy comedy and musical acts such as Sister Hazel, Joshua Ray Walker, Chase Matthew, Joanne Shaw Taylor, and Caesar Frazier and Friends. You’ll also find charter boat cruises, yoga sessions, and choreographed musical fountain shows in this fun district.
Decorated with European art and an urban aesthetic, the JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District offers 12 restaurants, private parking, a spa, and 18,000 square feet of meeting space. It makes a great choice for business travelers and those wanting to be near the action of the Plant Riverside District.
Check out Franklin Square, the Telfair Museum of Art, and Ellis Square when you stay near the district.
5. Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum
Address: 41 Martin Luther King Blvd., Savannah, Georgia 31401
Founded in 1966, the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum is in the 1819 home of William Scarbrough. Scarbrough was one of the owners of the steamship Savannah, which sank off the coast of Fire Island, New York, in 1823.
The museum focuses on 18th and 19th-century ships. Maritime paintings, antiques, and intricately detailed models include navy ships such as ironclads, paddle steamers, early colonial vessels, and even the Titanic. Along with the house, visitors can explore the carefully manicured gardens.
The colorful and contemporary DoubleTree by Hilton Historic Savannah is a terrific choice to be near the Savannah attractions and activities of the historic district and the waterfront. Hotel amenities include a swimming pool, a fitness center, and an on-site restaurant.
6. Historic Homes
A city as old and storied as Savannah is bound to have a historic home or two (or three or four). Such homes include the Owens Thomas House, the Wilkes House, and the Andrew Low House.
The Owens Thomas House operated as a historic house museum by Telfair Museums, was built in 1819. Designed with neoclassical elements, it features period rooms filled with antiques and exhibits on Savannah’s art, architecture, history, and community members.
The Italianate, Gothic Revival, and Greek Revival Andrew Low House, completed in 1849, features fluted columns, wrought iron accents, and sandstone steps. The unique mansion was home to Andrew Low, a wealthy businessman from Scotland.
The home is part of a historic complex that includes multiple homes. You’ve got to see the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace (founder of the Girl Scots), also known as the Wayne-Gordon House, and the Andrew Low Carriage House.
Peruse paintings, antique china, silver, and family portraits, and discover the history of the Girl Scouts. Don’t miss the gardens. Designed in the style of formal French gardens, a parterre, this lovely area features footpaths, geometric patterns, and authentic planting beds.
Rumored to be haunted, the Sorrel Weed House is situated on the site of the Siege of Savannah, a bloody battle of the Revolutionary War. Home to the influential Sorrel family, it was built in 1837. The opening scene of Forrest Gump features the house. History architecture tours, ghost tours, or paranormal investigation events are held here.
The 1860s Italianate and Renaissance Revival Mercer-Williams House, which inspired the 1994 book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, features 15-foot ceilings, a stained-glass dome, and rose-colored bricks known as Philadelphia reds. The Mercer Williams House is in the city’s historic district and near the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, founder of the Girl Scouts.
The Wilkes House, built in the 1800s, features wooden floors, antiques, and marble fireplaces, and you can even stay here. The property at Wilkes House is also home to Mrs. Wilkes Boardinghouse Restaurant, located on the structure’s ground floor.
7. Fort Pulaski National Monument
Address: 101 Fort Pulaski Road, Savannah, Georgia 31401
Completed in 1847, Fort Pulaski was built to protect Savannah. It sits on Cockspur Island, a small spot of land on the Savannah River between Tybee Island and South Carolina. It’s about 25 minutes from downtown Savannah and makes a terrific day trip.
The Union Army tested state-of-the-art rifled cannons (the James Rifled Cannon and the Parrott Rifle) to bombard the fort during the Civil War in 1862. It took about 30 hours, but the shelling succeeded, and the Confederate commander surrendered.
This event played a pivotal role in the history of military science and invention. Now under Union control, shipping in and out of Savannah ceased, crippling the Southern war effort.
In addition to exploring the fort and visitor center, visitors can go fishing, hiking, biking, and birdwatching. The Cockspur Island Lighthouse (originally built in 1839 and rebuilt in 1854) sits just off the island’s southeast coast. It’s inaccessible to visitors, but there’s an overlook trail to get a look and a few pics.
8. Tybee Island
For a fun day trip from Savannah, head to Tybee Island, one of the best beaches on the East Coast. Tybee Island, on the Atlantic Ocean north of Jekyll Island, is about 10 minutes from Fort Pulaski and 25 minutes from Savannah. It offers the perfect slice of coastal charm for bike or foot exploration at about a mile wide and three miles long.
Head to the beach, grab a bite to eat at the Crab Shack or A-J’s Dockside, or check out the Tybee Island Marine Science Center, the Tybee Beach Pier, and the Tybee Island Lighthouse and Museum.
If the sand and surf are calling your name, consider the Beachview Inn and Spa for a relaxing escape near Savannah. This simple Southern setting features coastal accents, antiques, and a courtyard garden with easy access to the beach. It’s near Savannah Bend Marina and shopping and dining on Tybresia Street.
9. Old Fort Jackson
Address: 1 Fort Jackson Road, Savannah, Georgia 31404
Originally called Fort James Jackson, the restored 19th-century Old Fort Jackson is a National Historic Landmark. The brick fort at Old Fort Jackson is located on the Savannah River and defended Savannah during the War of 1812. Experience cannon firings, walk through tunnels, and visit the blacksmith shop, a casement, and the Fort Jackson Maritime Museum.
Add more history to your day trip by checking out Bonaventure Cemetery near the Fort Jackson historic site. Famous sites within the historic cemetery include the statues and gravesites of Little Gracie Watson, writer and poet Conrad Aiken, U.S. Army officer Robert Houston Anderson, and singer, songwriter, and record label executive Johnny Mercer.
Bonaventure Cemetery was originally the site of the Bird Girl statue from the cover of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. The movie was also set in Savannah. The statue has since been relocated to the Telfair Academy Museum near the 1776 First African Baptist Church.
10. Wormsloe Historic Site
Address: 7601 Skidaway Road, Savannah, Georgia 31406
Spanish moss-draped live oaks lead the way to the Wormsloe Historic Site, the colonial estate of Noble Jones. The interesting name comes from his township in England (Wormslow Hundred in Herefordshire).
Also known as Wormsloe Plantation, the property was a film site for movies such as Roots, Savannah, and The General’s Daughter. Go about your visit viewing artifacts, checking out the 1917 cottage, and learning about colonial life in Georgia from historical interpreters. Events throughout the year highlight music, dancing, military drills, and local crafts.
Wormsloe’s tabby ruins are the oldest standing structures in Savannah. Tabby is a type of concrete made from oyster shells, sand, lime, and water. Affordable, strong, and durable, it was used a lot throughout the Lowcountry areas of Savannah, Hilton Head Island, and Daufuskie Island.
Like coquina or adobe, tabby is considered almost bulletproof. The ruins at Wormsloe include portions of an 8-foot wall, corner bastions, a chimney, and a cellar.
11. American Prohibition Museum
Address: 209 W. Saint Julian Street, Savannah, Georgia 31401
Learn all about bootlegging, rum runners, and the 18th Amendment on an American Prohibition Museum tour. Exhibits at this hidden gem range from flapper fashion and the hatchet-wielding Carry Nation to crime and gangsters, the Model T, posters, pamphlets, and propaganda from the Temperance Movement.
Don’t miss the authentic Roaring ’20s speakeasy, Congress Street Up, where you can enjoy (legal) craft cocktails. The museum is conveniently located next to Ellis Square in the City Market. The City Market, in operation since the 1700s, is a four-block area with shopping, dining, and art vendors.
After your time-traveling excursion to the Roaring ’20s, head to the Olde Pink House Restaurant. Built in 1771, the elegant Olde Pink House serves lunch and dinner.
The Olde Pink House Restaurant is the perfect place for a romantic meal in Savannah. The menu offers pan-seared salmon, jumbo sea scallops with herb butter, shrimp gumbo, country-fried chicken, and pecan-crusted chicken breast, mmm!
12. Fort McAllister State Park
Address: 3894 Fort McAllister Road, Richmond Hill, Georgia 31324
Located on the Ogeechee River, Fort McAllister State Park is a fun spot for families and history buffs to visit while on vacation in Savannah. The park is well-known for its excellent examples of earthwork fortifications, remnants of the Civil War.
An earthwork fortification is a fort made from dirt that results in a strong and imposing structure. These forts were attacked many times, but they didn’t fall until 1864 as part of General Sherman’s “March to the Sea” campaign.
Explore the site and its cannons, barracks, and hot shot furnace, as well as the on-site Civil War museum. Activities include camping (tents, RVs, and cabins), fishing, picnicking, and boating. There’s a boat ramp for access to the Ogeechee River.
13. Skidaway Island State Park
Address: 52 Diamond Causeway, Savannah, Georgia 31411
Skidaway Island State Park borders Skidaway Narrows, part of Georgia’s Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). A boardwalk and trails wind through salt marshes and forest habits.
Head to the observation tower for a bird’s eye view of the area. Look for raccoons, egrets, fiddler crabs, and other creatures.
The park has playgrounds, picnic facilities, and a campground with tent and RV sites. Not into the roughing-it life? We get it. There are also rental cabins with a bathroom, AC, and a kitchen. The park is near the Wormsloe historic site, which makes it convenient to get in two sites while you visit Savannah.
14. UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium
Address: 30 Ocean Science Circle, Savannah, Georgia 31411
Located on Skidaway Island, the UGA Marien Education Center and Aquarium is about 20 minutes from downtown Savannah. It’s near the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography and the Shellfish Research Laboratory.
The center features 16 exhibit tanks that show off the wide array of Georgia marine animals, such as stingrays, red lionfish, seahorses, American alligators, and fish like the pompano and striped mullet. There’s also a fun touch tank with whelks and crabs.
A boardwalk overlooks the Skidaway River, where visitors can walk leisurely through the forest and salt marshes. Pack a picnic, enjoy lunch along the river, or hike the Jay Wolf Nature Trail.
15. Lafayette Square
Address: 201 E. Charleston Street, Savannah, Georgia 31401
Lafayette Square, named, of course, for the Marquis de Lafayette, was laid out in 1837. The square is the site of many of the city’s cultural events, including parades, festivals, weddings, and other celebrations. With gigantic moss-draped oak trees, it’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy the shade.
Must-see sites include the Andrew Low House, the Hamilton-Turner House, the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home, and a historic fountain. Don’t miss the neo-gothic architecture and gorgeous stained-glass windows of the 19th-century Roman Catholic Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist.
16. Chippewa Square
Address: Savannah, Georgia 31401
Laid out in 1815, Chippewa Square is one of the most well-known in Savannah. It’s central to the city and near various restaurants, stores, and ice cream shops.
Movie buffs may recognize the park as the “bench scene” in Forrest Gump. Multiple benches were used for filming; one can be seen at the Savannah History Museum.
Chippewa Square gets its name from the Battle of Chippewa, which occurred during the War of 1812. Historic sites within Chippewa Square include the First Baptist Church, the Eastman-Stoddard House, and a statue of General James Oglethorpe (founder of the colony of Georgia). The square is near the 1789 Colonial Park Cemetery.
The historic Savannah Theatre, located within the square, first opened in 1818 and has been used for live performances and as a movie theater. You can still enjoy live performances of shows like Fiddler on the Roof, Hannah Dasher in Concert, Rewind!, and Savannah Live at the Savannah Theatre.
17. Savannah National Wildlife Refuge
Address: 694 Beech Hill Land, Hardeeville, Georgia 29927
Spread across Chatham and Effingham Counties in Georgia and Jasper County in South Carolina, Savannah National Wildlife Refuge is one of the best outdoor things to do near Savannah. The 31,551-acre park (divided about equally in both states) was established in 1927 as a migratory bird habitat.
Habitats include tidal freshwater marshes and hardwood forests filled with hiking and biking trails. Popular activities include hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, and geocaching.
Looking for hotels near the refuge? Check out the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott. Offering a swimming pool, free Wi-Fi, and daily continental breakfast, the hotel is also near the Ships of the Sea Museum and the Savannah History Museum.
18. Haunted History Tour
A Ghosts and Gravestones Trolley Tour is a fantastic way to seek out the spectral side of the city’s history. This tour, with Old Town Trolley Tours, takes you to sites like the Pirate’s House, Telfair Square, Columbia Square, and Colonial Park Cemetery. Old Savannah Trolley Tours is one of the best haunted tours for nighttime access into the Andrew Low House and the Perkins & Sons Ship Chandlery.
Fully costumed guides and the black Ghosts and Gravestones trolley car give the tour an extra dose of ambiance. This trolley tour meets at the Simply Savannah Trolley Depot.
If you’re looking to combine your haunted city ghost tour with a ghostly stay, consider the Marshall House, Historic Inns of Savannah Collection, built in 1851, is one of the most haunted hotels in the U.S.
With reported paranormal activity, unexplained noises, and a history as a former hospital, it’s the perfect place to experience a scare.
19. Horse-Drawn Carriage Tour
Enjoy a uniquely Southern experience on a Savannah Carriage Tour. It’s a fun way to explore the historic district, the city center, and its historic buildings while clip-clopping along cobblestone streets and past gorgeous mansions. This 45 to 50-minute tour allows you to experience a fully narrated tour of Savannah’s historic streets.
You’ll learn about the city’s landmarks, cotton production, the Civil War, and other events and attractions. If you’re looking for a riverfront hotel near Savannah’s historic district, check out the Hyatt Regency Savannah Hotel.
20. Sip and Savor Savannah Cuisine
Cure that craving for Southern fried chicken, shrimp and grits, biscuits and gravy, peach cobbler, and other Southern cuisine on a Savannah: 2-Hour Southern Food Tour. On this food tour, you’ll visit four different venues and learn a bit about Savannah’s history and local lore.
The best part is tasting delicious food and regional cuisine from four restaurants. Tours meet beside the Paula Deen’s flagship restaurant, The Lady and Sons.
21. Riverboat Cruise
Channel CCR or Lady Tina and hitch a ride on a Riverboat Queen! For the ultimate in fun things to do in Savannah, take a two-hour cruise aboard the Georgia Queen on a Savannah Riverboat Sunset Cruise.
The stately red-trimmed vessel cruises up and down the historic Savannah riverfront. Enjoy cool breezes, sunset viewing, live music, and dancing. There’s an onboard bar, and food is available for purchase, making this one of the best things to do in Savannah for a night out.
After your cruise, head to one of Savannah’s restaurants or bars for more music, dancing, and Southern food. Lizzy’s Tequila Bar & Grill, Huey’s on the River, and the Electric Moon Skytop Lounge are just a few you could try.
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Sandy is a freelance writer based in Richmond, Virginia. Her specialties range from hotels, dining, beaches, and yacht charters to theme parks, urban settings, mountain getaways, and other fun spots. She loves Nashville, Las Vegas, and Williamsburg, Virginia – but you’re most likely to find her on the beach. In addition to ViaTravelers, her work appears at AFAR, PierShare, Cozymeal, and more.