Savannah, Georgia. Photo courtesy of Visit Savannah
Guide to Savannah
One of the country's oldest planned cities, Savannah is full of reasons to visit. Here are a few quick tips for things to do, places to stay, great restaurants and events you'll love.
Savannah, Georgia, one of America's first planned cities, is a Southern escape nestled on Georgia's coastline. In this historic city, art, architecture, trendy boutiques, electrifying entertainment and haunted stories all create an experience unmatched anywhere else.
Nicknamed the Hostess City, Savannah was first settled in 1733 by General James Oglethorpe, making it one of the oldest cities in the country. It was one of the first planned cities, set up on grids with squares in between. Historic preservation saved many of the iconic buildings that the city is known for today.
Things to Do
There’s no shortage of things to keep you busy during your trip to Savannah. Fill your day strolling through Instagrammable spots, iconic locations and enchanting experiences that make Savannah the perfect playground.
The highly anticipated Enmarket Arena might be Savannah's biggest addition of late. The 9,500-maximum-seat capacity sporting and events venue is located about a mile west of Savannah's Historic Landmark District. Attendees to the arena can catch big-name performances and concerts like Bon Jovi, Pit Bull, Andrea Bocelli and more. For sports fans, catch a Savannah Ghost Pirates hockey game during their winter season. The completion of Enmarket Arena is the first milestone in a larger development plan for Savannah's west side.
Plant Riverside District
Explore the restaurants, shops, rooftop bars and more at Plant Riverside District, the new entertainment district on historic River Street. The former power plant has been transformed into a vibrant destination for nightlife, entertainment and sightseeing. Plan to stay close to the action when you book a room on-site at one of three unique JW Marriott hotel buildings.
Go on a historical tour or ghost hunt at Bonaventure Cemetery, the marshside cemetery that is the final resting place of Johnny Mercer and Conrad Aiken. Spanish moss-draped trees and spring azaleas make it a favorite spot of photographers. Stroll through the winding pathways to reflect on Savannah's history and its former residents.
Historic Landmark District
Savannah's Historic District is sprinkled with 22 historic squares, stunning period architecture and beautiful cobblestone streets, each with unique elements and stories. Take a walk down "America's Most Beautiful Street," Jones Street, take photos in front of the iconic Forsyth Fountain, and stop at places like Chippewa Square, best known as the site of the bench scene from the movie "Forrest Gump."
Spend a day wandering the three Telfair Museums, including The Jepson Center for the Arts, featuring modern works, The Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters Museum, a historic home in the English Regency design, and the Telfair Academy, which is home to the famous Bird Girl statue from "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil."
Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist
Explore the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist, one of the many stunning church spires that make up Savannah’s “skyline” of sorts. Aptly named the "Sistine of the South," this French Gothic cathedral dates back to 1876, making it the oldest Roman Catholic church in the state. Admission to the cathedral is free, and viewing the interior is a must-do for all Savannah's visitors!
American Prohibition Museum
Located within the bustling Savannah City Market, the American Prohibition Museum (the only one in the United States) stretches over 6,000 square feet. It contains 13 different galleries packed with artifacts from the Prohibition era. The self-guided tour will eventually lead you to the museum's speakeasy, designed to embody an authentic 1920s speakeasy bar. Here, you can marvel at the gorgeous antique wood bar while sipping on cocktails served by costumed bartenders.
A visit to Savannah is not complete without a few nights on Tybee Island, Savannah’s nearby beach town. Transport yourself to a nostalgic beach experience only 20 minutes from downtown Savannah. You can browse the shops, dine out or simply spend the day relaxing. Learn about the history of the island at the Tybee Island Lighthouse/Museum, Georgia's oldest and tallest lighthouse, or explore Fort Pulaski National Monument, a civil war defense structure. Families flock to the newly built, 5,000-square-foot Tybee Island Marine Science Center to learn about Georgia's coastal ecosystem and marine life.
Explore the historic City Market district, which offers four blocks of shops, restaurants and art galleries in former grain warehouses. It’s the perfect spot to pick up souvenirs! Another area that transformed industrial spaces into retail and dining is River Street, which has former cotton warehouses. Here you’ll find some of the city’s most popular bars, which let you take your drinks to go.
The Georgia Queen Riverboat
While you’re on the river, take a dinner cruise or gospel brunch cruise on The Georgia Queen, a paddlewheel riverboat. It has an open deck up top and an air-conditioned interior. You'll garner unparalleled views of historic River Street and the Savannah River.
Pin Point Heritage Museum
Immerse yourself in Gullah Geechee heritage and culture in Savannah's Moon River District at Pin Point Heritage Museum, which educates visitors on the freed slaves that make up the coastal communities.
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Places to Stay
The Thompson Savannah
Find luxury along the Savannah River’s edge where the Historic District meets the Eastern Wharf, a modern destination in the making. A stepping stone to experiencing the city’s best, Thompson Savannah is an urban oasis to relax, revitalize and rejuvenate. Minutes from the city’s treasured historic sites, let Thompson Savannah, a premier modern luxury hotel, be your springboard to exploring it all. As a bonus, this hotel is also pet-friendly!
Perry Lane Hotel
The Perry Lane Hotel, a Luxury Collection property, has a stylish contemporary design with a rooftop bar and two additional restaurants. Amenities in the rooms and suites include Italian linens and robes, top-of-the-line bath products and room service. The hotel also is pet-friendly!
River Street Inn
Each hotel and inn in Savannah has its own unique history. River Street Inn was an 1800s cotton warehouse that overlooks the Savannah River and the River Street entertainment district below. Rooms feature exposed brick walls, four-poster beds and flat-screen televisions.
Mansion on Forsyth Park
When it comes to luxury experiences in Savannah, few places top the Mansion on Forsyth Park in terms of opulent decor and original artwork that covers the property. The former Victorian home overlooks Forsyth Park and has a restaurant, bar and cooking school.
The AAA Four Diamond Hamilton-Turner Inn is a historic property set among the live oaks of Lafayette Square. The home, which was featured in “The Book,” is furnished with period antiques and crystal chandeliers. Enjoy daily wine receptions and chef-prepared breakfasts. You didn't hear it from us, but guests often experience haunting encounters while staying here.
The Kehoe House
One of the best bed and breakfasts in town is The Kehoe House, an 1892 Renaissance Revival mansion with 13 guest rooms furnished with antiques. Amenities include daily breakfast, wine reception, and evening coffee and cookies.
Foley House Inn
Across from famous Chippewa Square, the Foley House Inn is set around a lush garden courtyard. Some rooms come with fireplaces, balconies, private porches and Jacuzzis. Your stay includes a full Southern breakfast and access to their library.
Another favorite inn is The Gastonian, made up of two adjoining Regency Italianate mansions from 1868. The award-winning bed and breakfast has 17 rooms that offer daily gourmet breakfast, afternoon wine receptions, and coffee and dessert nightly.
Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa
Across the river, The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa has famous Heavenly beds and a spa, a PGA championship golf course, access to downtown by ferry and access to a beach club on secluded Daufuskie Island.
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Places to Eat
A hybrid eatery combining the delicious food menu of Zunzi's with the imaginative drink menu of Treylor Park is now open! Zunzibar is a fusion of two fan-favorite Savannah restaurants in the heart of historic Savannah. Come for the conquistadors, stay for the craft cocktails.
One of Savannah's newest restaurants is located off the beaten path, just north of Victory Drive. Ardsley Station's menu features a variety of options, from rich dishes like poutine and truffle lobster mac to light bites and hand-crafted cocktails. With outdoor patio seating, this Starland eatery is a fun hangout for date nights, small gatherings, or private events.
If you fancy sipping your coffee in a gorgeous space, then head straight for Franklin's Coffee Shop on Liberty Street. This Instagram-worthy spot not only has a delightful cafe beverage menu, but they also serve up delicious breakfast, brunch and lunch items. The croque-monsieur is life-changing, and be sure to wash it down with a boozy coffee in typical Savannah fashion.
Nestled in Savannah's Victorian District is the city's newest cornerstone of farm-to-table dining experiences. Common Thread is founded on the commitment to producing, providing and serving only locally sourced foods.
Make reservations for The Grey, the most praised restaurant in the city that is set in a former Greyhound bus station. James Beard Award-winning Chef Mashama Bailey brings together regional ingredients with traditional dishes.
The Olde Pink House
One of the city’s most popular restaurants, The Olde Pink House is an 18th-century mansion that has long welcomed guests for Southern fare with outdoor dining and live entertainment every night.
The Collins Quarter
For Aussie-style coffee and photogenic brunch dishes, visit The Collins Quarter, a cafe with an emphasis on farm-to-table ingredients and specialty coffee. Don’t miss their champagne breakfast and brunch or their sister location inside Forsyth Park.
Gryphon Tea Room & Leopold's Ice Cream
Operated by the Savannah College of Art and Design, the Gryphon Tea Room has authentic tea service in a cozy 1920s building. After tea, indulge your sweet tooth at Leopold's Ice Cream, a classic soda fountain dating back to 1919, with more than 20 flavors.
This brewery turned distillery gastropub serves up rotating beers and hard seltzers perfectly paired with seasonal menu items like squash tacos and sweet potato pizza. Hip and trendy visitors and locals flock to Hop Atomica in the up-and-coming Baldwin Park neighborhood.
Big Bon Bodega
Owner Kay Heritage and Chef Jay Langfelder serve up a blend of New York-style pizza with an authentic Korean influence at Big Bon Bodega in Savannah's Starland District. Swing by this bodega in the morning for a New York City-style bagel (with a twist) or grab some friends for a wood-fire pizza experience in the evenings. Two visits in one day? We won't judge!
Coming Soon in Summer 2022
From the chef that brought you Pizzeria Vittoria in Starland Yard, comes Lucia. Chef Kyle Jacovino is known for his pizza dough, so it comes as no surprise that he's opening up a casual eatery dedicated to grinders (sub sandwiches) this summer. Not far behind is Brochu's Family Tradition. Andrew Brochu, chef to one of Chicago's most acclaimed restaurants, is setting roots down in Savannah to open this new Starland District establishment. This informal, coastal-inspired joint will mirror the crab boils and barbecues he enjoyed growing up.
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While the St. Patrick’s Day festivities are among the largest in the nation, it’s not the only big event held in Savannah.
Savannah Stopover Festival
The Savannah Stopover Festival in early March brings in musicians on their way to Austin’s South by Southwest festival.
Savannah Music Festival
The Savannah Music Festival in late March through mid-April also hosts big acts every spring and fosters arts education.
Savannah VOICE Festival
The Savannah VOICE Festival in August emphasizes opera, musical theater, and song.
Savannah Jazz Festival
The Savannah Jazz Festival offers up exciting jazz musicians across the city in September.
SCAD Savannah Film Festival
SCAD Savannah Film Festival in late October through early November honors actors, directors, and films.
Savannah PRIDE Festival
In Savannah, y'all means ALL! The city's big PRIDE festival serves up a fierce parade, kid-friendly performances as well as after-dark experiences over Halloween weekend.