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, nicknamed the Hostess City, 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. Savannah also has thrived from connections with literature and film, namely "Forrest Gump" and "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," referred to locally as “The Book.”
Things to Do
There’s no shortage of things to keep you busy during your trip to Savannah. Walk through the 22 park-like historic squares, each with unique elements and stories. Don’t miss 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."
Explore the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, one of the many stunning church spires that makes up Savannah’s “skyline” of sorts. The Gothic cathedral dates back to 1876, making it the oldest Roman Catholic church in the state.
Go on a historic 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 make it a favorite spot of photographers.
Learn about the Prohibition era in Savannah and sip on the first spirits to be made locally since the 1920s at Ghost Coast Distillery. They craft vodka and offer tours of their production and aging spaces before a tasting and cocktail demonstration.
Spend a weekend on Tybee Island, Savannah’s nearby beach town. You can browse the shops, dine out or simply spend the day relaxing. The pier offers fishing, and you can learn about the history of the island at the Tybee Island Lighthouse/Museum and the Civil War site at Fort Pulaski National Monument.
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.
While you’re on the river, take a dinner cruise or gospel brunch cruise on The Georgia Queen, a paddle wheel riverboat. It has an open deck up top and an air conditioned interior.
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.
Places to Stay
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.
The Perry Lane Hotel, a Luxury Collection property, has 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!
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 Brice, A Kimpton Property, provides travelers with a whimsical, contemporary hotel experience with pops of color throughout the space. The pet-friendly hotel is located near River Street and has a pool and Italian restaurant.
Set above the city’s cobblestone streets, the Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront takes its inspiration from the days when British settlers arrived in the city. The boutique property has 75 guest rooms and a rooftop bar.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Places to Eat
Make reservations for The Grey, the most praised restaurant in the city that is set in a former Greyhound bus station. Chef Mashama Bailey brings together regional ingredients with traditional dishes.
One of the city’s most popular restaurants, The Olde Pink House is a 18th century mansion that has long welcomed guests for Southern fare with outdoor dining and live entertainment every night.
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.
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.
SoHo South Cafe is known for weekday lunch and Sunday brunch since its opening in 1997, set in a 1945 service station. Also using a historic space, Local 11 Ten is housed in a 1950s bank, offering Southern flavors and fresh seafood.
Belford's Savannah Seafood & Steaks serves what the name implies with top-notch service in the heart of the City Market. Another elegant dining experience is at Alligator Soul, which offers regional dishes like shrimp and grits.
While the St. Patrick’s Day festivities are among the largest in the nation, it’s not the only big event held in Savannah.
The Savannah Stopover Festival in early March brings in musicians on their way to Austin’s South by Southwest festival.
The Savannah Music Festival in late March through mid-April also hosts big acts every spring and fosters arts education.
The Savannah VOICE Festival in August emphasizes opera, musical theater, and song.
SCAD Savannah Film Festival in late October through early November honors actors, directors, and films.
Bring your appetite to the Savannah Food & Wine Festival in November, when chefs from around the region and country gather for tastings and demonstrations.