Savannah, the historic riverside birthplace of Georgia, was settled in 1733 by British colonists led by General James Oglethorpe and Colonel William Bull.

Savannah is one of the few major cities in the South with antebellum charm and architecture remaining intact. Savannah has one of the largest historic districts in the country.

Fun Fact: Southerners joke that in Atlanta, the first thing locals ask you is your business; in Charleston, they ask your mother’s maiden name; and in Savannah, they ask what you want to drink.

Things To Do In Savannah

Fun Fact: Parts of Forrest Gump were shot in Chippewa Square, Savannah.

City Market

City Market has established itself as a destination for entertainment, dining, and retailing in downtown Savannah. It is a mixed-use project in the northwest corner of the Historic District.

The rehabilitation of the four-block area began in 1985. The result is a facility that economically could not be replicated today.

This group of working studios for artists occupies approximately 19,000 square feet of space and has created an opportunity for other tenants of City Market to establish and operate viable food, entertainment, and retail businesses.

Historic public squares

Gen. Oglethorpe and Col. Bull laid out their new settlement in 1733 in a series of wards, in which commercial and residential buildings surround a public square.

The original four public squares were Johnson, Ellis, Telfair, and Wright. Today there are 23 surviving public squares in Savannah.

  • Calhoun Square
  • Chatham Square
  • Chippewa Square
  • Columbia Square
  • Crawford Square
  • Elbert Square
  • Ellis Square – one of the original four
  • Franklin Square
  • Greene Square
  • Johnson Square – the city’s first square, laid out in 1733
  • LaFayette Square
  • Liberty Square – one of two lost squares. The “Flame of Freedom” is now on this site
  • Madison Square
  • Monterey Square
  • Oglethorpe Square
  • Orleans Square
  • Pulaski Square
  • Telfair Square – one of the original four
  • Troup Square
  • Warren Square – between this square and Washington Square there are some of the oldest houses in the historic district
  • Washington Square
  • Whitefield Square
  • Wright Square – one of the original four

River Street

A popular cobblestone street (one way east) along the south bank of the Savannah River. It is lined with numerous tourist-targeted shops and restaurants.

The sculpture of the Waving Girl is towards the east end of River Street.

The rest of the Historic District is on a bluff above the riverfront and is connected with River Street via stairs or ramps, and is home to many restaurants and cafes, such as the famous River Street Sweets!

Forsyth Park

This large public park, which marks the southern edge of the Historic District, is ringed with bed and breakfasts and crowned with a beautiful fountain.

Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil was filmed here. Stay in the park, admire the Spanish moss, and imagine yourself next to John Cusack under the dripping Spanish moss.

Georgia State Railroad Museum

Features several vintage pieces of rolling stock, an operating model train layout, and an operating turntable.

Bonaventure Cemetery

Fans of “The Book” will find Johnny Mercer’s grave here, along with those of Conrad Aiken and other Southern notables.

The view of the river is wonderful, and the Spanish moss creates a delightfully spooky atmosphere.

Historic Grayson Stadium

Known as “Historic Grayson Stadium” it was built in 1926. It holds 4,000 people. It is primarily used for baseball and is the home field of the Savannah Bananas of the Coastal Plain League collegiate summer baseball league.

Wormsloe Historic Site

The entrance has a beautiful avenue of live oak trees, plus there is a visitor’s center with a history of the plantation and trails along the marshes.

Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD)

Founded in 1978 by Paula S. Wallace, Richard Rowan, May Poetter, and Paul Poetter — is an independent, accredited and nonprofit school dedicated to the visual and performing arts, design, the building arts and the history of art and architecture.

SCAD enrolls more than 10,000 students from all 50 states and over 100 countries.

Lucas Theatre

SCAD uses it for a number of events including the Savannah Film Festival. The college’s support also allows for a wide range of community uses: the Lucas has presented top-line entertainment including opera from London and Italy, European orchestras, country stars, traveling repertory companies and film series.

These events bring in an average of more than 1,000 people per week.

Telfair Museum

The Telfair Museum of Art traces its history from 1886 when the Telfair family home opened to the public as an art museum and school.

Now composed of three buildings: the original Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences building, a National Historic Landmark; the Owens-Thomas House, also a National Historic Landmark; and the recently completed Jepson Center for the Arts.

Designed by internationally acclaimed architect Moshe Safdie, the 64,000-sq ft Jepson Center for the Arts is a state-of-the-art museum facility, featuring expanded gallery spaces, expanded educational resources, much-needed art storage facilities, sculpture gardens, an auditorium, cafe, and museum store.

Over the years the Telfair has become an invaluable confluence of arts, culture, and history that reaches out to its audience through a diverse schedule of exhibitions and programs.

Tybee Island

Located ~18 mi (29 km) east of Savannah, Tybee has a long sand beach, and various beachfront bars, restaurants, and hotels. Finding a hotel or parking can be difficult in the high summer season.

Hilton Head

A lush seaside paradise across the Savannah River in South Carolina.

Charleston

Located just 105 mi (169 km) north of Savannah, Charleston is a historic port city with 17th-century homes and numerous beaches.

Read More: Charleston Travel Guide

18 Fun Things To Do In Savannah

  • Take a Riverboat Cruise on the Savannah River Queen or the Georgia Queen
  • Walk down River Street, see the Waving Girl, and shop in one of the local candy shops
  • Shop at City Market. Check out the local art galleries, where you can often pick up great student art for prices easy on the wallet
  • Take a picture with a statue in one of the historic squares
  • Visit the Savannah Visitors Center and the Savannah History Museum
  • Ride the free Savannah Belles Ferry across the Savannah River to Hutchinson Island
  • Watch the show at Club One Jefferson (home of the Lady Chablis-Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil)
  • Walk the Bull Street corridor from City Hall (at Bay St.) to the fountain in Forsyth Park
  • Visit the Telfair Museum of Art and the Jepson Center for the Arts
  • Stay at a Savannah B&B historic mansion inn for high drama and beautiful scenery
  • Visit Bethesda Home for Boys (the oldest orphanage in the USA) 9 miles south of Savannah
  • Take a trolley tour or one of the many ghost tours
  • Visit the Juliette Gordon Low birthplace and the beginning of the Girl Scouts
  • Tour the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)
  • Do picnic in Forsyth Park
  • Visit Flannery O’Connor’s childhood home. She played in the square and kept chickens here, and for Southern literary buffs, the small house is a must
  • See a Savannah Bananas Game (also known as the Sand Gnats)
  • Visit Old Fort Jackson, just outside Savannah’s city limits

Safety Tips

Savannah’s Historic District is perfectly safe for exploring the area during the day and at night with at least one other person – a normal safety precaution.

Outside the historic district, crime is more prevalent. While exploring the Historic District please do remember this is a tourist area and there will always be those who prey on tourists – be cautious but more so at night.

Savannah-Chatham County Police patrol the downtown area frequently on horseback and in patrol cruisers. The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is prominent throughout the downtown area and SCAD’s Security detail frequently patrols areas near their buildings on bike and vehicle.

River Street area is good for drinking and fun but watch out your back on a busy weekend.

August 19, 2019 3:47 pm Published by

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