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Savannah, Georgia is one of the most beautiful, elegant towns we’ve ever seen, and one of the most historically important places in the United States. But underneath all that genteel beauty and historical importance lies a fascinating web of stories, myths, and legends, ranging from quirky to downright morbid. And that nuanced, complex dichotomy is what makes Savannah absolutely enchanting.
Have you ever fallen head over heels in love with a place? As travelers and storytellers, that feeling is what we live for. Y’all: we fell for Savannah HARD. I’m talking like, we were looking at homes on Zillow 2 nights in. On the way home, we were obsessively reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – an absolute must-read for anyone mildly curious about Savannah, and referred to locally as The Book – and listening to podcasts about Savannah, like this one. For weeks after our trip, we gushed to friends & family about how amazing and unique and wonderfully weird this place is. And we couldn’t figure out a way to condense our newfound obsession into a single post, so instead, we’re writing …well, let’s just say a few.
In this post, you’ll find everything you need to know to plan your trip, and all the best things to do in Savannah, Georgia! Let’s get started.
Psst: Planning a trip to the south? Here are some posts that might be useful for your trip:
We had a few questions before our trip to Savannah, and in case you have similar questions, here are a few suggestions and practical tips to help you plan your trip! Feel free to leave us a comment below this post if we haven’t addressed your question.
In a place as perfectly preserved and historic as Savannah, we think the best way to soak up the full Savannah experience is by staying somewhere historic. Like, for example, a quaint B&B that serves sweet tea and cake every afternoon and milk and cookies every evening. Now THAT’S the quintessential Savannah experience!
We stayed at the absolutely charming Savannah Bed & Breakfast Inn which dates back to 1853. In addition to daily tea and cookies in the parlor (at least, we think it was a parlor, it seemed like the sort of place you’d call a parlor), we also loved the included breakfast (they’ll make you pretty much anything your heart desires), the beautiful courtyard, and the fantastic location!
The Savannah B&B Inn is located off of Chatham Square, literally a block away from Forsyth Park (the one with the incredibly beautiful, famous fountain), just around the corner from Mercer House (the one from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, with the ghost stories and the mystery) and walking distance from absolutely everywhere within historic Savannah. It’s tucked away into a quieter section of the historic district so that you avoid most of the crowds and tourists that you’ll find closer to River Street and downtown. We highly recommend staying here! Learn more at the Savannah Bed & Breakfast Inn website, or check out more reviews on Trip Advisor.
Here’s the thing about getting to Savannah: it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do from the West Coast. But rest assured, it’s well worth the trouble (and we say this having hopped a red-eye flight just to spend the weekend). The good news is that it’s quite easy to get to from the other half of the country!
There are a few ways to get to Savannah. If you’re driving, you’ll be able to get to Savannah from I-95 or I-16. You can also take an Amtrak train, which seems fittingly charming. For more details, click here.
If you’re flying, you’ll fly into the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport. Let me just stop here and say that this is hands down the most adorable airport in the world.
Listen, I’ve seen a lot of airports in my line of work, and “adorable” is the last word I’d use to describe any of them. But Savannah’s airport is freakin’ ADORABLE. It looks like a movie set. It is SO CUTE! Apparently, the reason is that this is the home airport of Gulfstream private jets, aka the inventors of the G6 – you know, as in “Like a G6.” I don’t know why, but this tickles me. I was tickled by Savannah literally the minute we landed and the tickling did not stop, y’all.
Anyway, to fly into Savannah, you’ll likely need to stop over in a larger airport nearby, most likely Charlotte. Here’s a handy dandy reference that lists all the flights out of Savannah.
If you look at a map of Savannah, you’ll notice a pleasing arrangement of streets perfectly aligned around a pleasing arrangement of little green squares. Savannah is a geometrically planned dream come true, and honestly we’re baffled as to why every city in the world isn’t laid out this perfectly.
Other than being getting-lost-proof (bless), this geographically pleasing layout also makes for the perfect way to start getting to know Savannah!
You can spend all day exploring Savannah’s 22 picturesque squares… and you should. Like, make a list and start checkin’ em off. Rank them. Play favorites. Assign them personalities. They’re as integral to the city of Savannah as the Oak trees draped with Spanish moss lining the streets!
FWIW, by the end of our 3 days, we decided that our favorite was Wright Square.
The strangest and most amazing thing happened during our trip to Savannah (strange and amazing both being two excellent words to describe this city): we had a PERFECT food streak. Everything we ate – EVERYTHING – was absolutely amazing. Delicious. Flawless.
I mean, look, we love food and we eat a LOT when we travel. But we’ve never had a perfect food streak before. Usually there’s at least one dish, or one meal, that makes us say “hm, well, that was just OK.”
Not in Savannah. Everything. We ate. Was amazing.
There are so many incredible places to eat in Savannah that we had a tough time limiting ourselves – and this list. Maybe spend a week fasting before your trip to prepare. Here’s where we recommend eating during your trip to Savannah:
Note: Two places that we didn’t get to eat – only because they weren’t open during our trip – were the historic family-style Southern staple Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room and the iconic Olde Pink House, each said to be one of the best places to eat in Savannah. Which breaks our hearts. Y’all, we have to go back. Please eat there and tell us what you think!
Savannah’s nickname is the Hostess City, and a proper Southern hostess always provides drinks for her guests.
“We have a saying: If you go to Atlanta, the first question people ask you is, ‘What’s your business?’ In Macon they ask, ‘Where do you go to church?’ In Augusta they ask your grandmother’s maiden name. But in Savannah the first question people ask you is ‘What would you like to drink?”
John Berendt, Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil
So while you’re eating your way through Savannah, don’t hold back: get a drink, too. Or 2. Or 3…
Don’t worry, you can take it to go: Savannah’s open-container laws are just perfect for wandering through its stunning squares late at night, beverage in hand.
Here’s where we recommend getting a drink in Savannah:
Photography has become one of our favorite ways to mindfully connect with a city – when you’re looking through a lens, sometimes you see little details or capture moments that you might not have noticed otherwise! We spent several hours just wandering through Savannah with our camera, taking in all of its details and beauty.
While all of historic Savannah is downright jaw-dropping, there are a few spots that are tailor-made for photos. Take your time and slowly wander to best appreciate all of Savannah’s charms. Here are our favorite places to go if you’re seeking that perfect Savannah photo op! (Note: Please be respectful of local residents and rules, and NEVER trespass on private property just for the sake of a photo.)
The Savannah History Tour isn’t just the best historic walking tour of Savannah, it’s actually the best historic walking tour that we’ve EVER been on. And y’all, we take a LOT of historic walking tours.
In true Savannahian fashion, our tour guide, T.C. – one half of the ridiculously good-looking couple behind Genteel & Bard (is that a weird thing to say? But like, they need a TV show or something) is SO incredibly passionate about his hometown. His tour is full of facts, stories, pictures, and even audio recordings that paint a fascinating and nuanced picture of Savannah’s history and its present day, and his palpable and charming enthusiasm is utterly infectious.
T.C never stopped talking during the entire 3-hour tour, and we never wanted him to. He was the most energetic, entertaining, charismatic tour guide we’ve ever had, and his tour was an absolute pleasure. I cannot highly recommend this tour, or any of Genteel & Bard’s tours, enough! If you only take one tour during your trip to Savannah, this is it.
One of our favorite ways to get to know a place is to take a food tour. There’s no better way to learn about a city than by stuffing your face with local flavors and dishes as you learn about its culinary history. It’s educational!
We’ve taken a LOT of food tours in our day, and not all of them were worth the calories. But we cannot stress this enough: everything on the First Squares Food Tour was where-have-you-been-all-my-life amazing.
The tour stops change from time to time, but during our visit the dishes included shrimp and grits, flaky sausage rolls and shepherd’s pie (a relic of the many European settlers in Savannah) bread pudding french toast (re-read that), pulled pork and bacon jam donut sliders (never mind, re-read THAT), Daufuskie Island Deviled Crab, and to finish it off, a honey tasting at Savannah Bee Company, including Lia’s favorite snack: apple, cheese, and honeycomb.
Trust us: you won’t go home hungry.
Savannah is an incredibly historic city filled with beautifully restored historic homes, so it should be no surprise that one of the best things to do in Savannah is to tour one of those gorgeous homes! Savannah is chock full of historic homes turned museums, thanks in no small part to the efforts of the Historic Savannah Foundation, whose hard work transformed historic Savannah into the living and breathing museum it is today.
That said: not all historic home tours are created equally. The dark truth behind the wealthy, luxurious homes in Savannah is that most of them once housed enslaved workers, and the wealthy whites living in those homes made their money off the backs of enslaved people. We prefer historic tours that are honest about this complicated history and discuss the lives of EVERYONE who lived in the home – both wealthy and enslaved. Here are our recommendations.
There were several more tours that we didn’t have a chance to do ourselves but wish we did, like the Juliette Gordon Low birthplace, home of the founder of the Girl Scouts of America. Or the King-Tisdell Cottage, a beautiful Victorian “Gingerbread” style home that once housed a prominent member of Savannah’s wealthy Black society, and today serves as a museum to Savannah’s African-American heritage.
We also didn’t have a chance to tour the Mercer Williams House, which allows you to step inside the most infamous home in modern-day Savannah. But don’t mention anything about murder, prostitutes, or hoodoo – even though those are all part of the fascinating story of this home, its current owner and resident is the sister of Jim Williams, and she (understandably) doesn’t want anyone discussing her brother’s trial or death in her home. No idea what I’m talking about? Read The Book!
There are tons of historic home tours in Savannah, each one telling a different story about different members of Savannah’s society and history. But we found that not all home tours seemed as willing to critically and honestly approach its complex history. For example, the Andrew Low House at one point housed the richest man in Savannah, who was made wealthy by the cotton trade – only we didn’t see a single mention of the enslaved people who made that wealth possible on their website. Yikes.
We urge you to do a little careful research and read between the lines – or read reviews – before choosing which home tour to patronize, and keep your ears open for the stories that aren’t being told.
Savannah is haunted. Like, really haunted. You can’t just build a town on top of a Native American burial ground, become the largest port for the Atlantic Slave Trade, and suffer 3 devastating Yellow Fever epidemics (a direct consequence of the slave trade) and not end up super haunted.
Just how haunted is Savannah, you ask? Well, let me tell you a story. We’re at Collin’s Quarter, sipping some truly excellent coffee and flipping through our photos, minding our own business. Seated next to us is an older gentleman. He leans over to us, a photo pulled up on his phone of a park in Savannah at night. “I took this 2 years ago,” he says. He scrolls to the right. “Now look.” There’s a shroud of filmy white fog in the photo. “I took this just a second later, and there wasn’t any fog that night.” (Mind you, this interaction came out of NOWHERE.)
The barista, pouring coffee, casually nods. “Yep, that square’s haunted, just like the rest of the town.” And just like that, they’re swapping ghost stories over coffee. Y’all, we fell in love with Savannah right then and there.
Savannah boasts the title of being one of America’s most haunted cities, so even as much of a skeptic (read: scaredy-cat) as Lia is, we just had to go looking for some ghosts.
Usually the two us agree on everything from who should get the final rose on The Bachelor/ette to where to get the best tacos. But one thing we just don’t agree on is scary sh*t. Jeremy loves a good spook. Lia (rightfully) thinks the real world is scary enough.
So while there are certainly ghost tours of Savannah that are meant to spook you, we wanted one that focused more on history and stories than on jump scares. After researching the many ghost tours Savannah has to offer, we decided to go with the Sixth Sense Savannah Ghost Tour.
Our guide, dressed as the spirit of the deceased artist Prince (RIP), took us around the historic district regaling us with tales of spirits ranging from friendly and adorable to malevolent and terrifying. Some ghosts played pranks on the living until they became besties (aww), some drove their roommates to insanity (we can relate), and some are so bloody and terrifying that local residents will only speak of them in hushed whispers – so you’ll just have to go on a tour to hear those stories!
Another good way to commune with the ghosts of Savannah is to visit the Bonaventure Cemetery. I know, visiting a cemetery isn’t like … the most typical thing to do. But then again, nothing about Savannah is typical, and when it’s one of the most beautiful and famous cemeteries in the world, well …you might want to make an exception.
To help you get to know Savannah’s many deceased residents and their stories, we recommend taking a guided tour led by a local (this one is highly recommended). Alternatively, the Bonaventure historical society created an inexpensive mobile app with a self-guided tour – more info here.
Samples are like Lia’s personal Olympics. Lia to samples is like Eleven from Stranger Things is to Eggo’s Waffles. Put something free and edible in front of Lia – doesn’t matter what it is – and you will have just made her entire day. What we’re getting at here is: Lia LOVES samples.
So we (Lia, mainly) was delighted to discover that there are multiple places in Savannah serving up excellent bite-sized morsels of food FO’ FREE. Hello, heaven! Here are the best places in Savannah to get your sample on.
The Savannah Port is still one of the largest in the country, and this historic stretch of road along the riverfront dates way back. Cobblestones dating back 200 years line the streets bordering warehouses once filled with cotton – and, sadly, enslaved people. It’s said that this area – and Factor’s Walk, just behind River Street – was the site of the most death, and therefore today is considered to be the most haunted part of town.
But though its history reflects Savannah’s dark and complex past, today River Street is a thriving tourist hotspot and one of the best spots to take a stroll, grab a drink (to go, of course), snag a few praline samples, and watch the sun setting over the Savannah River.
During our walk along River Street, we met a jazz musician, admired the Georgia Queen historic steamboat, and waved at the Waving Woman. We also paid homage to the enslaved families represented by the African-American Monument, one of the few sites in Savannah that explicitly references Savannah’s role in the slave trade (here are several more).
For a local’s tips about the best spots along River Street, check out this blog post by Sand, Sun & Messy Buns.
Are you booking a ticket to Savannah, yet? Which one of these awesome things to do in Savannah, Georgia is calling your name? Drop us a comment below!
Psst: Planning a trip to the south? Here are some posts that might be useful for your trip:
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Disclaimer: This post was created in partnership with Visit Savannah. All opinions, thoughts, feelings, gluttonous suggestions to fill up on free samples, suggestions that Savannah is incredibly haunted, and jokes that didn’t quite land are entirely my own and absolutely not their fault.
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