Savannah, Georgia is a rich city with so much to offer, it’s hard to decide what to put on your list of things to do. We’re here to help with our top 12 things to do in Savannah.
Check out our whirlwind 3.5 day tour of the city and why we wished we had more time.
Number 1: Eat at Daniel Reed’s Public Kitchen and Bar
I give Daniel Reed’s Public Kitchen and Bar high marks. The food was fast and delicious, topped only by the ingenuity and deliciousness of the custom cocktail. Friendly staff, friendly patrons, and a good vibe make this a must-visit.
This is the first restaurant I’ve ever been to by myself where the hostess smiled at me and said “One for dinner? Table or bar?” Not “just one”. Not “is bar okay”. That’s huge as any solo traveler knows. Big thumbs up all around here.
Number 2: Stroll through and visit Forsyth Park
Forsyth Park is the epicenter of downtown Savannah. The park’s 30 acres houses tennis courts, basketball courts, large fields for a pickup game of anything, and plenty of paths to walk and bike.
Home to the Saturday morning Farmer’s market, it’s part of the soul of Savannah.
The main attraction is the Parisian-styled fountain which really is something to see and enjoy.
Those looking for something different can search for the fragrant garden designed for those with limited sight. Be sure to arrive early though, the gates to the garden close at 2 pm.
Did I mention the public restrooms? As any traveler knows, easy to locate public restrooms are a miracle moment when traveling.
Number 3: Visit the three Telfair Museums
One ticket provides access to all three museums: The Telfair Academy, The Jepson Center, and the Owns-Thomas House & Slave Quarters. Just a quick note that the Owens-Thomas House is by tour only and they fill up, so it’s not guaranteed you can get on a tour with your ticket.
The museums together chart a course through history from the architecture of William Jay who designed both the original Telfair home and the Owens-Thomas house, to the Jepson museum with its more modern feel.
For Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Fans, you’ll find the Bird Girl statue from the book cover at Telfair Academy. Originally in Bonaventure Cemetery, she was moved to the museum to protect her from vandalism. She has been moved from Telfair to Jepson and then back to Telfair in April 2019.
Number 4: Check out Emmet Park
Often lost in the shuffle of River Street and the squares of Savannah, Emmet Park is an adventure in its own right. It sits in the northeast corner of downtown and is a great place to stop right before River Street.
Named for the Irish patriot Robert Emmet it houses several historic relics and memorials to soldiers and military organizations.
Some of the highlights include the Chatham Artillery Monument, the Celtic Cross Monument, the Vietnam War Monument, and the Salzburger Monument of Reconciliation.
You’ll also find the Old Harbor Light, originally a rear range light for the Fig Island Lighthouse, surrounded by large anchors around its base.
Less crowded than some of Savannah’s other parks and squares, it’s a good place to take a few photos and relax before your next adventure.
Number 5: Visit Bonaventure Cemetery
Bonaventure Cemetery is a welcoming park where relatives can come spend the day and “visit” with their loved ones.
Take a tour with a guide from Shannon Scott tours and learn about it’s past and how it’s used today. You may even see a ceremony since the cemetery is still active and burials do occur.
Enjoy a stroll down one of the many “streets”, meander through the gardens, or maybe walk by the water and enjoy the views.
Be sure to take time to admire the beautiful statues, knowing they took over a year to build and were done completely by hand. Marvel at the marble tombstones surrounded by Live old oaks and Spanish moss.
Relax. Enjoy your visit.
Number 6: Spend an afternoon at Wormsloe Historic Site
Wormsloe Historic Site was originally Wormsloe Plantation, home to Noble Jones. Mr. Jones was one of the original settlers from England who helped found Savannah.
Visit the ruins of their original homestead, the oldest standing structure in Savannah. Walk down the 6 miles of paths, enjoy the museum, or just sit by the water and relax. There’s so much to do here.
I felt it was like visiting a local park with beautiful views and a relaxed spirit. You’ll want at least a half-day here.
Number 7: See How Soldiers Lived at Fort Pulaski
Even if you’re not a history buff, there’s no denying the beauty and strength of Fort Pulaski.
The Fort was built after the war of 1812 and saw action during the Civil War when Union forces came up through Tybee Island and overtook it in 1862.
After securing control, they stopped shipping in and out of Savannah which crippled the Southern war effort.
The fort is surrounded by water with views all around. Climb to the top and see the large cannons. Outside you’ll see the damage from mortar fire, and yet, the building still stands strong today.
Besides the actual fort, there are walking trails, including one to a small lighthouse, a picnic area, and an informative Visitor Center. Plan for at least 2 hours for your visit, but you could easily spend 4 or more.
Number 8: Enjoy the Tybee Light House, stay for sunset
There’s no such thing as too many lighthouses. They’re all beautiful and unique.
If you’ve never climbed the spiral stairs to the top of one, now is your chance. Grab a ticket, get some exercise and enjoy one of the most spectacular views in the area.
A great idea is to stop here after visiting Fort Pulaski, then stay for sunset.
Watch the colors swirl behind the lighthouse then grab dinner in Tybee or head back to Savannah.
Number 9: Take a walk down River Street
I originally left River Street off my list as “too touristy”. While it does cater to tourists with shops and restaurants, it’s also a vibrant riverfront scene.
The old train tracks go down the street, riverboats anchor on the pier, the convention center gleams across the water. It’s bustling, enticing and beautiful.
The Street is home to several monuments including the World War II monument known as “The Cracked Earth” and The Waving Girl. The other end of River street houses the Anchor Monument and the African American Monument. Make this a must on your list.
Number 10: Treat yourself to ice cream from Leopold’s Ice Cream Shop
If it’s warm out, be ready for a wait. The line can go down the street and moves slowly as patrons want to sample the flavors before committing. This is some of the best ice cream around according to locals.
With the usual suspects and then fun choices like coconut, it’s easy to see why locals and tourists flock here.
Number 11: See the church where Jingle Bells was written
There’s a bit of dispute on whether Jingle Bells was written in Boston or Savannah, but everyone agrees it was written by James L. Pierpont, the organist at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Savannah.
Savannah believes he wrote the song while in town in 1856 and not while visiting Boston.
The church has been moved to Troup Square and there’s a sign with the history of the song.
I like to believe it was written in the south by a man missing the snow in the north.
Number 12: Stop by Colonial Park Cemetery
It’s hard not to be obsessed with cemeteries in the south. Much of downtown Savannah was built on top of graveyards.
Yellow fever hit the south hard and took many lives, including children. Almost 700 of those who succumbed to the disease in Savannah were buried in Colonial Park Cemetery.
The large red brick structures serving as tombs for some housed rooms with special items. Sadly, due to vandalism and grave robbing, they’re all empty now.
You’ll see people walking through the cemetery and some with bikes. During the day, it’s a sunny spot and off the beaten path.