Looking for things to do and places to visit while vacationing in charming Savannah, Georgia? Savannah is known as a friendly city and offers history, art, architecture, ghost stories, and great food! Below we’ve put together a list of our favorite things to do in Savannah; walking tours, museums, parks, beaches, and more.
#1 – Plant Riverside District
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No visit to Savannah would be complete without visiting the Plant Riverside District located on the south end of the famed River Street. The Plant Riverside District offers lots of things to do. You can spend an hour or a day taking in some live-entertainment and strolling the wide brick path along the Savannah River.
The repurposed 1912 power plant is filled with restaurants, bars, shops, and art galleries. Savannah’s open container policy allows those over 21 to carry alcoholic beverages in clear plastic cups in the historic area. So, it’s probably no coincidence that there’s a tavern at the beginning of the Plant Riverside District. If you’re not ready for a drink when you start, you’ll have plenty of opportunities along the way.
Savannah’s Great Food
Stop in at Generator Hall and hang out on a lounge chair under a glass dinosaur if you need a respite. When hunger hits, you’re never far from an eatery. Savannah is one of the best foodie cities of the South, right up there with New Orleans and Charleston.
Everything from gourmet cookies and candy to barbecue and oysters can be found here on the river. Grab a snack at one of the outdoor venues like the Riverside Biergarten or the District Smokehouse and watch the Georgia Queen and barges pass by.
Savannah Night Life
At night time, the Plant River District is even more lively. Go up to the roof top bar at Electric Moon for some of the best views of it all. Visiting the Plant Riverside District is one of the top things to do in Savannah.
#2 – Garden of Good & Evil Walking Tour
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Another popular thing to do in Savannah is seeing Savannah, GA through the eyes of author John Berendt. Author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, this New Yorker scribe put modern-day Savannah on the map with his tale of lust, sex, and murder.
If you are obsessed with the real-life story of the insular and close knit world of historic Savannah, consider a Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil walking tour (such as Savannah Tours on Viator).
Two-Hour Walking Tour
Typically, a two-hour jaunt, your guide will dish up the gossip as well as the treachery of the true-crime story. Who doesn’t want to know if it was murder or self-defense when “shots rang out in Savannah’s grandest mansion in the misty, early morning hours of May 2, 1981.” Did antique dealer Jim Williams kill his lover Danny Hansford?
Typical Stops Along the Way
The typical stops on this walking tour are Forsyth Park, Mercer Williams House Museum, Monterey Square, Churchill’s Pub, Jones Street and Clary’s Café. After the tour, consider touring Williams’ home which is now a museum.
You can separately book a walking tour of Bonaventure Cemetery. It is highly recommended to read the book before you take this tour then you can quiz your tour guide on perplexing questions.
#3 – Tybee Island
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Tybee is a city as well as an island located in Chatham County, Georgia, in the easternmost part of the state. Situated about 28 miles away from Savannah, it’s a popular tourist destination for visitors from the city and countrywide.
Tybee Island History
Due to its strategic location near the mouth of the Savannah River, Tybee Island was once visited by pirates quite often. It is also known as Savannah Beach thanks to the proximity of the state’s capital. Tybee is a nature-lover’s paradise too since you can easily spot numerous bird species and even endangered loggerhead turtles.
Tybee Island Historic Sites
There are 2 main historic locations – the Civil War Fort Pulaski and the Tybee Island Lighthouse.
Today, you can walk around the fort to see the towers, moats, drawbridges, and other structures. What’s interesting about visiting this place is seeing the reconstructions that make you feel like you stepped back in time. You can roam around on your own or take part in one of the ranger-led tours which are a great opportunity to get to know the fort and learn about some interesting historical facts.
Tybee Island Beach
Besides these landmarks, Tybee is a perfect beach destination for families and couples where you can enjoy watersports, try delicious seafood, spot wildlife and even learn some historical facts. There’s lots to see and do while visiting Tybee Island. Visiting Tybee Island is one of the top things to do in Savannah.
#4 – Forsyth Park
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If you’re visiting Savannah, Georgia and looking for the perfect place to spend a relaxing afternoon, take a stroll to Forsyth Park. This large park in Savannah’s Historic District has walking paths, shady spots for relaxing, sports and recreation areas, and a large centerpiece fountain that is one of the most photographed spots in the city.
History and Architecture
Forsyth Park is located in the southern part of the Historic District, about a 25-minute walk from the River Street area of Savannah. The walk from River Street down to the park is very scenic and perfect for exploring the city. Along the way, admire Savannah’s scenery, from the city’s historic squares to its gorgeous architecture.
Grab a Drink
Plus, Savannah’s open container laws allow you to enjoy alcoholic beverages while walking through the Historic District, so grab a frozen daiquiri from Wet Willie’s on River Street to keep you cool on your walk. You could also plan a stop at Leopold’s, the best ice cream shop in town.
Enjoy the Park
Once you arrive at Forsyth Park, you can keep walking on the park’s walking paths, start a game of frisbee or tennis, hang out on a bench and people watch, or just stop to admire the park’s scenery. Don’t forget to grab a photo of the beautiful Forsyth Fountain!
#5 – Breakfast at Mirabelle
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The southern gem of Savannah is a foodie’s paradise! One of the local favorite spots for a delicious breakfast is Mirabelle. Housed in a charming building dating back to the 1800s, Mirabelle sits on Abercorn Street in the beautiful Historic District. Located just across the street from the iconic St. Johns Cathedral,
Authentic Liege Waffles
Mirabelle specializes in authentic liege waffles inspired by the favorite Belgian street food. Waffles are available with a wide variety of sweet toppings, from peach compote, to lemon-lavender curd crème, to ricotta, to cinnamon streusel. Plus, guests will definitely appreciate the lovely presentation and attention to detail that is given to each waffle. Alternatively, if you’re in more of a savory mood, Mirabelle also offers a variety of tasty paninis.
Charming & Welcoming
In addition to mouth-watering delights, the interior of Mirabelle is incredibly charming and welcoming. In fact, with its Instagrammable interior, it’s easily one of the best Savannah photo spots!
Plus, beyond enjoying the tasty treats they serve, you can also book a stay at one of the vintage-style boutique suites at Mirabelle, located just above the café.
These are perfect if you’re looking to explore the numerous gems of the Historic District, including the beautiful Lafayette Square, located just nearby.
#6 – Fort Pulaski National Monument
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Built in 1847 to protect Savannah’s waterway, Fort Pulaski played a pivotal role in the Civil War. In a key battle, Union forces overtook the fort in 1862 crippling the southern supply chain.
Now a National Monument just 15 miles from downtown Savannah, it’s a great place to visit and spend a few hours and perfectly safe for solo travelers visiting the Savannah area.
Even if you’re not a history buff, the beautiful red brick fort on Cockspur Island has a park-like setting. Green grass, palm trees, and blue water greet you upon entering.
Explore the Fort
You can explore the fort, see how the soldiers lived, and get an up-close view of the artillery they used. Around the exterior is evidence of the battle with damage from canon fire.
Beyond Fort Pulaski, Cockspur Island offers four walking trails. Most guests enjoy the Lighthouse Overlook Trail for views of the Cockspur Island Lighthouse.
For those more adventurous, try the two-mile Historic Dike System Trail which circles Fort Pulaski. As you enjoy views of the Island and Savannah River, you’ll also encounter sandy beaches and areas to stop for a picnic lunch.
You can easily spend half a day at Fort Pulaski and at $10 per person it’s a good deal. If you need more time, your ticket is good for seven consecutive days. It’s a perfect way to get away from the crowds for a bit and see a piece of history.
#7 – Wormsloe Historic Site
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History lover or not, Wormslow Historic Site is adored by all who visit and a must-stop during your trip to Savannah! The historic estate was originally owned by a carpenter named Noble Jones. Home to the oldest structure still standing in Savannah today, the estate as well as the ruins of Noble Jone’s house date all the way back to 1745.
Take a Tour
With 500-acres to explore, either with a guided tour or a solo wander, there is certainly something here to suit every taste. The picturesque plantation is just begging to be the star of a photoshoot and the forest welcomes you with miles of trails to walk and ponder. Don’t miss the incredible views of the Isle of Hope and be sure to check out the official website to see if there are any special events happening during the time of your visit.
What’s more, Wormslow Historic Site couldn’t be any more convenient to access, just jump in the car and within 15 mins from your hotel in Savannah, the prestigious gates will be waiting to welcome you with open arms. Entry costs $10 for adults and is open daily from 9 am-5 pm.
#8 – Owens-Thomas House
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One of the best things to do in Savannah, Georgia is to take a tour of the historic Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters.
Located in the heart of Downtown Savannah, Owens-Thomas House is an old, Regency-style mansion with a complicated history. It was built in the early 19th century and was home to George Welshman Owens, his family, and his retinue of enslaved people for more than a hundred years. In the 1800s, as many as 9 – 15 enslaved people lived on this property.
Owens-Thomas House is one of the best historic sites in Savannah. A visit here allows you to explore fine Regency architecture, visit period rooms stacked with decorative art, and learn all about the complex history of enslaved people who kept the house up and running. A tour of the former slave quarters is an eye-opening experience.
Other highlights at the mansion include a beautiful parterre garden, a carriage house, and several work spaces including the butler’s pantry and a working cellar that features the city’s early indoor plumbing systems.
Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters are open every day from 10:00am – 5:00pm. Purchase your ticket online here and check in onsite to be part of a guided tour. Tours happen every 15 minutes.
#9 – Mercer Williams House
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The always-intriguing Mercer Williams house has been drawing visitors to Savannah for decades – ever since John Berendt published his best-selling novel, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” in 1994.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
The book focuses on the life of local philanthropist and restorations expert, Jim Williams, who was accused of shooting a young prostitute named Danny Hansford. The shooting took place during Williams’ popular annual Christmas gala, and many of Savannah’s elite were gathered at the home at the time.
Hansford and Williams’ relationship had been a tumultuous one, and Williams claimed the shooting was in self-defense. He was tried a record four times in the state of Georgia before finally being acquitted on the charge of murder. Less than a year after his return to the Mercer Williams House, Williams’ body was found in the study — ironically in almost the exact same location where Hansford was originally shot.
The home is no stranger to tragedy. It sat empty and abandoned for a while and fell into a state of neglect. During that time, a young boy named Tommy Downs snuck into the house and stumbled to his death from one of the upper levels (some say he was pushed). Visitors can still see the missing spike where he was impaled on the beautiful wrought iron fence below.
These days, members of Williams’ family still reside in the home, which has been impeccably restored. They allow visitors to tour a few rooms on the ground floor of the beautiful home.
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Bonaventure Cemetery is easily one of the most unique places to add to your Savannah itinerary. It is located on a scenic bluff just east of the city. Not only is it the largest cemetery in Savannah with over 100 acres, but likely one of the most famous as well. Originally a plantation, part of the land was sold to be a private cemetery in 1846. Eventually, Bonnaventure Cemetery became public in 1907.
Why Is It Famous?
So why is it so famous? Besides several notable people being buried here including Johnny Mercer, the cemetery was featured in the Novel and movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
A Beautiful Cemetery
Furthermore, it is known as one of the most beautiful cemeteries sprawling with giant live oak trees blanketed in Spanish Moss. During springtime in Savannah, the cemetery is bursting with azalea blooms, giving the sense you really are walking through a garden rather than tombs.
Additionally, like the rest of Savannah, the cemetery is indeed considered haunted. One of the most famous graves to visit is that of Little Gracie Watkins who died when she was 6 of pneumonia. You can even consider taking a tour of the cemetery!
You can visit the cemetery for free from Monday through Sunday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Alexandrea Sumuel is the founder of Wander With Alex, where she provides vacationers and travel enthusiasts with trip ideas, travel guides, news, and itineraries. She travels to experience, eat, and explore-- and, on occasion, escape! Alex’s mission is to help people travel better.