Ways to Explore the Charm of Savannah, GA on Your Vacation

Located along the southern coast of Georgia, Savannah is a vibrant city known for its beautiful architecture, rich history, and bustling culture. With elegant tree-lined streets, grand parks, and stunning waterfront views, Savannah offers the perfect setting for people of all ages to relax and unwind.

Whether visiting the city center to explore local museums and historical landmarks or spending an afternoon by the water with friends and family, you are sure to fall in love with everything that Savannah offers.

From its old-world charm to its lively nightlife, this coastal gem is truly a one-of-a-kind destination. Check out our favorite things to do in Savannah, GA!

#1 – Plant Riverside District

Plant Riverside District Savannah
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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 enjoy live entertainment and stroll the wide brick path along the Savannah River for an hour or a day.

The repurposed 1912 power plant has 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.

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. 

At night time, the Plant River District is even more lively. Go up to the rooftop 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

Garden of Good and EVil Walking Tour
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Another popular thing to do in Savannah is see 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 historic Savannah’s insular and close-knit world, consider a Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil walking tour (such as Savannah Tours on Viator).

Typically, in a two-hour tour, your guide will dish up the gossip and 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?

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

Tybee Island
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Tybee is a city and 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. 

Due to its strategic location near the mouth of the Savannah River, pirates often visited Tybee Island. It is also known as Savannah Beach, thanks to the proximity of the state’s capital. Tybee is a nature-lovers paradise, too, since you can easily spot numerous bird species and even endangered loggerhead turtles.

There are two 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 on your own or participate in one of the ranger-led tours, which are an excellent opportunity to get to know the fort and learn about some interesting historical facts.

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 are 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

Forsyth Park Savannah
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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, one of the city’s most photographed spots.

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 scenic and perfect for exploring the city. Along the way, admire Savannah’s scenery, from historic squares to gorgeous architecture.

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.

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 stop to admire the park’s scenery. Don’t forget to grab a photo of the beautiful Forsyth Fountain!

#5 – Breakfast at Mirabelle

mirabelle savannah interior
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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,

Mirabelle specializes in authentic liege waffles inspired by Belgian street food. Waffles are available with a wide variety of sweet toppings, from peach compote to lemon-lavender curd crème, ricotta, and cinnamon streusel.

Plus, guests will appreciate each waffle’s lovely presentation and attention to detail. Alternatively, if you’re in more of a savory mood, Mirabelle also offers a variety of tasty paninis.

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!

Besides 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

Savannah Fort Pulaski
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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.

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 cannon fire.

Beyond Fort Pulaski, Cockspur Island offers four walking trails. Most guests enjoy the Lighthouse Overlook Trail for views of the Cockspur Island Lighthouse.

Try the two-mile Historic Dike System Trail for those more adventurous, which circles Fort Pulaski. As you enjoy the Island and Savannah River views, 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 for $10 per person, it’s a good deal. If you need more time, your ticket lasts seven consecutive days. It’s a perfect way to escape the crowds and see a piece of history.

#7 – Wormsloe Historic Site

Wormsloe Historic Site
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History lover or not, Wormslow Historic Site is adored by all who visit and is 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 and the ruins of Noble Jones’s house date back to 1745.

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 any special events are happening during your visit.

What’s more, Wormslow Historic Site couldn’t be more convenient. Jump in the car, and within 15 minutes 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

Owens-Thomas House Savannah
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One of the best things to do in Savannah, Georgia, is to tour the historic Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters.

Owens-Thomas House is an old, Regency-style mansion with a complicated history located in the heart of Downtown Savannah. 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, nineteen to fifteen 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 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 workspaces, 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 daily from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Purchase your ticket online here and check in onsite for a guided tour. Tours happen every 15 minutes. 

#9 – Mercer Williams House

Mercer Willliams Savannah
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The always-intriguing Mercer Williams house has been drawing visitors to Savannah for decades since John Berendt published his best-selling novel, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” in 1994.

The book focuses on the life of local philanthropist and restoration expert Jim Williams, who was accused of shooting a young prostitute named Danny Hansford. The shooting occurred during Williams’ popular annual Christmas gala, and many of Savannah’s elite gathered at the home at the time.

Hansford and Williams’ relationship had been tumultuous, and Williams claimed the shooting was in self-defense. He was tried 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 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 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 beautifully 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 house. 

#10 – Bonaventure Cemetery

Bonaventure Cemetery Savannah
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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 as a private cemetery in 1846. Eventually, Bonaventure Cemetery became public in 1907.

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. 

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 are walking through a garden rather than tombs. 

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 free Monday through Sunday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

#11 – American Prohibition Museum

1920s Gangster
Photo Credit: [@stu99/DepositPhotos]

The American Prohibition Museum is a must-see attraction for visitors to Savannah, GA. Located in the heart of downtown near River Street, this museum offers a fascinating look at one of America’s most significant departures from traditional social norms.

Through interactive exhibits and carefully curated artifacts and memorabilia, the museum tells the story of America’s brief foray into alcohol prohibition and its lasting impact on our society today.

Whether you’re interested in history or simply looking for an entertaining experience that will leave you feeling enlightened, the American Prohibition Museum should certainly be on your list of things to do in Savannah.

#12 – National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force

Ways to Explore the Charm of Savannah, GA on Your Vacation
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Located in Savannah, Georgia, the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force is a must-visit destination for aviation enthusiasts. The museum pays tribute to the brave men and women who fought in the skies during World War II, highlighting their incredible feats and the equipment and technology that made such accomplishments possible.

You can explore a variety of exhibits and displays, including a fascinating collection of restored aircraft and cockpit simulators. Whether you are a longtime fan of military history or simply interested in aviation and its combat role, this museum will surely leave you inspired.

So, if you’re looking for something unique on your next trip to Savannah, add the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force to your itinerary!

Final Thoughts

Savannah, GA
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Savannah, Georgia, is one of the most beautiful and romantic places in the United States. With its antebellum architecture, cobblestone streets, and picturesque squares, Savannah exudes an undeniable Southern charm that attracts tourists from all corners of the country.

Of course, aside from its beauty, Savannah also offers a wealth of fun activities for you to enjoy. Whether you are exploring alone or taking a guided tour of some of the city’s best-loved landmarks, we highly recommend visiting Savannah as one of your next vacation destinations. You won’t be disappointed!


Alexandrea Sumuel is a nationally syndicated travel writer and founder of the Wander With Alex travel blog. Her work has appeared on MSN, YAHOO!, Euronews, and FOX, ABC, and NBC affiliates across the United States. 

Alex travels to experience, eat, explore, and occasionally escape! She collaborates with destinations, vacation property management companies, and hospitality technology firms to provide her readers with exclusive insights and information.