Our picks for the 25 best things to do in Savannah.
Last week, Dennis and I dropped the kids off for a week of camp at their grandparents’ house in Atlanta and then headed down to Savannah, Georgia for a few days. We were so excited to knock a few items off our list of things to do in Savannah WITHOUT kids!
Savannah has all the charm of Charleston or New Orleans, but most people have never been there. That’s a mistake. It’s not especially kid-friendly in my opinion, particularly in the summer months when it’s extremely hot and humid– but if you ever have an opportunity to get away for a few days with your spouse or significant other, this is a very romantic place to do it.
With that said, here are a few of our favorite Savannah options for grown-ups…
1. Start your trip with a walking tour. Savannah is full of historic tour options, whether you want to walk on foot or ride on a Segway, a trolley, or even a hearse! We scheduled a tour with the highly-regarded Jack Wray — He met us in our hotel lobby as soon as we arrived in town and proceeded to give us and another couple a nearly four-hour tour of the city’s historic district. We had a great time and learned a lot about the city right off the bat!
2. Stay at the 17Hundred90 Inn. I can’t say enough good things about this historic inn. Our room was very spacious, comfortable and full of quirky B&B-style charm. At $99 a night, we thought it was a great bargain. The restaurant menu is tasty (try the crab soup and homemade biscuits!), the building is quaint and full of twists and turns, and the bar, a locals’ hangout, was one of our favorites in town. Add to this the fact that the inn is supposedly one of the most haunted structures in all of Savannah (and that’s saying a lot!) and you’ve got a very interesting place to spend a few nights!
3. Visit E. Shaver, bookseller. The first time I went inside this small, independent book shop in the heart of the historic district, I couldn’t help but notice that an old gentleman in a seersucker suit kept giving us meaningful glances as we browsed through the store. He lingered for a while, chatting with the man behind the counter, before finally leaving. “He’s one of the characters in ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,'” the bookseller told me after he’d left. “He’s the doctor. He comes here a lot- I think he’s hoping people will recognize him.”
That’s just one reason I love this shop. It’s filled with books by local authors, antique maps, and great beach reads. The last time I went, I bought ‘The Water is Wide’ by Pat Conroy- It’s the perfect book to read while you’re vacationing in the area.
4. Have a drink at Pinkie Masters. Named the third best dive bar in the south by Southern Living, this place oozes with locals-only flavor. We got caught in a rainstorm at E. Shaver’s and dashed over to Pinkie’s across the street for a drink while we waited for the rain to subside. So fun.
5. Rent scooters. My husband and I came soooo close to renting a scooter in Savannah– The city is hot and humid in the spring and summer and parking spots can be hard to come by. At $90 for 24 hours, a scooter seems like the perfect way to get around town. I even saw a scooter with a cute little sidecar available!
6. Get your caffeine fix at The Coffee Fox. My husband rhapsodized over the cold horchata latte and I was thrilled by the iced coffee (done the RIGHT way and cold brewed for 24 hours). The Coffee Fox is conveniently located in the downtown shopping district and it’s waaaaay better than Starbucks, y’all. Try it and see if you don’t agree with me.
7. Tour the Owens-Thomas House. There are plenty of historic homes to tour in Savannah- The Owens-Thomas House is one of the best. It’s considered to be one of the finest examples of Regency architecture in the US and includes one of the earliest intact urban slave quarters in the South. Lots of history here.
8. Take a kayak trip. The highly-regarded Savannah Canoe & Kayak offers half-day and full-day tours in kayaks or canoes. (Trust me- choose the one-person kayaks. They are SO MUCH EASIER to navigate than canoes, even if you’re a beginner.) Choose from Little Tybee Island, Cockspur Lighthouse, Skidaway Narrows, or the Salt Creek Trails and enjoy dolphins, wildlife and AMAZING scenery. We try to kayak whenever we’re on the coast and it’s generally our favorite activity of the entire trip.
9. Have one of the best meals of your life at Elizabeth on 37th. You’ll have to drive or take a cab to Elizabeth on 37th, but you definitely won’t regret the trip. Located in the heart of the gorgeous Victorian District, Elizabeth’s traditional exterior houses a menu that is anything but traditional! My husband and I are total foodies and scout out the best restaurants in town wherever we go- That said, this was one of the top ten meals OF MY LIFE. We split several dishes, including Half Moon River Clams with roasted Vidalia onions, country ham and truffle oil and Parmesan Dusted Flounder with Grass Roots Farm Spiced Quail Hash. Everything was absolutely inspired and incredible. This place is worth the money!
10. See a musical revue at the historic Savannah Theatre. Locals rave about the quality of the musical performances at the Savannah Theatre– and the theater itself is worth visiting for its historic beauty. “Savannah Live!” is ranked as the number two attraction on Trip Advisor (Number one? The Historic District. Dur.)– That’s enough to make me want to check it out!
11. Visit Bonaventure Cemetery. This really is a must-see on any trip to Savannah- Covering 100 acres, this Southern Gothic cemetery is enormous, ornate, and eerily silent, making Bonaventure Cemetery a true City of the Dead. You can walk or drive along its many (MANY) paths and see the final resting places of everyone from poet Conrad Aiken to Georgia’s first governor, Edward Telfair…
…to Academy Award-winning lyricist Johnny Mercer (note the wine bottle one fan left at the site). You won’t believe the lengths the wealthy in Savannah went to in Victorian times to honor their dead. As an added bonus, the cemetery is located on the Wilmington River, which is just gorgeous. I couldn’t help but think that it’s too bad the residents of Bonaventure can’t enjoy their own view:
12.Try every single cookie at the tasting station of Byrd’s Famous Cookies. Don’t be put off by the somewhat surly staff- There’s a tasting station at Byrd’s Cookie Company (drive to the MAIN Byrd’s on Waters Avenue, not the smaller location in City Market) and it’s totally worth testing every single one! We did! Byrd’s most popular cookies are the Scotch Oatmeal and Key Lime Cooler, but we especially loved the Blueberry and Peach Cookies, the Benne Wafers and the Vidalia Onion Biscuits. These were the souvenirs we brought home to family, and we also enjoyed them ourselves on the road. Locals told us Byrd’s restaurant, B. Tillman, is also very good.
13. Stop by The Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist. I’m glad our tour guide, Jack Wray, told us this was a must-see or we might have missed it. This cathedral, the oldest Roman Catholic church in Georgia, is currenly covered in scaffolding, but inside it is absolutely breathtaking. Stop by and check it out while you’re walking around the Historic District. You’ll be glad you did.
14. Have a drink at Rocks on the Roof. Considered by many to be the best river view in Savannah, Rocks on the Roof, atop the Bohemian Hotel, is a great place to have a drink before dinner.
15. Go on a Ghost Tour with Tobias McGriff. Ghost tours are a Savannah staple, but we heard (and saw for ourselves) that many of these tours are absolutely horrible. We did our research and the consensus was that the best ghost tour in Savannah is given by Tobias McGriff, of Blue Orb Tours. We were just disappointed there were no tours the night we were open. NEXT TIME!
16. Enjoy a scrumptious dinner at the Olde Pink House. Don’t be dismayed by the crowds of people waiting for a table (and DO make reservations before you go)- the Olde Pink House, Savannah’s only 18th century mansion, is a fantastic place to eat. We were advised to have a drink first at the basement bar, which is a cozy and crowded little hotspot brimming with history, before going upstairs to our table for dinner. We took our server’s recommendations and had fantastic Blackened Oysters (my husband’s favorite), Fried Green Tomato with Applewood Bacon Sweet Corn Cream, She Crab Soup, and one of the best appetizers I’ve EVER eaten- the Sautéed Local Shrimp w/Country Ham Gravy & Cheddar Cheese Grits Cake. If I were to go back, I’d probably order two of these appetizers and get it as an entree. It was that good! I’m also eager to try the Blue Crab Beignets.
17. Go shopping on Broughton Street. I had a field day buying summer sundresses and beach cover-ups along Broughton Street. You’ll find all kinds of boutiques and upscale specialty shops here- It’s a great place to spend a few hours shopping, and your husband may enjoy being able to carry a beer along on the sidewalk while you go crazy inside the dress shops. My favorite? Fab’rik, an upscale-looking boutique where everything is under $100. Thank God I can shop it online! Also check out The Salt Table, a local shop filled with every kind of salt and rub you can dream up.
18. Grab a cone at Leopold’s Ice Cream. Open since 1919, Leopold’s Ice Cream is a Savannah staple, and there’s always a long line of customers. Leopold’s still uses its original ice cream recipe, and it’s a fun place to cool off on a hot day.
19. Head over to Forsyth Park for a romantic photo op. You basically can’t take a bad photo in front of Forsyth Park’s gorgeous fountain. It’s a perfect place for a snapshot with the one you love.
20. Dine on fantastic burgers, fries and crab stew at the historic Crystal Beer Parlor. Savannah’s second oldest restaurant opened in 1933, and it looks it! My family never visits Savannah without a stop here- Try it out and you’ll understand why.
21. Hike a trail at sunset at Skidaway Island State Park. This gem of a park includes lots of hiking trails that will give you ample opportunity to see marsh wildlife up close and personal. Also? It’s gorgeous. If you love to hike, don’t miss it, especially on a day that’s not too hot.
22. Tour where Sherman stayed at the Green-Meldrim House Museum. I love the history behind this historic home- The wealthiest man in Savannah built it as a tribute to his beautiful bride, then hit on the idea of inviting Gen. Sherman to stay there while he burned down Georgia during the Civil War, in order to save it. SPOILER ALERT: The plan worked.
23. Pick up sandwiches for lunch at Zunzis. This is Savannah’s local hotspot right now- Husband and wife team Johnny and Gabriella have combined their Swiss/South African/Italian/Dutch backgrounds to create to-go fare that you REALLY shouldn’t miss. The line of people waiting to place orders can’t be wrong! I highly recommend The Conquistador sandwich and the African iced tea. Also, get lots of napkins. You’ll need them.
24. Take the obligatory walk down River Street. River Street is your classic tourist trap, but the old cobblestoned street is fun, the view is lovely, and the shops are plentiful.
25. Grab dessert and drinks at the romantic Lulu’s Chocolate Bar. Whether you’re up for strawberry suspension cake, inside-out German chocolate cake, or a delicious chocolate martini, couples rave about Lulu’s Chocolate Bar and call it one of the most romantic spots in Savannah.
Got more ideas on things to do in Savannah? Share them in the comments!
Image Credits: 2. 17hundred90.com; 4. PinkieMasters.net; 7. telfair.org; 10. SavannahTheatre.com; 16. Daniel Mayer:Wikimedia Commons; 21. Britt Reints/Flickr