Simmering with creativity and rich, deep-rooted heritage, Savannah, Georgia, boasts an undeniable charm. The city’s beating heart is the Savannah Historic District, a mesmerizing tapestry of time where cobblestone streets, historic architecture, and the echoes of centuries past come together to create a captivating experience.
Whether you’re an avid history enthusiast, an architecture aficionado, or a curious traveler seeking the allure of the past, the Savannah Historic District promises to delight! Head back in time at the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters and the American Prohibition Museum. Let your creativity loose at the Jepson Center & Telfair Children’s Art Museum and give a nod to Savannah’s seafaring history at the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum.
When it’s time to unwind, the tranquil Forsyth Park or the elegant Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist are perfect places for some peace.
Excited to start exploring this enchanting district? Plan your wanderings and decide what to see & do, where to eat & drink, and where to stay in the Savannah Historic District with this in-depth guide.
What to see & do in Historic Savannah
Start your exploration with a stroll through Forsyth Park, a timeless oasis in the heart of the Savannah Historic District. Located at the intersection of Bull Street and Gaston Street, this iconic park is the centerpiece of the Savannah Historic District.
Established in the 1840s, Forsyth Park was named after John Forsyth, the 33rd Governor of Georgia, and has been a cherished gathering place for locals and visitors ever since. Make your way to the park’s northern edge to the city’s most famous fountain. Modeled after the fountains at the Place de la Concorde in Paris, this iconic symbol of Savannah is the perfect spot for an Insta-worthy photo!
Stroll through the meticulously landscaped gardens along serene pathways lined with fragrant flowers and towering oaks. If you’re visiting with family, head to the playgrounds for the kids to burn off energy while you relax in the shade.
Enjoy a leisurely meal or refreshing drink at the Forsyth Park Café near the fountain. It’s a delightful spot to savor local cuisine while basking in the park’s ambiance. Or, pack a picnic basket and blanket to enjoy a leisurely meal amid the park’s lush surroundings. It’s a lovely way to savor the scenery and soak in the historic atmosphere.
Don’t miss the Forsyth Farmers Market if you visit on a Saturday morning. It’s a delightful opportunity to sample local produce, crafts, and delectable treats.
American Prohibition Museum
Take a captivating journey to the era of bootleggers, speakeasies, and the fascinating world of the Prohibition era at the American Prohibition Museum. Head to the City Market at W. St. Julian Street to find this unique museum that will transport you to a pivotal period in American history.
Begin your journey through the American Prohibition Museum with a guided tour through a recreated speakeasy, complete with secret entrances, period decor, and interactive displays that bring the era to life. Explore exhibits featuring authentic artifacts, photographs, and memorabilia from the Prohibition era. Discover stories of bootleggers, flappers, and the complex dynamics of the time.
Experience the thrill of the era, from attempting to smuggle contraband to deciphering coded messages through interactive exhibits. Attempt to solve puzzles, learn dance moves from the 1920s, and decode secret messages.
Consider taking a behind-the-scenes tour to learn more about the museum’s creation, the research that went into its exhibits, and the history of Prohibition.
Embrace the spirit of the era by donning 1920s attire or accessories for an element of fun! Pop into the museum’s gift shop for themed souvenirs, from vintage-style merchandise to Prohibition-era books and accessories.
Enjoy a quintessential Savannah experience at the bustling City Market on West Bryan Street. Spanning four blocks in the heart of Savannah’s Historic District, the vibrant market is a hub of culture, shopping, dining, and entertainment, and one of Savannah’s must-see attractions.
Nestled between the iconic Franklin Square and Ellis Square, the City Market was established in the 1700s as a local farmers market and is still going strong today. Wander through the market, packed with shops and boutiques offering a variety of items, from art and jewelry to clothing and unique souvenirs.
Art plays a central role at the City Market, and the second-story Art Center is home to dozens of local artist studios. Watch artists at work and experience a range of media, from fine art to the storytelling paintings of the Gullah-Geechee people.
On the first Saturday of each month, the Art Walk at City Market showcases even more local art and artists, adding an extra layer of creative flair to your visit.
When you start feeling peckish, grab a bite at one of the many cafés and restaurants serving Southern cuisine, fresh seafood, and other international fare. As the sun sets, the City Market comes alive with music, dancing, and entertainment. It’s the perfect place to experience Savannah’s lively nightlife.
Stretching along the Savannah River, the iconic River Street is a vibrant hub of dining, shopping, and entertainment. Once a center for trade and commerce, the cobblestone promenade with its boutiques, galleries, cafés, and shops is now a beloved destination for both locals and visitors alike.
The very essence of River Street lies in its cobblestone streets and beautifully preserved historic buildings. Take a relaxing stroll and soak in the charming ambiance of a bygone era.
River Street is a shopper’s paradise with an array of boutiques, galleries, and shops offering everything from locally crafted goods to unique souvenirs. It’s the perfect place to find something special to remember your trip by.
Head to the vibrant River Street Market Place on the east end of River Street to do some shopping. Home to more than 70 shops representing countries from all over the world, the bustling marketplace has a distinctly international feel.
As you wander, you’ll come across historical landmarks and plaques that provide insights into the area’s rich history and significance. Take a moment to learn about the stories that have shaped this iconic street.
Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters
Delve into the complex history of Savannah and the American South at the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters on Abercorn Street. Explore the stories of the Owens-Thomas House’s grandeur and the challenging realities of the enslaved individuals who lived and worked on the property.
The Owens-Thomas House is an architectural gem and a window into Savannah’s antebellum past. Built in the early 19th century, the house showcases exquisite Regency-style architecture and beautifully preserved interiors.
Enjoy a guided tour through the elegant mansion, admiring period furnishings, decorative arts, and captivating stories highlighting the life and culture of Savannah’s elite in the 19th century. Explore the adjacent slave quarters and gain insight into the daily lives, struggles, and contributions of the enslaved individuals who lived and worked on the property.
Wander through the picturesque gardens, an oasis of tranquility that provides a scenic backdrop to the historic structures.
Georgia State Railroad Museum
If gleaming steam engines and beautiful old locomotives make your heart race, visiting the Georgia State Railroad Museum is a must! Journey back to an era when the rhythmic chug of locomotives echoed through the landscape and the railways that connected communities and drove economic growth across Georgia and beyond.
The Georgia State Railroad Museum is housed in a former Central of Georgia Railway complex within the sprawling Tricentennial Park, a historic site celebrating Savannah’s rich heritage. One of the must-see Savannah museums, it features a collection of historic buildings, including an 1850s roundhouse and various workshops. These structures provide a glimpse into the operations of a working railroad during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Marvel at an array of meticulously preserved locomotives and railcars that showcase the evolution of rail technology. The collection offers a fascinating insight into transportation history, from steam locomotives to diesel engines.
Join a guided tour that leads you through the museum’s exhibits, sharing stories of railroad workers, the industries they served, and the pivotal role of railroads in shaping Georgia’s economy. Engage interactive displays that allow you to understand the mechanics of trains, participate in activities, and experience the sounds and sensations of railroading firsthand.
Enjoy a scenic ride on a vintage railcar through the park during certain seasons. Check the museum’s schedule for ride availability.
Jepson Center & Telfair Children’s Art Museum (CAM)
Traveling with the family? Take the kids to the Jepson Center and Telfair Children’s Art Museum (CAM) for an afternoon of creativity and inspiration. Explore contemporary art, engage in interactive exhibits, and unleash creativity at this vibrant museum complex.
The Jepson Center is a modern architectural masterpiece that serves as a dynamic space for contemporary art exhibitions. The Telfair Children’s Art Museum (CAM) offers young art enthusiasts a playful and educational environment.
The Jepson Center hosts rotating exhibitions of contemporary art from around the world. Each exhibit offers a unique perspective on artistic expression, from thought-provoking installations to captivating paintings. Take a sketchbook or notebook to capture your thoughts and impressions while exploring contemporary artworks.
Telfair Children’s Art Museum (CAM) provides a hands-on space for young visitors to engage with art through interactive exhibits, creative workshops, and activities designed to nurture artistic exploration. Explore ArtZeum, an interactive gallery that stimulates creativity and curiosity about the art-making process.
Ships Of the Sea Maritime Museum
Set sail through maritime history, exploration, and the allure of seafaring adventures at the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum. Whether you’re a naval enthusiast, a history lover, or are intrigued by the stories of nautical journeys, this museum promises an enriching experience that celebrates the adventurous spirit of the sea.
Housed within the historic 1819 William Scarbrough House on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum pays homage to Savannah’s maritime heritage and the vital role of ships in shaping the city’s identity.
Marvel at an impressive collection of meticulously crafted model ships that depict vessels from different eras of maritime history that capture the essence of naval architecture and exploration. Explore exhibits featuring maritime artifacts, ship plans, navigational tools, and historical documents that shed light on Savannah’s ocean-going contributions.
End your visit with a quiet stroll through the beautiful Scarborough Garden, a serene oasis inspired by 18th-century English-style gardens. This picturesque spot is perfect for unwinding, appreciating the beauty of nature, and capturing memorable photos.
The Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist
Soak up Savannah’s rich Catholic heritage at the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist. Set on E. Harris Street, this resplendent architectural gem is a sacred space where history, spirituality, and artistic beauty converge.
Built in 1896 in the Gothic Revival style, the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist evokes a sense of reverence and wonder. Laud the cathedral’s remarkable architectural details, from the soaring spires and breathtaking stained-glass windows to the intricately carved interior elements that create an atmosphere of awe-inspiring grandeur.
Enjoy a guided tour to gain deeper insights into the cathedral’s history, architecture, and the significance of its religious art. Admire the exquisite religious art adorning the interior, from the ornate altars to the sacred statues that tell the stories of faith and devotion.
If you’re interested in experiencing the spiritual aspect of the cathedral, attend a mass or service to witness the Catholic rituals and traditions in this hallowed space. Even if you’re not spiritually included, attend a mass to experience the cathedral’s renowned pipe organ that resonates throughout the cathedral, adding to the ethereal ambiance.
Andrew Low House
Step back in time and explore the opulent lifestyle of Savannah’s elite at the Andrew Low House. This splendid historic residence on Abercorn Street offers a fascinating glimpse into the refined world of 19th-century Southern aristocracy.
Built in 1848, this exquisite mansion was the home of Andrew Low, a prominent Savannah businessman, and his family. Reflecting the architectural and societal nuances of the era, the Andrew Low House stands as a testament to the city’s antebellum heritage.
Embark on a guided tour that leads you through lavishly decorated rooms, showcasing period furnishings, exquisite artworks, and intricate details that transport you to the Victorian era. Explore the lush garden and the charming carriage house, where you can admire the architectural features and tranquil surroundings and perhaps learn about these spaces’ role in daily life.
If you have green fingers, join a guided garden tour for insights into the property’s flora, landscaping, and outdoor aspects.
Where to eat & drink
From Southern comfort food to contemporary cuisine, the Savannah Historic District boasts a vibrant culinary scene with a delightful array of bars and restaurants.
For a modern twist on Southern classics, head to the Public Kitchen & Bar. This top-notch restaurant is all about Southern comfort with a creative twist! Think shrimp and grits, buttermilk fried chicken, and a rustic-chic ambiance. Try their weekend brunch for a delicious start to your day, and their craft cocktails are totally worth a sip!
Vic’s On the River is your spot for beautiful river views. Oozing historic charm and an elegant setting, Vic’s is all about riverfront views and classic Southern dishes. You’ll love their shrimp, crab bisque, Southern fried chicken, and more. The atmosphere is elegant, and the river backdrop is a bonus!
Step back in time at The Olde Pink House, a historic mansion turned restaurant. Known for its Southern cuisine and charming ambiance, you can enjoy dishes like shrimp and grits, She Crab soup, and pecan-crusted chicken in intimate dining rooms. It’s super romantic, perfect for a special night out, and pecan-crusted chicken is to die for!
For a flavor-packed adventure, check out Alligator Soul Restaurant. Embark on a culinary adventure where flavors from around the world blend seamlessly with Southern ingredients. Ever tried grilled alligator or wild mushroom ravioli? This place is all about unique eats.
For a laid-back atmosphere, head to The Rail Pub. This local favorite offers comfort food, burgers, and an impressive selection of craft beers. Its casual setting and friendly vibe make it the perfect spot to relax and enjoy Savannah’s hospitality. Go for the beer selection – they’ve got some good stuff!
Looking for an authentic English pub experience? Head to Six Pence Pub. Known for its traditional British fare and a wide array of beers on tap, this laid-back bar exudes old-world charm. Tuck into fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, and other hearty dishes in a cozy, inviting setting. Check out their beer selection – it’s pretty impressive!
Unwind, relax, and have some fun at Congress Street Social Club. This laid-back bar and restaurant offer a diverse menu, from tacos to burgers, making it a great place for drinks and casual dining. Live music, outdoor seating, and a vibrant crowd add to the energetic ambiance.
Elevate your dining experience at Rocks on the Roof, a rooftop bar and restaurant offering panoramic views of the Savannah River. Enjoy a selection of small plates, artisan cocktails, and an extensive wine list while taking in the spectacular skyline. Their wine selection is fantastic, so this is your jam if you’re a wine lover.
Where to stay
With its central location and a bevy of attractions, the Historic District takes the top spot among the most popular places to stay in Savannah, GA. The area’s accommodation selection spans everything from luxurious boutique hotels to bed & breakfasts and historic inns.
Based in a historic cotton warehouse, East Bay Inn, Historic Inns of Savannah Collection offers Southern charm with cozy rooms adorned with period furnishings, flat-screen TVs, and plush bedding. Delight in southern-style breakfasts and social evening wine receptions. Stay connected with complimentary Wi-Fi; a short walk will take you to the vibrant City Market.
Expect elegant rooms and suites with en-suite bathrooms, claw-foot tubs, and decorative fireplaces at the Marshall House, Historic Inns of Savannah Collection. Upgrade to a suite for a shared balcony with rocking chairs and keep in touch with the world with free Wi-Fi. Unwind in the inn’s tranquil courtyard amid lush vegetation and dine at a retro-chic bistro/bar.
Set within a meticulously preserved mansion dating back over 160 years, Bellwether House boasts beautifully-appointed hotel rooms with regal charm. Retreat to light-filled accommodations featuring high ceilings and historic layouts. Indulge in daily breakfast, afternoon high tea, and evening champagne toasts. Unwind at the Greenhouse Spa with signature facials, massages, or reiki treatments. Begin your day with complimentary morning yoga on the patio.
This posh boutique hotel in the Historic District offers elegantly appointed rooms with wooden floors, modern comforts, and a nod to historic aesthetics. Relax on a rooftop terrace with panoramic views and wine and dine in a sophisticated cocktail bar and an upscale seafood restaurant. The Drayton Hotel Savannah, Curio Collection by Hilton is a short walk from the Savannah River.
Epitomizing refined luxury, Perry Lane Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Savannah, offers an enchanting blend of modern luxury and Southern charm. Vintage-chic rooms are adorned with original art, minibars, and sofa beds; complimentary Wi-Fi is available. Enjoy cooking, art classes, architecture tours, and lectures, and use an area shuttle.