Roaming around Georgia on a road trip? Be sure to carve out a few days to comb through all the best things to do in Savannah.
The “Hostess City of the South,” Georgia’s second-biggest city is famed for its Southern hospitality and historic charms. Many of the top tourist attractions lie within the Savannah Historic District. Crossed by oak-lined avenues and historic city squares, Savannah’s city center is among the finest in the United States.
Not sure what to do in Savannah? Plan the perfect trip to this charming city with this guide to the best places to visit in Savannah, GA.
Best places to visit in Savannah
Savannah Historic District
Whether you’re visiting Savannah in one day or a week, the highlight of your trip will be roaming around the Savannah Historic District. Dating back to the 18th century, Savannah’s historic center is as charming as its age hints. Much like in other southern cities such as Charleston, the Historic District shows off some of the finest architecture in the USA.
The planned district is laid out in a grid pattern. The cobblestone streets and leafy avenues are dotted by 22 historic city squares and antebellum houses. Among them, you’ll unearth many of the top Savannah attractions.
History buffs should focus their ramblings on Savannah’s historic homes. With their period furnishings, the mansions step back into the city’s rich history as an important river trading port.
Top off a day of exploring squares and historic buildings with a stroll on River Street. The historic avenue slides along the Savannah River. Inside its former cotton warehouses, River Street hides a smattering of boutiques, restaurants, and pubs. You’ll even find a rooftop bar or two to enjoy epic riverside sunsets with a side of Southern hospitality. (More on that later!)
Need a break from walking around the Historic District? Take off a load in Forsyth Park. Located on the southern edge of the historic center, the 30-acre public park is one of the city’s most popular green spaces.
Join in on all the action starting with its majestic centerpiece fountain. Built in 1858, the fountain was designed as an ode to Paris’s Place de la Concord. As you marvel at the fountain’s intricate design, artists & street performers entertain onlookers.
The walking paths at Forsyth Park are flanked by weeping moss-covered oaks. On a summer day, you’ll enjoy the time out from the hot Georgia sun in the shade.
From Forsyth Park, you can head north on Bull Street to explore the city’s most beautiful squares. As you walk northward, look out for Monterey Square, Madison Square, and Chippewa Square.
On the way, you’ll also spot a few more historic houses, including the Mercer-Williams House Museum. (Keep reading to learn more…)
Want to experience Savannah’s riverside charms? Take a stroll along River Street. The waterfront avenue stretches two miles along the southern bank of the Savannah River. It’s one of the coolest places to see in Savannah for travelers.
River Street flourished during the southern city’s cotton industry heyday. After decades of decline, its old cotton warehouses found new life. Slowly, they’ve been converted to antique shops, restaurants, and bars.
Stop in at a riverside eatery to enjoy Southern hospitality with spectacular Savannah River views. For Southern food and drinks in a historic setting, check out The Cotton Exchange. To enjoy laid-back evening cocktails, pop into Rocks on the Roof. Located in the Bohemian Hotel, the rooftop bar is one of the chicest places to grab food & drinks in the historic center.
After you’re done exploring the Savannah waterfront, unwind in nearby Emmet Park. Wedged between the old warehouses and East Bay Street, Emmet Park pays tribute to Savannah’s Irish dockworkers. In the shaded canopy, you’ll find several monuments. Keep your eyes peeled for Emmet Park’s centerpiece Celtic Cross Monument.
Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters
While exploring the historic center, don’t miss out on a visit to the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters. Located next to beautiful Oglethorpe Square, Owens-Thomas House is one of the top points of interest in Savannah. If you have a passing interest in US history, it’s worth a look.
Owen-Thomas House was built in 1819 in English Regency style. Even with two centuries under its belt, it remains one of the finest examples of the architecture style in the United States.
Get the scoop of the home’s history on a guided tour. On the tour, you’ll spot interesting architectural details and artwork. The furniture and artifacts are interspersed with interesting interactive exhibits.
Aside from the main home, you’ll also explore the beautiful parterre-style garden and carriage houses.
End your tour with a visit to the home’s Slave Quarters. Its austere accommodations give insight into the home’s sometimes dark history.
The Owen-Thomas House is maintained by Telfair Museums. The organization also funds the Jepson Center for the Arts and the Telfair Academy.
Between the two art museums and historic home lies a collection of over 4,500 American and European paintings & sculptures. Art lovers will want to carve out time to visit all three.
Leopold’s Ice Cream
For sweet tooths, no visit to Savannah is complete without a lick of Leopold’s Ice Cream. Located in the Historic District, the venerable ice cream shop is one of the USA’s oldest parlors. It’s even been placed among the world’s best. Brave out the parlor’s eternal line-up in the hot Savannah sun to see how it measures up!
One of Savannah’s most beautiful historic homes, Mercer-Williams House is a must-see for history buffs. The Italian Villa-style house was built in the 1860s. And although its beauty is obvious, the home’s legends place it among the top Savannah tourist attractions.
Mercer-Williams House hit the mainstream among fans of true crime in 1994 with Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The book tells the story of the 1981 murder of Danny Hansford by the home’s antique dealer owner, Jim Williams.
On a guided tour, you’ll explore the home’s exquisite architectural details. The styles range between Greek and Italianate to Renaissance Revival. You’ll also get the chance to browse Williams’ private art & furniture collection. Most of the antique pieces date back to the 18th and 19th centuries.
With all its intrigue, the home is, unsurprisingly, a favorite stop on Savannah ghost tours. If you’re craving a few chills, join in on Savannah Paranormal Mystery Tour to get the inside scoop. (If you dare!)
While in the area, walk one block east to check out the Congregation Mickve Israel. Founded in 1733, Congregation Mickve Israel is the USA’s third-oldest Jewish congregation. With its striking Neo-Gothic architecture, it’s one of the most beautiful houses of worship in the city.
Need a break from historic sightseeing in Savannah? Slide over to the City Market. Wedged between Ellis Square and Franklin Square, the open-air City Market is near the top of the list for what to see in Savannah.
City Market hails from the city’s founding in the 1700s. Following its birth, it was Savannah’s main marketplace and its most popular gathering spot.
Today, City Market is still one of the coolest places to visit in the historic center. Inside the market lies vendors peddling everything from artwork to handicraft. On the cobblestone streets around the square, you’ll also spot several art galleries and a barrage of restaurants and pubs.
For a unique experience in City Market, set aside time to visit the American Prohibition Museum. The museum features artifacts and exhibits detailing the prohibition era in the United States. You’ll even be able to grab a drink in its on-site tavern, styled after an illicit 1920s speakeasy.
If you’ve worked up an appetite, City Market is the perfect place for a culinary adventure. Grab steak & seafood at the nearby award-winning Belford’s Savannah. Or for Southern food & drinks with a view, snag a table at the rooftop bar of The Grove.
If there’s any historic square to toss into your Savannah trip, it’s Chippewa Square. Astute film lovers will recognize the beautiful city square from the movie Forrest Gump. Chippewa Square provided the leafy backdrop for the recollection of Forrest’s life story.
While the bench sits in the nearby Savannah History Museum, the square is still worth a visit. From its centerpiece statue of General James Oglethorpe radiates a lovely canopy of mature trees and a garden. Spend some time soaking up the scenery and relaxing among its greenery.
Flanking Chippewa Square’s east, Savannah Theatre is one of the city’s premier performing arts venues. Running since 1818, the Savannah Theatre is the oldest theater in the United States.
The Savannah Theatre has undergone sizeable changes since its inception. The current Art Deco-style building dates to the mid-20th century. In 1948, it replaced the hurricane- and fire-damaged original. It stands in contrast to the grand 18th- and 19th-century buildings elsewhere in the Historic District.
Catching a live musical or play at the Historic Savannah Theatre is one of the must-do activities in Savannah. Check the schedule online to see what’s playing during your visit.
Old Savannah Trolley Tour
Need a break from your walking tour? Rest your feet on an Old Savannah Trolley Tour. The city’s popular trolley tours whisk past over 100 of Savannah’s top points of interest in the historic city center.
On a trolley tour, costumed guides enlighten visitors on the city’s 270 years of history. You’ll have the opportunity to hop on and hop off at 15 stops around the city.
Located a block north of Monterey Square, Jones Street is often pinned as the most beautiful street in Savannah. Test the theory with a walk on W Jones Street between Drayton Street and Tattnall Street.
Take some time to stumble over its red-brick cobblestones, flanked by colonial houses. It’s a relaxing way to spend a few minutes escaping the center’s commercial bubble.
Colonial Park Cemetery
Dating back to 1789, Colonial Park Cemetery is central Savannah’s oldest burial ground. While it may seem a tad macabre to include a graveyard among Savannah’s top places to see, there’s good reason for it.
The beautiful cemetery is the final resting place of some of the city’s most influential citizens. Most famous is the Button Gwinnett, one of the signers of the United States Declaration of Independence.
The 6-acre Colonial Park Cemetery is also home to a mass grave of over 700 victims of the 1820 yellow fever epidemic.
Unlike Bonaventure Cemetery, Colonial Park lies within the city center. It’s within a short walking distance of Chippewa Square to the west and Lafayette Square to the south.
Shopaholics visiting Savannah will find their nirvana along Broughton Street. Stretching east and west in the center of the Historic District, the street is one of the city’s main commercial avenues.
Broughton Street is lined with an array of boutiques, galleries, cafes, and restaurants. Be sure to stop into the Savannah Bee Company. Opened in 2002, Savannah Bee Company peddles the world’s finest honey products, from body creams to spreads.
Located on the corner of Broughton and Whitaker Street, the popular Paris Market is also worth a browse. The Paris Market offers a selection of gifts & housewares. You’ll find everything here from antiques to jewelry. The store also serves up some tasty cafe-style food & drinks for your shopping trip.
Fan of the supernatural? Don’t leave Sorrel-Weed House off your Savannah wishlist. Sitting upon Madison Square, the 16,000-square-foot mansion is one of the largest historic homes in Savannah. And with its paranormal intrigue, it’s become one of the top places to go in Savannah.
By day, you can visit Sorrel-Weed House to admire its architectural charms. The house is one of the city’s best examples of Greek Revival and Regency-style architecture. Inside, you’ll uncover an impressive collection of period furniture & artwork.
Of course, the real treat is to pop in at night. In the evening, Sorrel-Weed House hosts a popular ghost tour. Join in if you’ve got the nerve.
Fort Pulaski National Monument
American Civil War buffs will want to squeeze in a visit to the Fort Pulaski National Monument. Located on Cockspur Island on the Savannah River, the 19th-century brick fort is one of the coolest things to see in Savannah.
Touring Fort Pulaski, you’ll learn all about its history, including the siege that led to the Union’s control of Savannah. On weekends, the fortress also hosts historic weapons demonstrations. Watch as demonstrators fire Civil War-era muskets and cannons into the air.
Besides its historical value, Fort Pulaski is a fantastic destination for nature lovers. The fort sits upon over 5,300 acres of parkland, crossed by nature trails.
A good starting point for hikers is the North Pier Trail. Less than one mile out & back, the trail whisks you off the Battery Hambright and the historic north pier.
For the island’s best vistas, tackle the Lighthouse Overlook Trail. On the trek, you’ll be treated to gorgeous views of the Savannah River, Tybee Island, and the Cockspur Island Lighthouse.
Savannah History Museum
Need a deep dive into Savannah’s 270 years of history? Spend time perusing the Savannah History Museum in Tricentennial Park. Located in the former central railway passenger shed, the museum is home to over 10,000 artifacts covering from 1733 to today. It’s one of the best family-friendly activities in Savannah.
The Savannah History Museum is most famous for housing the “Forrest Gump Bench” from Chippewa Square. Of course, there’s plenty more to be seen. Popular exhibits include a tribute to Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low and lessons on the Revolutionary War in the South.
If you’ve got extra time in Savannah, take the 15-minute drive east to Bonaventure Cemetery. Dating back to 1846, Bonaventure Cemetery is one of the city’s oldest burial grounds. The cemetery is famed for its natural beauty and attractive Victorian monuments.
Bonaventure Cemetery occupies the site of the former Bonaventure Plantation. With its oak-lined paths and perch over the Wilmington River, the 160-acre cemetery delivers a unique experience.
Spend some time wandering about Bonaventure Cemetery. Marvel at the cemetery’s monuments and soak in the impressive views over the area.
Andrew Low House
Got time for yet another historic Savannah home? Slip into the Andrew Low House. Located on Lafayette Square, the mansion is renowned as the former home of Girl Scout founder, Juliette Gordon Low.
Andrew Low House offers one of Savannah’s finest collections of 19th-century furniture and artwork. Visitors will also love exploring the beautiful parterre garden. It’s one of only three remaining 19th-century garden plans in the city.
Even more appealing for some travelers is Andrew Low House’s paranormal reputation. Like so many landmark homes in Savannah, the Girl Scout founder’s home is reputed to be haunted. Join in on the Savannah Ghostwalker Tour to get a grip on the home’s paranormal activity.
Also on Lafayette Square, the nearby Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home is a must-see for bookworms. Take a guided tour to learn more about the life & works of the famed Southern Gothic author.
On the north side of the square, also keep your eyes peeled for The Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist. With its Neo-Gothic architecture, the 19th-century Catholic church is worth a peek. Pop inside to marvel at its stained-glass windows and religious murals.
Spending an extra day or two in Savannah? Venture to Tybee Island. Located about 30 minutes east of the city, Tybee Island is one of the best Savannah day trips. The barrier island is known for its military fort, museums, and sandy beaches.
Start your day trip to Tybee Island at Fort Screven. Used in several major wars, the 19th-century fortress is the perfect place for a history lesson to a backdrop of stunning ocean views.
While visiting the fort, also save time for Tybee Island Light Station & Museum. From the top of the 18th-century lighthouse, you’ll enjoy incredible views over the Atlantic shoreline.
To soak up the rays, frolic on the white sands of South Beach. Take a dip in the water or grab a meal & drinks at one of the beachfront restaurants & cafes.
Fort McAllister State Park
Located 45 minutes south of Savannah, Fort McAllister State Park is one of the city’s best day trips. The 1,725-acre park is home to Fort McAllister, a Confederacy-era earthworks fortification. Along with Fort Pulaski and Fort James Jackson, the fortress was one of the city’s three main strongholds.
Take your time to explore the riverside fort’s military installations and defensive barracks. The park’s Civil War museum is also worth a look for military history fans. It contains a barrage of interesting artifacts and a gift shop.
Best places to stay in Savannah for sightseeing
For most visitors, the best places to stay in Savannah are within the Historic District. The neighborhood hosts many of Savannah’s top activities and is the city’s safest area. Here are a couple of the top hotels in Savannah to get you started.
Located on the waterfront, this historic inn offers the perfect accommodations for your adventure. The rooms here are charming and show off the city’s timeless allure.
Digging back to 1812, this harborfront inn features a superb location and spacious modern rooms. You’ll love the nightly wine & cheese event to relax after a day of sightseeing.
Want to experience Savannah’s luxurious side? Settle in at this delectable 5-star hotel. The rooms are delightful, but amenities like the outdoor pool really tip the scales.