Visiting Savannah - What to See and Do
(Savannah / Hilton Head International Airport SAV, USA)
No other city in America captures the essence of grand southern living quite like Savannah
. In its 19th-century heyday, this city was home to wealthy and powerful families who built the incredibly charismatic homes that are still in perfect condition today. The downtown National Historic Landmark District is the largest of its kind in the US
and comes with a plethora of enticing attractions.
Apart from wishing you could live in one of these grand homes, Savannah ranks amongst the most noteworthy cities in the South for dining and drinking. The seafood is paramount and many foodies regard the southern cooking here to be the very best. Nightlife is also superb, ranging from enticing piano lounges to live music along River Street.
A riverboat cruise is an ideal way to learn more about this part of Georgia
and soak in the scenery. We can all thank President Lincoln for insisting that General Sherman did not burn Savannah the way he did the rest of the South. The legacy of its historic district and riverside areas are truly magical and one-of-a-kind.
Ten things you must do in Savannah
- The downtown historic district encompasses over two square miles of impossibly charming 19th-century Antebellum architecture. There are literally hundreds of beautiful homes here, most with live oaks dripping in Spanish moss. It is the epitome of the grand old South and the gem in the crown of Savannah. Explore its attractions by foot or enjoy them via one of the guided tours - but don't miss this part of the city.
- Forsyth Park is situated right on the edge of the historic district, where it is Savannah's most atmospheric place to sit and dream. Towering oak trees create a virtual canopy over the park, with green Spanish moss hanging everywhere. Bed and breakfast inns literally line the edge of the park, so if you can afford it, try and stay around here.
- The atmosphere in the historic Bonaventure Cemetery is about as appealing as cemeteries get. It featured in the novel 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil' and is kept in perfect condition. Browse the eerie but beautiful tombs and headstones, many of which belong to famous people like acclaimed American songwriter Johnny Mercer. The views of the river from Bonaventure are also very inspiring.
- River Street is the first place you should head to in Savannah if you crave an afternoon of shopping or lunching. Nine blocks of historic buildings house a full array of shops, from the tacky to the luxurious. Interwoven are some of the best bars for live music after dark and plenty of options for a bite to eat. The river scenery along this popular strip is also very attractive.
- Savannah has one of the best dining scenes in the South, and many of the best restaurants are concentrated along River Street. Visitors have their hands full just deciding where to eat on any given night. For five-star New Southern cuisine, don't miss the Elizabeth on 37th, while arguably the best southern home cooking in America is dished up every evening at Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room. The latter is a veritable institution of southern cuisine, not to be missed if you want the real deal in a real atmosphere.
- Three forts dating to the Revolutionary War and the Civil War era are preserved and open to the public just outside Savannah. Old Fort Jackson is the oldest in Georgia, dating to 1775. Fort Pulaski and Fort McAllister date to the Civil War era, and all three contain park rangers, helpful visitor centers and activities like walking trails.
- Be sure to take a riverboat cruise at some point during your stay. It is the ideal way to learn about the rich heritage of the city and enjoy the beauty of the river. The Savannah River Queen is a replica of a steam paddleboat from the 1700s, and daily tours on this beauty show off a side of the city last seen in the 18th century. The two-hour cruise includes a tasty dinner and usually an inspiring sunset.
- There are a number of historic houses that are wonderfully preserved and open to the public. One of the very best of these attractions is the Owen Thomas House, built in 1816 by a renowned English architect. British General Lafayette famously spent a night here in 1825, and few other homes in the city capture the essence of Savannah's golden era as thoroughly.
- Catch the Savannah Symphony Orchestra if you are a fan of classical music. During the summer months, the orchestra often plays outdoor concerts at Forsyth Park, a perfect environment for this kind of music. Performances are also staged at the Johnny Mercer Theater, the city's principal performing arts venue, which also hosts ballet, theater and other shows.
- Head down to Johnson Square after dark to see Savannah at its most local and friendly. This popular public square in the heart of downtown is where local musicians like to appear without warning most nights and create impromptu jams of Dixieland jazz, blues and other music.