There are a few things I look for when planning a city break: interesting history, good food, and access to nature/outdoor spaces. And Savannah, Georgia has all those things and more.
I sometimes surprise people when I list Savannah as one of my favorite cities in the United States. After all, the city is a relatively small one, and sometimes gets overshadowed by nearby Charleston in South Carolina. But ever since I first visited Savannah back in college, the city has always been a favorite.
Despite loving Savannah so much, though, I actually hadn't been back in an entire decade! So when my husband Elliot and I had to cancel a trip to Austin at the last minute in October, I suggested changing our flights and heading to Savannah instead.
It ended up being the best decision ever. I got to re-discover the Hostess City after a decade, and Elliot got to experience it for the first time at a nice, slow, relaxed pace.
Based on our trip (and my previous 2 trips), I thought I'd share my idea of a perfect Savannah itinerary. Feel free to steal this guide to help plan your own perfect Savannah trip!
An introduction to Savannah
Savannah is located on the coast of Georgia, near the mouth of the Savannah River and just across the state line from South Carolina. The city (and the colony of Georgia) was founded in February of 1733, when General James Oglethorpe and 120 passengers on a ship called Anne arrived from England.
Oglethorpe and passengers landed at Yamacraw Bluff and were met by the leader of the local Yamacraw people, a man named Tomochichi. Both Oglethrope and Tomochichi saw value in getting along (Oglethorpe wanted to avoid violent interactions like there had been in other colonies, and Tomochichi saw a potential new trading partnership), and the story goes that the two men actually became close friends.
I'm inclined to believe the story, since Tomochihi spent several years acting as a mediator between the British and various Indigenous groups, even traveling to England and meeting King George II in 1734. When Tomochichi died in 1739 (probably around the age of 95!), he was given a British military funeral and buried in Savannah.
Savannah is cited as being the first planned city in America, and Oglethorpe is hailed locally as a planning genius. The city is set up in a grid system, with short blocks and central meeting places in the form of leafy squares. Urban planners today still study the city and its design, which was part of a larger social plan Oglethorpe had for Georgia.
You may not know this, but Oglethorpe founded Georgia with a new kind of egalitarian society in mind; a place where the “deserving poor” of England could immigrate and start anew on solid and equitable footing. When the colony was founded, it outlawed things like hard liquor, slavery, and lawyers.
However, this rosy view of what colonial society could look like was not economically successful in practice, and largely all fell apart by the time Georgia became a Royal Colony in 1754. It wasn't long before plantations and slavery were officially brought into the colony.
Savannah's history over the next 200 years had lots of ups and downs. The city grew as it became an important port for the export of cotton, but it also suffered two major fires and three major yellow fever epidemics in less than 100 years.
Savannah did catch a break during the Civil War, though. The city was the end point of General Sherman's infamous “March to the Sea” in 1864. But Savannah escaped the destruction that much of the rest of Georgia saw because Sherman decided the city was too beautiful to destroy. Instead, the general “offered” it to President Abraham Lincoln as a Christmas present.
By the mid-1900s, Savannah had suffered some crippling economic blows to its industry, not helped by the Great Depression and WWII. But it was around this time that the Historic Savannah Foundation was formed to save many historic buildings from the wrecking ball. Savannah's entire Historic District was eventually designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966.
The city began to rely more on tourism in the latter half of the 20th century, and was really catapulted into stardom in the 1990s by the publication of a book called Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (known simply as “The Book” in Savannah), and a little movie you might have seen called Forrest Gump.
Since then, Savannah has become one of the most popular cities to visit in America, thanks to its elegant architecture, green squares, long history, and Southern hospitality that has earned it the nickname of The Hostess City.
Is Savannah safe?
I always get asked about safety when I travel. And, much like cities I've called home in Ohio, Savannah had a not-so-great reputation for several decades for being unsafe. Drug and gun-related violence DOES still happen in Savannah, but it's unlikely to affect you in the touristy areas of the city.
If you're sticking mostly to the Historic District and River Street area (which is where the vast majority of visitors to Savannah stay and play), then you really only need to watch out for typical petty crime (and sometimes some drunk and disorderly conduct thanks to Savannah's open container laws).
Elliot and I walked all around Savannah both in the daytime and at night, including walking along the Riverwalk after dark most evenings, and never felt unsafe.
If you're planning to visit Savannah solo, though, I would tell you to take the basic precautions you would anywhere else in the world: don't walk alone at night in any deserted or low-traffic areas (just call an Uber instead!), watch your stuff, and be aware of how much alcohol you're consuming.
When to visit Savannah
Savannah is definitely a year-round destination, but I will be very honest with you and say that it is NOT somewhere I would recommend visiting during the summer months, especially late June-August.
Georgia (and especially coastal southern Georgia) gets extremely hot and humid during the summer, and it's just not a comfortable time to be strolling through squares, no matter how shady they are. (Believe me, I know; my previous two visits were both during the summer months!)
My ideal time to visit Savannah would be in the spring (March-May) when everything is in bloom, and the fall (September-November), when temperatures start to cool. Winter is also a decent time to visit, though it's quieter and there's a slightly higher chance of rain.
Elliot and I visited Savannah in October just before Halloween, and the weather was absolutely perfect – 70s and not too humid during the day, and down into the 50s and 60s in the evening.
Where to stay in Savannah
Before we get into the day-by-day itinerary, let's talk about where to stay in Savannah!
Most people will choose either one of two areas to stay when they visit Savannah: within the Historic District, or at a hotel along the Savannah River. Both of these are excellent options, and for a trip that's going to be at least 5 days long, I actually recommend that you do both!
On this most recent trip, Elliot and I actually stayed in Savannah for an entire week (6 nights), and so we decided to split our time between an historic (and haunted) inn and a newer hotel on the river. This worked out great, as it meant we got a feel for both sides of (touristy) Savannah.
Historic inn pick: The Kehoe House
When it comes to historic inns in Savannah, The Kehoe House is legendary. Located on Columbia Square within walking distance of so many sites, this large Queen Ann mansion is THE place to stay for a luxurious or romantic Savannah getaway.
The Kehoe House was built back in 1892 by William Kehoe as a family home. The Kehoe family lived in the house for decades, and the home served as a boarding house and then a funeral parlor after the Kehoe family sold it. It was converted into a 4-star inn in the 1990s. (And yes, like most historic buildings in Savannah, this one is said to be haunted!)
Staying at the Kehoe House really is a delightful experience. Each high-ceilinged room is themed and slightly different, and most have access to a private or shared veranda, where you can opt to have your cooked-to-order breakfast delivered in the morning (which obviously we did!).
Also included with your stay are wine and appetizers each night during happy hour, dessert and port in the evenings, a turn-down service complete with homemade cookies, and tea and coffee always on demand. If you order anything to your room, it will be brought up on a literal silver platter. This isn't a cheap place to stay, but I think the experience is worth every penny!
Other Savannah inns
Some other great historic B&B options in the Historic District include:
- Hamilton-Turner Inn – This large inn sits on Lafayette Square, and offers many of the same amenities as the Kehoe House.
- Eliza Thompson House – Dating back to 1847, this inn is located on beautiful Jones Street.
- The Gastonian – This B&B has private gardens and is near Forsyth Park.
Savannah River pick: Thompson Savannah
There are several hotels right in the heart of Savannah's bustling River Street area, but Elliot and I opted to stay a little further down the river at the brand new Thompson Savannah. With floor-to-ceiling river views in many of the rooms, a rooftop bar, and a relaxing pool area, this was an excellent choice for us.
I loved the the mid-century modern aesthetic here, and the staff were all super friendly. We also thought the food in the restaurant was good, and liked that they offer bikes for guests to rent. We opted to walk most of the time, though – the hotel is about a 15-minute walk from the heart of River Street along a paved Riverwalk.
But if you don't want to walk, there's also a FREE city shuttle bus (the “dot”) that leaves about once every 10 minutes right around the corner from the hotel. The bus runs in a set loop to River Street (and connects to a second free loop through the Historic District).
Other River hotel options
There's no shortage of hotels to choose from no matter your budget. Some other options include:
- JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District – Located at the other end of River Street, this new hotel basically has a museum inside (think dinosaur fossils and geodes) and is connected to tons of dining and entertainment options.
- River Street Inn – Right in the middle of all the River Street action, this hotel is located inside a refurbished cotton warehouse.
- Olde Harbour Inn – You'll have to navigate the unique Factors Walk to reach this property, which is in a great location and also pet-friendly.
How to spend 5 days in Savannah
Most Savannah itineraries you'll find online are probably for 3 days in Savannah. And it's true that you *can* squeeze all the highlights into just 3 days, to either fit into a long weekend, or to tack on to a longer vacation that also includes Charleston or Hilton Head.
But Savannah is an elegant old Southern lady, and you'll definitely get to know her better if you take things slow.
Elliot and I actually spent a whole week in Savannah, and reveled in not having too many plans and ample time for relaxing strolls, leisurely long meals, and just sitting on park benches. Based on what we loved and would recommend, here's my suggestion for how to spend 5 days in Savannah!
Note: This itinerary is written with couples, or small groups of adult friends in mind. You absolutely can visit Savannah with kids, but this isn't the guide for that sort of trip!
Day 1: Savannah's historic side
Today it's time to see a lot of Savannah's history up close for yourself.
Note: When it comes to where to stay when, it's easiest to base yourself in the Historic District for the first part of this itinerary, and then the River Street area for the rest of the time. As a refresher: Elliot and I stayed at the Kehoe House, and then at the Thompson Savannah. This itinerary also starts early on Day 1, so you might want to arrive the day before!
1. Historic walking tour
After a tasty breakfast at your inn or B&B, I recommend starting off your Savannah trip with a historic walking tour. There are a LOT of different tours to choose from, but Elliot and I booked a 2-hour walking tour with a local company called Genteel and Bard. (This tour, to be exact.)
This tour is absolutely fabulous, and such a great way to get a feel for the city.
The tour starts at a central location in the Historic District, and your guide will walk you – literally – through Savannah's history. You'll learn about the founding of the city and see early maps of its planned layout, hear stories about its 24 squares (of which 22 still remain), learn a bit about the city's Civil War history, and get some insight into Savannah's emergence as a major tourist destination.
The Genteel and Bard walking tour guides weave all the boring historical facts into interesting stories, and you listen through provided audio devices and headphones, which is a great touch you won't find most other tour companies here using.
This tour ends at Lafayette Square, which is right across the street from both the Andrew Low House (where founder of the Girl Scouts Juliette Low lived) and the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist (which is an architectural masterpiece and free to visit).
If you can't get on that specific tour, or if you're looking for a walking tour with more of a theme to it, here are a few other tour options:
- Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil Narrated Walking Tour – This tour is for fans of “The Book” who want to see the real-life locations from the best-selling book and movie.
- Guided Savannah Civil War History Walking Tour – A look at Savannah during the Civil War.
- Follow the Drinking Gourd Walking Tour – This tour focuses on Savannah's role in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, and the experiences of enslaved people in the city. (Another good Black history tour option in Savannah is this Footprints of Savannah Walking Tour.)
(Just avoid the ghost tours for now, as I'll recommend those later in this itinerary!)
1a. Trolley tour
If for whatever reason a walking tour doesn't sound good to you (maybe there are mobility issues in your group, or maybe it's just too hot for 2 hours of walking), then you can learn a lot of Savannah's history on a trolley tour around the city.
Most trolley tours offer the option for you to hop on and hop off at different points of interest, or you can just stay on board and ride the whole 90-minute loop. This trolley tour also has live narration, which is usually entertaining. The trolleys are wheelchair-friendly, too.
2. Jones Street and Forsyth Park
After your walking tour (or trolley tour), it's time to stroll down to Forsyth Park, the 30-acre park at the southern end of the Historic District.
On your way, you can stop by Jones Street – usually regarded as the prettiest street in Savannah – once again. You'll likely have already visited this brick-paved street on your walking tour, but might want to stop again for some photos.
Once at Forsyth Park, you can go for a brief stroll and stop to admire the fountain (fun fact I learned on my walking tour: they ordered this fountain out of a catalog!).
Then head over to the Collins Quarter for lunch on their large patio.
The Collins Quarter is a famous Australian-inspired brunch cafe with an original location on Bull Street. But they recently opened a second, larger cafe in Forsyth Park, which makes for an excellent spot to grab lunch. (Order the spiced lavender mocha; it lives up to all the hype.)
Another option at Forsyth Park if you're visiting on a weekend would be to book afternoon tea at the Mansion on Forsyth Park. Afternoon tea here is a fancy affair that will make you feel like you've been whisked off to Europe. (We didn't get to try the afternoon tea because we didn't book in advance, but it looks lovely!)
3. Mercer-Williams House
If you're at all interested in the real-life story behind Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, you can actually tour the house where the bulk of the drama took place. The Mercer-Williams house on Monterey Square is still owned by family of Jim Williams, and is just two short blocks from Forsyth Park.
Fun fact: You'll notice that most historic homes in Savannah have two names hyphenated (Mercer-Williams, Owens-Thomas, Sorrel-Weed, etc.). The houses are named for the two most prominent families that owned them.
Most Savannah tour guides will caution you that guides inside the Mercer-Williams house will NOT take kindly to you asking anything about The Book or The Incident (AKA the murder that The Book was about), but my parents did this tour recently, and their guide DID talk about the murder. So I suppose your mileage may vary!
(Note that you can only tour the ground floor of this house, as the upper floor is still lived-in by the owners.)
4. Drinks at Artillery Bar
Mosey your way back towards the river, and maybe stop in for drinks at Artillery Bar. This speakeasy-inspired bar is beautiful both inside and out, and serves up a large menu of craft cocktails. If you want to try a Savannah original, go for the Artillery Punch (but be careful because it has a lot more alcohol in it than it tastes like it does!).
5. Leisurely dinner
This evening, allow plenty of time for a nice, leisurely dinner at a Savannah institution. Some of the most popular and well-known restaurants in the Historic District include:
- Olde Pink House (for Southern cuisine)
- Husk Savannah (upscale Southern fare in an old mansion)
- The Grey (located in an old Greyhound bus terminal)
Note, though, that you definitely will need reservations for dinner at any of the above spots. If you're like me and Elliot and rarely plan meals in advance, here are some other good places you can eat at along Broughton Street (one of the best streets in the Historic District for both shopping and dining) that usually don't require advance booking:
- Common Restaurant (tasty Southern comfort food and cocktails)
- Savannah Seafood Shack (this is a counter-service spot, but it's cheap and delicious)
- The Ordinary Pub (a basement gastropub with great food)
After dinner, you can make your way back to your accommodation either on foot or by ride share. If you're staying somewhere like the Kehoe House, take advantage of an evening glass of port or wine and maybe even some dessert.
Day 2: History, art, and ghosts
Savannah has a LOT of history, and you really need two days cover the highlights of the Historic District without rushing.
A note on getting around Savannah: Within the historic district, it's easy to walk almost everywhere if your feet and legs will allow. Other than walking, ride share companies like Uber and Lyft also operate in Savannah, but in my experience were fairly expensive (though this could be due to when I visited, and there being a shortage of drivers). If you want to get around the Historic District for free without walking, get to know the purple DOT shuttles that run two loops through downtown for free.
1. Owens-Thomas House
If you don't really care about The Book (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), then I don't think you really need to tour the Mercer-Williams house. But I DO think that touring the Owens-Thomas house is a must while you're in Savannah.
When I visited Savannah for the second time in 2011, I toured the Owens-Thomas house. It was a pretty typical Southern historical home tour, with a guide dressed in a period costume telling us mostly about what life was like for the wealthy (white) family who built and lived in the house.
The tour of this home was totally overhauled since I was last there, though, and now the house's official name is the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters.
The tour of the Owens-Thomas house now includes an audio tour of the carriage house, original slave quarters, garden, and mansion that focuses more on the experience of the enslaved people who lived and worked there. Urban slavery was different from the plantation experience we so often learn about, so this tour is an important part of the puzzle if you truly want to understand Savannah's history.
Tours here run every 10 minutes, and you'll need to have your own smartphone to listen to the audio tour. Head here first thing in the morning to get tickets and a tour time, and allow about an hour for the tour.
2. Hit up another museum
The Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters is part of the Telfair Museums, so your $20 ticket there also gets you into two other museums in Savannah: Telfair Academy and the Jepson Center.
Telfair Academy is an art museum located in an 1819 mansion. The museum opened all the way back in 1886 and was the first museum in the United States founded by a woman. It houses both European and American art, and is also where you can find the real “Bird Girl” statue that was made famous by appearing on the cover of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
The Jepson Center is an American art museum housed in a more modern building.
Elliot and I opted to just visit Telfair Academy, but if you really enjoy art museums you could of course visit both!
Other museums in the historic district you could visit include:
- Savannah History Museum (there's a little bit of everything here – including THE famous bus bench from Forrest Gump)
- SCAD Museum of Art (because there's no missing that Savannah is home to this famous design college)
- Georgia State Railroad Museum (for anyone who enjoys trains and railroad history)
3. Lunch and ice cream
There are so many great lunch options in Savannah. But if you didn't eat at Savannah Seafood Shack last night, then go there for lunch today. You can order a seafood po'boy, or get a big ol' low country boil (a meal cooked in one pot that includes shell-on shrimp, corn on the cob, sausage, and red potatoes).
Afterwards, head less than a block away to try a scoop from Leopold's Ice Cream, a Savannah institution. (We only saw lines here at night, but if you do encounter a line out the door at lunchtime, I promise the wait is worth it!)
You *could* also opt to do lunch on Jones Street at the famous Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room, but note that doing so is a time commitment!
In pre-pandemic times, Mrs. Wilkes was a restaurant where you would be seated at a big table with other people, and be served dish after dish of Southern classics, family-style.
Mrs Wilkes is only open from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on weekdays, and has never taken reservations, though, so waiting in a long line is part of the experience here. (You usually need to be in line by about 10:30 a.m., which might mean adjusting your morning schedule and going to get in line right after visiting the Owens-Thomas house.)
When Elliot and I visited in the fall of 2021, Mrs. Wilkes was still only doing take-out. Their take-out still requires you to stand in line to order your food, and then wait 30-60 minutes for it to be prepared. They then load you up with a whole tray of food to-go.
We didn't really want to carry around all the leftovers (because there WILL be leftovers), so we skipped it – but I did want to mention it, just in case it's something you want to experience.
4. Colonial Park Cemetery
If you need to walk off lunch, might I suggest a gentle stroll through a cemetery? (Okay, okay, so this might seem morbid, but there's no shortage of morbid history in Savannah, so you may as well just embrace it.)
Colonial Park Cemetery was established in 1750, and served as Savannah's main cemetery for more than 100 years. Buried here you'll find everyone from Revolutionary War soldiers to victims of Savannah's yellow fever epidemics – even a signer of the Declaration of Independence! There are several historical markers dotted around if you want to learn more.
A fact I learned on a previous visit to Savannah is that when Sherman and his troops came into Savannah during the Civil War, the Union Army used Colonial Park as a campground. The story goes that bored soldiers defaced many headstones – if you look closely you can find some with questionable dates and ages of death.
5. Drinks at Peregrin
From Colonial Park, it's a short walk over to the Perry Lane Hotel and its rooftop bar called Peregrin. Now, I haven't visited every rooftop bar in Savannah, but I will still say that I think this one might be the best anyway!
Peregrin has an outdoor bar, multiple types of seating, and amazing views out over the Historic District. They serve food here as well as cocktails, but I recommend just having a pre-dinner drink or two.
Elliot and I went right when the rooftop bar opened on a weekday, and were able to get a table without an issue – but they do take reservations, so making one in advance probably isn't a bad idea!
Peregrin doesn't open until 4 p.m. on weekdays, though, so if you need to kill some time in the afternoon, you could visit the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist if you didn't make it there on Day 1, or maybe grab a coffee or snack from either Mirabelle or Gallery Espresso.
See my dinner suggestions from Day 1 for ideas, or simply head to Google Maps and see what sounds good.
Some less-fancy dining options near the Perry Lane Hotel include:
- Six Pence Pub (very tasty British pub fare)
- Zunzi's (a counter-service spot serving up South African-inspired sandwiches)
- Hitch (for American classics)
7. Ghost tour time!
Savannah has declared itself the most haunted city in America, so tonight it's time to learn about some of its spookiest and most tragic tales on a ghost tour!
There are all sorts of ghosts tours to choose from in Savannah. I've actually done 4 different Savannah ghost tours across my three visits to the city, and can confirm that there's a ghost tour here to suit everyone.
A few that I can personally vouch for include:
- Genteel and Bard's Savannah Dark History and Ghost Walking Tour – Since we loved their Savannah history walking tour so much, we decided to book a ghost tour with Genteel and Bard, too. This tour does include some ghost stories, but focuses more on the dark history of Savannah as a whole.
- Savannah's Ghost City “Dead of Night” Walking Night Tour – If you want a creepier ghost tour, this adults-only walking tour is a good pick. I've also done this one, and it includes plenty of spine-tingling ghost stories.
- Savannah Ghosts & Gravestones Trolley Tour – Don't want to walk? You can do a ghost tour by trolley, too. This tour adds some humor to its ghost stories, so it's not as scary as some others. It also includes two nighttime stops at local haunted buildings that you get to visit.
You can also book a haunted pub crawl tour, or even go on a paranormal ghost hunt if that's more your speed. There are nighttime tours (and ghost hunts) offered at the Sorrel-Weed House, too, which is regarded as one of Savannah's most haunted historic homes.
Day 3: Savannah's river district
The riverfront area in Savannah is still part of the city's Historic District, but it has a very different feel to it. Today you can explore this area fully!
1. City Market
Start out at City Market, an open-air marketplace that dates all the way back to the 1700s. This is a great place to do some people-watching and some shopping; be sure to pick up some Savannah goodies from Byrd's Famous Cookies and/or Savannah's Candy Kitchen (the pralines are a must!).
While you're at City Market, you can also visit the Prohibition Museum, which is a surprisingly fun museum that covers the Prohibition era in the US (and in Savannah). Inside, you'll find amusing historical vignettes, multimedia exhibits, and hundreds of Prohibition era artifacts from propaganda posters to disguised flasks to moonshine brewing equipment.
There's also a speakeasy-style bar inside the museum where you can stop for an authentic Prohibition era drink. Elliot and I really enjoyed this little museum! (You can pre-book tickets here, though it's just as easy to buy them at the door.)
At the far end of City Market you'll also see the First African Baptist Church, the oldest Black church in North America. The church dates back to the 1770s, and today is a National Historic Landmark. There are historic tours offered of the church, but not every day of the week.
If you spend enough time at City Market to still be there at lunchtime, grab a face-sized slice of pizza from Vinnie Van GoGo's (just note that they're cash-only), or a tasty pie from The Little Crown by Pie Society.
2. River cruise
From City Market, head down towards River Street via Factors Walk, or some of the hilariously steep and uneven Historic Steps. A cool thing you can do this afternoon is go on a 90-minute sightseeing cruise on one of the historic red and white riverboats.
These sightseeing cruises are narrated, and give you unique vantage points of Savannah. You'll also cruise past the historic Old Fort Jackson, which was built in 1811.
Cruises run daily at 1 p.m. in the spring, summer, and fall. You can pre-book tickets here.
3. Explore River Street
After your cruise (or instead of one if riverboat sightseeing isn't your speed), spend some time exploring the historic River Street. This is where Savannah was founded, and also the location of the original Port of Savannah that helped the city grow. Today, this is (in my opinion) the most touristy part of the city, but it's still worth exploring.
Along with the shops and bars that line the older part of River Street, I also recommend walking down to the far end, where you'll find the Plant Riverside District, a new entertainment hub in Savannah. Located in what used to be a large power plant, now you'll find restaurants, shops, music venues, and more there.
If you're not staying at the JW Marriott here, I recommend stopping in to see Generator Hall, which looks more like a museum than a hotel lobby. There are fossils and gemstones and even a giant glass dinosaur skeleton in this space.
This afternoon is also an excellent time to try out one of the riverside rooftop bars here, two of which are in the Plant Riverside District. You could have fun on the adult-sized slide at Electric Moon Rooftop Bar, or relax in the leafy rooftop space at Myrtle and Rose. (Elliot and I opted for Myrtle and Rose, which reminded me of something out of Alice in Wonderland! If you go on Sunday, they also have a fun jazz brunch.)
A little further west from the Plant Riverside District, you could also visit Ghost Coast Distillery for a tour, tasting, or just a cocktail.
There are lots of restaurant options along River Street and up on top of the bluff on Bay Street. A few I'd recommend that I haven't already mentioned include:
- Graffito Pizza (a good River Street pizza option)
- Vic's On the River (fine dining versions of Southern favorites)
- Treylor Park (for American classics with a twist; run by the same folks as Hitch)
- YATAI ramen + yakitori (counter service spot with good ramen)
- The Fitzroy (for craft cocktails and American fare; they also have a nice second-story patio)
If you're up for some nightlife after dinner tonight, you can check out spots like Savannah Smiles Dueling Pianos (open weekends until 3 a.m.), or the The Bamboo Room Tiki Bar (also open late most nights).
Day 4: History outside the Historic District
After three full days exploring a very small area (Savannah's whole Historic District is walkable, after all), today it's time to visit some spots a little further away.
1. Pick up rental car
While you *can* get to some of these spots using a ride share or as part of a guided tour, I would personally recommend renting a car for Day 4 and 5 of this itinerary. You don't really need a car in Savannah's Historic District (in fact, I wouldn't recommend one as parking can be very hard to find!), but today I recommend getting one.
Elliot and I grabbed an Uber back to the airport first thing in the morning, and picked up a car there. It's maybe not the most economical way to do it, but we kept the car until our flight home, so it evened out in the end. And having a car for two days meant we could visit all of the following places at our own pace.
Note: In the US, I usually book cars via Rentalcars.com. Search for rental car options here.
2. Wormsloe Historic Site
From the Savannah airport, it's about a 30-35-minute drive to your first stop of the day: the Wormsloe State Historic Site. This site opens at 9 a.m. each day, and going early should hopefully mean it won't be as crowded as it sometimes can be later in the afternoon.
It's likely that you've seen photos of the oak-lined driveway leading to this site; it's become Instagram-famous, and is the main reason many people visit. And yes, the tree-lined drive is stunning. BUT, if you're going to visit this place, I think it's important to know its history before you go.
This is actually the Wormslow/Wormsloe Plantation, located in an area near Savannah known as the Isle of Hope. It was settled by a man called Noble Jones in the 1730s, who came to Georgia with James Oglethorpe.
Now, Noble Jones and Wormsloe are both notable in Georgia history: Jones played a major role in Georgia's early days as a colony, and the fortified tabby house he built here is the oldest standing structure in Georgia. You can walk around the ruins of that structure today, and also visit a “colonial life” area in the park where you can learn about how early Georgia settlers lived.
But what you might not know if you just look at pretty photos of this place is that Jones settled here in Georgia with the express goal of starting a plantation and owning enslaved people. It's estimated that, at its height, up to 1500 enslaved people probably worked at Wormsloe. Today, descendants of the Jones family still live in the plantation house that was built in 1828.
Wormsloe is now run as a state park (you'll need to pay the $10 per person entry fee before you're allowed to drive down the oak avenue), and visitors can walk nature trails, see the tabby house ruins, view colonial life demonstrations, and visit a small museum.
Some of this wasn't available when Elliot and I visited on a weekday in late October, though, and I can't say I saw much mention of Wormsloe as a working plantation in any of the site's literature. Confronting historical truths about slavery can be uncomfortable, but I hope the site can improve upon that in the future.
Before you get mad at me, note that I'm not saying you shouldn't visit this place. I'm also not saying that the avenue of oaks dripping in Spanish moss isn't beautiful (it absolutely is!). What I AM saying is that it's possible to appreciate the current beauty of a place while also acknowledging its ugly past. If you're going to take photos at Wormsloe, I want you to at least know the place's history!
Even if you walk the trails and spend some time taking photos along the oak avenue (note that Elliot and I walked to get all our oak avenue photos; we did NOT stop our car randomly in the middle of the drive), you probably only need an hour and a half at Wormsloe. Which will leave you with some time to visit the next spot.
3. Pin Point Heritage Museum
From Wormsloe, it's only about a 5-minute drive to the Pin Point Heritage Museum. This museum isn't open every day (currently it's only open Thursday-Saturday), but if you catch it on a day it IS open, it's well worth a visit.
The Pin Point Heritage Museum celebrates the unique Gullah/Geechee culture that developed in Georgia and South Carolina among enslaved Africans who worked on area plantations.
The museum is located in the old A.S. Varn & Son Oyster and Crab Factory in Pin Point, a community that was founded on the Moon River by a freedman after the Civil War. You can learn about the Gullah/Geechee culture (including language, religion, daily life, and food) directly from residents who have grown up here.
For lunch, head to The Wyld if you're looking for riverfront dining, or to Tubby's Tank House for seafood and a large patio.
5. Bonaventure Cemetery
Your final stop outside of Savannah for the day will be at Bonaventure Cemetery, which has become the most famous cemetery in Savannah, if not in all of Georgia.
This historic cemetery dates back to the mid-1840s, and was originally located on the grounds of Bonaventure Plantation. Today, the cemetery covers 160 acres along the Wilmington River, and is known for its haunting Victorian graves, and old Live Oaks dripping in Spanish moss.
Thanks to The Book (yes, that would be Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil again), Bonaventure has now become a popular spot for tourists to visit in Savannah.
You can absolutely just drive/walk around the cemetery on your own, or you can book a guided walking tour if you want to learn more about the cemetery's history and some of its more famous “residents.” This 2-hour tour is very highly rated, and is offered at 2 p.m. daily.
6. Back to Savannah
Bonaventure Cemetery is only about 15 minutes away from the center of Savannah, so it's a quick drive back there to relax for a bit and then head to dinner.
For dinner tonight, why not try the Pirates' House, a pirate-themed eatery on the eastern end of the Historic District that actually serves up good Southern food. The Pirates' House first opened as an inn back in 1753, which is pretty incredible! (I do recommend making reservations here.)
And as for parking tonight, if you're staying at the Thompson Savannah like Elliot and I did, there's a parking garage right next to the hotel that costs $14 for overnight parking. Elsewhere in Savannah, there are plenty of other parking garages, or you can always valet park it at your hotel.
Don't want to rent a car but still want to visit some of these spots? You could also book this tour of Bonaventure Cemetery and Wormsloe from Savannah, or this Bonaventure Cemetery tour with transportation.
Day 5: Tybee Island
Since you still have your rental car, I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you that you should take it and spend a day on Tybee Island. Located about half an hour from Savannah, Tybee is often just called “Savannah's beach.” And it is indeed just that: a barrier island with a 3-mile-long beach and plenty of beachy vibes to go along with it.
On the way there, you could also visit one of Savannah's historic forts like Old Fort Jackson or Fort Pulaski. But there's also plenty to do just on Tybee Island.
If you go to Tybee in the morning, head to the Tybee Beach Pier to watch local fishermen chatting and reeling in their morning catches.
If you want to get out on the water, dolphin watching tours are very popular on Tybee Island. Captain Derek's and Captain Mike's are the two most-often-mentioned local companies offering dolphin tours, and both offer both daytime and sunset tours to look for dolphins and see other interesting things around Tybee Island.
The beach at Tybee is long and wide, though it can get crowded during the hot summer months and on weekends.
For lunch, there's no shortage of options on Tybee Island (though note that if you're visiting in a shoulder season, not everything will be open for lunch on weekdays). If you want beachfront dining, then your main option is The Deck Beach Bar and Kitchen.
Elliot and I actually headed away from the beach and had lunch at Huc-A-Poos Bites and Booze, which is an eclectic spot offering pizza, wraps, and more. Near Huc-a-Poos you'll also find a good coffee shop, and some cute boutiques at Tybee Oaks.
Elliot and I actually only spent half a day on Tybee Island since our flight home was in the evening, but if you have the whole day then you can definitely take things slow. Or you can just make it a half-day trip, and head back into Savannah for one more evening of sightseeing and good eats.
Don't want to rent a car but still want to visit Tybee? There are a couple options, such as this half-day tour from Savannah that includes a dolphin cruise and time for lunch.
And there you have it: a very full (yet also quite relaxed) 5 days in Savannah, Georgia!
If you've made it this far, hopefully this itinerary has given you some ideas to help you plan your own perfect trip to Savannah that will help you understand why it's one of my favorite cities in the US.
Have you been to Savannah before? If not, are you ready to plan a trip now?