Savannah, Georgia, is one of my favorite US cities to visit.
A lot of people come here for the food, or for the history, or for the “Southern charm” and hospitality that the Hostess City is known for. But undoubtedly the thing that strikes everyone about Savannah (me included) is just how darn PRETTY the city is.
When I first visited Savannah in the mid-2000s, I remember being struck by the beautiful historic homes and horse-drawn carriages and of course the 100+ year-old live oaks dripping in Spanish moss. Savannah looked (and still often looks) like something straight out of a movie.
Savannah, of course, has plenty of ugliness under its surface, too. Beneath those leafy squares and brick-paved streets lie centuries of oppression, war, epidemics, and other tragedy. And I don't want to gloss over or pretend that those things didn't happen check out my 5 days in Savannah guide to see how you can learn about ALL of Savannah's history during your visit.
But this guide? In this one we are going to focus mostly on the pretty.
The most Instagrammable spots in Savannah
If you want to find the most Instagrammable spots in Savannah that are perfect for photos, here are my top picks!
1. Savannah's squares
Savannah was the very first planned city in colonial America, with the original settlement planned and built in a grid system around four open squares in the 1730s. As the city grew, this layout continued until Savannah was centered around 24 different squares.
Today, 22 of these squares still exist in the heart of the Savannah Historic District. Most of the squares have memorials or fountains at their centers, along with plenty of shady benches to sit on.
You can't go wrong exploring all of Savannah's squares, but here are some you shouldn't miss:
- Johnson, Wright, Ellis, and Telfair squares the original four squares in Savannah
- Chippewa Square Famous as the filming location of the bus stop bench scenes in Forrest Gump, this square is also home to the James Oglethorpe Monument.
- Lafayette Square This little square has a pretty fountain in the center, and is near the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist (which is Instagrammable in its own right).
- Monterey Square This leafy square is where you'll find the infamous Mercer-Williams House.
- Franklin Square Near City Market and the First Africa Baptist Church, Franklin Square is also home to a memorial dedicated to Haitian volunteer troops who fought during the siege of Savannah during the American Revolution.
All of Savannah's squares are now shaded by live oak trees dripping in Spanish moss, most of which were planted in the 1890s. These trees are stunning, but it's worth noting that the shadows they cast can sometimes make photography tricky!
My tip? Look for the shady spots, or head out to photograph squares on an overcast day.
2. Forsyth Park
Located just south of the Historic District and all its squares lies Forsyth Park. The park was first created on 10 acres of land in the 1840s, and eventually expanded to cover the 30 acres it does today.
There are lots of amenities in Forsyth Park, including playgrounds, sports fields, and walking paths. You'll also find memorials to both the Civil War and Spanish-American War, and of course the famous Forsyth Park Fountain.
Fun fact: While this fountain has become a symbol of the city of Savannah, it was actually ordered out of a catalog! The same iron fountain can also be found in cities like Poughkeepsie New York and Cuzco, Peru.
While you're in Forsyth Park, I also highly recommend having brunch or lunch at the Collins Quarter. They have lots of outdoor seating here, and a highly-Instagrammable (and delicious) spiced lavender mocha.
It's also worth taking a stroll around the perimeter of Forsyth Park, where you can find several beautiful historic homes and buildings. Favorites include the Mansion on Forsyth Park (frequently spotted on Instagram) and Magnolia Hall.
3. Jones Street
When it comes to Instagrammable spots in Savannah, we have to talk about Jones Street.
The three blocks of West Jones Street between Tattnall and Bull, and the two blocks of East Jones Street between Bull and Abercorn are brick-paved and tree-lined and absolutely beautiful. This stretch of street is usually regarded as the prettiest in all of Savannah.
And while it's fine to take photos of the street, do keep in mind that this is a residential area, and you should respect peoples' space and privacy. That means no climbing up someone's front steps or hanging out on their porch or wandering into their private gardens.
The major exception on Jones Street is one of the most famous places to eat in Savannah: Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room, which is located within one of those beautiful old homes. This place is a Savannah staple. Pre-pandemic, guests would be served heaping lunches family-style at large communal tables. During COVID, the restaurant has been take-out-only, but is still delicious.
Mrs. Wilkes' is only open from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. each day, and you can expect to stand in line for up to an hour to get a seat or place an order.
4. Rooftop bars
I love getting views “from above” in cities. But in a very flat city like Savannah, you need to get creative in order to do this. Luckily, Savannah has some excellent rooftop bars that are photo-friendly themselves, AND that offer up some unique views of Savannah.
The three rooftop bars I would personally recommend include:
Peregrin at the Perry Lane Hotel
This is my favorite rooftop bar in Savannah because of the vibe and view combined. This 6th-floor rooftop bar has several different seating areas with a turf floor, and views out over the Savannah Historic District. My husband Elliot and I enjoyed cocktails here just before sunset.
Myrtle & Rose Rooftop Garden at Plant Riverside District
This rooftop bar is leafy and whimsical, with views out over the Savannah River from a 3rd-floor vantage point. The rooftop itself is quite Instagrammable, as are the cocktails and small plates. Go on a Sunday afternoon for their Jazz Brunch!
Bar Julian at the Thompson Savannah
Elliot and I stayed at the new Thompson Savannah for a few nights, and so naturally enjoyed its rooftop bar on the 13th floor. With a contemporary design and floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides (plus outdoor seating options, too), this bar is a looker! It also gives you views of all of downtown Savannah and the river.
Other rooftops worth mentioning include the rooftop bar at the Drayton Hotel, which offers up views of City Hall and the Savannah River; Electric Moon Skytop Lounge at Plant Riverside District, which is basically an adult playground (complete with slides!); and the The Lost Square atop The Alida Hotel.
7. River Street
Speaking of the Savannah River, there are lots of interesting spots to photograph along it, too. River Street is the oldest part of Savannah and arguably the most touristy. Yes, you'll find plenty of souvenir shops and kitschy restaurants along River Street. But you'll also find lots of history and cool things to see.
A few things worth snapping a photo of along River Street and nearby include:
- One of the red-and-white riverboats when they're docked
- The elevated Factors Walk
- The Historic Steps (AKA “the Stone Stairs of Death”)
- Treats in the candy cases at River Street Sweets
- The brick Cotton Exchange building
- The gold-leaf dome of Savannah City Hall
- The Waving Girl Statue of Florence Martus, who was famous for waving at passing ships
It's also worth wandering through the new Plant Riverside District, and especially checking out Generator Hall at the JW Marriott hotel. This space is filled with fossils and gemstones and looks more like a museum than a hotel lobby. (You can't miss the glass dinosaur skeleton!)
6. Famous Savannah restaurants and shops
I've mentioned spots like the Collins Quarter and some of Savannah's best rooftop bars already, but Savannah is full of photo-worth places to eat, drink, and shop.
Many of these are subjective, but here are some spots you might want to check out both for photos, and for the places themselves!
- The Olde Pink House (famous Savannah restaurant)
- Leopold's Ice Cream (a Savannah classic!)
- Gryphon (cafe/tea room; the ceiling inside is awesome)
- Mirabelle (cafe)
- Six Pence Pub (a British-inspired pub complete with red phonebox outside)
- Artillery Bar (fancy cocktail bar)
- The Paris Market (a boutique)
- Alex Raskin Antiques
7. Historic cemeteries
You may not be like me and love visiting cemeteries on your travels, but I think you should make an exception in Savannah! There are two excellent cemeteries to visit here; one in the Historic District, and one just a short drive away.
While I'm not sure how I feel about snapping selfies at cemeteries, these spots are still undeniably photogenic.
Colonial Park Cemetery
This is the cemetery located in Savannah's Historic District. 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!
With crumbling old headstones and Spanish moss-draped oaks, this spot is also really fun to explore with a camera. See if you can find any of the headstones defaced by bored Union Army soldiers during the Civil War.
Located just a short drive away from downtown savannah is Bonaventure Cemetery. 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.
Bonaventure was made “famous” thanks in large part to the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which featured a gravesite from Bonaventure on its cover.
I wouldn't necessarily encourage fashion photo shoots here, but I definitely would recommend walking around with your camera.
There are even guided walking tours to take here at Bonaventure if you want to learn more about it. (This 2-hour tour is very highly rated, and is offered at 2 p.m. daily.)
Optional: Wormsloe Historic Site/Plantation
If you Google Instagram spots in Savannah, undoubtedly you're going to find Wormsloe Historic Site on most lists. You've likely already seen plenty of photos of the 1.5-mile-long oak-lined driveway leading into this site it's already Insta-famous.
And yes, the tree-lined driveway is absolutely stunning. But if you're going to visit this site to take photos, I think it's important to know the full history of the place.
Wormsloe was settled by a man called Noble Jones in the 1730s. 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.
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 people were enslaved at Wormsloe Plantation. 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.
People can also book this site for weddings, which makes me uncomfortable.
To be honest, taking “Instagrammy” photos here makes me a little uncomfortable, too, but I do believe it's possible to appreciate the current beauty of a place while also acknowledging its ugly past. Unfortunately, you won't learn much about the site's past during a casual visit. Hence why I'm telling you about it here!
If you do decide to visit Wormsloe, I think it's important to acknowledge its past, and to view it as more than just a pretty photo backdrop.
(Also, if you have time, visit the nearby Pin Point Heritage Museum, which celebrates the unique Gullah/Geechee culture that developed in Georgia and South Carolina among enslaved Africans who worked on area plantations.)
This list certainly isn't exhaustive; there are so many incredible houses, streets, and restaurants in Savannah that are picture-perfect. (In fact, I think it's hard to take a bad photo in many parts of the Historic District!)
Wherever you stay in Savannah will probably be Instagrammable, too, especially if you stay in an historic inn.
And then there are also the day trips you can take, like to the beach at Tybee Island.
Bottom line is: Savannah is pretty beautiful, and you'll want to make sure to have plenty of space on your memory card or phone for all the photos you're likely to take!
Have you ever been to Savannah? If so, which spot is your favorite for photos?