North America Solo Travel

11 Of The Best Things To Do In Savannah, Georgia

Last updated on February 29th, 2024 at 11:02 am

The Province of Georgia was the last of the 13 colonies created by the British when James Oglethorpe was granted the colonial charter in 1732 by George II. The city of Savannah was established in 1733 and was the first colonial and state capital of Georgia.

Given it’s long history, it’s no surprise that Savannah offers visitors so much to see and do. My stay in Savannah was, unfortunately, a little less than 3 days long but in that time I clocked up more than 10,000 steps a day and experienced so much of what the city has to offer.

I also made sure to have a data package that allowed me to get online in the USA, whether to access maps or research attractions, without incurring roaming charges. I used an eSim for the USA from Airalo. Super easy to set up and with a range of packages to choose from, it was an excellent choice.

Here’s my list of 11 of the best things to do in Savannah.

1. Visit Forsyth Park

Is there a more iconic view of Savannah than the fountain in Forsyth Park? I don’t believe so. 

The fountain is inside the 30 acre Forsyth Park and was installed in 1858. It’s modelled on fountains contained in Place de la Concorde in Paris and was bigger than I had imagined. Funny story – it was ordered from a catalogue! That said, it makes a beautiful backdrop for photos, marriage proposals and somewhere to just sit and relax. 

Forsyth Park also contains sport fields, gardens, playgrounds, restaurants and plenty of open space for wandering around, exercising, picnics etc. A farmers market is held each Saturday, 9am to 1pm. Visiting Forsyth Park and its attractions is definitely one of the best things to do in Savannah.

Image of the fountain in Forsyth Park. Visiting the park is one of the best things to do in Savannah, Georgia

2. Join A Walking Tour

I love a good walking tour! Whether it’s history or haunted ghost stories you want, a walking tour is one of the best things to do in Savannah. In addition, you’ll get to meet other visitors, engage with a local and get recommendations for where to eat.

I joined 2 Savannah walking tours run by Genteel & Bard and can highly recommend them. Other tour options are available of course – Get Your Guide is always a good place to start.

If walking isn’t your thing, especially in the brutal southern summer months, then consider joining a trolley tour or taking a horse drawn carriage ride. Old Town Trolley Tours and Old Savannah Tours certainly seemed busy when I was there! Most companies offer historic Savannah and ghost tours.

3. Wander Along River Street

No visit to Savannah is complete without a wander along its historic River Street. Running alongside the Savannah River, River Street today is a popular tourist spot with many shops and restaurants. Historically however, it was the main location for goods arriving into and leaving Savannah. As such, it played a key role in Savannah’s development including its establishment as the worlds leading exporter of cotton.

River Street also has a dark history. Indentured servants worked along the street and enslaved people were held in nearby warehouses. Those that died here are said to haunt the street! The cobblestones making up River Street had originally been used as ballast in many of the ships that docked in the port. Once unloaded, the stones were laid by enslaved African Americans. 

The African-American Monument on River Street commemorates the African Americans in Savannah. The monument was approved in 1998 and finally dedicated in 2002. It shows a newly emancipated family of 4. They are standing looking toward the Savannah River and the West Coast of Africa but their modern dress and the broken chains at their feet symbolise a new beginning in the Americas. 

There was a difference of opinion within the City Council in agreeing the inscription, from Maya Angelou, that was to appear at the base of the monument – some people didn’t like the harshness of the description!

Wandering along River Street is one of the best things to do in Savannah. Riverboat cruises set sail from here and there are plenty of shops and restaurants nearby (those with a sweet tooth shouldn’t miss River Street Sweets). Large container ships travelling along the river make an impressive site and history buffs will enjoy the various monuments.

4. Visit Bonaventure Cemetery

Bonaventure Cemetery is located on the site of a former plantation from which it takes its name. The plantation was sold in 1846 with the first burials taking place in 1850. Its profile grew in the wake of the book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” (1994) and subsequent movie and is now a ‘must see’ attraction when visiting Savannah. 

Read my post Explore Bonaventure Cemetery for more advice and tips about visiting this beautiful cemetery.

Image of beautiful Bonaventure Cemetery. Visiting the cemetery is one of the best things to do in Savannah, Georgia

5. Explore The City Squares

When I think of Savannah, I picture the Forsyth Park fountain, antebellum houses, beautiful live oaks, trailing Spanish Moss (which isn’t actually Spanish or a moss!) and the historic city squares dating back to the time Savannah was founded and laid out in 1733.

There were once 24 squares but now there are 22, each providing residents and visitors alike with a shaded, tranquil place to stop and rest. 

I didn’t set out to visit all 22 (although that would make for a great way to explore the city) but I did stop by a few, including Reynolds (dating from 1734; my hotel was there!), Johnson (1733; the oldest and largest), Oglethorpe (1742; named for the founder of Georgia), Chippewa (1815; site of the park bench/box of chocolates scene from Forrest Gump) and the infamous Monterey (1847; the site of Mercer-Williams House, scene of the real life crime written about in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil). 

The squares are free to enter of course and helpfully they contain signboards detailing their history and the monuments contained in them. 

6. Explore Factor’s Walk

As noted above, Savannah was once a leading exporter of cotton and the men whose job it was to determine the price were called Factors. They worked in Factors Row, the warehouses along historic River Street.

In order to access the bluff upon which Savannah was built, foot bridges were constructed – these were known as Factors Walk. These bridges also allowed the Factors to see/inspect the cotton stored below. Nowadays, the buildings and bridges together are known as Factors Walk.

Image of Factors Walk in Savannah Georgia. Visiting this historic area is one of the best things to do.

Factors Walk is made up of 3 levels – upper, middle and lower. One of the most prominent buildings on the upper level is the historic cotton exchange building which dates from 1887. The other buildings at this level are mainly restaurants, shops etc. but worth spending time exploring!

The Cluskey Vaults (detailed below) are located on the middle level near City Hall while the lower levels contain mainly service entrances etc. I didn’t explore these but photos I’ve seen make them look equally interesting and, at night, spooky!

Whilst exploring Factor’s Walk is one of the best things to do in Savannah, watch out for the stairs! Many of the stairs are old and marked with warnings – there’s also one named the staircase of death that should be avoided if you’ve had a few drinks!

7. Discover The Cluskey Vaults

Located on the middle level of Factors Walk near City Hall are the Cluskey Vaults. They were built in the 1840s as retaining walls and for storage although many people have speculated that enslaved people were held here. Information boards on site however state that researchers have found no evidence to support that theory. 

8. Visit A House Museum

Savannah is blessed with many beautiful historic homes and several of them, including the Mercer Williams House, the Andrew Low House, the Davenport House Museum and the Owens Thomas House & Slave Quarters (to name but a few), are now museums. Whether it’s a focus on architecture, seeing how Savannah’s wealthy lived or learning more about urban slavery, there is a house museum for everyone.

Read my post 4 Outstanding Historic Houses to Explore in Savannah for more advice and inspiration for your trip! Visiting a house museum is definitely one of the best things to do in Savannah.

9. Enjoy Southern Food and Drink!

Food glorious food! The South is known for its hospitality and nothing epitomises that more than the food and drink on offer to locals and visitors alike.

Here are some of my favourite stops:

Collins Quarter – delicious breakfast here on my first morning in Savannah

The first of several images of southern food. Eating in local restaurants and enjoying traditional southern food is one of the best things to do in Savannah

The Olde Pink House – amazing lunch in truly historic surroundings

Husk – wonderful brunch on my final day in Savannah

The Gallery Expresso – cappuccino and the most decadent brownie

The Coffee Fox –  cappuccino and an almond croissant made a quick and yummy breakfast one morning

Treylor Park – a grilled apple pie sandwich with chicken hit the spot when I was running late!

Leopold’s Ice Cream – a Savannah institution, I just had to visit! Worth all the hype

A few other places that are must visits include River Street Sweets (the pralines are delicious), Byrd’s Cookies (I can highly recommend the key lime cooler cookies) and Mirabelle (lovely coffee and food in very cute surroundings).

Travel tip: I recommend making reservations before travelling to Savannah. I did this for both The Olde Pink House and Husk as I didn’t want to be disappointed.

10. Explore Savannah’s Churches

As you walk around Savannah you can’t help but notice the presence of various beautiful and historic churches. I wanted to mention 4 but there are many more.

Cathedral of St John the Baptist

This is one of the most popular to visit. It’s very imposing and is just as magnificent inside as it is out.

The Cathedral is open for self guided tours during designated times but is not open during Mass or other religious events (eg weddings, funerals). Check the official site for up to date visitor information.

The Independent Presbyterian Church

Likely to be a stop on a walking tour, it dates from 1755 and is an imposing size. You may recognize it from the opening scenes in the movie Forrest Gump where a feather floats down past the church to land next to Forrest.

Image of the Independent Presbyterian church. A visit here is one of the best things to do in Savannah

Historic First African Baptist Church

Dating from 1773, it has an amazing history including having been a safe house for slaves and part of the Underground Railroad. Tours are available Tuesday to Saturday at 1 pm and cost $15 (concessions available). Check the official site for up to date visitor information. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of the church.

Congregation Mickve Israel

Founded in 1733 and located in the Historic District, Congregation Mickve Israel is the third oldest Jewish congregation in America. Guided tours are available Monday to Friday at designated times and cost $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12. Check the official site for up to date visitor information.

Image of Congregation Mickve Israel synagogue. A visit here is one of the best things to do in Savannah

11. Visit City Market

Savannah’s City Market is located between Franklin and Ellis Squares in the Historic District. Having survived fire, the Civil War and a hurricane, City Market fell into disrepair but thanks to the strong preservation movement in Savannah, today a visit there is one of the best things to do in Savannah.

Restored 18th century warehouses are home to shops, restaurants, bars, art studios and the American Prohibition Museum. It’s a very vibrant area!

If Only I Had More Time In Savannah!

How many times did I think this?! Limited time means making choices and, inevitably, missing out on things. For me, these included the following – you may want to consider adding them to your Savannah itinerary:

  • Tybee Island – coastal destination with plenty to see and do
  • Wormsole State Historic Site – historic ruins set amongst stunning live oaks
  • Cruise on the Savannah River – sightseeing, luncheon or dinner cruise options available
  • Pin Point Heritage Museum in the Moon River District – learn about the Gullah Geechee culture
  • Skidaway Island State Park – outdoor adventures

Disclaimer: Information correct at the time of writing but do check before visiting.

Disclosure – This post may contain affiliate links. That means that if you book something using them, I will earn a small commission but you will not pay anything extra. Thank you for supporting my blog.



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