Savannah, Georgia is one of the most beautiful, elegant towns we’ve ever seen, and one of the most historically important places in the United States. But underneath all that genteel beauty and historical importance lies a fascinating web of stories, myths, and legends, ranging from quirky to downright morbid. And that nuanced, complex dichotomy is what makes Savannah absolutely enchanting.
Have you ever fallen head over heels in love with a place? As travelers and storytellers, that feeling is what we live for. Y’all: we fell for Savannah HARD. I’m talking like, we were looking at homes on Zillow 2 nights in.
On the way home, we were obsessively reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – an absolute must-read for anyone mildly curious about Savannah, and referred to locally as The Book – and listening to podcasts about Savannah, like this one.
For weeks after our trip, we gushed to friends & family about how amazing and unique and wonderfully weird this place is. So much so that we wrote an entire post about all the things nobody tells you about Savannah.
In this post, we’re sharing all the best things to do in Savannah, Georgia! Let’s get started.
Savannah At-a-Glance ✍
Here’s a bite-sized snapshot of everything you need to know to plan your trip!
- When to Go: Spring for the flowers, or fall for the ghosts.
- Where to Stay: The historic district, south of Liberty. We loved the charming Savannah Bed & Breakfast Inn. Also check out this parlor level apartment or this adorable cottage.
- How to Get Around: Take a Lyft or Uber from the airport – everything is walkable! If you do rent a car, use Kayak to find the cheapest option.
- Top 3 Highlights: Don’t miss this phenomenal historic walking tour, this excellent food tour, and a Tutti-Fruitti ice cream cone from Leopold’s (it’s well worth the line).
- Before You Go: You MUST read Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil (but don’t bother watching the movie), as well as these things nobody tells you about Savannah.
Psst: Planning a trip to the South? Here are some posts that might be useful for your trip:
- 29 Things Nobody Tells You About Savannah, GA
- The Perfect 3-Day New Orleans Itinerary
- 11 Crazy Romantic Things to Do in Daytona Beach, Florida
Looking for more USA inspiration? We have a MASSIVE travel guide for all our favorite places in the US and handy advice, packing tips and travel guides. Click the link below to download!
Tips for Visiting Savannah, Georgia
We had a few questions before our trip to Savannah, and in case you have similar questions, here are a few suggestions and practical tips to help you plan your trip! Feel free to leave us a comment below this post if we haven’t addressed your question.
- When is the best time to visit Savannah? In general, the best time to visit is anytime that isn’t summer – that’s when Savannah gets incredibly hot and muggy. We’d also recommend avoiding St. Patricks’ Day weekend unless you’re looking for a party – the town is insanely crowded. We visited in March, the week after St. Patty’s Day. The weather was absolutely flawless and the town was covered with blooming flowers! We’d also love to visit Savannah in October – we can’t think of a more perfect place to get into the Halloween spirit.
- Do you need a car? You don’t need a car during your trip to Savannah! Historic Savannah is pleasantly flat and very walkable or bikeable, and there are even free shuttles throughout downtown – more information here. The airport is located outside of town, but you’ll have no trouble getting a taxi or Lyft from the airport – expect to pay around $25. If you want to take a day trip, such as to Bonaventure Cemetery or Tybee Island, you can either rent a car or book a tour that includes transportation (like this Bonaventure Cemetery tour or this Tybee Island tour) – or again, just take a Lyft. If you do rent a car, use Kayak to price-compare and find the cheapest option.
- Are there many mosquitos? During the summer, there are likely to be mosquitos. But during our trip in March, there were very few! To be on the safe side we recommend bringing along a bottle of our favorite bug repellant lotion.
- Is Savannah safe? We spent all of our time in historic downtown Savannah, and we felt absolutely safe at all hours of the day and night. Er, well, except when it comes to ghosts, at least…
- NOTE: We’ve gotten a few concerned comments from readers that Savannah is not actually safe at night, particularly around River Street. That isn’t something we personally experienced firsthand on late-night walks through the squares, but we’ll defer to the expertise of locals and other travelers who have spent more time in Savannah than we have. We’d love some more clarification on what safety issues to be aware of – please drop us a comment if you have information that we can use to better prepare our readers!
- Do I need to read The Book? Can I just watch the movie? Yes, you should definitely read The Book before your trip. We tried to take a shortcut and watched the movie version of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, directed by Clint Eastwood, during our visit. And, I mean, the movie makes Savannah look absolutely stunning, but the movie itself is just …. not that amazing (other than the scene-stealing Lady Chablis, who played herself – as only she could.) To get the full effect, not just of the true-crime story of murder in the Mercer House but of all of Savannah’s quirks, flaws, eccentricities, and many colorful characters, read the book before your visit. It will add an extra level of depth and intrigue to your trip!
How to Get to Savannah, GA
Here’s the thing about getting to Savannah: it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do from the West Coast. But rest assured, it’s well worth the trouble (and we say this having hopped a red-eye flight just to spend the weekend). The good news is that it’s quite easy to get to from the other half of the country!
There are a few ways to get to Savannah. If you’re driving, you’ll be able to get to Savannah from I-95 or I-16. You can also take an Amtrak train, which seems fittingly charming. For more details, click here.
If you’re flying, you’ll fly into the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport. Let me just stop here and say that this is hands down the most adorable airport in the world.
Listen, I’ve seen a lot of airports in my line of work, and “adorable” is the last word I’d use to describe any of them. But Savannah’s airport is freakin’ ADORABLE. It looks like a movie set. It is SO CUTE! Apparently, the reason is that this is the home airport of Gulfstream private jets, aka the inventors of the G6 – you know, as in “Like a G6.” I don’t know why, but this tickles me. I was tickled by Savannah literally the minute we landed and the tickling did not stop, y’all.
Anyway, to fly into Savannah, you’ll likely need to stop over in a larger airport nearby, most likely Charlotte. Here’s a handy dandy reference that lists all the flights out of Savannah.
Things to do in Savannah, GA
Explore All 22 Squares
If you look at a map of Savannah, you’ll notice a pleasing arrangement of streets perfectly aligned around a pleasing arrangement of little green squares. Savannah is a geometrically planned dream come true, and honestly we’re baffled as to why every city in the world isn’t laid out this perfectly.
Other than being getting-lost-proof (bless), this geographically pleasing layout also makes for the perfect way to start getting to know Savannah!
You can spend all day exploring Savannah’s 22 picturesque squares… and you should. Like, make a list and start checkin’ em off. Rank them. Play favorites. Assign them personalities. They’re as integral to the city of Savannah as the Oak trees draped with Spanish moss lining the streets!
FWIW, by the end of our 3 days, we decided that our favorite was Wright Square.
If you don’t feel like walking so much take a hop on hop-off trolley tour around all 22 squares, where you can explore the square you like the look of and hop back on again to get to the next!
Stuff Yourself Silly
The strangest and most amazing thing happened during our trip to Savannah (strange and amazing both being two excellent words to describe this city): we had a PERFECT food streak. Everything we ate – EVERYTHING – was absolutely amazing. Delicious. Flawless.
I mean, look, we love food and we eat a LOT when we travel. But we’ve never had a perfect food streak before. Usually there’s at least one dish, or one meal, that makes us say “hm, well, that was just OK.”
Not in Savannah. Everything. We ate. Was amazing.
There are so many incredible places to eat in Savannah that we had a tough time limiting ourselves – and this list. Maybe spend a week fasting before your trip to prepare. Here’s where we recommend eating during your trip to Savannah:
- The Olde Pink House: Inside this charming, pink mansion located on one of Savannah’s beautiful town squares is one of the best restaurants in Savannah – and its most haunted. Dining at the Olde Pink House feels more like you’ve been invited to a private dinner party at a very wealthy person’s historic home than eating in a restaurant. The food is very traditional southern and very good, but the ambiance makes this restaurant particularly special. Your servers will regale you with ghost stories, a singer will wander by warbling jazz tunes (she might have been a ghost, actually), and there’s a good chance you’ll make friends with the table next to you in the parlor, or lounge, or ballroom. Be sure to wander through the maze of gorgeous rooms on each floor: the ballroom is the most beautiful, but the dimly-lit cellar bar is the most haunted!
- The Grey: Made famous by its appearance on Chef’s Table, the Grey is located in a formerly segregated Greyhound station – a powerful statement because its’ head chef, Mashama Bailey, is a woman of color. You’ll need a reservation to eat in the dining room, but you don’t need one to sit at the adorable bar counter – you’ll just need to wait for a spot to open up. We recommend arriving after opening – it’s easier to find a seat at the bar later rather than earlier. Oh, and be sure to order the croquettes.
- Treylor Park: Don’t let the trailer park theme fool you: the food here is flawlessly foodie. Our recommendations? PB&J Wings (that’s pecan and peanut butter with peach jelly – because hello, you’re in Georgia), Fried Chicken and Peppered Pancake Tacos, Biscuits and Gravy, and the Popcorn Shrimp. The latter is named appropriately: it’s literally fried shrimp served on top of popcorn. We’re BIG fans of pun-based food.
- Soho South Cafe: The fact that their bread basket comes with pimento cheese and bacon jam should tell you all you need to know about this place. I didn’t really understand what “refined southern cooking” meant until I was hip deep in some Goat Cheese Grit Cakes and my Seafood Pot Pie arrived. Y’all, dayum.
- Husk: This was one of our most romantic dinners – and the most pricey – but it was well worth it! Order the ribs with popped sorghum (like…WHAT), but just don’t look at the price tag. Again, it’s worth it. You can trust us, we eat a lot.
- Savannah Seafood Shack: We weren’t exactly sure what a low country boil was, but we were eager to try this Savannah staple, and this is one of the best places in town to get it. It goes like this: you’ll get a bag filled with steaming hot andouille sausage, shrimp, corn on the cob, and potatoes, all doused in Cajun seasoning and other delicious things. Dump it into a bowl and tuck in. OH MAN, is it good. Travel Tip: pay the up-charge for pre-shelled and de-veined shrimp if you’re uppity Northerners like us. Also: the fried oysters here are delicious, too. You can’t go wrong, honestly.
- Vic’s on the River: A romantic restaurant on River Street with a stunning view of the water, Vic’s on the River is the kind of place that serves you honey butter biscuits instead of french bread. Try the She crab soup, fried green tomatoes, and shrimp & grits.
- Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room: This family-style dining room located in a historic home is one of the best traditional Southern restaurants in Savannah, and the food is well worth its reputation. But it’s not easy to eat here, and not just because of the huge portions: the dining room is closed on the weekends and only open for lunch on weekdays, and the food sells out fast. You’ll need to arrive before opening to get a table – we recommend showing up. at 10:30 AM to get in line! Yes, it’s that good. Prices are set but the menu changes daily, so show up hungry so you can enjoy Southern staples like fried chicken with cornbread dressing, sweet potato souffle, black-eyed peas, okra gumbo, corn muffins and biscuits. And heads up: you’ll be seated at a table for 10 regardless of your party size, so get ready to make some new friends! (Asking about ghost stories is our favorite Savannah conversation starter.)
Travel Tip: Take a walking food tour to sample some of the most famous spots in Savannah!
Sample Savannah Specialties
Cookies. Pralines. Tupelo honey. Tutti-frutti ice cream. What does this mouth-watering list of sweet treats have in common? They’re all delicious Savannah specialties! And you HAVE to try them during your trip. Trust us.
Best of all, you don’t have to commit – most of these spots offer free samples. Samples are like my personal Olympics. Put something free and edible in front of me – doesn’t matter what it is – and you will have just made my entire day.
But best of all, Savannah’s samples are ridiculously tasty. We’re not embarrassed to say that returned to each of these spots multiple times and brought home quite a few treats in our suitcases.
Here are three quintessential Savannah treats to try during your trip:
- Byrd’s Famous Cookies: This famous bakery dates back to 1924. When you enter the shop on City Market, you’re greeted with a long row of coin-sized cookie samples that run the spectrum from super sweet to savory, classic flavors to unique creations, gluten-free to gluten-full. We tried everything from Georgia Peach and Salted Caramel to Jalapeno Cheddar – and took a bag home for good measure.
- River Street Sweets: I have a confession. I’ve had trouble sleeping since leaving Savannah. Time difference, you ask? No. Did a ghost follow me? I wish. No…I haven’t slept because I’ve been craving pralines from River Street Sweets. We cannot emphasize, enough how completely utterly amazing these pralines are. These delicious morsels of butter, sugar, half and half, pecans, and magic opened our eyes to what candy can be and we’ll never be the same. The second you walk into the shop on River Street, you’ll be hit with a tantalizing smell – and a warm, fresh sample. We immediately bought 5 pralines – and then went back for more samples on our way out. Psst: they deliver, so … that’s our Christmas wish list sorted.
- The Savannah Bee Company: Although you’ll find Savannah Bee outposts in other cities, it hails from right here in Savannah! Stop by to taste the famously rare Tupelo honey, which is made from flowers that only bloom in a tiny spot near Savannah for 10 days a year. You can also try a huge variety of pure honey, whipped honey, and even honeycomb with apples and cheese! We also recommend a Mead tasting: for $10 you’ll get to sample 6 delicious honey meads.
- Leopold’s Ice Cream: This is where Tutti-Frutti ice cream was invented. Which like, honestly, was a flavor I always associated with my least favorite Jelly Bean. But MAN OH MAN was I wrong. Y’all. The Tutti Frutti ice cream at Leopold’s is chock full of candied fruit and rum-soaked roasted Georgia Pecans, and I can say without any hesitation whatsoever that it is the best ice cream I have ever had in my entire life. (A note from Jeremy: I’m addicted to ice cream and Lia is not as much of a fan, but ya girl would not stop talking about how she needed more Leopold’s). We went back 2 days in a row to get a cone, and waited in line for 30+ minutes each time. DO NOT miss out – Leopold’s is absolutely 10000% worth the hype! Travel Tip: To minimize your wait time, try going before noon or around sunset on a weekday.
Enjoy the “Hostess City” One Drink at a Time
Savannah’s nickname is the Hostess City, and a proper Southern hostess always provides drinks for her guests.
“We have a saying: If you go to Atlanta, the first question people ask you is, ‘What’s your business?’ In Macon they ask, ‘Where do you go to church?’ In Augusta they ask your grandmother’s maiden name. But in Savannah the first question people ask you is ‘What would you like to drink?”John Berendt, Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil
So while you’re eating your way through Savannah, don’t hold back: get a drink, too. Or 2. Or 3…
Don’t worry, you can take it to go: Savannah’s open-container laws are just perfect for wandering through its stunning squares late at night, beverage in hand.
Here’s where we recommend getting a drink in Savannah:
- The Grey: Sitting at the bar and sipping cocktails at The Grey was one of our favorite experiences in Savanah, not in the least because we were seated next to a friendly local who chatted with us for 3 hours (Savannahians are incredibly friendly and pleasantly chatty, we found). Order the Passenger or the Lefty, or whatever seasonal concoction your friendly bartender recommends.
- Alley Cat: A tucked away speakeasy-style bar with, hands down, the best-designed menu we’ve ever seen. It’s like, a menu that’s also a newspaper, and it comes out quarterly. I’ve never sat and READ a menu at a bar before, but the Alley Cat is not your typical bar. We ordered the extra-AF Ramos Gin Fizz, thanks to a half-page editorial advertising its deliciousness, and it was amazing.
- Mata Hari: True to its namesake, this sexy speakeasy is incredibly secretive. To enter, you’ll need to get a key. Our friend Annette at Bucket List Journeys has all the tips for obtaining one. If you make it inside, she recommends ordering absinthe, made the traditional way. Ooh, that’s so 1920’s we can’t even.
- One Savannah staple that we have to include is the Chatham Artillery Punch. Here’s the thing: everything on this list was elegant and perfectly mixed for a refined palate. Chatham Artillery Punch is the opposite of that. This drink is what happens when you’ve got 13 nearly empty bottles of booze and you pour them all into a glass with some sugar, or whatever you have on hand. I’m not exaggerating, either – there’s a storied history about the drink (because everything in Savannah has a few good stories). When we asked our bartender at Fiddler’s Seafood what was in our drink, she listed off Champagne, Bourbon, Rum, and Cognac, and then just sort of trailed off with a shrug. Listen: this isn’t the tastiest thing you’ll drink in Savannah, but it’s certainly the most uniquely Savannahian drink – and by far the strongest. Do what we did and take it to go, as the locals do.
Capture Savannah’s Beauty
Photography has become one of our favorite ways to mindfully connect with a city – when you’re looking through a lens, sometimes you see little details or capture moments that you might not have noticed otherwise! We spent several hours just wandering through Savannah with our camera, taking in all of its details and beauty.
While all of historic Savannah is downright jaw-dropping, there are a few spots that are tailor-made for photos. Take your time and slowly wander to best appreciate all of Savannah’s charms. Here are our favorite places to go if you’re seeking that perfect Savannah photo op! (Note: Please be respectful of local residents and rules, and NEVER trespass on private property just for the sake of a photo.)
- Forsyth Park: The most recognizable fountain in Savannah is in Forsyth Park! This is an excellent place to take an early morning stroll, and snap a few photos before the crowds roll in.
- Jones Street: This stretch of historic Savannah is said to be the most beautiful street in the USA, and we have to agree. There’s no shortage of photo-worthy ops, so we recommend walking the entire length of the street to take it all in.
- The Gingerbread House: I think the name is self-evident, don’t you? This historic example of “Steamboat Gothic” architecture looks … well, like a Gingerbread House! Wander down this way and you’ll explore a totally different part of historic Savannah – the Victorian District.
- Savannah Belles Ferry: Take in views of Savannah from the river during a free ride on the Savannah Belles Ferry. There are 4 different ferries, each named for the “Belles” of Savannah – impactful women who contributed to Savannah’s history. You can also book a romantic lunch cruise with food, music, and stunning views for a romantic afternoon out on the water!
- Peregrin Rooftop Lounge: At least 3 locals recommend this spot to us as the best place to view Savannah’s skyline. Head up to the roof of the luxurious Perry Lane Hotel to sip a refreshing drink on the patio and capture the sun setting over the city and the river.
Take a Historic Walking Tour
The Savannah History Tour isn’t just the best historic walking tour of Savannah, it’s actually the best historic walking tour that we’ve EVER been on. And y’all, we take a LOT of historic walking tours. (Literally, one in every city we visit – it’s one of our favorite ways to get to know a place!)
In true Savannahian fashion, our tour guide, T.C. – one half of the ridiculously good-looking couple behind Genteel & Bard (is that a weird thing to say? But like, they need a TV show or something) is SO incredibly passionate about his hometown. His tour is full of facts, stories, pictures, and even audio recordings that paint a fascinating and nuanced picture of Savannah’s history and its present day, and his palpable and charming enthusiasm is utterly infectious.
T.C never stopped talking during the entire 3-hour tour, and we never wanted him to. He was the most energetic, entertaining, charismatic tour guide we’ve ever had, and his tour was an absolute pleasure. I cannot highly recommend this tour, or any of Genteel & Bard’s tours, enough!
If you only take one tour during your trip to Savannah, this is it.
Take a Food Walking Tour
One of our favorite ways to get to know a place is to take a food tour. There’s no better way to learn about a city than by stuffing your face with local flavors and dishes as you learn about its culinary history. It’s educational!
We’ve taken a LOT of food tours in our day, and not all of them were worth the calories. But we cannot stress this enough: everything on the First Squares Food Tour was where-have-you-been-all-my-life amazing.
The tour stops change from time to time, but during our visit the dishes included shrimp and grits, flaky sausage rolls and shepherd’s pie (a relic of the many European settlers in Savannah) bread pudding french toast (re-read that), pulled pork and bacon jam donut sliders (never mind, re-read THAT), Daufuskie Island Deviled Crab, and to finish it off, a honey tasting at Savannah Bee Company, including Lia’s favorite snack: apple, cheese, and honeycomb.
Trust us: you won’t go home hungry.
Get to Know Savannah’s Former Residents
Savannah is chock full of beautiful historic homes and buildings turned into museums, thanks in no small part to the efforts of the Historic Savannah Foundation, whose hard work transformed historic Savannah into the living and breathing museum it is today. Many of those museums tell the stories of Savannah’s former residents, and visiting them is an excellent way to connect with and learn about Savannah’s diverse communities.
That said: not all historic home tours are created equally. The dark truth behind the wealthy, luxurious homes in Savannah is that most of them once housed enslaved workers, and the wealthy whites living in those homes made their money off the backs of enslaved people. We prefer historic tours that are honest about this complicated history, and represent the lives of EVERYONE who lived in the home – both wealthy and enslaved. Here are our recommendations.
- The Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters: If you only do one home tour in Savannah, we highly recommend it be the Owens-Thomas House tour. The museum recently “re-interpreted” their museum and tour to accurately and academically integrate facts about what life at the time was like for both the wealthy home-owners and the enslaved people who lived there. The museum pulls no punches: you’ll see everything from the lumpy mat where the enslaved nursemaid slept on the floor next to the white children she was raising to own her, to letters detailing abuse of enslaved people at the hands of the homeowners – all based on copious research and evidence. The museum is incredibly respectful to the enslaved, highly informative, and honest about what life was actually like inside a Savannah home in the Antebellum era. In addition, the owners of the museum also hosted a symposium and published a book titled Slavery and Freedom in Savannah. We deeply appreciated the commitment to transparency and honesty about Savannah’s complex history. Your ticket also includes entrance to two other Telfair museums, the Telfair Acadey and the Jepson Center, both a short walk away.
- Davenport Museum: Located just around the corner from the Owens-Thomas house, the Davenport Museum is very first home ever preserved and restored by the Savannah Historic Foundation, and you’ll learn a bit about that history. While the Davenport Museum does respectfully discuss the lives of the enslaved people who lived in the home, the tour is more focused on the historic architecture and elements of the home itself.
- Pinpoint Heritage Museum: This museum in a former oyster & crab factory tells the story of the Gullah Geechee community. The community was founded in 1890 by freed slaves after the Civil War, and because of a period of relative isolation from whites and surrounding influences, this African American community developed a creole culture that has preserved much of their African linguistics and heritage. This is the best place to learn about this vibrant community that was self-sustained for nearly a hundred years, and discover the deep connection to the water that gave them life.
- King-Tisdell Cottage: This beautiful Victorian “Gingerbread” style home once housed a prominent member of Savannah’s wealthy Black society, and today serves as a museum to Savannah’s African-American heritage.
There are some tours that we didn’t have a chance to do ourselves but wish we did, like the Juliette Gordon Low birthplace, home and museum of the founder of the Girl Scouts of America.
There are tons of historic home tours and museums in Savannah, each one telling a different story about different members of Savannah’s society and history. But we found that not all home tours seemed as willing to critically and honestly approach its complex history. For example, the Andrew Low House at one point housed the richest man in Savannah, who was made wealthy by the cotton trade – only we didn’t see a single mention of the enslaved people who made that wealth possible on their website. Yikes.
We urge you to do a little careful research and read between the lines – or read reviews – before choosing which home tour to patronize, and keep your ears open for the stories that aren’t being told.
Visit The House from The Book
Towering on one corner of Monterey Square, the orange brick Italianate mansion that is known as Savannah’s most infamous house is quietly mysterious and unassuming. It’s not particularly ornate (at least on the outside) and other than groups of people stopping to stare at it in excitement, you might not guess that there’s anything special about this home.
But the Mercer Williams House is one of the most curious – and haunted – historic homes in Savannah. And that’s saying a lot: Savannah is literally an entire town full of curious and haunted historic homes.
A tour of the the Mercer Williams House allows you to step inside the most infamous home in modern-day Savannah, and the memorable setting of The Book.
But there’s a catch: the Mercer-Williams House tour won’t mention the events of The Book at all, and neither can you. Don’t say a word about murder, prostitutes, or hoodoo – even though those are all part of the fascinating story of this home – or you’ll get shown the door in a hurry, because the current owner and resident of the Mercer-Williams house is the sister of Jim Williams, and she (understandably) doesn’t want anyone discussing her brother’s trial or death in her home!
You also won’t hear anything about the cursed history of this haunted house, or the tragic tale of the still-broken prong on the sharp iron fence surrounding the looming home.
What you will get is a lot of information about the historic home itself, and all of its beautiful furnishings. Which is … interesting, but. Ya know. Not exactly what you wanted, right?
So: do the house tour, peek inside, see where it all happened, admire the furnishings. And then take a Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil tour so you can get the real story! You’ll learn all the juicy gossip and tidbits that weren’t included the book or movie from a Savannah resident while visiting the landmarks that played a role in the story.
Weirdly, this is the one case where going directly to the source won’t get you any closer to the truth!
- No idea what I’m talking about? Listen, if I haven’t convinced you yet: You’ve gotta read The Book before your trip!! It’s FASCINATING. It’s RIVETING. It’s got true crime and fabulous rich people doing awful things and drag queens and witchcraft and spirits. It’s all so wild that surely it can’t be true, right? But it is … isn’t it?? Isn’t it?!?!?
Meet Savannah’s (Many) Resident Ghosts
Savannah is haunted. Like, really haunted. You can’t just build a town on top of a Native American burial ground, become the largest port for the Atlantic Slave Trade, and suffer 3 devastating Yellow Fever epidemics (a direct consequence of the slave trade) and not end up super haunted.
Just how haunted is Savannah, you ask? Well, let me tell you a story. We’re at Collins’ Quarter, sipping some truly excellent coffee and flipping through our photos, minding our own business. Seated next to us is an older gentleman. He leans over to us, a photo pulled up on his phone of a park in Savannah at night. “I took this 2 years ago,” he says. He scrolls to the right. “Now look.” There’s a shroud of filmy white fog in the photo. “I took this just a second later, and there wasn’t any fog that night.” (Mind you, this interaction came out of NOWHERE.)
The barista, pouring coffee, casually nods. “Yep, that square’s haunted, just like the rest of the town.” And just like that, they’re swapping ghost stories over coffee. Y’all, we fell in love with Savannah right then and there.
Savannah boasts the title of being one of America’s most haunted cities, so even as much of a skeptic (read: scaredy-cat) as Lia is, we just had to go looking for some ghosts.
Take a Ghost Tour
Usually the two of us agree on everything from who should get the final rose on The Bachelor/ette to where to get the best tacos. But one thing we just don’t agree on is scary sh*t. Jeremy loves a good spook. Lia (rightfully) thinks the real world is scary enough.
So while there are certainly ghost tours of Savannah that are meant to spook you, we wanted one that focused more on history and stories than on jump scares. After researching the many ghost tours Savannah has to offer – some campy, some a little too paranormal – we decided to go with the Sixth Sense Savannah Ghost Tour. We were looking for creepy history and horrifying-but-true stories from Savannah’s post, and this tour fit the bill perfectly.
Our guide, dressed as the spirit of the deceased artist Prince (RIP), took us around the historic district regaling us with tales of spirits ranging from friendly and adorable to malevolent and terrifying. Some ghosts played pranks on the living until they became besties (aww), some drove their roommates to insanity (we can relate), and some are so bloody and terrifying that local residents will only speak of them in hushed whispers – so you’ll just have to go on a tour to hear those stories!
After our tour and during the rest of our trip, we looked at each home we passed through a new lens: who lived and died here? What did they witness during their time in Savannah? Knowing the dark history of the enslaved residents, the Indigenous burial grounds, the bloody Civil War battles, and the Yellow Fever epidemic that tore through Savanah’s residents gave us a new appreciation for the scars underneath Savannah’s serene beauty.
Visit the Bonaventure Cemetery
Another good way to commune with the ghosts of Savannah is to visit the Bonaventure Cemetery. I know, visiting a cemetery isn’t like … the most typical thing to do.
But then again, nothing about Savannah is typical, and when it’s one of the most beautiful and famous cemeteries in the world, well …you might want to make an exception. (Besides, if you’ve read The Book, the Bonaventure Cemetery will definitely be on your must-visit list… and that’s all I’ll say about that.)
If you’ve got a car, you can visit the Bonaventure Cemetery during the day. The Bonaventure historical society created an inexpensive mobile app with a self-guided tour – more info here.
But let’s be honestly: the best way to experience a haunted cemetery (and get to know its deceased residents) is to go after dark – and the only way you can do that (legally, anyway) is to take a guided tour of Bonaventure Cemetery. You’ll stroll amongst the Gothic graves, towering oak trees, and trailing Spanish moss on an eerie nighttime tour while you listen to tales of serial killers, root doctors, and doomed love affairs!
Visit Savannah’s Beach on Tybee Island
One thing we missed out on during our trip (but wish we hadn’t!) was visiting Tybee Island. This beachy paradise is a short 20-minute drive from Savannah and makes for an excellent detour!
The name “Tybee” has several interpretations, though many historians agree it comes from the Native American Euchee word for “salt,” which was a plentiful resource found on the island.
Known as “Savannah’s Beach,” Tybee Island is the perfect place to soak up some rays and splash in the surf. But Tybee isn’t just a beach — it’s got plenty more to offer. With different beaches and neighborhoods, you can choose where to spend your time based on what you’d like to see, do, or taste.
Here’s a general overview of Tybee Island neighborhoods and highlights:
- North Beach is known for its shopping, dining, beaches, and historic attractions, including Georgia’s oldest and tallest lighthouse. You can climb all 178 steps to the top for some killer views, then indulge in some ice cream at the island’s famous Sugar Shack.
- Mid Beach has great access to all the island has to offer. Try some fresh, local seafood at Salt Island Fish and Beer or The Deck Beach Bar and Kitchen.
- South Beach, with its well-known Tybrisa Street, is considered the island’s “downtown,” and features lots of shops, restaurants, and bars. Experience Tybee’s funky atmosphere at Fannie’s on the Beach.
- Back River Beach is a quieter side of the island — ideal for spotting dolphins, catching the sunset, and escaping the crowds. If you’re into something more active than, say, lying in the sand, you may want to take advantage of Tybee’s incredible kayaking opportunities or bike trails.
Travel Tip: The easiest way to visit Tybee Island is by taking a tour from Savannah, like this dolphin-watching boat tour (with lunch) that picks you up and drops you off in Savannah’s historic district. You’ll eat fresh seafood, hop on a boat to spot bottle-nose dolphins, and visit three of Tybee’s scenic lighthouses.
Watch the Sunset on River Street
The Savannah Port is still one of the largest in the country, and this historic stretch of road along the riverfront dates way back. Cobblestones dating back 200 years line the streets bordering warehouses once filled with cotton – and, sadly, enslaved people. It’s said that this area – and Factor’s Walk, just behind River Street – was the site of the most death, and therefore today is considered to be the most haunted part of town.
But though its history reflects Savannah’s dark and complex past, today River Street is a thriving tourist hotspot and one of the best spots to take a stroll, grab a drink (to go, of course), snag a few praline samples, and watch the sun setting over the Savannah River.
During our walk along River Street, we met a jazz musician, admired the Georgia Queen historic steamboat, and waved at the Waving Woman. We also paid homage to the enslaved families represented by the African-American Monument, one of the few sites in Savannah that explicitly references Savannah’s role in the slave trade (here are several more).
For a local’s tips about the best spots along River Street, check out this blog post by Sand, Sun & Messy Buns.
Where to Stay in Savannah, GA
We recommend staying a little away from the hustle and bustle of River Street, south of Liberty in the quiet, beautiful, and walkable Historic District. Here, the old oak trees drip with moss above mansions that have stood watch over Savannah’s carefully planned squares for centuries. You’ll be talking distance to most of the things to do in Savannah on this list as well as the waterfront, and your stay will be quieter further from the crowds.
Plus, you’ll get to see the town in a new way while walking back to your accomodation late at night among the tree-lined streets of Savannah’s secretive historic homes and fog-blanketed gardens. Late-night strolls through the historic district are one of the best things to do in Savannah!
- Stay at a Historic Bed & Breakfast/Inn: We stayed at the absolutely charming Savannah Bed & Breakfast Inn which dates back to 1853. Each day, they serve tea and cookies in the parlor – how charming is that?? we also loved the included breakfast (they’ll make you pretty much anything your heart desires), the beautiful courtyard, and the fantastic location! The Savannah B&B Inn is located off of Chatham Square, literally a block away from Forsyth Park, just around the corner from Mercer House and walking distance from absolutely everywhere within gorgeous historic Savannah. We highly recommend staying here! Check availability & pricing for Savannah Bed & Breakfast Inn.
- Stay in a Vacation Rental: For a vacation rental with a similar historic vibe to the b&b we stayed at, check out this parlor level apartment also off of Chatham Square. This adorable cottage circa 1820 also feels a bit like you’ve stepped back in time; it’s even on the National Register of Historic Places! It’s bright with exposed beams, has an updated kitchen, and is smack dab in the center of Savannah’s beautiful Historic District. This beautiful apartment is right on the border of old and new, both in its style and its location on East Liberty street. For a more modern stay a little closer to the river, check out this colorful apartment or this chic flat that balances the charm of a historic building with a totally updated interior. Browse more vacation rentals in Savannah.
- Travel Tip: We recommend booking vacation rentals through VRBO because it has fewer fees and more flexible cancellation policies than Airbnb – also, we’re not fans of Airbnb’s unethical track record and lax security.
Looking for more USA inspiration? We have a MASSIVE travel guide for all our favorite places in the US and handy advice, packing tips and travel guides. Click the link below to download!
Are you booking a ticket to Savannah, yet? Which one of these awesome things to do in Savannah, Georgia is calling your name? Drop us a comment below!
Psst: Planning a trip to the south? Here are some posts that might be useful for your trip:
- 29 Things Nobody Tells You About Savannah, Georgia
- The Perfect Weekend Itinerary for Nashville, Tennessee
- What to Pack for a Hot Weather Trip
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Disclaimer: This post was originally created in partnership with Visit Savannah and has since been updated. All opinions, thoughts, feelings, gluttonous suggestions to fill up on free samples, suggestions that Savannah is incredibly haunted, and jokes that didn’t quite land are entirely my own and absolutely not their fault.
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I’m from Savannah and is lovely and lots of History. I’m surprised this article didn’t mention going to any one of the three forts close into Savannah, with fort Jackson being near downtown and fort Pulaski’s on the way to the Tybee Beach. My parents are buried in Bonaventure cemetery and one day I will be too as we own several plots there. But the warnings about Savannah being not safe are true. Savannah is not a nine to five town and there’s a lot of poverty and drugs. Between the drug traffic from Florida and through the very active international port and there being a large military presence there, yeah drugs and violence are a problem. My brother-in-law got held up in front of his house by shotgun and my cousin got killed in a carjacking there. So you’re best off to watch your back, don’t go anywhere alone don’t go to non touristy areas and just don’t get off the major roads. Carry some cash in your pocket or purse but hide the rest of your cash on your body somewhere and if you’re held up give them the money don’t fight.
What a great post! We are planning our trip for November for our anniversary. How many full days do you suggest staying to fully enjoy the city? Sometimes the travel day takes up a majority of a day I feel.
Lia Garcia says
I would say minimum 3 full days for sure!
Don Davies says
Lovely! Thanks for the ideas! Thanks for sharing what fun stuff to do over at Savannah! First thing I’m planning is heading straight to the beach there next week on my vacation! Thanks for helping me plan out my Vacation
Don Davies says
Thanks for the ideas! I really want to have a great vacation there and I’m already checking on hotels to find cheap hotels in Savannah GA for my vacation there next week! I’m so excited!
Lori T says
We will be in Savannah mid July. We want to see the Thomas Owen House, Mercer Williams House and the Andrew Low House. Do you recommend booking a reservation in advance?
Lia Garcia says
I don’t think that’s necessary, tbh. They aren’t crazy busy and July is also a low season in Savannah due to the heat. Have a fantastic trip!
Nicholl Spence says
Awesome tips, Lia! Savannah really is an enchanting town definitely worth visiting! I absolutely love all the antique shops, ghost tours and my favorite restaurants there are The Pirate’s House, The Grey and Leopold’s. Sharing this downtown savannah georgia guide which I think is amazing for those yet to visit visitsavannah.com
Nicholl Spence says
Savannah is my favorite vacation destination. I absolutely love all the ghost tours. My favorite restaurants there are The Pirate’s House, The Lady and Sons, and Leopold’s. BTW….first time visitor to your blog and I love it!
Lia Garcia says
Thank you so much for the suggestions and kind words, Nicholl!
Jarrett Ludovici says
Muchos Gracias for your post.Thanks Again. Keep writing.
I loved reading this! I am going to Savannah for my anniversary next weekend and now I feel totally prepared!!
Lia Garcia says
Yay, happy anniversary! Have fun!
Laura Burgess says
We’re headed there next month! I love traveling and I already feel a need girl travel geek kinship with you. Thanks for all the great tips!
Lia Garcia says
Aww yay for travel geek kinship!! 😀 Have an amazing trip!
Thank you! This post was so helpful!
I loved your very insightful share about Savannah. I especially respect how honest and fearlessly you balanced your assessment of real history that included how wealth was amassed off the backs of enslaved Black People. Not many people venture into those uncomfortable waters. Thank you!
Lia Garcia says
Just doin’ the bare minimum here 🙂
Savannah is insanely beautiful and historically important. It is one of my favorite places to be, but yes, Savannah being considered “unsafe” is fairly true. However, it is also unlikely anything will happen to you because most people know not to put any place on a pedestal despite how pretty they may be. Just like any town or any city in the entire world, Savannah experiences theft, armed robbery, murder, and more. I think why Savannah often does get a bad wrap is because it is so small so crime feels more prevelant. Also, there is a LOT of poverty in Savannah. Yes, historic district is wonderful, but don’t be disillusioned. Be informed. Savannah is being gentrified and people who have lived in or around this city are being pushed out more and more (you can thank SCAD for some of that). And the homeless population is quite large. Behind the beautiful facade of Savannah, there is a lot of history of injustice, racism, and typical rich stomping on the poor. I think that’s a fact people should be aware of just as any city they visit. You should research the history before you go so you don’t become “that” tourist.
The safety of the city should not be a deterrent to visit though. Like I said, I highly doubt anything will happen to you when you go. Even places considered the safest can have the occasional murder or theft. Just be smart! Don’t walk in a dark alley alone (man or woman). The general rule of thumb is to avoid west of MLK blvd and south of Victory. Also, be alert in City Market and River Street (specifically at night). And don’t get wasted, just because you can walk around with a drink in hand is not an excuse to misbehave.
Just be smart, be informed, read a book, and have fun.
Lia Garcia says
Thank you for this important reminder and safety tips! You’re absolutely right that Savannah has quite a dark past and that’s led to problems that are still prevalent today. I hope our post clearly illuminated the imperfectness of Savannah. We found that diving into that complexity to connect with Savannah beyond its beautiful facade made our trip far more meaningful.
Barry Harris says
Well said Ms Margot, you nailed it. I’ve lived here all my life born and raised Savannah is a beautiful city just use common sense and be careful we have everything the big cities have. Barry
Savannah is amazing. I would love to move back there. It does get dangerous at night. I heard about muggings and shootings at night, but there are.good and bad areas of Savannah. I lived in a good part (on Gaston Street, a 20 second walk from our front door to Forsyth Park) I never had any trouble. I usually got off work at 8pm or 12am when I lived there and I had to park in the square behind where I lived and never felt like I was unsafe.
Lia Garcia says
Thanks for the insight, Nikki!
Word of warning – Savannah is not “safe.” Be aware of the areas you are in and you should not be wandering far from river street after dark.
Lia Garcia says
Thanks for the heads up, Alex! Can you clarify a little bit about what you mean by unsafe? IE is there a concern of bodily harm, theft, etc?
Hi, when I visited Savannah several years ago, we were taken to the very spot in the office where Jim murdered his boyfriend. We were also informed that the film wasn’t totally correct – he died in the kitchen, not the office. So talk of the whole ordeal seemed to be ok a few years ago, but I guess not currently?
Lia Garcia says
Hmmm interesting! We didn’t do the tour ourselves, so that information was from a different tour guide. I guess we’ll just have to go back and take the tour and find out!
I love your post. I have been to Savannah, GA serveral times over the years. I can’t wait to try some of the places you mentioned too. There is so much to see and do. The only thing I would I would add is to be vigilant like anywhere. July 4th, 2017, my family and I stayed at Hotel Indigo downtown by the market and river street. Hotel indigo is a pet friendly hotel; they had great hospitality, a welcome basket for your pup with dog treats from Wood Gang Bakery, portable dog bowl, etc. we were on Market Street earlier that evening on July 4th. Wake up to news reporters outside/surrounding our hotel. There was a drive by shooting that occurred in the market area and a car chase. The car chase ended up if I’m not mistaken, crashed into or somehow stoped at the corner of our hotel. That was an interesting evening. We didn’t know if the noise was fireworks, sirens, but it turns out something was going on. That definitely made a memorable trip. I would just be vigilant like anywhere. I love your post and can’t wait to go back again.
Lia Garcia says
Thank you so much for your feedback! We’ll make sure to update our post to encourage our readers to be aware & vigilant.
Kathy Myers says
I am visiting your beautiful city for my 65th birthday with my four girlfriends. Enjoyed reading your blog and looking forward to a lot of great places see, great food and drinks as well. Thanks for all the great information.
I find it heartening that genuine efforts are being made to recognize Savannah’s dark past of slavery – it truly adds more depth to the character of the city.
I always thought New Orleans was the most haunted city in the US but from your tales, it looks like Savannah does give NOLA a run for its money. Any chance you took photos at one of the squares at night? 😉
Lia Garcia says
We did take a few at Forsyth Park right by the old haunted hospital at night! I didn’t see anything ghostly though 😛 I took a few photos on my phone during our ghost tour but I was too scared to look closely at any of the windows for faces or anything!
We live about 3 hours from SAV and go often. You.Nailed.It! We’ve “been there, done that” to almost everything you suggested. We would like to add visiting the campus/Art museum of SCAD. Also, for a great slice of pizza…go to Vinnie Van Go-Go’s. If you want an amazing pancake go to Savannah’s Original Pancake House, GET THE APPLE PANCAKE. SOPH is not in the historic district, but trust us. One last fun place to eat is Six Pence Pub, sit outside so you can people watch and listen to all the trolley tours tell about “Something to Talk About (you remember…Julia Roberts and Dennis Quaid). Another tip…SAV is full of people walking, bike riders, horse drawn carriages and trolleys…BE PATIENT and BE CAREFUL. They are just trying to enjoy SAV too. Go see SAV and all she has to offer. She won’t disappoint you!
Lia Garcia says
Thanks for all these amazing tips, Denise!
Savannah is one of my most favorite places and I’m fortunate to only live a short 2 1/2 hour drive away! You definitely have to come back to eat at the Old Pink House!
Lia Garcia says
We absolutely intend to! We were gutted that it was closed during our trip 🙁
Yaaaaaas Savannah is so freaking magical! I want to go in the fall!
Lia Garcia says
Um, can we come too?! I bet Savannah in the fall is MAGICAL.
LOVE Savannah! One of my favorite cities! I couldn’t get enough of just wandering around through all the different squares, admiring the homes, the Spanish moss trees. Your pictures are beautiful and brought back many memories.
Beautiful photos! Savannah looks completely charming, I want to go!
I’ve never been to Savannah or Georgia when in the US, it looks so beautiful! Thank you for a great and detailed itinerary.
Lia Garcia says
Glad you enjoyed it! Hope it has inspired you to visit, Savannah is so beautiful!
Monica Lent says
The food in this post makes me O_O Fried oysters in a cone? I am all over that!
This is such a comprehensive guide! I’ve never been to Savannah and it’s high on my list.
I enjoyed reading this! I would love to spend some time in this city. Your photos are gorgeous
Lia Garcia says
Thank you! Savannah is gorgeous – makes for a great photo subject 😉
fried oysters in a waffle cone?!! I can’t say I have ever “dreamed” of heading to Georgia but looking at your photos I may need to add this to my future travel plans! Thank you for sharing your travel tips, my travel bucket list has just gotten longer 😀
Ok I think I want to go to Savannah now. This looks like such a wonderful place. And your photos are incredible. I’ll take my chances with the ghosts to make sure I visit one day