The 53 Best Things to Do in Savannah (+ Food Tips!)United States
Savannah is one of our favorite cities in the USA, one that we’ll keep returning to for years and decades to come–and with so many incredible things to do in Savannah, is it any wonder?
It’s not just that there is so much to do, though: Savannah has a vibe all its own.
Part antebellum beauty and part artistic enclave (the Savannah College of Art and Design is said to offer some of the best art and design studies in the USA), Savannah is a delightful combination of traditional and innovative.
I grew up somewhat south-adjacent: Florida, Texas, Oklahoma–all of which are on the edge of what I snobbily consider to be the “real south”, but none of them quite capture the attitude, the beauty, the food, and the accent.
For me, the “real south” was in places like Georgia, the Carolinas, Alabama, Mississippi… it’s just different there, for better or worse (and often, it’s both). My summer vacations growing up were spent in North Carolina and surrounding areas, a mixture of spots from the mountains near Asheville (imagine my surprise when that suddenly became a hit tourism destination 20 years later!), small-town Kinston, Raleigh, and the Crystal Coast.
That’s the south I love to travel in, and eat in, and write about–and Savannah is all of that in spades.
Savannah is quintessential south, and if you’re looking to get a taste of this very complicated and unique portion of the USA, you’ve come to the right place.
We adore Savannah–and after a few days there, I’m sure you will, too.
Looking for the best things to do in Savannah to plan your trip?
There are more than enough to choose from.
Table of Contents
The Best Things to Do in Savannah
Wander the squares.
Savannah is still home to 22 of its original 24 town squares, and they dot the historic center of the city.
Idyllic, beautiful, and full of gigantic oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, the squares are a welcome break from the oppressive southern heat during the summer and a delightful place to rest your feet and enjoy some people-watching at any time of the year.
Dine in style.
You can throw a stone in any direction and hit a place for a great meal in Savannah–from coffee shops to fine dining to barbeque joints, Savannah is all about the delicious Lowcountry food.
Make sure to save room on your list of things to do in Savannah for at least one gut-busting, multi-course, indulgent meal, though–it’s a Savannah experience you won’t forget anytime soon.
If you’re looking for a classic Savannah restaurant, here are a few options that will be sure to impress.
Elizabeth on 37th
If you’re a seafood lover, Elizabeth on 37th is the fine-dining restaurant in Savannah for you: everything from the setting in the mansion the restaurant is housed in to the local seafood specialties that the menu is made up of will have you begging to come back.
Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room
Mrs. Wilkes is one of the most iconic restaurants in Savannah and is unique among these listed for serving family-style meals.
Line up early (people often start lining up hours before the doors open for lunch at 11), and then sit down to enjoy a delicious meal with several other new friends.
You’ll pay your flat fee on your way out the door, and last I heard, it’s cash only.
The Olde Pink House
Want to dine in an 18th-century ballroom under a crystal chandelier?
Head to the Olde Pink House for classic southern food with a modern twist, in one of my favorite settings in the city.
Be sure to order their Food Network-featured BLT salad with fried green tomatoes–it easily makes the list of the most memorable dishes I have ever eaten.
Adventurous eaters need to be sure to add a meal at Alligator Soul to their list of things to do in Savannah–with meats like ostrich, kangaroo, antelope, and (obviously) alligator available, you are guaranteed to find unique flavors on your plate.
For those less adventurous with their meals, don’t worry–there’s a broad selection of more typical meat and seafood offerings on the menu as well.
Tour a house museum (or four).
Savannah’s house museums are a staple of tourism in the city, and to be as small as it is, the city boasts an unusual number of them–nearly 20 in all!
Some are home to museums featuring art other than the house, some are the homes of other businesses, and some are open to visitors interested in learning some of the history of Savannah and its residents.
Most of the homes date to the early-to-mid 19th century and almost exclusively were built by Savannah’s elite residents of their day.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few of the most popular house museums in Savannah.
If you only want to add one house museum to your list of things to do in Savannah, the Mercer-Williams house is a great choice: arguably the most famous house in Savannah due to its prominence in the book (and movie) Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, the Mercer-Williams house was the site of the 1981 murder of Danny Hansford as covered in the book.
As the last owner of the home before it was turned into a museum, Jim Williams’ (the accused murderer in question) touch and eclectic style is found throughout the house.
Also: if you haven’t read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, you definitely should before visiting Savannah!
If you’re a big fan of the book, you can even add a Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil themed tour to your things to do in Savannah list!
Owned by the Owens family for more than 100 years, this early-19th century home takes up a full city block and was donated to the Telfair Academy in 1951.
The home once operated as a lodging house that saw its share of interesting guests, including Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette.
There are two things to know about the Sorrel-Weed house: 1) it has a beautiful oval-shaped library that melts my bookworm heart, and 2) it’s considered to be one of the most paranormally active spots in Savannah–so if you’re interested in ghosts, this is the house tour for you!
If you’d like a truly spooky experience, ghost tours are often held at night in the Sorrel-Weed house.
Furnished and decorated in the style of 1820’s Savannah, the Davenport House serves as a look back to how the rich elites lived in Savannah in the early 19th century.
The Davenport House also holds the distinction of being the first classic Savannah home saved from demolition by what would become the Historic Savannah Foundation. After being saved in the 1950’s, the mansion was later restored and opened to the public as a museum, kicking off what would become Savannah’s tradition of house museums.
Visit City Market.
Boasting candy shops, cookie stores, and ice cream shops (noticing a theme?) along with boutiques, art galleries for every taste, restaurants, and sometimes live music, City Market is a must see in Savannah.
A couple of centuries ago, City Market was more need-focused, a place for locals to shop for groceries and other necessities.
Today, it is a fun place to indulge, relax, and a great starting point for seeing the sights in Savannah!
Indulge your sweet tooth at Leopold’s Ice Cream.
Nearly 100 years old and rightfully known as some of the tastiest ice cream in Savannah, no list of things to do in Savannah would be complete without a mention of Leopold’s Ice Cream!
Consider trying their signature Tutti Frutti (classic, but not for me) or Butter Pecan (absolutely delicious) flavors–or try one of the dozens of other flavors available, ranging from the familiar to the downright inventive.
With dozens of shops to choose from, Savannah is an excellent city to try hunting for some delightful antiques.
However, even if you’re not planning on making any purchases yourself, definitely consider stopping into Alex Raskin Antiques.
The giant, 4-story mansion that Alex Raskin Antiques calls home is completely stuffed with antiques in every room: stacked on top of each other, shoved up against each other, nothing in any sort of recognizable pattern. 18th-century beds next to 19th-century poker tables, WWII propaganda posters leaning up against a more than 200-year-old bookcase.
All 4 floors are open to explore, including back porches (which have an excellent view of Forsyth Park!) and every room. The actual house is in a sort of character-giving disrepair: peeling paint, creaky stairs, the occasional large hole in the wall.
Even if antiques aren’t your thing, you won’t forget this store anytime soon.
Tour some beautiful houses of worship.
Savannah’s houses of worship tend toward the grand and beautiful–if you’re looking for a few of the best ones to put on your list of things to do in Savannah, be sure to to keep these three in mind!
First African Baptist Church
Thought to be the oldest African-American congregation in the USA, the First African Baptist Church was founded in 1733, and a full century later, the building was completed and opened its doors to worshippers.
Notably, the First African Baptist Church was a stop on the Underground Railroad, and while for obvious reasons no records were kept of how many former slaves passed through, the church was clearly set up to support high numbers: when visiting, you can see holes in the floor that were cut to allow the former slaves hiding underground to breathe.
The entrance to the hiding place is thought to be through a tunnel, and it has not been located to this day.
When planning what to do in Savannah, bear in mind that the First African Baptist Church does not allow tours on the weekends.
The Hope of Israel Synagogue
In 1733 (coincidentally the same year that the congregation of the First African Baptist Church was founded), 42 Jews arrived from England with very little to their names to found the Hope of Israel Synagogue.
The congregation has thrived and grown over the centuries in Savannah, and still uses the Torah that crossed the ocean with the original settlers in their annual Shabbat service.
The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
The oldest Catholic church in Georgia is ornate and beautiful, boasting stained glass hailing from Austrian Tyrol.
The interior is exquisite (it’s one of the prettiest churches we’ve seen in the USA) and well worth a peek inside!
Take a food tour.
Restaurant sampling not enough for you?
Consider jumping on a food tour to learn all about food traditions in the Lowcountry… complete with enough tasty food to leave you stuffed for hours, of course!
Check out the birthplace of the Girl Scouts.
Though it is technically one of Savannah’s house museums, as a former (I guess technically lifelong?) Girl Scout, I think that the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace deserves a special mention.
Juliette Gordon Low (nicknamed “Daisy”, a name that I’m sure will be familiar to any Girl Scout) founded the Girl Scouts as a widow in Savannah in 1912.
Clearly, the program was a huge success, and the Girl Scouts organization bought the founder’s birthplace in the 1950’s.
Today, Girls Scouts visit from all over the country to learn the history of the founder and the Scouts, though you certainly don’t have to be a Girl Scout to appreciate Daisy’s story!
As a bonus, if you visit during Girl Scout cookie season in the spring, you’re almost guaranteed to find a troop outside willing to sell you as many boxes as you can carry.
Wander through Bonaventure Cemetery.
Widely considered to be one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the USA or even the world, Bonaventure Cemetery is located on what used to be a plantation south of Savannah.
Giant oak trees, beautiful Spanish moss, and incredibly intricate graves all contribute to Bonaventure’s hauntingly beautiful atmosphere.
I recommend visiting Bonaventure toward the end of your trip to Savannah, because there are enough notable burials here that you’ll find yourself recognizing plenty of names from various house tours, history tours, and even ghost tours (including the burial place of who is arguably Savannah’s most famous ghost, Little Gracie Watkins).
Want to know exactly what you’re looking at? Consider taking a walking tour of Bonaventure Cemetery!
… And also Colonial Park Cemetery.
Dating back to 1750, Colonial Park Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Savannah and is most notable for being the final resting place of 700 people who fell victim to the yellow fever epidemic of 1820, who were buried in the cemetery together in a mass grave.
Unlike Bonaventure Cemetery that requires a drive from the historic district to reach, Colonial Park Cemetery is located within the historic center, near Chippewa Square.
The cemetery is also–like many places in Savannah–reported to be quite haunted.
Take a ghost tour.
If there’s one thing Savannah does well, it’s ghost tours.
Want a light-hearted ride in a hearse? They’ve got that.
A grisly late-night tour where drinking is recommended and kids are best left at home? Yep, got that too.
Horse and carriage ghost tour? Check. Paranormal activity tour? Check.
Whatever flavor of ghost tour is for you, and whether you’re a true believer or a die-hard skeptic like me, ghost tours in Savannah are a great way to get to know the legends of the city, and I highly recommend one!
If you want a solid, not-too-corny, not-too-gory Savannah ghost tour, check out this trolley ghost tour!
Meander down Jones Street.
Often called the prettiest street in America, Jones Street is a feast for the eyes–all brick mansions, wrought-iron gates, and oak trees.
Be sure to add a stroll down this iconic street to your list of things to do in Savannah!
Pay a visit to the Wormsloe Plantation.
Owned by the same family since the 1730’s, the Wormsloe Plantation is best known for its mile-long driveway of oak trees that have been carefully pruned over the decades into a stunning tunnel of trees (complete with plenty of Spanish moss, of course).
The driveway is absolutely gorgeous, even featuring in several movies, and it alone is enough of a reason to head to Wormsloe Plantation from the center of Savannah.
Keep in mind that the tour beyond that point leaves something to be desired: the information glosses over the history of slave labor on the property, and also doesn’t include a tour of the home. The property’s main home is still privately owned and occupied by the descendants of Noble Jones, who was the first Georgian owner of the property.
Go shopping on Broughton Street.
From delightful boutiques (including The Paris Market!) to national stores to Savannah’s most famous ice cream shop (looking at you, Leopold’s), there’s no better place in Savannah for a stroll and some shopping than fashionable Broughton Street.
If you’re looking for a classy southern souvenir from Savannah, this is the street for you.
Go see The Book Lady.
I love funky, independent bookstores that ooze intellectual curiosity and coziness and comfort and that yummy old book smell out of every corner. The more cluttered and the more haphazardly the books are stored, the better.
The Book Lady fits these tastes, with a bonus. This adorable bookstore, overflowing with literature and comfortable places to sit and enjoy it, is also home to Cassidy the “shop dog”: a shaggy, friendly mess of a baby that was more than happy to receive my enthusiastic pets and hang out with us–at least until the shopkeeper came back around the corner, when she went back to sticking to him like glue.
The sound of her claws going tap-tap-tap on the aged hardwood floors while I flipped through travelogues from the mid-20th-century was one of the highlights of my day, and if you’re a fellow bookworm, The Book Lady belongs on your list of the best things to do in Savannah.
Head to the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum.
If you’re a fan of ships, seafaring, and maritime history, this is the museum for you–composed of nine galleries displaying ship models, the ships were primarily commissioned by the museum for the express purpose of telling the story of Savannah’s relationship with the water around it.
Hit the water on a riverboat cruise.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxed evening complete with dinner or a quick spin on the water, consider adding a riverboat cruise to your list of things to do in Savannah to ensure you get the best views of River Street while you’re there!
Take a day trip to Tybee Island.
A mere 18 miles from the historic center of Savannah sits a whole different kind of southern experience: Tybee Island.
Tybee is a small barrier island, and it makes the perfect day trip from Savannah–head here for fresh seafood and a day of sun and sand on the beach!
… And stop at Fort Pulaski on your way.
Built in the mid-19th century, you’ll find Fort Pulaski on your way between Savannah and Tybee Island, and it’s well worth a stop for any history buff.
The fort has seen exactly one battle in its life, which took place between Union and Confederate troops during the Civil War. The fort later became a stop on the Underground Railroad, and at one point also served as a military and political prison.
Stroll through Forsyth Park.
Forsyth Park, with its stunning fountain and hundreds of oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, is easily one of the most recognizable features of Savannah. No trip to Savannah would be complete without a stroll through Forsyth!
If the weather is beautiful during your visit to Savannah, you might even consider bringing a picnic out to Forsyth Park–it’s an excellent place to kick back and relax with a delicious meal.
Soothe your sore feet on a Trolley Tour.
Want to avoid some of the long distance walks in Savannah while having a comfortable place to hear the history of the city?
Consider adding a Trolley Tour to your list of things to do in Savannah!
Trolley Tours are essentially hop on/hop off bus tours–they work the same way, taking you around to all of Savannah’s major sites–but have far prettier exteriors.
We’re not typically hop on/hop off tour people, but some of the distances you cover in Savannah can be long, and if you happen to be visiting during the heat of the summer, the air-conditioned Trolley Tour will likely seem like it’s worth every penny.
Pay a visit to the Telfair Museum of Art.
Housed in a mansion-turned-academy-turned-museum, the Telfair Museum’s art collection is beautiful–and the setting is one you won’t forget anytime soon.
Slowly make your way down River Street.
Savannah’s River Street (which, unsurprisingly, hugs the river) was once a place of cotton warehouses and cargo boats–today, however, it’s a place of delicious restaurants, great antique shops, and boutiques of all kinds.
While you’re visiting Savannah, be sure to save time for ambling slowly down River Street, admiring the views as you go.
See a show at the Historic Savannah Theatre.
The USA’s oldest continually operating theatre sits in Chippewa Square, Savannah–and you sure can’t miss it!
The art deco facade doesn’t exactly blend in (it was added in the mid-20th century), but it does add a bit of snazzy personality to the square.
Shows play year round, so if you’re a theatre lover, check ticket availability when you’re deciding what to do in Savannah!
Learn a bit of American History at the Old Fort Jackson Historic Site.
The east coast of the USA is dotted with brick forts, and Savannah is no exception: The Old Fort Jackson Historic Site is the oldest brick fort in Georgia, and was active during two notable American wars–the War of 1812 and the Civil War, when it was used as a headquarters for the Confederacy as they attempted to defend the Savannah River.
History aside, the ocean views aren’t bad, either!
Take a brewery tour at the Coastal Empire Brew Company.
Is there a city in the USA left without at least one of its own microbreweries?
If so, it’s not Savannah: the Coastal Empire Brew Company several year-round beers to choose from, along with seasonal brews.
Say hello to France at The Paris Market.
For a bit of variety in your plan of things to do in Savannah, consider adding a stop to The Paris Market in between all the places focused on southern culture: as the name suggests, this boutique is primarily (though not exclusively) focused on Parisian and French goods, from furniture to soaps, and is definitely memorable enough to warrant a stop while in Savannah.
Tour Flannery O’Connor’s childhood home.
Flannery O’Connor is a celebrated Southern Gothic writer, known for her impressive short stories and fascinating imagination.
If you’re a lover of Southern Gothic literature, or even just curious about it, take a peek inside her mind and history with a visit to her childhood home in Savannah!
Support a local artist at shopSCAD.
Want to bring home a piece of original art from Savannah?
Selected students, alumni, and staff of the acclaimed Savannah College of Art and Design have their work displayed and available for sale at shopSCAD, a retail store in the heart of Savannah.
See a drag show.
If you’ve read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (and if you haven’t, get on that before visiting Savannah!), you know that the drag performances by Lady Chablis at Club One played a role in the book (and of course the movie, where she played herself).
Though Lady Chablis has since passed away, Club One lives on, and other queens regularly take the stage!
Indulge in a honey tasting.
Ever attended a honey tasting?
It might sound a little sticky (and it is!), but it’s amazing how different and delicious different kinds of honey can taste–and at Savannah Bee Company, they are very passionate about it.
Not only are the owners of the Savannah Bee Company passionate about honey, they’re also passionate about beekeeping in general–and the Savannah-based company has now grown to include stores in several US states.
Check out the Forrest Gump Bench.
There are two ways to enjoy the Forrest Gump Bench in Savannah: to see the place where it sat for filming in the movie or to go see the bench itself.
Personally, I’m partial to the former: Chippewa Square in the center of the historic district, facing the Historic Savannah Theatre, is where Tom Hanks et al. filmed the scenes–and even without the movie history, the square is still beautiful and visiting it is worth adding to your list of things to do in Savannah.
The bench/movie prop itself current calls the Savannah History Museum home, and you can see it there.
Also–if you haven’t seen Forrest Gump before, watch it before heading to Savannah! Not only because of the fact that the iconic “life is like a box of chocolates” moment was filmed in town, but because the movie is amazing and well worth your time.
What to Eat in Savannah
I legitimately had to stop myself from turning this section into a 3,000 diatribe on southern cuisine–because seriously y’all, southern food is some of the best in the world. It’s in the running for our favorite cuisine ever, and we don’t say that lightly.
A complete list of all the foods you need to try in Savannah would be incredibly long, but here are a few dishes that should head right to the top of your list (with absolutely no illusion of being unbiased: these are some of my favorites).
If you’re a foodie at heart, I strongly suggest jumping on a food tour while in Savannah to ensure that you sample the best food that the Lowcountry has to offer!
Practically the first thing I do when we go home to visit my mom in North Carolina is throw pimento cheese into the grocery cart (and if I were more inclined to cook these days, I would make my own)–it’s one of my favorites tastes of the south!
Made of sharp cheddar cheese, mayo, and pimentos, pimento cheese is rich and creamy. It’s excellent in a grilled cheese sandwich… or with fried green tomatoes… or on crackers… or with a spoon.
Buttermilk Biscuits & Gravy
Buttermilk biscuits are one of the tastiest things in the world–add a great gravy, and they get even better!
Whether you try them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a midnight snack (or all of the above), be sure not to leave Savannah without trying some classic biscuits and gravy.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Georgia during peach season, rejoice and immediately resolve to eat some form of peaches every. single. day.
Even if you’re traveling outside the harvest season, though, you’ll find that southern cooks are excellent canners and that peach cobbler is a must-have at any time of year.
Rich and delicious (isn’t that how it usually goes in the south?), pecan pie is made up of a smooth, sugary filling topped with pecans, all served in a warm, flaky crust.
It’s one of my favorite southern desserts–you can add ice cream to the top, but personally, I prefer a simple whipped cream or even nothing at all.
If there’s one thing that we’ve learned from all of our travels, it’s that there is no such thing as a country without fried chicken.
But… I’m still partial to the stuff from the south.
Juicy on the inside, spicy on the outside, and well-battered, southern fried chicken is something truly special.
Fried Green Tomatoes
Everyone has heard of the movie, but fried green tomatoes are a real and delicious southern food!
Macaroni and Cheese
True southern macaroni and cheese is an incredible treat–think noodles saturated with heavy, thick, delicious cheese and cream, baked and possibly topped with breadcrumbs.
Don’t leave Savannah without trying at least one serving!
This is the only food on here that isn’t a personal favorite of mine (what can I say, I prefer hash browns), but if you’ve never tried grits, you definitely need to add tasting them to your list of things to do in Savannah!
Order them with shrimp or simply as a side with breakfast–both are extremely popular.
Tasty nuts coated in and stuck together with a sugar syrup (and sometimes cream): say hello to pralines, one of the most popular desserts in the south.
You’ll find these all over Savannah (they’re also very popular in New Orleans), so be sure to pick up several from a candy store and give them a try!
Getting Around Savannah
If you stay in or near the historic district (which you should–more on that in a bit), Savannah is a surprisingly walkable city!
The historic center, complete with its squares, is made for wandering around on foot, and we spend most of our time in Savannah doing just that (all the better to ensure maximum hunger when it’s time to indulge in heavy southern cuisine for dinner).
There are a few exceptions–if you don’t want to book a tour, you’ll need a car to access Tybee Island, Bonaventure Cemetery, and the Wormsloe Plantation.
Parking in the historic center can be very difficult, so we recommend leaving your car at your hotel for most of the time you are sightseeing.
If you’re mobility challenged or simply want to avoid sore feet, consider a Savannah Trolley Tour to get around to the different parts of the historic center.
When to Visit Savannah
Personally, I would never turn down a trip to Savannah, so if you only have one time available, go whenever it is!
If you have more flexibility on your dates, though, here’s what we suggest: avoid the worst heat of the summer in July and August.
Savannah summers are intense and very humid, and they tend to start early and stick around for a long time.
April and May are excellent months to visit, as the flowers will start to bloom and the heat will not have set in yet. September through November are also popular, though depending on the year it can be getting chilly by the end of November.
Where to Stay in Savannah
There’s only one place to consider staying when in Savannah: in the historic district (or at least as close to it as you can get).
Forget downtown–it’s a lovely place, but miles away from the tourist attractions that will fill up your list of the best things to do in Savannah. Stick with the historic district, and you’ll be able to walk to most of the best things to do in Savannah!
Whether you’re looking for a major hotel chain, a boutique inn, or a historical bed and breakfast, Savannah’s historic district and nearby areas have plenty of properties to choose from.
Here are the properties we have most recently stayed in while visiting Savannah: one is in the historic district, the other just across the street from it, and we can highly recommend both!
Best Western: Savannah Historic District — This hotel was perfect for our needs on our most recent trip to Savannah: reasonable on the budget, clean, had parking on site, included a buffet breakfast in the morning, and was within walking distance to all of the major historic district sites. We would happily stay here again.
Holiday Inn Express: Savannah Historic District — I adore this hotel! It is right in the middle of the historic district action, has lots of charm for a chain hotel (we had a spiral staircase in our room!), and also has an included breakfast. We would definitely stay here again.