Historic & Haunted Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is one of my favorite Southern cities. Designed by James Oglethorpe in 1733, Savannah is laid out into 22 squares, each unique in design. With its majestic white fountain, Forsyth Square is Savannah’s most visited site. My family has been visiting Savannah, Georgia for almost 20 years. It is truly a timeless city.
This city, Georgia’s oldest, is full of Civil War history, antiques, art, and beautiful gardens. The architecture and antebellum mansions framed in silvery Spanish moss-lined live oak trees are a tourist’s dream. Savannah bears witness to the South’s finest hospitality. Read on to see why I love this laid-back city.
Hop On-Hop Off
Taking the Old Town Trolley tour is a must for first-time visitors. With 15 hop-on/hop-off stops, the 90 minutes narrated tour will introduce you to Savannah’s biggest and most popular attractions, including the Andrew Low House, Cathedral of St. John, River Street, and Mercer House.
My favorite stop is Juliette Gordon Low’s Birthplace, home to the first Girl Scout headquarters. It is open year-round and sees around 75,000 visitors annually. In 1965, the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace became Savannah’s first National Historic Landmark.
Shopping in Savannah
Shoppers will love Savannah’s boutiques, antiques, gourmet food, stylish jewelry, and local art. Broughton Street is my favorite. Be sure to drop in Levy’s Jewelers and admire all of their baubles. The City Market is a pedestrian-only arcade full of shops, art galleries, restaurants, and underground clubs. Do not miss The Christmas Shop, home to ornaments, decorations, unique jewelry, collectibles, and darling baby items.
The cobblestoned River Street is definitely a tourist trap but does have some interesting shops and reasonably priced restaurants. I do not recommend bringing your children here at night.
Frightening Ghost Tours
Savannah is full of tour companies that feed on visitors wanting a good scare, chance to capture a spirit on film or just a good story to take home and tell their friends. Savannah, the “Most Haunted City in America”, offers nightly ghost tours by foot, trolley, and even a hearse. Grab a copy of John Berendt’s “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” or watch the movie before you come so that you can get acquainted with the famous cross-dresser, Lady Chablis, and learn more about the town’s eccentric past.
Seek out the gravesite of Johnny Mercer (author of “Moon River”) and Jim Williams (the main character in “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”) at the stunning Bonaventure Cemetery. My favorite ghost stories pertain to the Juliette Gordon Low House, Mercer-Williams House, and Marshall House Hotel.
Savannah, A Paula Deen City
Foodies will delight in the mouth-watering Southern staples found in Savannah, including Fried Green Tomatoes, Collard Greens, Black-eyed Peas, Creamy Grits, and the true southern staple, sweet tea. Paula Deen’s The Lady and Sons (which I would argue put Savannah on the map for non-history buffs) has been serving Savannah the best of Southern foods since 1991. Her restaurant moved downtown in 1996 and now seats 330 people and has a darling gift shop.
With several best-selling cookbooks, TV spots, and her sons Bobby and Jamie bustling around inside the quaint restaurant, it was easy to see why Paula’s eatery is in such high demand. Perhaps the mint garnished sweet tea, homemade macaroni and cheese, and ever-changing buffet keep this place full at all hours of the day. I am thinking it is the sinful, yet heavenly Butter Gooey Cakes. I remember my children eating fried chicken (on a bone, of course) for the first time here.
Noteworthy Eats in Savannah
A trip to Savannah would not be complete without a sampling, and purchase, from River City Sweets. Here, you can watch pralines, taffy, fudge, and other confections being made. The smells alone will make your mouth water. For ice cream lovers, Leopold’s is a Savannah staple and continually ranked as one of the best ice cream shops in the nation.
The Gryphon Restaurant/Tea Room boasts white tablecloths, mahogany walls, and stained glass panels. It is my favorite hidden gem in Savannah. Operated by SCAD students, it is a tasty spot for lunch or afternoon tea, featuring assorted teas and three tiers of tea sandwiches, scones, petit fours, and pastries. Gryphon’s decor is brilliant and the food and tea are excellent!
Noteworthy restaurants in Savannah include the soul food institution, Mrs. Wilkes Boarding Room, and the chic and stylish Elizabeth on 37th. My favorite is the Olde Pink House, a former 18th-century mansion converted into a restaurant. Try the Low Country She Crab Soup or Shrimp & Grits. Be sure to check out the basement at the Olde Pink House, as it is home to a piano bar featuring live entertainment. Pick up a cookbook at one of Savannah’s more popular restaurants as a souvenir.
A Town with a Passionate College Scene
You will see the word “SCAD” all over Savannah. SCAD, Savannah College of Art and Design, is the world’s largest art school. SCAD features a community of working artists and musicians restoring and revitalizing the downtown area. Neighborhood galleries, museums, live performances, and the shopSCAD store showcase SCAD’s students’ talents and unique gifts. They also promote bike transportation throughout the large campus, which is obvious from the hundreds of bicycles you will see around town.
My Favorite Hotel to Stay At
For overnight accommodations in Savannah with the best value and location, I recommend the luxurious Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa. The Westin has an outdoor pool overlooking the riverfront, spacious rooms complete with heavenly beds, and offers free ferry rides to River Street.
Savannah: A City to Fall in Love With
Savannah, Georgia will win your heart and stomach. The city is easily accessible from the interstate and located close to Hilton Head and Tybee Island for short day trips. Come experience the epitome of true Southern traditions in this beautiful city.
Tip: The Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church, and Trinity United Methodist Church are great photo spots.
Savannah Photo Gallery:
Check out our post on Tybee Island, just a hop, skip, and jump from Savannah.
Other nearby vacation spots: