5 Great Reasons to Visit Savannah

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Savannah isn’t exactly a surprise in the travel world, drawing millions of visitors each year. Yet Savannah flies below some travelers’ radar. Founded almost 300 years ago, this city on the Georgia coast is often overshadowed by more famous historic cities like Boston, Philadelphia, and even nearby Charleston, S.C. If you’ve never been to Savannah, or just passed through on the way somewhere else, you’re missing a great experience. Here are a few reasons the city is one of our favorite destinations.

 

5. Savannah is a Great Place For Walking

Savannah’s shady streets and historic squares make it a great place to take a walk.

Sure, it gets very humid in Savannah in the summer, but even then, this is a great town for a walk. The historic district near the river is laid out in a grid pattern, featuring 22 immaculately landscaped historic squares. It’s all very intuitive and easy to navigate; spend half a day walking the district and you’ll start to feel like a resident, even giving directions to other tourists. Live oak trees draped in Spanish moss provide plenty of shade along the residential streets and in those lush squares. Crosswalks are marked well, and everyone — from residents to visitors — seems to understand that pedestrians rule here.

And there’s another surprise about Savannah you don’t notice until you don’t notice it. For all the residents and tourists walking around, you would expect plenty of panhandling. It’s not a problem in Savannah. The city has a strict panhandling ordinance, with signs even encouraging people to call 911 if they are being hassled by a panhandler. That is a refreshing change from many cities where visitors may be confronted several times in a block by aggressive panhandlers.

 

4. ‘Most Haunted City in America’ Offers Fun Ghost Tours

Bonaventure Cemetery is one of the stops on a ghost tour n Savannah.

Bonaventure Cemetery is one of the stops on a ghost tour in Savannah.

Savannah has been called one of the most haunted cities in America, and while several other places might dispute that claim, there are allegedly plenty of things that go bump in the night here. Several companies offer Savannah ghost tours, usually running about $20-$25 per person, with both walking and trolley options. And some of these tours are even led by real-life paranormal investigators who spice up their tours with recordings and video of their investigations. Fun and chilling stuff.

 

3. History is Everywhere in Savannah

Trolley tours are a great way to see historic Savannah. © Fotoluminate LLC

Savannah boasts one of the largest National Historic Landmark districts in the United States. Everywhere you turn there are historic sites, monuments and markers. Take a walk along Bay Street, and you’ll find a marker in front of the Hyatt Regency, showing the exact site where Gen. James Edward Oglethorpe looked out from a bluff along the Savannah River and founded the colony of Georgia in 1733. A block away, you can take a walk along River Street, a 200-year-old cobblestone street filled with dozens of restaurants, shops, galleries and more.

The aforementioned squares throughout the city’s historic district feature monuments to the city’s storied past. Take a walking tour, or one of the popular trolley tours. Or take a pedicab. You don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate how Savannah has so lovingly embraced its history.

 

2. Savannah Offers Plenty of Entertainment Options

A container ship heads down the Savannah River near the Talmadge Memorial Bridge.

Between all the tours, restaurants, shopping, and pubs, your time in Savannah will run out long before you run out of things to do. A few other ideas to consider: Take a walk along the Savannah River and wait for one of the enormous cargo ships sailing in and out the fourth-largest port in the U.S. Or get out on the river yourself on a 90-minute riverboat cruise for an up-close look at the Savannah riverfront and the spectacular Talmadge Memorial Bridge. Stand in a line a block long to get a treat at Leopold’s Ice Cream. Why, you ask, would anyone wait that long just for ice cream? Because it’s a Savannah tradition (and it’s very good ice cream). One more must-see destination is Bonaventure Cemetery, featured in the movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

 

1. Savannah Has an Amazing Restaurant and Bar Scene

The restaurants and bars along Savannah’s historic riverfront come alive at night. © Sean Pavone

Savannah draws hundreds of thousands of visitors for the second-largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the U.S. And the city has the pubs and restaurants to accommodate them all. Best of all, the restaurants and bars in the historic district are an easy walk from the many downtown hotels. And while there are a few places where you can drop a small fortune on lunch or dinner, a surprising number of eateries and pubs in historic Savannah are very reasonably priced.

Written by

The author is a longtime professional journalist who has interviewed everyone from presidential contenders to hall of fame athletes to rock 'n' roll legends while covering politics, sports, and other topics for both local and national publications and websites. His latest passions are history, geography and travel. He's traveled extensively around the United States seeking out the hidden wonders of the country.