If you are reading this, then you are planning a day trip to the beautiful city of Savannah, Georgia. Known as the Hostess city for its southern charm and hospitality, Savannah is filled with so much to do. From historic buildings, beautiful squares, mansions and cobblestone streets, Spanish moss in the trees, boutiques, gourmet restaurants and so much more. There is something for everyone in Savannah. So this great list will give you the best things to see and do on your day trip to savannah GA.
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Located near the Georgia coast, Savannah is a great day trip from Hilton Head, South Carolina or the nearby barrier island, Tybee Island. It also makes an easy stop if you are just driving through to your next destination, because its located not far from Interstate 95. And if you are flying in, the closest airport is Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) located about 12 miles from the city.
About The Savannah Historic District
Savannah was the first city founded in Georgia and also the first planned city in America. Designed by General James Oglethorpe, he planned the city out in a series of grids with public parks and squares. These common areas served as community meeting places within the city. And twenty-two of the twenty four original public squares remain today.
The Historic District is the heart of Savannah. And is one of the top ten largest national historic landmark district in the United States. The district is located within the boundaries of the Savannah River, E. Broad Street, Forsyth Park and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. The historic district is about a mile wide by a mile deep, so everything is within walking distance.
Filled with historic squares, house museums, mansions, churches, monuments and forts from the Civil War eras. Savannah is full of rich history. This one day Savannah itinerary will give you the best places to spend your day. It is however more to see and do in one day. So you can select your favorite places to visit and map out your day from there.
Best Things To See And Do On Your Day Trip To Savannah GA
1. First stop is the Savannah Visitor Center
If this is your first time in the hostess city then I would highly recommend a stop int the visitor center. Unless you already have a plan when you visit Savannah, this is a great place to start to plan your day trip. Here you can pick up a city map, browse the gift shop and visit the Savannah History Museum. You can park for free the first hour and thereafter its $1 per hour. So its not a bad place to park and walk from there.
2. Consider an Old Town Trolley Tour
For first time visitors the trolly tour is one of the best ways to explore the city of Savannah. The trolly tour allows you to get on and off at 15 stops around the city. it is recommended to ride the trolly around one full loop to hear the entire tour and then on your second loop around you can get off at your most desired locations. And that’s what we did.
This is the best way to see the city, especially if you prefer not to do thousands of steps of walking. Otherwise, make sure to wear your walking shoes! Also, parking in the city is sometimes difficult. There is limited free parking at the trolly station and parking at the visitor center.
PRO TIP: The tour guide makes the trip! So, if you aren’t that happy with yours, just hop off and get on the next bus!
Book Your Old Town Trolley Tour HERE
3. Visit the prettiest street in Savannah
Time and time again, Jones Street has been named the most beautiful street in the United States. Located just a few blocks from Forsyth Park, Jones Street is a great stop on the ay to or from the park. With brick paved streets, beautiful historic homes, unique street signs, flags of patriotism, colorful landscaping, live oaks and blooming azaleas. These are some of the reasons Jones Street is so beautiful!
And the highly rated restaurant Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room is located on Jones Street too. Only serving lunch, the restaurant is easy to miss because its located in an old home and blends in with the others.
4. Walk around Forsyth Park
Located at the border of the Historic District, Forsyth Park is Savannah oldest and largest park spanning 30 acres. From its sheer size, you could spend a half a day alone walking around enjoying everything it has to offer. From relaxing by the city’s most famous water fountain to shopping the Saturdays farmers market, Forsyth Park has an activity for everybody. If time permits at Forsyth Park, these are some activities you can enjoy at the park:
- Photo opportunity at the Iconic Fountain
- Visit the Garden of Fragrance for the Blind
- Breakfast, Brunch or Lunch at Forsyth Collins Quarter
- Cocktails at Collins Quarter of 700 Drayton
- Activities abound: walking, relaxing, bird watching, tennis, basketball and volleyball
- Saturdays Farmers Market
- Live performances at the outdoor amphitheater
We only had time to visit the fountain on our day trip to Savannah GA. However, we had a few extra days in Savannah, so we were able to go back and explore more!
5. Visit the famous Chippewa Square
You know the scene in the movie Forrest Gump where he waited for the bus on the park bench? Well, this is the square. The park bench however can be found at the Savannah History Museum. Chippewa Square, one of Savannah’s most popular squares is located in the center of Savannah’s Historic District. it is one of the 22 remaining historic squares in the city.
The square is located at Bull Street and Hull Street and is considered a “gateway square” for entering the area for Savannah’s nightlife and entertainment. On Bull Street you will find a variety of great restaurants and fun boutiques along the way.
Also located at the square is The Savannah Theatre. It is the oldest theatre in the United States and still produces shows nightly. You can check the schedule HERE.
6. Shop on Broughton Street
Known as the heart of the shopping district in downtown Savannah, Broughton Street is full of boutiques, coffee shops and restaurants. On this beautiful shopping and dining street you will find the historic Marshall House. A Savannah landmark since 1851. Its worth a peek inside!
On Broughton Street, there are way to many shops to name them all, however here are some favorites and deserving of a visit:
Day Trip to Savannah GA Things to See on Broughton Street
- The Paris Market: A Parisian flea market offering all kinds of unique and whimsical home goods set in a French style decor. And with a lovely coffee shop located in the store.
- Savannah Bee Company: For all things honey stop into SBC! You get to sample all the flavors of honey they offer. And make sure to try the HOT honey, its very interesting. You can also sample a flight of mead. This is also a stop on one of the Savannah Food Tours.
- Leopold’s Ice Cream: Serving ice cream since 1919, so there might be a long line especially on a hot day, but you’ll know you are in the right place. The average wait time is about an hour. But here’s a PRO TIP: If you want to buy a pint of ice cream, just go up to the cashier on the door to the left and purchase one, so you can skip the line. Thats what we did and ended up taking 2 pints home! Or place your order online and pick it up, this will reduce your wait time.
- Gutstein Gallery: This gallery is one of many owned and restored by Savannah College of Art and Design. Featuring works of SCAD alumni students along with nationally known artists. Admission is free and its open Monday thru Friday.
- Pelindaba Lavender: And for a complete lavender experience, head over to Pelindaba Lavender. They are a premier lavender grower and offer all lavender things for the home, body and kitchen.
- The Olde Pink House: If you feel like making a slight detour, then visit this restaurant serving Southern cuisine in a historic mansion built in 1771. If you don’t have time to grab a bite, just take a peek at the decor inside.
And after your shopping and dining on Broughton Street, make your way over to City Market.
7. Stroll through City Market
City Market is an open-air market in Savannah filled with restaurants, art galleries, bars, and shops. It is a small 2 block area, however very well known. It even has a unique museum that houses a Zagat-rated speakeasy! This area is a must walk through on your day trip to Savannah GA.
Wondering where to find this area? These are the boundaries:
- North: W Bryan Street
- East: Barnard Street (Ellis Square)
- South: W Congress Street
- West: Montgomery Street (Franklin Square)
Some of the top rated things to see and do at City Market are:
- Grab a New-York style pizza at Vinnie Van Go-Go. Its cash only, so don’t try to pay by credit card.
- Tour the American Prohibition Museum and have a cocktail at the speakeasy.
- Enjoy a nice lunch or dinner at Belford’s Seafood and Steaks.
- Visit the city’s most active square, Ellis Square. This square has a water fountain for kids to run through, a life size chess set, bikes to rent and shaded tables.
- As you stroll through, stop into the souvenir shops and art galleries.
8. Walk River Street and Plant Riverside District
Your visit to historic Savannah won’t be complete without a walk down River Street and the waterfront. Experience the new entertainment district at Plant Riverside with the JW Marriott, rooftop patios, restaurants, shops and beautiful water views! And walk down River Street to get your free praline sample at River Street Sweets!
You can also book a Savannah Riverboat Cruise. They have sailings throughout the day with sightseeing, brunch, lunch, dinner and sunset cruises available.
9. Visit Colonial Park Cemetery
Colonial Park Cemetery is located in the heart of Savanna’s Historic District. It’s one of the oldest intact cemeteries in Savannah dating back to 1750. The cemetery spands over six acres and has more than 9000 graves.
In 1853, burial ceased and 43 years later It became a city park. To this day, it is still considered one of the most haunted places in Savanah. So if haunted things allure you, considered taking a Savannah Ghost Tour.
The park is open to visitors daily from 8am to 5pm.
10. Visit one of the many historic homes in downtown Savannah
There are so many historic houses and historic sites to see in Savannah. And in a day there is no way to see them all. So here is a very brief description of the most popular ones, so you can decide which one(s) you want to explore a little closer.
- Owens-Thomas House and Slave Quarters: This is the only intact house and slave quarters open to the public in Savannah.
- Davenport House Museum: A popular wedding spot, known for its beautiful courtyard and grounds.
- Green-Meldrim House: General William Sherman used the thishouse as his headquarters during the Civil War.
- Andrew Low House: A beautifully restored home with a historic garden and courtyard that sits on Lafayette Square
- Telfair Academy: The oldest public art museum in the south and also the fist art museum to be founded by a woman.
- Sorrel-Weed House: This home is one of the most haunted places in Savanah.
- Harper Fowlkes House: Home of the woman who lead the historic preservation movement in Savannah
- Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace: Savannah’s first Registered National Historic Landmark and founder of The Girl Scouts
- Scarbrough House: Once home to one of the owners of the Savannah, the first steamship to sail across the Atlantic Ocean.
- Mercer Williams House: This is the house from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
11. Admire A Beautiful Place Of Worship
Among all the beautiful historic structures in Savannah, you cant miss the many churches and places of worship. There are some amazing building with striking architecture. Some, so tall you can’t miss them, others difficult to see up close because the lush trees and height. These are some of the most visited:
- First African Baptist Church
- Congregation Mickve Israel
- Cathedral Basilica of St. John
- Christ Church
- Independent Presbyterian Church
12. Visit a few Historic Squares
As your visit takes you around the city, remember to include a few historic squares. The are located every few blocks within the historic district. We already mentioned a few, however each square is unique and deserving of a visit. Another one to consider is Johnson Square .
Johnson Square is among the 22 squares of Savannah. Located in the northernmost row of the city’s five rows of squares. It was the first of the squares to be laid out, in 1733, and remains the largest. You can find it east of Ellis Square.
Things To See Outside Of Downtown Historic Savannah
While downtown Savannah is filled with so many great things to see, there is a a lot outside of the city too! So if times permits or you just want a change of scenery from the city then check out these surrounding sites.
1. Visit one of the world’s most beautiful cemeteries
Located only 3 miles from downtown Savannah is the historic Bonaventure Cemetery. Open daily from 8am to 5pm and free to visit. This 100 acres cemetery is full of tree lines streets, blooming azaleas and camellias, monuments and vistas. It is all very impressive and the historic section which dates back to 1846 is where it all began.
At Bonaventure you can easily walk around for hours. However, the gate closes promptly a 5pm so don’t try to stay around. Make sure to bring water, bug spray and sunscreen. The cemetery offers guided tours on the second weekend of every month at 2pm on Saturday and Sunday.
But if those times don’t work for you, check out this Walking Bonaventure Cemetery Tour. Or you can always download the app for $4.99 and follow the self-guided tour. Its not perfect, but once you start using it, you can figure it out.
3. Wormslow Historic Site
Another great place to visit is Wormslow Historic Site. You enter through a breathtaking avenue of live oaks with Spanish moss leading you down the one mile road to the visitor center. At the visitor you can enjoy a short firm, tour the museum and browse the gift shop. A walking trail takes you by the tabby ruins and there are over 5 mies of walking trails. So expect to spend a few hours exploring the grounds. The site is open daily from 9am to 4:45pm.
4. Old Fort Jackson
Only minutes away from historic Savannah is Old Fort Jackson. Built in 1808, Fort Jackson is Georgia’s oldest standing brick fort. This National Historic Landmark offers daily cannon firings and interactive programs. Open daily from 9am to 4pm.
5. Drive over to Tybee Island
Known as Savannah’s beach, Tybee Island is about 25 minutes outside of downtown Savannah. This fun and quirky little beach town is worth a visit. Make sure to visit Fort Pulaski, climb the Tybee Lighthouse and have a beer and pizza at Huc A Poos. For all the great things to do on Tybee Island, check this out:
Wondering where to camp on your visit to Savannah or Tybee Island?
6. Day Trip to Hilton Head
Located less than an hour away, Hilton Head is the next stop on our East Coast Summer Travel Trip. Beautiful beaches and world class golf make Hilton Head a top travel destination. So follow us up the coast as we travel from Georgia to Maine. Coming soon: Things to do on Hilton Head.
Day Trip to Savannah GA Conclusion
In my experience, you can see a lot of Savannah in one day and really get a feel for the city! That being said, Savannah is also a perfect place for a weekend getaway. We visited the first week of May. The weather was perfect and we had a great time!
Savannah is a great place to enjoy good food, learn a little history and enjoy some southern hospitality!
And after our visit to Savannah, we had to watch Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil since there were so many references to the movie. It was fun to reference parts in the movie that we were able to see first hand. You can stream it for $2.99 on Amazon Prime.
I hope you enjoy your day trip to Savannah GA, as much as we did!
Or if you’re looking for other great stops along the east coast, here are a few:
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