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The 13 best things to do in Savannah

Home to must-visit historic sites and Lowcountry landscapes, the best things to do in Savannah will make you swoon

Written by
Gerrish Lopez
Contributor
Amy Paige Condon
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Sure, it’s only the state’s fifth-largest city, and yet the best things to do in Savannah are simply some of the best things to do in Georgia, full stop. Oozing with Southern charm, the port city’s historic district alone dazzles with cobblestone streets and buildings that date back to the 18th- and 19th-century. But branch out from the historic center and you’ll discover a Lowcountry landscape of darling shops, neighborhood restaurants, and a trove of art and museums.

Looking for a warm welcome? This place is home to the type of Southern hospitality that rivals even New Orleans and Charleston — there’s a reason it’s called the Hostess City of the South, after all. Fill your days with these amazing things to do in Savannah, where beauty and charm are something of a local specialty.

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Best things to do in Savannah, ranked

The elegant Forsyth Fountain, more than 150 years old, anchors the north side of this lovely park. Without question, it’s an iconic representation of Savannah’s beauty. The 30+ acre park has a playground, a bandshell, and plenty of trees for relaxing in the shade. Stop by on Saturdays for the weekly Forsyth Farmers’ Market and pick up treats for a perfect picnic.

Savannah’s waterfront features cobblestone streets that wind through historic buildings and former cotton warehouses that are now independent boutiques, art galleries, and award-winning restaurants. Stroll to the sound of live music, take a riverboat cruise, pick up a few souvenirs, or enjoy the sunset from the river’s edge before indulging in a delicious meal.

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If any place illuminates the area’s dark beauty, it’s the storied Bonaventure Cemetery in Thunderbolt, a historic shrimping community east of Savannah. The midcentury musical impresario, Johnny Mercer, lays beneath skulking live oaks fringed in Spanish moss, as does poet Conrad Aiken, a testament to Savannah’s history in literature. Here, the eyes of angels and Renaissance beauties are carved in marble and seem to follow your stroll along the meandering sandy paths (tread in peace).

In the 1890s, a group of African Americans formerly enslaved on the Sea Islands established a small fishing village along the Moon River. The Pin Point Heritage Museum, made up of four restored buildings, tells the village’s story while also offering serene views of the salt marshes along the Moon River. A few hundred people still live here, and every fall the village hosts a popular seafood festival — it’s a total catch.

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Love tutti-frutti ice cream? It was invented at this old-fashioned ice cream shop, which opened on Broughton Street more than a century ago. Beyond their iconic treat, you’ll also find homespun recipes for butter pecan, lemon custard, and mint chocolate chip. You can expect a line at this sparkling soda fountain no matter the weather but trust us: it's worth the wait.

They don’t always teach these stories in history class, but Patt Gunn, a Gullah-Geechee descendant, celebrates the many and varied cultural contributions of enslaved Africans on her Slaves in the City walking tour. Learn more about the city’s history with a visit to the First African Baptist Church, which shines a spotlight on the role parishioners played in the Underground Railroad and Civil Rights Movement.

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Several spots offer views of Savannah’s Lowcountry tidal creeks, marshes, and rivers, but there’s nothing like getting a feel for this terrain first-hand on a kayak. Spot eagles, osprey, and the occasional otter or dolphin while paddling these estuaries. Looking to make it easy? Moon River Kayak tours offer everything you need for your adventure.

This fanciful emporium of art and wares was designed by students, faculty, and alums of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). To help struggling arts promote their work, the university opened this corner boutique (across from its delectable Gryphon Tea Room on Madison Square) for the sole purpose of selling one-of-a-kind paintings, prints, textiles, jewelry, and accessories produced by the SCAD community.

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A single pass will grant you access to a handful of must-see museums: visit the Telfair Academy, a neoclassical Regency mansion that displays 19th and 20th-century paintings, ephemera, silver, and sculptures from the museum’s permanent collection; the shimmering and sleek Jepson Center, a showcase for traveling contemporary art exhibits; and the Owen-Thomas House, an 1819 William Jay-designed home and slave quarters (among its insightful features is a haint blue ceiling painted by slaves in their quarters — at the time, the paint was considered to ward off evil spirits).

Surrounded by repurposed shipping containers, this family-friendly park on 40th Street offers a rotating lineup of food trucks and live music. There are play areas for dogs and kids, plus a bar for the adults (there’s cornhole, too, a perfect game for all ages). For a sure-bet, head to the Vittoria Pizzeria, a brick-and-mortar that serves wood-fired pizzas, or let yourself be surprised (some of the rotating food trucks are among the best in the city).

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This veteran-owned craft brewery donates a portion of its proceeds to veterans assistance programs. Here, you’ll find a regular lineup of music and you’ll often spot a food truck pulled outside that slings tacos and empanadas. And, with every pint of Ground Pounder, Compass Rose, Rally Point, or Lincoln’s Oyster Stout sold, a homeless veteran is one step closer to a tiny house.

A good man may be hard to find, but a great story isn’t, especially at this narrow townhome on Lafayette Square where Mary Flannery O’Connor lived in the shadow of St. John the Baptist Cathedral until the age of 11. The home celebrates O’Connor’s quirky legacy with informative tours, whimsical tchotchkes, lectures by visiting authors, an annual birthday party and parade, and a series of Little Free Public Libraries.

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For more outdoor activities in Savannah, head to Daffin Park. The park includes a track for runners, basketball and tennis courts, giant oak trees (perfect for picnics), and Grayston Stadium. Baseball fans can check out the city’s minor league team, the Savannah Sand Gnats, to round out their tour.

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