There is something truly magical about the city of Savannah, Georgia. Its charming atmosphere, its numerous parks, its rich history… no matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it here. Not to mention the famous Southern hospitality and cuisine. Thanks to all of that, the place has retained its alluring charm over the centuries and today offers a very special experience to all its visitors. Spending just one day and exploring what there is to do in Savannah will show you so much about this incredible part of the United States. Enjoy!
What’s the best time to visit Savannah?
Because of its position in the Deep South and its vicinity to the Atlantic Ocean, Savannah is a warm place indeed. In fact, it can get so warm during summer here that you may want to avoid it from June to August if high temperatures bother you. For the best weather conditions, consider coming here in April or October. Mind you, winters in Savannah are also quite mild compared to most other places, so coming here for your Christmas break may be a good idea.
St. Patrick’s Day parade here is one of the biggest in the whole country, while Savannah Music Festival at the end of March showcases dozens of artists. Tybee Island Pirate Fest is also an interesting event to visit, but no matter which month you come you won’t have to worry about what to do in Savannah, GA.
A few facts about Savannah
Savannah is actually Georgia’s oldest city, dating back all the way to 1733. It was created by the settlers from the ship Anne who were led by a British general named James Oglethorpe. Throughout its history and thanks to its position, the city has been a prosperous port and it avoided destruction during the Civil War when it surrendered peacefully to General Sherman.
The city actually got its name from the Savannah River, and it is also the place where Girl Scouts first started to conduct their activities. Today, it is a fairly well developed industrial city and a very popular destination for visitors from all over the U.S. and beyond. With approximately 150,000 people, it is the fifth largest city in Georgia.
One Day in Savannah Itinerary
Follow this guide and make the best of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the best sights and things to do during your one day in Savannah.
Start your day within Forsyth Park
There are plenty of wonderful shaded squares in Savannah (22, to be exact), but if you want to really enjoy a stroll surrounded by greenery head to Forsyth Park. It’s the best thing to do to start your one day in Savannah. Beautifully designed, the park has a magnificent fountain surrounded by some magnificent trees which make for a photo-op you really shouldn’t miss. Furthermore, a bustling farmer’s market is held here every Saturday, so visit it if you’re in town on that day.
Marvel at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Just a few blocks north from the park stands the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. This Roman Catholic church is the oldest of its kind in the whole state, dating back to 1876 (although it was almost destroyed in a fire in 1898). It is an absolutely amazing architectural feat, both from the inside and outside. An array of colors awaits you inside, from the church’s stained windows to its walls adorned with minute details. Without a doubt, one of the best things to see in Savannah.
Walk around Colonial Park Cemetery
Colonial Park Cemetery, right next to the Cathedral, is a major part of Savannah’s Historic District and has been around since the mid-1700s. Therefore, it represents an intriguing way to explore the city’s history. Button Guinnet, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence is buried here, and the whole area exudes peace and serenity. Savannah is known for its green spaces, and this place is certainly one of the reasons why. Walk around and reflect a bit before you go back to the city streets.
Head to the City Market for lunch
After all that sightseeing you must be getting hungry. Fortunately, the City Market is nearby and it really is a lovely place to visit, especially on a sunny day. Shops, restaurants and many other interesting establishments will give you loads of opportunities for window shopping and picking up a souvenir or two, so take your time and explore what is essentially an open-air mall.
Obviously, there are plenty of choices to eat here. Belford’s Savannah is a good place to sit down for a nice meal, especially if you like steaks and/or seafood. For something a little more unique, head to Pie Society to choose from a variety of sweet and savory pies. And if you want a quick bite of a delicious pizza, Vinnie van Go-Go’s is a great choice!
Explore Juliette Gordon Low’s Birthplace
Once you’re done eating, continue your stroll through the Historic District and go to Juliette Gordon Low’s Birthplace. She was the founder of Girl Scouts, and the place is today owned by that organization and acts as a museum. There are guided tours through the house which is designed as a place primarily for girls, so if you are one or if you have girls with you this is one of the most inspirational and fun things to do in Savannah. Do try to book tickets online, as this is a must-see for most tourists.
Visit the Telfair Museums
Slightly northwest from the cathedral are the most important museums in town and one of the best answers to the question “What to do in Savannah?”. The Telfair Museums are composed of three institutions: Owens-Thomas House and Slave Quarters, Jepson Center for Arts and Telfair Academy, the latter being one of the first museums in the U.S. The name Telfair comes from a local illustrious family, and the museums house thousands of splendid works of art ranging from German Impressionism to African art.
Stroll down River Street
You can’t come to Savannah and not go to River Street. It is another must-see in Savannah because it is a window into this city’s past, lined with cobblestone and surrounded with buildings that are now restaurants and shops with some street performers sprinkled around just for good measure.
The place oozes an incredible vibe and is a great location for some people watching, too. Plenty of photo ops, or you can just sit down in a cafe and just soak everything in. Either way, you’ll love it!
End your day in Historic Savannah Theatre
Another fun thing to do in Savannah is to go to the old theatre located in the Historic District. Believe it or not, this has been around since 1818 which makes it the oldest theatre in the whole country! They do put on plays in the evenings and the actors are very talented, so you can expect a great show. Not only that, but in front of the theatre is the bench from Forrest Gump, so you’ll have a great place to take photos there, too.
The nearby square is also the hub of Savannah’s fun and nighlife. Therefore, if you have the energy after one day in this city, you can easily go for a nice drink or even dinner. Husk Savannah is a great place for the latter, while places like Peregrin and Artillery should be able to quench your thirst.
Where to stay in Savannah?
Perry Lane Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel
256 East Perry Street, Savannah, GA 31401
Not only is Perry Lane Hotel located in the very centre of the city, but it also offers absolutely everything you’d expect from a five-star hotel and more. It has evening entertainment, a brilliant rooftop bar, large and incredibly comfortable rooms and a fantastic restaurant. On top of that, many of the fun things to see in Savannah are very close by.
The Marshall House, Historic Inns of Savannah Collection
123 East Broughton Street, Savannah, GA 31401
Spending a night in The Marshall House is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Savannah if you’re looking for excellent accommodation. The beautiful brick building is from 1851 and located in the Historic District, while the high-class restaurant will satisfy even the most demanding guests. The rooms are absolutely beautiful with great touches of antique furniture that blend in this incredible building fantastically. You’ll love it here!
Homewood Suites Savannah Historic District
611 East River Street, Savannah, GA 31401
Another great place to stay in Savannah Historic District is Homewood Suites. This hotel provides an excellent value for your money and is located in a quite beautiful building with a rooftop outdoor pool. The rooms are nice and comfortable, and some of them provide a great view, too. Add to that modern furniture, a gym and free full breakfast, and you can be sure you will get plenty of well-deserved rest on your Savannah day trip.
Kehoe House, Historic Inns of Savannah Collection
123 Habersham Street, Savannah, GA 31401
Another exceptionally beautiful hotel, Kehoe House is actually a mansion dating back to 1892. This stunning brick building is surrounded by some lovely greenery, and the rooms are furnished to reflect its history. Made-to-order breakfasts are served daily, which adds a nice little touch to the whole experience. And given the hotel’s location, you will have plenty of nice places to visit and things to see nearby.
Day trips from Savannah
If you have more than just 24 hours in the city, you may want to consider going on some of the lovely day trips from Savannah. Georgia has a lot to offer, no matter what you’re interested in. Therefore, a few suggestions are in order to put you on the right track.
Tybee Island is incredibly important to the people of Savannah. Not only do they go there for festivals, but this is also where the most popular beach is located. So, if you’re here during summer and are wondering what to do about the heat, this is where you need to go. However, it would be a shame to miss out on a dolphin tour while there and not to see these fantastic animals up close.
If you have a car with you and you’re willing to get a slightly earlier start, why not spend one day in Atlanta? It takes between 3.5 and 4 hours to get there, and there is quite a lot to see in that big city. The CNN Center, the Coca-Cola museum, the Olympic Park… all that and loads of culture and history, especially when it comes to the Civil Rights Movement, make this one of the most entertaining and educational day trips from Savannah you can make.
History of the United States interests you? Well, then head to Beaufort, South Carolina, just across the state border and some 45 miles away from Savannah. There you will find plenty of Civil War homes in tip-top condition and you can even see a plantation or two. A river boat tour is also something that can really make your day while here, plus the whole town is wonderfully picturesque and quaint. A fantastic day out!
Looking for a way to just get away from it all and enjoy the Atlantic Ocean from beautiful sandy beaches? Then Golden Isles is the place to go. Don’t worry, you can get there easily by car. The ride itself is something else too, with plenty of spectacular sceneries and great photo opportunities. Sun, the ocean and the light breeze on your skin – what more could you ask for?
Extra tips for visiting Savannah
– Savannah’s weather conditions are quite humid most of the year (except in winter), so dress accordingly
– Remember the movie Fried Green Tomatoes? Well, that side dish is very much a symbol of Savannah. Make sure you try it during your 24 hours here!
– If you’re visiting during the warmer months, always carry a bottle of water with you. It can get REALLY hot in the city.
– There are plenty of fun things to do in the city, especially in the evening. That’s why you should remember that when it comes to tipping in bars and restaurants about 15% is usually expected from customers.
– A free shuttle operates around the Historic District and takes you to all the best things to see in Savannah. Make the most of it and save time if you don’t have a car with you!
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Anca is a travel writer and the founder of One Day Itinerary - the biggest collection of travel itineraries for those who are time-limited or just want to maximize their time while traveling. Although she easily becomes homesick for Croatia, she thinks travel is essential to her happiness. She has traveled to more countries than she is years old and doesn’t plan on changing that fact. In her travel guides she aims to inspire people to travel whenever they have a spare day (or two).