Things to do in Savannah.

By Posted in - Blog & Destinations & USA on January 15th, 2015 Savannah, Georgia

Updated March 2016

By Cacinda Maloney

Get yourself into that Southern mood, the sweet sickness that is Savannah’s lure. I call it le mal doux, which is French for “the sweet sickness”. How? You ask? Read or see the movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, before you take on the task of visiting Savannah, Georgia. You remember it? It became a New York Times best seller for 216 weeks following its debut and later Clint Eastwood made a movie about it in 1999. It is atmospherically centered around Savannah. It will get you into that Southern mood!

Things to do in Savannah

Forsyth Park

Things to do in Savannah

1. The Bonaventure Cemetery

I have a fascination with cemeteries; I think it is genetic, as I used to visit cemeteries with my Dad as a kid. Stepping foot in Bonaventure, with its avenues of 250-year-old live oaks and quintessentially southern gothic look took my breath away. It captured me right from the moment I saw it with its natural cathedrals, tombstones, and sculptural gardens. It transcends time, as you walk past each stone, where many of the soldiers of the Civil War are buried. Also singer-songwriter Johnny Mercer, who wrote “Moon River” and “That Old Black Magic” is buried here as well. This, of course, was one of my favorite things to do in Savannah.

Savannah GA

Things to do in Savannah

Bonaventure Cemetery is just a short drive from the Historic District. It was a hotbed of tourist activity after Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil book got published in 1994. The famous “bird girl” statue that was on the cover of the book was brought here and put on the Trosdale family plot. It was located by photographer Jack Leigh, hired by Random house to shoot the cover for the book and recommended by the author of the book to look here for its cover. It has since been relocated to Telfair Museum of Art, where it is on display.

Things to do in Savannah

Savannah, Georgia

Things to do in Savannah

Things to do in Savannah

2. Look around at the Beauty

No matter how many photographs I took of Savannah, it was never enough to capture her true beauty and charm, the crown jewel of the Old South. Everywhere I turned there were cobble stoned streets, parks, fountains, Spanish moss and town squares. I knew I would find some amazing things to do in Savannah. I was so excited to begin my tour of the most beautiful downtown area of any city in all of the United States (in my humble opinion) that I had ever seen. I don’t say that lightly, as I have been to quite a few. But there is definitely something special about this one.

Things to do in Savannah

Things to do in Savannah

Savannah, Georgia

Things to do in Savannah

Things to do in Savannah

3. Learn a Little History

As America’s first planned city, the town squares are where you will want to begin in your exploration to find things to do in Savannah. It is also known as the best walking city in America. Savannah was founded by James Oglethorpe in 1733 and was based on a grid system with twenty four town squares, which is a brilliant and logical way to create a city. All the housing and public buildings are arranged in this manner. Today, there are twenty one of the original twenty four town squares left. Three were taken over by construction companies and demolished, before the ladies of the Historic Savannah Foundation stopped this dreadful practice. One of the three has been restored to its original grandeur and rebuilt according to its original plan. I just love those southern belles of the Historic Savannah Foundation!

Savannah, Georgia

Things to do in Savannah

Things to do in Savannah

4. Shop Till You Drop

Some of the most exciting shops can be found in the Downtown Design District on Whitaker Street between Charlton Lane and Gaston. I always make time for shopping and one the best shops is One Fish, Two Fish at the corner of Whitaker and Jones. Yes, that Jones street!

Things to do in Savannah

Things to do in Savannah

5.  Admire Savannah’s Planned Community

As you walk, you can read the plaques in each square to appreciate the history of the area. Don’t forget to visit Chippewa Square to say you’ve been to the park bench where Forrest Gump was filmed. In the opening scene of the film, a feather floats high above the trees, then sweeps down past the Independent Presbyterian Church and makes its way toward Chippewa Square. It eventually lands on this park bench. (If you take the trolly mentioned below, you will see Forrest walking by, on his way to the bench.) If you are tired from walking, you can also get around town by taking any of the trolley tours that are available. I chose the Old Savannah Trolley Tours, which is a hop on/hop type of trolley system that takes you around the grid system and allows you to get on and off as you please.

Savannah, Georgia

Things to do in Savannah

Savannah GA

Things to do in Savannah

Things to do in Savannah

6. Take a Fine Home Tours:

Thomas-Owens House: There are many homes to tour, but be sure and visit the Thomas-Owens House since it is considered one of the finest examples of English Regency architecture in America. It was built in 1819 and occupied a complete block featuring a cast iron balcony, a winding double staircase and arched storybook windows.

Savannah, Georgia

Things to do in Savannah

Still there is the indigo ceiling, which was where the slaves quarters on the first floor used to be. This is the largest example of “haint” blue painting known to exist in America. The paint was created by mixing indigo, lime and buttermilk and was used to ward of evil spirits and put on everything from the ceiling to the doors, the windows and even behind or underneath furnishings.

Savannah, Georgia

Things to do in Savannah

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia

Juliette Gordon Low House: The founder of Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low, was from Savannah and you can tour a bit of Girl Scout history right here in Savannah. She founded the Girl Scouts in 1912 and there is a tour of her house most days.

Things to do in Savannah

7. Visit Medford Square

The birthplace of “Jingle Bells” – There is a plaque on 19 High Street in the center of Medford Square that reads the “birthplace” of “Jingle Bells” in 1850. James Pierpont wrote the song at the Simpson Tavern and was inspired by the town’s popular sleigh races in the 19th Century, according to the historical society.

Things to do in Savannah

8. Take a Walk in the Park

Forsyth Park: No visit to Savannah is complete without a trip to Forsythe Park to see the most alluring water fountain in the center of the park, with the park surrounded by beautiful mansions that have been restored.  They make for beautiful scenery. I was there in November and so I was lucky to be able to see the amazing fall colors throughout the town. This is one of the wonderful things to do in Savannah.

Things to do in Savannah

Forsyth Park

Savannah, Georgia

Things to do in Savannah

Things to do in Savannah

9. Taste a piece of Nostalgia

Leopold’s Ice Cream Shop: No trip to Savannah is complete without a stop at Leopold’s, open since 1919. It has had a few closures and moves since then, but much of the current décor, such as the original soda fountain, the banana split boats and the malted milk dispenser are still being used. For a bit of nostalgia, you can still see the Philco radio and the wooden interior phone booth. It is like walking back in time.

Things to do in Savannah

10. Walk Down to River Street and the Waterfront

A bit “kitschy” for my liking, but still you should go down there to take a peak and walk along the riverfront. Unfortunately, the area has been taken over by tourist and touristy type establishments, but that is to be expected in a town that draws in so many tourists. And tourists find many things to do in Savannah, things like haunted house tours, shopping and lots of good places to eat.

Savannah, Georgia

Things to do in Savannah

Things to do in Savannah

Things to do in Savannah

Things to do in Savannah

11. Visit The First African Baptist Church

A cultural treasure, this church was founded in 1777 by George Leile, the slave of a Baptist Church Deacon! The church was built by its congregation made up of entirely slaves and finished in 1859. It is on Franklin Square and was once a stop on the Underground Railroad. Still today you can see the holes drilled into the floor to funnel fresh air into the tunnels below for escaped slaves.

Things to do in Savannah

12. Say “thank you” to the General

I have a big “Thank You” to say to General William T. Sherman, you know, the General in the Union Army during the American Civil War? In his famous “March to the Sea” at the end of the Civil War, he had burned down almost every plantation in the South, as well as the city of Atlanta, but not Savannah, he left it untouched as a Christmas present to President Abraham Lincoln.

Telegram sent to the Capital, December 21, 1864:

“I beg to present to you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah…”

And what a Christmas gift she was!

Things to do in Savannah

Things to do in Savannah

13. Visit Elvis, age 21

Things to do in Savannah, Savannah, Georgia, Elvis Presley, Jepson Center

Photograph by Alfred Wertheimer (1929–2014)

The King is back in Savannah the summer of 2016 to coincide with the 60thanniversary of his first show in Savannah way back in 1956!  The year Elvis became a star! Admire black and white photographs taken of Elvis, back when Elvis was 21 and trying to make it in the world.  The photographs are by Alfred Wertheimer, who then was a young freelance photojournalist. Wertheimer was able to capture images of the young superstar in his early years. You will find this cool collection of young Elvis at  Jepson Center for the Arts.

Things to do in Savannah

14. Fall in Love with Savannah

Oh Savannah, how is it possible that I have been alive all these years and never been to you for a visit? How could I have overlooked your charms? It seems almost impossible, but visiting Savannah only kindled my desire to return to her elegant architecture, her fancy ironworks, her stunning fountains and her 21 squares. Visitors from all over the world come to see Savannah and it is only now that I have finally found her. I am smitten with passion for Savannah!

San Miguel de Allende and Vienna you have a new rival in town, let me introduce you to my new lover: Savannah

The way I see it, love is complicated and it is possible to have more than one great love in life!

Things to do in Savannah

Things to do in Savannah

Things to do in Savannah

Where to stay

Do not be tempted by the lower rates outside of the historic district, because the historic district is where you want to be, where you can walk to everything, even though parking is limited.

I stayed at the River Street Inn, along River Street and as far as location, it was perfect as it overlooks the Savannah River. It is an old restored building with brick walls, archways and hardwood floors. The structure itself is gorgeous, but as far as the rooms go, it could be updated, however, if you are there to explore and not spend much time in the room, this will work.

Savannah, Georgia

Things to do in Savannah

Savannah, Georgia

Things to do in Savannah

Tips for a Great Tour of Savannah

  • Put on a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect your skin.
  • Dress cool; you will be walking a lot, although the trolly tour helps.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, refer to #2 above
  • Bring along a camera to take home some inspiring photos, as I am sure you will want to post a few to Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram!
Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia

Things to do in Savannah

For more things to do in Savannah, check out:

Bucket List of 25 Things To Do in Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia

Things to do in Savannah

Savannah, Georgia

The walls Savannah, Georgia… If walls could speak!

Check out my Notemap on Findery called: Savannah, Georgia – Love At First Sight

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah GA

Savannah GA

Disclosure: I was an invited guest to by the Savannah Tourism Board, but my love of Savannah comes strictly from my heart.

(25) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Shobha - Reply

    January 15, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    I’ve always wanted to go to Savannah ever since I read the book (and saw the movie), Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil. It looks stunning!

    • Cacinda Maloney - Reply

      January 15, 2015 at 2:08 pm

      oh it is so stunning!! Read the book and see the movie again before you go!

  • Kristin - Reply

    January 16, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    I love Savannah! We made the drive from Vanderbilt several times for mini breaks. I also recommend reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and visiting some of the spots from the book. The food everywhere is divine. Beautiful photos, you are making me want to plan another trip!

    • Cacinda Maloney - Reply

      January 16, 2015 at 4:47 pm

      I had to watch the movie before I went! Loved it! Let’s go there some time again, I am dying to go back!

  • Julie Cohn - Reply

    January 17, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    It’s been many years since I have been to Savannah, but it is such a beautiful city, and your photos really highlighted that beauty so well!

    • Cacinda Maloney - Reply

      January 17, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      Thank you! You should go back, I can’t wait to go again!

  • Craig Haffner - Reply

    January 18, 2015 at 11:36 am

    What a beautiful, BEAUTIFUL love letter. Thank you !

    • Cacinda Maloney - Reply

      January 19, 2015 at 9:11 am

      Wow! Coming from you that means a lot. I was never really intrigued with going to Savannah until I saw the movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” Then I got hooked and wanted to go. I would love to see your musical production of it in New York, Los Angeles or London one day!

  • Karisa @ Flirting with the Globe - Reply

    January 19, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    I adore Savannah (and am lucky enough to live just 4 hours away). If the weather is nice, the city market area is a lovely way to spend an afternoon as well!

    • Cacinda Maloney - Reply

      January 19, 2015 at 12:56 pm

      Karisa, I cannot wait to go back and spend more time there!

  • Kate ~ Beak Up Crafts - Reply

    January 23, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    Savannah looks great! I’ve never been but I love all of the pumpkins – how cool! – and the architecture is stunning.

    • Cacinda Maloney - Reply

      January 23, 2015 at 1:21 pm

      Oh, I absolutely fell in love and need to go back!

  • […] FL. I loved this road trip and it is so easy to do that I totally recommend it. As you know, I fell in love with Savannah, enjoyed the beaches of St Simon Island and told you about the “kitschy” side of St. Augustine. […]

  • […] for me, the dates just didn’t work, as my October and November were full with trips to Savannah, St Simons Island, St Augustine, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.   But my month of December  was wide […]

  • Savannah: Love at First Sight - Reply

    September 18, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    […] her all to myself, aside from one lone jogger and a trash collector. I start to feel the lure of Savannah, Georgia, that sweet sickness that the French call le mal doux. I need to sip her slowly, like a dry […]

  • […] her all to myself, aside from one lone jogger and a trash collector. I start to feel the lure of Savannah, Georgia, that sweet sickness that the French call le mal doux. I need to sip her slowly, like a dry […]

  • […] her all to myself, aside from one lone jogger and a trash collector. I start to feel the lure of Savannah, Georgia, that sweet sickness that the French call le mal doux. I need to sip her slowly, like a dry […]

  • Savannah: Love at First Sight – Cosmos Posting - Reply

    September 23, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    […] her all to myself, aside from one lone jogger and a trash collector. I start to feel the lure of Savannah, Georgia, that sweet sickness that the French call le mal doux. I need to sip her slowly, like a dry […]

  • John Miller - Reply

    September 25, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    Where is Bonaventure? Hint: not downtown.

    • Cacinda Maloney - Reply

      September 26, 2015 at 12:59 am

      John, do you often leave vague and tacky comments on Travel blogs? Bonaventure is a 12 minute drive from the Historic District, in case you are wondering.

  • […] centuries-old mansions, gas-lit streets at night and seductively romantic cemeteries with a story. Savannah offers you a taste of the South that will leave you lusting for […]

  • Zolo Lue - Reply

    January 18, 2016 at 2:29 am

    Such a great post, thanks for sharing. I am planning to visit Atlanta with my friends in the next month. I have now decided that what Things to do in Savannah, with my friends. Your ideas are great, it’s very helpful to me.

  • Patti - Reply

    February 5, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    Glad I found this post- I am visiting Savannah for the first time next month. It looks like a beautiful city!

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