11 Great Things to do in Savannah for First-Time Visitors

From its cobblestone-lined streets to its green squares, Savannah takes your breath away! It’s a city for dreamers and for those who love to experience a destination’s true beauty. Whether you’re visiting for a weekend getaway or an extended stay, there are plenty of things to do in Savannah to fill your itinerary.

Known as the “Hostess of the South for its excellence in hospitality, the sheer number of things to do in Savannah, GA can feel overwhelming on your first visit.

I know the first time I stepped foot in this lovely city, I didn’t even know where to begin.

Even though I had a list of the places I wanted to see, it felt like a lot. I think the reason for this is that Savannah is an absolute and incredible experience. So much so, that it was our top pick for our engagement photos!

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When Was Savannah, Georgia Established?

The city of Savannah was established in 1733 by General James Oglethorpe and was the first city in what is now the state of Georgia. It originally contained 24 squares, of which 22 are still standing today. Additionally, Savannah is also America’s first planned city!

forsyth park fountain
Forsyth Park Fountain

What is Savannah, Georgia Known For?

Being the oldest city in the state of Georgia, Savannah is known for its rich history, antebellum architecture, cobblestone streets, and famous squares that adorn the city.

Cool fact: the bench in which ‘Forrest Gump’ sits throughout the film to tell his stories, was filmed at the Chippewa Square in Savannah. Although the actual bench is now at the Savannah History Museum, you can still enjoy your time walking around and taking pictures in this beautiful square.

Planning Your Trip to Savannah: Things to Know

If you still haven’t made up your mind about an unforgettable trip to Savannah now would be the time to take notes and start planning.

st patricks day things to do in savannah georgia
St Patrick’s Day in Savannah

When is the Best Time to Visit Savannah?

For a pleasant visit, you should plan your trip to Savannah in the Spring and early Summer. If you go during the Spring, you’ll enjoy the beautiful view of blooming Azaleas! However, you should know that St Patrick’s Day is a popular holiday in Savannah.

The St Patrick’s Parade in Savannah is one of the largest in the U.S. and it’s a whole different vibe and exciting atmosphere. Even Forsyth Park’s fountain’s water turns completely green! If you want to avoid crowds, it might be good to skip dates close to St Paddy.

savannah georgia azaleas
Azaleas in full bloom in Savannah’s Historic District

You should plan at least 3 full days if you want to enjoy some of the fun things to do in Savannah, GA. A weekend getaway is also a great way to explore the city.

If you plan on flying, the nearest airport is the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport. From here, it’s an approximate 20-24-minute drive to Savannah’s Historic District, which is perfect!

Where to Stay in Savannah, Georgia

If you want to truly immerse yourself in the charm and beauty of Savannah, Georgia, we highly recommend staying in the city’s Historic District.

Not that I’m biased or anything (🤫), but this is the best area to stay, especially if you want to experience the architecture and historical ambiance that only Savannah’s Historic District can offer.

To make your stay even more unforgettable, we suggest seeking out vacation rentals within walking distance of Forsyth Park and the squares.

These unique locations will allow you to easily explore the city’s iconic landmarks, unique antebellum homes, and picturesque garden settings.

What are Some Recommended Places to Stay?

If you want to fully experience Savannah’s architecture and beauty, we recommend staying at places like River Street Inn, Hotel Bardo Savannah (formerly known as Mansion on Forsyth Park), or Hamilton-Turner Inn, which also happen to be some of the most historic lodgings in Savannah.

Another noteworthy choice is The Captain’s Cottage, a charming retreat that exudes coastal charm and coziness.

And if you’re up for a touch of Southern elegance, then The Southern Belle Garden with its lush gardens and serene atmosphere is a great choice!

RECOMMENDED PLACES TO STAY: Park View Historic Home, The Captain’s Cottage, The Southern Belle Garden

things to do in savannah
Buildings in Savannah, Georgia

Best Things to Do in Savannah that You Don’t Want to Miss

Carlos has yet to visit Savannah (that’s about to change), which is why I’m all alone on this one. I’ve put together this list based on my visits and what I’ve learned to be the must-visit places and the best things to do in Savannah for first-time visitors.

From historic sites and parks to the most beautiful places to take pictures in Savannah, you’re sure to find something that will make your trip unforgettable.

Keep reading and discover all the amazing places you can explore in Savannah!

1. Take a Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Tour (or walking tour)

There are a few different ways to see Savannah, including self-guided tours, but we think the best way is to take a Hop-on Hop-off Trolley Tour.

A trolley tour is one of the best things to do in Savannah if you want to learn about the history and the beautiful architecture and get a feel for the layout of the city. Plus, it’s a great way to see some of the most popular landmarks and attractions.

James Oglethorpe Monument in Chippewa Square things to do in savannah
James Oglethorpe Monument in Chippewa Square

A walking tour is a must if you love visiting filming locations. Some of the movies filmed in Savannah are The Menu (2022), Ford v Ferrari (2019), X-Men: First Class (2011), Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997), and Forrest Gump (1994).

👉🏼 For an amazing sightseeing experience, I recommend this narrated trolley tour with 15 stops!

2. Visit the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

A visit to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is one of the top things to do in Savannah, with many reasons why. It’s beautiful both day and night!

This massive church is located in the heart of the city and is known for its beautiful architecture and stunning interior. You can explore the cathedral on your own or take a guided tour.

cathedral of st john the baptist
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Savannah

RECOMMENDED TOUR: This 75-minute Church walking tour takes you to the beautiful historic churches in Savannah, including a visit to one of the oldest synagogues in the U.S.

3. See the Bonaventure Cemetery

The Bonaventure Cemetery is a beautiful place that’s popular for the statues around the property and the gorgeous moss trees that adorn this space.

The cemetery is located on a bluff overlooking the Wilmington River and is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places in the city.

Believe it or not, the Bonaventure Cemetery is also one of the most popular places to visit in Savannah.

During the daylight hours, you can take a guided cemetery tour and experience an after-hours tour packed with stories of the haunted and mysterious.

RECOMMENDED TOUR: Book your Bonaventure After-Hours Cemetery Tour and discover the many mysteries of this beautiful place!

4. Check out River Street and the Plant Riverside District

River Street is one of the most popular streets in Savannah and it’s also one of my favorites to visit during the night.

It is a historic street that runs along the Savannah River with many historic buildings, quaint pubs, shops, and fabulous restaurants.

riverstreet in savannah

You can get anything from souvenirs to clothing to jewelry to art. River Street is also where you will board the Savannah Riverboat Cruise which offers the most stunning views of Savannah, especially at sunset.

river street things to do in savannah
River Street in Savannah, GA

Lastly, but certainly not least, is the Plant Riverside District. This is a former power plant in Georgia that now serves as the city’s main spot for entertainment, drinking, nightlife, and fun things to do in Savannah, GA for adults.

👉🏼 For an exciting night out, I recommend this Haunted Pub Crawl tour that includes Savannah’s darkest hauntings in places like the well-known Tondee’s Tavern.

5. Take a carriage ride

If you want to get a taste of Savannah’s Southern charm, there’s no better way to explore the city than to take a leisurely carriage ride through the Historic District.

You’ll see beautiful antebellum architecture, leafy squares, historic landmarks, and maybe even a few ghosts! (don’t take my word on the latter).

Although after all, Savannah is one of the most haunted cities in America, so anything can happen!

savannah carriage ride

Many knowledgeable guides will delight you with tales of history, mystery, and intrigue while showing you the best of what Savannah has to offer.

savannah historic district
Savannah Historic District

6. Visit the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters

The Owens-Thomas House is one of the most popular homes/museums in Savannah. This historic house was built in 1819 and is a beautiful example of Neoclassical architecture.

On the north part of the building, you will be able to see the original slave quarters of the mansion. There are guided and self-guided audio tours available every 15 minutes. No headphones are provided for the audio tour, so be sure to bring your own.

Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters thing to do in savannah
Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters

7. Stroll Through Forsyth Park

If you don’t know much about Savannah, I’m pretty sure you’ve at least seen pictures of Forsyth Park. This park is one of the most visited destinations in Savannah’s Historic District and is always on the top list of things to do in Savannah.

Forsyth Park in Savannah
Forsyth Park in Savannah

Many love strolling through the park to see the fountain, monuments, and oak trees. Personally, I enjoy watching all the bridal parties that come here for pictures.

Forsyth Park is one of the epic places in Savannah that you must visit, whether it be only once or ten times!

8. Tour the Historic Homes in the Savannah Historic District

Touring the historic homes in Savannah is one of the best ways to get a feel for its rich history! Many of them even have exciting and mysterious stories to tell.

turner inn

This National Historic Landmark district is home to some of the most beautiful and well-preserved antebellum architecture in the country.

Many of these grand old houses are open to the public for tours, and visiting them is one of the best things to do in Savannah for first-time visitors.

Mercer-Williams House in Savannah Georgia
Mercer-Williams House

Some of the most popular historic homes to tour in Savannah include the Davenport House Museum, Owens-Thomas House, and Mercer-Williams House.

These houses offer a fascinating glimpse into life in Savannah during the 18th and 19th centuries, and they are all beautifully appointed with period furniture and décor.

Guided tours are available at all of these houses and prices and times vary per tour.

RECOMMENDED: For a perfect day trip, I recommend the Wormsloe Plantation and Bonaventure Cemetery Tour which takes you to both places in one day.

9. Visit Wormsloe Historic Site

If you’re looking for a taste of old Savannah, the Wormsloe Historic Site is a great place to start. Even the entrance is captivating!

This site, located just a 15-minute drive south of downtown, is the former estate of Noble Jones, one of the city’s founding fathers.

wormsloe historic site
Wormsloe Historic Site in Savannah, Georgia

You can explore the ruins of Jones’ original tabby house, gravesite, the museum, the 7-mile nature trail, as well as the beautiful oak-lined avenue that leads down to the site.

Be sure to bring your camera because the views are simply stunning! Admission is $10.00 for adults, $4.50 for kids/teens (6-17), and $2 for children under 6 years old.

10. Take a Savannah Ghost Tour

As a first-time visitor to Savannah, you might not know of its dark and intriguing history. It’s no surprise that many of its residents (living and dead) have stories to tell.

And that’s why Savannah is considered one of the most haunted cities in America. Ghost tours are a cool way to experience its otherworldly side.

savannah colonial cemetery ghost tours
Colonial Cemetery in Savannah

There are dozens of different ghost tours available in the historic district, each with its own focus and angle. And most of them meet here, at the Colonial Cemetery.

Some tours take you to famous haunts like the Pirates’ House —one of the most haunted buildings in Savannah, or the popular Mercer Williams House, while others focus on more general history or spooky stories.

Nonetheless, all of them give you a chance to learn about the city’s past – and maybe even catch a glimpse of a ghost!

RECOMMENDED TOUR: Discover Savannah’s paranormal hot spots and most haunted locations like 432 Abercorn. Keep in mind that this ghost tour is not for the faint of heart!

11. Visit Old Fort Jackson

As a history buff myself, you understand why a fort had to be included on this list of things to do in Savannah. If you’re looking to explore some of Savannah’s history, a visit to this fort is a must.

Old Fort Jackson is a coastal artillery fort located at a short 18-minute drive from Savannah’s Historic District. It has been around since the 18th century and has played a role in both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

old fort jackson in savannah
Old Fort Jackson in Savannah, Georgia

You can explore the many rooms of the fort, learn about its history, and even experience its cannon firings every day of the week.

Old Fort Jackson is a National Historic Landmark that is an interesting place to visit. The entrance fee to the fort is $10 per adult and $7 per child.

In General, What Are Some of the Most Popular Destinations in Georgia?

While you’re in Savannah, it might be a good time to explore more of the Peach State!

Down south and closer to Savannah, you’ll find Jekyll Island; known for its pristine beaches and historic sites, making it the perfect retreat if you want to add a beach day to your Savannah itinerary.

Up north and closer to the mountains, you’ll find the city of Helen; a small town reminiscent of a Bavarian alpine village.

This unique city attracts visitors from all over the world with its picturesque surroundings, unique shops, and annual Oktoberfest celebration.

For those of you who are fans of The Vampire Diaries show, closer to Atlanta, you’ll find cities like Madison, Covington, and Olde Town Conyers that are must-visit filming locations for fans of TVDU (The Vampire Diaries Universe).

Final Thoughts

Without a doubt, Savannah, Georgia is a unique city with a very special Southern charm that’s very much worth exploring. Personally, it’s one of my favorite cities in the southern U.S.!

Savannah’s unique blend of historic beauty and modern attractions makes it the perfect place to explore and discover something new.

Whether you’re visiting just to take a stroll along Jones Street —the prettiest street in Savannah, for cultural experiences, or just a relaxing weekend away, Savannah has something for you!

What interests you the most about Savannah? Let us know in the comments!


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Yanitza Ninett
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Yanitza is one 1/2 of the Next Stop Adventures dynamic duo with 15+ years of hiking experience and adventure travel. As a PADI-certified Scuba diver, she's also passionate about ocean conservation. When she's not exploring the great outdoors, Yanitza obsesses over The Vampire Diaries and dreams of traveling to Spain.

4 thoughts on “11 Great Things to do in Savannah for First-Time Visitors”

  1. This is great information. I have been considering driving up to Savannah in recent days and was looking for recommendations like this. Your page is always filled with helpful guides for any day trip!

    Reply
  2. This article truly describes the many things that Savannah has to offer. I lived in that area of Georgia for several years and can’t never forget the beauty and mystery of Savannah.

    Reply

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