First established in 1733 on the banks of the Savannah River, Savannah is the oldest city in Georgia and a popular tourist destination today. If you are planning a trip to Savannah, then check out this list of best things to do in Savannah.
Savannah is everything one could ask for in a quintessential Southern city: beautiful architecture, rich history, beguiling mysteries, and all the shopping and good eating one would expect.
We’ve listed 25 of the best things to do in Savannah, from historic homes to ghost tours, to help you plan your very own idyllic Southern sojourn.
Read also: Where to stay in Savannah
25 Best Things To Do In Savannah
1. Visit The Gorgeously Gothic Bonaventure Cemetery
Arguably at the top of not-to-be-missed things to see in Savannah, the historic Bonaventure Cemetery is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.
Famously featured in John Berendt’s “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” the Bonaventure Cemetery has drawn the bereaved and curious alike since the late 18th century.
A portrait of Southern Gothic perfection, the formerly private Evergreen cemetery was purchased by the city of Savannah in 1907 and has since grown from its original sixty acres to over a hundred.
Guests can stroll the Spanish moss-canopied paths and take in the ethereal splendor of the tombs and graves.
Recommended tour: Bonaventure Cemetery with Shannon Scott
2. Shop Till You Drop
Shopping and Savannah go hand in hand and you’ll find no shortage of boutiques, specialty shops, and chain stores to browse through between sight-seeing.
Whether you’re looking for a unique clothing item, the perfect Savannah keepsake, or just want to get a taste of the city’s wares, there are several notable streets where residents and guests alike could easily lose the better part of a day.
Located in Savannah’s historic district, Broughton Street has a wide variety of name-brand outlets, bespoke boutiques, and a mouthwatering array of dining options, while nearby Bull Street offers a charming shopping experience for the unconventional.
Outside of the Historic District there is the Starland District, where creativity and community meet; if funky art galleries, vinyl & vintage clothing stores, and quirky eateries are your thing, an afternoon in the Starland District should definitely be on your to-do list!
3. Walk Factors Row
This collection of 19th century red brick buildings was the epicenter of Savannah’s cotton industry, with the name Factors Walk referring to the iron ramps used by the agents–or factors–to travel between their places of business.
Keep an eye out for the many plagues commemorating notable figures in the city’s cotton manufacturing and trade, and make sure to check out some of the neighborhood’s inviting shops and cafes.
4. Forsyth Park
Dating back to 1840, Forsyth Park is a popular destination for picnicking, outdoor sports, and seasonal events.
Occupying 30 acres of Savannah’s historic district, Forsyth Park boasts a stunning landmark fountain at its center with plenty of lush paths and walkways throughout, rendering it a dream backdrop for wedding shoots and family portraits.
Take in an outdoor concert during warmer months or grab a cup of coffee at the Collins Quarter and enjoy a peaceful stroll.
5. Take A Tour Of SCAD
The Savannah College Of Art & Design is more than just a revered school and pleasant campus, and is frequently cited as one of the most worthwhile things to do in Savannah.
Home to a permanent collection of over 4,500 pieces along with a number of rotating exhibits, the SCAD Museum of Art showcases the best works of art throughout history and in contemporary context, with paintings by Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, and Andy Warhol, as well as exhibits in the museum’s Costume Collection by Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent.
The SCAD Museum of Art additionally hosts year-round workshops, programs, lectures, and events.
6. Visit The Davenport House Museum
Originally built in 1820, the Isaiah Davenport House has operated as a museum since 1963 by the Historic Savannah Foundation.
An exquisite example of Federal architecture and a valuable learning center, guests follow a docent-guided tour of the house and gardens, with many of the Davenport household tools, furnishings, and personal relics on view.
The museum additionally hosts select events and programs throughout the year, so be sure to check the website before planning your visit.
7. Explore The Deep At UGA Marine Education Center And Aquarium
Located just 20 minutes from downtown Savannah on Skidaway Island, the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium is home to Georgia’s first saltwater aquarium and features 16 exhibition tanks showcasing the region’s fascinating marine life.
A public touch tank encourages guests to get hands-on with marine invertebrates like crabs and whelks, while a special Skidaway River boardwalk, part of the ADA-approved Jay Wolf Natural Trails, overlooks the salt marshes and maritime forests.
Guests can enjoy a picnic on the bluff thanks to plenty of picnic tables, and special research and educational tours are available through the Sea Dawg vessel.
8. Take A Trolley Tour
There’s no better way to take in the sights and sounds of Savannah than a good old fashioned hop-on-hop-off trolley tour.
An easy, hassle-free way to get around town and still enjoy all the attractions, opting for a trolley tour could prove to be one of the best things to do in Savannah during your stay.
Both the Old Savannah Tours and Old Town Trolley Tours offer daily rides that will take you through the heart of the historic district and surrounding neighborhoods where the best of the city is on full display.
Traveling with a large group? No problem, there are plenty of friendly trolley tour companies happy to accommodate a crowd.
Book here: Old Town Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Tour
9. Visit The Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters
The elegant Owens-Thomas House, completed in 1819, holds a troubling truth: renovations taking place in the 1990s uncovered the nation’s oldest and best preserved urban slave quarter.
Today visitors are guided through the house’s sumptuous period rooms, outer carriage house, and aforementioned slave quarters, where the stories of the house’s earliest inhabitants, both free and enslaved, can finally be heard.
Recommended tour: Haunted Ghosts and Dark History Walking Tour
10. Learn About The Gullah/Geechee Culture At The Pin Point Heritage Museum
For centuries the community of Pin Point was largely isolated along Moon River, located south of Savannah, their culture hidden and thus widely misinterpreted until efforts were made to preserve, honor, and educate on the Gullah/Geechee people.
The Pin Point Heritage Museum stands inside the old A.S. Varn & Son Oyster and Crab Factory, and is open to the public with guided tours, multimedia presentations, rotating exhibitions, and unforgettable views of the surrounding marshlands.
11. Eat Like A Pirate
Opened in 1753 as an inn for seafarers in Savannah’s rapidly growing port city, The Pirate’s House would ultimately live up to its name by the end of the century.
A notorious haunt for smugglers and titular pirates, The Pirate’s House would serve as inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” before going on to earn a more wholesome reputation as one of Savannah’s best tavern-style restaurants and historic places.
Although walk-ins are welcome and certainly not out of the ordinary, guests are encouraged to make a reservation ahead of time to avoid a wait at this one-of-a-kind spot.
12. Stroll The Waterfront At Dusk
Few things match the beauty and calm of a sunset stroll in Savannah, and the waterfront walk that winds along the Savannah River is unmatched as one of the best (and free!) things to do in Savannah.
Begin your promenade on the historic cobblestones of River Street and follow the row of award-winning bistros, shops, and historic buildings to the river walk for an unforgettable southern sundown.
13. Brave The Spookier Side of Savannah
Frequently cited as one of the most haunted cities in America and certainly the South, Savannah is a much-sought destination for ghost hunters, occultists, and lovers of the overall spooky and macabre.
If you and your party are up for a night time adventure there are a number of ghost tours, often themed and in costume, that will guide you through some of Savannah’s most haunted “hot spots.”
From the dark and often fatal roots of River Street to purportedly haunted antebellum homes, prepare to be scared in the funnest possible way!
Recommended tour: Adults-Only Beyond Good and Evil Tour
14. Check Out A Show, One Of The Best Things To Go In Savannah
It’s no secret that Savannah boasts its own impressive music scene, from landmark theaters like the Savannah and Lucas to annual music festivals such as the Philharmonic Picnic in the Park at Forsyth and Savannah Music Festival, with plenty of local neighborhood venues humming year-round.
Whether you’re a fan of Broadway musicals, rock, folk, or classical, be sure to check out Savannah’s live music line-up.
15. Wet Your Whistle At The American Prohibition Museum
Immerse yourself in the time of bootleggers, gangsters, and illicit but era-changing nightlife at Savannah’s American Prohibition Museum.
The nation’s only museum dedicated to American Prohibition and its social, political, and cultural impact, guests will find themselves keeping company with flappers and corrupt politicians, tapping their feet to the jazz hits of the time, and maybe tipping one back at the museum’s weekend speakeasy.
Perfect for visitors of all tastes and interests, this is sure to be one of the more memorable stopovers to see in Savannah.
Book online: American Prohibition Museum Ticket
16. Enjoy A Beach Day On Tybee Island
If you’re itching to get out of the city for the day and soak up some sun then you’re in luck, as Tybee Island is just a 20 minute drive from Savannah’s Historic District.
A worthy destination unto itself, Tybee Island covers 3 miles of picture-perfect beaches with their own shops, fresh seafood restaurants, and historic sites like the Fort Screven gun batters and 18th century Tybee Island Light Station and Museum, along with plenty of wildlife spottings that include exotic birds, alligators, and bottlenose dolphins.
Related tour: Tybee Island Dolphin Tour
17. Visit The Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum
Commissioned to honor the late leader of the the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and father of the Civil Rights Movement in Savannah, the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum is a highly recommended excursion to add to your list of things to do in Savannah.
Learn about Savannah’s rich and complex African-American roots, civil rights history, and contributions to both the city of Savannah and greater American landscape.
18. Cool Off At Leopold’s Ice Cream
Savannah’s been beating the heat at Leopold’s Ice Cream for over a century, and today visitors and locals can be seen savoring Leopold’s signature homemade ice cream as well as salads, soups, sandwiches, and freshly baked pastries.
The family-owned parlor first opened its doors in 1919 and reportedly hasn’t changed its ice cream recipe since, which might explain why it was recently named one of the Top 10 ice cream parlors in the world!
19. Visit The William Scarbrough House And Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum
Lovers of nautical history won’t want to miss paying a visit to this elegant Greek Revival-style mansion devoted to the maritime voyages and treasures of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Built in 1819, the elegant house is brimming with artifacts and model ships, with a sweeping garden covering a city block to stroll upon exiting.
Book here: Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum Self-Guided Tour
20. Catch The Cannons Firing At Old Fort Jackson
Located east on the Savannah River, the 200 year-old Fort Jackson is Georgia’s oldest standing brick fortification.
Having seen its fair share of action during the War of 1812 and Civil War, the fort was eventually garrisoned by the Union army and saw little action until it was restored and opened to the public.
Today the nationally recognized historic site and museum invites visitors to explore the life of America’s earliest soldiers, partake in interactive drills and demonstrations, and marvel at cannon firings during the summer.
21. Take A Riverboat Cruise
No trip to Savannah is complete without a traditional riverboat ride, and gliding along Savannah’s historic riverfront on a traditional paddle-wheel riverboat cruise is one of the top things to do in Savannah.
Enjoy a breezy scenic onboard lunch by day or glimpse a whole new side of Savannah with a dinner cruise by night.
Book here: Riverboat Cruise & City Tour Combo
22. Dine In Style At The Olde Pink House
This pleasantly pink mansion was first inhabited by cotton factor James Habersham in 1789, surviving the great fire of 1796 and eventually opening its doors as a fine dining establishment in the style of new Southern cuisine.
Today The Olde Pink House is one of Savannah’s most beloved restaurants, and makes for a uniquely delicious experience during your stay in the city.
23. Head To Savannah’s City Market
Of the many things to do and see in Savannah the four block-spanning City Market is definitely not to be missed.
This historic site dates back to the late 18th century when early Savannah inhabitants frequented the market for groceries, various services, and other necessities.
The market has survived two fires, the Civil War, and the great hurricane of 1896 and is now a treasured crossroads for shopping, dining, and art.
24. Honor The Girl Scouts Queen At The Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace
The 1860 birthplace of the Girl Scouts founder and owned and operated today by the Girl Scouts of the USA, this National Historic Landmark house and museum is dedicated to the life and inspiring achievements of its namesake Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low.
Take a guided tour through the lasting legacy of Juliette and her Girl Scouts with featured artwork, artifacts, visual stories, and special events and programs.
25. Visit First African Baptist Church
The oldest black church in the United States, its congregation founded in 1773 and first constituted in 1777, the First African Baptist Church is an important monument of the Underground Railroad and enduring place of worship.
Tours are available during non-worship hours and visitors are encouraged to look for the holes in the church’s floorboards, as these were once used for ventilation while the enslaved were in hiding.