Complete Visitors Guide To The Savannah Historic District
Within the boundaries of the Savannah River, E. Broad Street, Forsyth park, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, you’ll find one of the top ten largest national historic landmark districts in the United States (Butte comes in at #1 with a whopping 43 miles).
The Savannah Historic District sits in the center of one of the South’s most important cities. The district encompasses the original town plan laid out in 1733 by Gen. James E. Oglethorpe, founder of the British colony of Georgia. Despite the passing of centuries, much of this designated area has remained the same such as its grid-like layout and the impeccably restored homes from the 18th and 19th centuries constructed in a variety of styles like Gothic, Victorian, and Greek Revival. Divisions within the district known as wards, squares and trustee lots are still intact. The historical preservation on display in Georgia’s First City is remarkable and speaks to a local government and a citizenry who treasure their city’s legacy and distinguished past. Today, for those with an interest or a love for art, culture, festivals, concerts, live theater, outdoor cafes, gourmet restaurants, and true Southern hospitality, this is where it all comes together. Furthermore, Savannah contains more than twenty city squares filled with museums, churches, mansions, monuments and famous forts of the Revolutionary & Civil War eras.
So, you may ask, what is the best way to explore this Southern belle? There are several ways, actually!
WAYS TO SEE SAVANNAH
Whether you decide to hop aboard Savannah’s favorite trolley, take a spin on two wheels or simply put one foot in front of the other, these are the best ways to take in the city!
Old Town Trolley Tours
Operating in 7 cities throughout the United States, Old Town Trolley Tours offers a hop on/ hop off tour experience that combines well-researched and relevant historical information with a casual, come-as-you-are attitude. The Savannah edition has 15 stops of all of the must-see attractions and landmarks which include River Street, The Davenport House, City Market, and Forsythe Park among others. Over the course of the tour, you will have the option to disembark at any of the stops and re-board at any time (within business hours) to continue your journey to the following point of interest.
Segway of Savannah
The most modern way to investigate this old classic is by utilizing the lean/steer, gyroscopic technology of a Segway. These motorized bicycle hybrids are ideal for getting up-close and personal with all there is to see here. If you’ve never ridden one prior, imagine a bicycle attributed with the balance and multidirectional facility of walking. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll wish you could take one to and from the office back home. Take this great tour and learn all about the rich history of this beautiful city at a smooth and leisurely pace.
Indigo Journey Walking Tour of Antebellum Period
Your guide on this narrated walking tour is passionate about this time in history and is a native of Savannah. Guests will learn about life in Savannah as an African American before the Civil War period until the Emancipation in 1865. You will have the chance to walk the trail of the second port of passage for African slaves in Savannah. Visit and learn the history of the Haitian Monument, First African Baptist Church, Barracoons, African-American monuments on this intimate journey to a challenging and enlightening chapter of American history.
When you’re done with your introduction to Savannah, there’s something new and different waiting to be discovered at these must-dos.
The American Prohibition Museum
Located in Savannah’s popular City Market, the American Prohibition Museum is the first and only museum in the United States dedicated to the history of Prohibition. Highlighting an era of gangsters, rum runners, and flappers, the Savannah museum brings the roaring twenties to life with over 20 intoxicating exhibits and an authentic speakeasy. Featuring 21st-century technology and immersive displays, the museum takes guests on a journey through the past to the early 1900s when anti-alcohol rallies swept the nation and America’s struggle with alcohol was brought to light. This one-of-a-kind museum also has a genuine speakeasy adjacent to it where an expert mixologist is always on hand to prepare you the perfect Old Fashioned.
Ghosts & Gravestones Tour
Savannah is known for its friendly folks, great southern cooking, and gorgeous architecture—but there’s another side to this coastal city that’s full of intrigue and thrills…the haunted side! Considered by paranormal experts and ghost hunters around the country as America’s Most Haunted City, Savannah has its share of dark history and supernatural activity and if you’re even the least bit curious about whether or not ghosts really do exist, the Ghosts & Gravestones Tour is your ticket to eerie entertainment. Aboard this tour, you’ll roam the city in search of spirits and visit some of the most haunted places including the Andrew Low House and the Perkins and Sons Ship Chandlery. Your Ghost Host will share many spooky stories about the places you visit and the most well-known spirits in Savannah.
Liquid Sands Glass Gallery
Whether you are looking for a signature piece of jewelry to pass along through generations of your family or a unique conversation piece for the living room or den, the inventiveness and craftsmanship found here is sure to stoke your imagination. Check out all the amazing tabletop pieces like vases, bowls, and paperweights or marvel at the intricate rainbow of delicate jewelry offerings. Whether you’re an avid collector or simply looking for something fantastic or functional to add to your home or office, you can find the perfect piece here!
Named after Scottish Loyalist, merchant, and former governor of Georgia in the 18th century Alexander Telfair, this former mansion is now the home of one of three museums bridging 200 years of art, history, & architecture in Savannah. The Telfair Academy contains three nineteenth-century period rooms and houses nineteenth- and twentieth-century American and European art from the museum’s permanent collection including paintings, works on paper, sculpture, and decorative arts. The most popular work on display here, the ‘Bird Girl’ statue sculpted by Sylvia Shaw Judson, had to be moved from its previous spot at the Bonaventure Cemetery due to overzealous tourists who had recently read the novel Midnight In The Garden of Good & Evil.
Jepson Center For The Arts
The most recent addition to the Telfair family of museums, the Jepson’s collections and exhibits focus more on the future, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to observe some curated Monets on its rounds around the country. The Jepson Center links the history preserved by the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters and Telfair Academy to the future of art and architecture. The strikingly modern building, opened in 2006, is filled with art, activities, and educational opportunities that will encourage learning for generations to come.
BEST PLACE FOR A PHOTO
There is no shortage of picturesque scenarios to explore in Savannah but these are among our favorites.
The Cathedral of St. John The Baptist
The church was dedicated on its current site on April 30, 1876. A fire in 1898 destroyed much of the structure. It was rebuilt quickly and re-opened in 1900. The Cathedral represents historically noteworthy architecture as well as over a century of faith and civic traditions in Savannah. The Cathedral is open to the community of Savannah as well as to hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. The Cathedral remains in the top 10 historic sites to visit in the United States.
The Gingerbread House
Southern elegance merged with just a hint of whimsy is an apt description for this Savannah stalwart. Built-in 1899 by Cord Asendorf, this magnificent house is considered among the finest examples of Steamboat Gothic architecture in America. Today, The Gingerbread House is one of Savannah’s leading event venues and is the site of countless romantic weddings, anniversary parties, and other festivities.
Ford Model A
Considered the most influential car of the 20th century, the Ford Model T was a powerful symbol of America’s modern era. Make sure you capture the moment with one right in front of the American Prohibition Museum.
PLACES TO STAY
For vintage elegance, inspiring views and plenty of amenities, check these out.
Located at 15 East Liberty St., the hotel has a storied history of over 125 years, with chandeliers from the original building shining in the lobby. The DeSoto offers several room options, allowing guests to choose between skyline views of Savannah or direct access to the hotel’s rooftop pool. There are also several suites, including the King One Bedroom State Suite that features four private balconies with skyline views, a decorated living room, a dining table for six, wet bar, pantry, microwave, refrigerator and more. The DeSoto provides guests with impeccable service on all fronts, resulting in a complete, luxurious experience. Book a stay at one of Savannah’s staple institutions and experience the historic city in all its glory. You will not be disappointed.
Ballastone Inn is the perfect five-star luxury place to stay where you can rejuvenate from your ultimate Savannah weekend. Ballastone is chosen year after year as Savannah’s most distinguished Inn by those with discriminating taste. There’s an antique bar with extended hours with a great selection of wine, beer, champagne, and soda. Relax in the beautiful courtyard and don’t forget the 4 pm silver tea service.
From the moment you first rest your gaze on the stunning portico, you’ll have a wonderful experience traveling back in time at this charming location. Rooms are spacious with ample beds and you are within walking distance of the river and most of the squares in central Savannah. The room service is conducted by the neighboring Old Pink House, one of Savannah’s most beloved culinary hotspots.
BEST PLACES FOR FOOD & DRINK
Savannah is a city with a vibrant culinary scene. Savor some of these yummy locales.
Little Duck Diner
This very recently opened grub hub calls itself a “vintage chic diner.” Reminiscent of the dining cars and diners of the late ’20s and ’30s, this place embodies all that but with a contemporary twist. Inspired, in part, by the owner’s children, everything from the ambiance to the menu resonates with a certain youthfulness. It embraces the refinement and quirks of an era from which the diner came from. A place that’s Southern charm meets modern retro eatery.
Experience some of the South’s finest cuisine at historic Belford’s, located in the heart of Savannah’s City Market. Enjoy some of Savannah’s best steaks, seafood, and wine in a casual atmosphere. With a reputation built on superb food and exceptional service, discover why Belford’s is recognized as one of the best restaurants in The Hostess City.
Savannah Coffee Roasters
Make your way over to the blue awning that reads ‘Savannah Coffee Roasters if your hankering for a cup brimming with some of the finest Joe around. This place has been waking Savannah up for over 100 years with uncompromising quality and it also tops in the lunch/brunch department as well.
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Drink of the day: Candy Cane Forest! Hersey's milk chocolate, peppermint, velvety steamed milk and a double shot of our own Swamp Fox espresso! Wouldn't be complete without some whip cream! Cheers! ☕❤☕ #winterwonderland #espresso #holidayseason #mocha #chocolatelover #candycane #hotdrinkseason #coffeelovers
Crystal Beer Parlor
Serving hungry Savannahians for more than 80 years, this food and drink establishment was one of the first places in America to serve alcohol after the repeal of the 18th Amendment and it’s been a favorite gathering spot for locals and visitors ever since. A lot of solid, gastropub fare to be had here along with an extremely well-stocked bar.
Congress Street Up Speakeasy
If your idea of a night out on the town is about getting gussied up in your smartest duds with a top-shelf cocktail sitting snugly in your hands, you need to stop by for a visit! As Savannah’s only speakeasy, Congress Street Up, located inside the American Prohibition Museum in the city’s Riverfront District, is an elegant cocktail bar that exudes the 1920s, Art-Deco charm that Zagat rates one of the hottest bars in the city. From artfully prepared custom cocktails to its authentic atmosphere, this throwback vibe is well worth revisiting.
Savannah’s Historic District Is Waiting For You
We’ve done our due diligence to make sure that your next trip to Savannah hits all the best places for a memorable experience. Now all you have to do is come see us. Happy travels!