Tucked into the northeastern corner of Georgia is the charming and historic city of Savannah. If you haven’t been, there are a plethora of reasons you should discover Savannah. First and foremost is its beauty. Perched on the banks of the Savannah River, there are beautiful views along the water, in the city itself, and in the outlying islands. Another aspect you can discover in Savannah is its historic importance, as it played a crucial part in early American history. And finally, you can’t go wrong if all you want to do is discover amazing southern cuisine in Savannah!
Come along with me, and I’ll show you why you should discover Savannah…
1. Discover Savannah’s squares
Originally built with 24, Savannah still boasts 22 of its historic and charming cobblestoned squares. Each is a beautiful space on its own, with Southern live-oak trees, landscaping, fountains or statues and lots of historic placards to explain their history. Most of these squares are bordered by beautiful old homes and churches, or restaurants and other businesses.
2. Discover Savannah’s cemeteries
Does this surprise you? Savannah has several historic cemeteries that are fascinating to explore. You will learn a lot about Savannah’s history by reading the placards and the gravestones. You’ll learn about a yellow fever pandemic that killed 666 people, see the graves of dueling citizens, and also a signer of the Declaration of Independence. You’ll find military generals, a poet, and Georgia’s first governor. Beautiful landscaping and a peaceful setting also make these cemeteries a wonderful visit.
Be sure to visit the Colonial Cemetery close to the city center and also Bonaventure Cemetery, for some of the most interesting discoveries.
3. Discover Savannah’s landmark church
The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is the oldest church in Savannah. While the parish was first established in the late 1700’s, the first brick church building was completed in 1839. In 1870, a new cathedral was planned; it was dedicated in 1876. Unfortunately, it was ravished by fire in 1898, right after they had added two spires. The rebuilt cathedral was dedicated in 1900 and is the structure you see today. It is now called the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist, because of its antiquity, dignity, historical value, architectural and artistic worth.
You’ll want to see it. It is truly inspiring with its towering spires, 81 stained glass windows, and French Gothic architecture. I personally loved the deep blue colors of the interior.
4. Discover Savannah’s first plantation
Owned by Noble Jones, one of the first settlers of Georgia, the Wormsloe State Historic Site includes the oldest standing structure in Savannah (1740). The tabby ruins of Noble’s home are all that’s left, but there was originally a fort as well. You can visit a museum, walk the trails of the plantation, see the ruins and admire a gorgeous grand entrance of over 400 live oaks and Spanish moss. At different times of the year, there are special historic events with demonstrators in period dress, showing skills and tools of colonial Georgia.
5. Discover Savannah’s “River Street”
Early Savannah history was largely concentrated on or near River Street, along the Savannah River, since this was the center of transportation and trade. Much of River Street is original cobblestones and brick warehouses from the 1800’s. One of the most well-known warehouses is the Cotton Exchange, built in 1886.
Unfortunately, Savannah was also known as a slave-trading port until Georgia banned the slave trade in 1798.
Today, River Street is a vibrant collection of parks, statues, restaurants, boutique and gift shops, art and sculptures. It is a wonderful place to watch river traffic or take the free ferry to Hutchinson Island, to the Savannah Convention Center, for a pretty view of Savannah. Street vendors sell paintings, performers sing, and sternwheelers glide up and down the river.
6. Discover more history in downtown Savannah
There’s plenty more to see in downtown Savannah, only blocks from the river. Here are some of the highlights we enjoyed:
- Rainbow Row – lovely pastel homes near Washington Square, dating back to 1790’s
- Leopold’s Ice Cream parlor, (since 1919) with ice cream everyone stands in line to get!
- The Pirates’ House – oldest house in Savannah (1794) where pirates used to meet
7. ExploreTybee Island
Cross the Talmadge Memorial Bridge from the city of Savannah to the outer islands and you will discover a whole new scene. These islands are primarily separated by streams and canals, but the outermost Tybee Island is right on the Atlantic Ocean. Here you will find sand beaches, Georgia’s oldest and tallest lighthouse, a strolling pier that juts out into the water, and the quaintest businesses and places to eat. Views go on forever!
Spend some time on the beach watching the gentle waves roll in, walk on the pier, and even visit the Tybee Island Museum.
8. You have to discover Savannah’s cuisine!
With only two days in Savannah, there’s no way we could try more than a handful of restaurants, but what we experienced was amazing, so we have to share!
The Public Kitchen,1 West Liberty St.
We ordered Cuban sandwiches with garlic whipped potatoes and sat outside on the sidewalk so we could watch tourists and traffic.Even when it rained a little, this was a lovely protected place to eat. Oh! And the food was delicious and very satisfying! Reasonable prices for lunch.
Collard Greenz Country Cooking, 1308 Montgomery St
Honestly, I don’t even know how we found this restaurant because they are new and don’t have a website. Must have been divine intervention! It’s a tiny restaurant with two tables for customers. Most customers come in for take-out and are very friendly and talkative! Collard Greenz specializes in southern soul food, and everything we tried was absolutely amazing! (I didn’t know southern food could be so good!). I ordered fried trout, candied yams, and squash while my husband got fried ribs and collard greens. We also ordered carmel cake to take back to our hotel for dessert. Come here for the best food and a chance to visit with the locals! Very economical.
River House Seafood, 125 W River St
Housed in a historic brick warehouse, this is a wonderful seafood restaurant on River Street. We opted to sit outside at a cute bistro table so we could watch the river traffic as we ate. The indoor ambience is also wonderful, however. Some menu items are a little more expensive, but we found the lobster & crab bisque with Caesars salad very well-priced at only $15. The bisque was rich and flavorful. And with a generously-portioned crisp salad, we were more than satisfied!
Bubba Gumbo’s on Tybee Island, 1 Old Tybee Rd
On our last night in Savannh, we wanted something special — a view of the sunset and some more authentic southern fare. We found both at Bubba Gumbo’s at the Tybee Island marina. We could tell immediately that it was popular with the locals as it was full – and staff and customers seemed to know each other on a first-name basis. Still, we felt more than welcome. We couldn’t resist the shrimp jambalaya and we were definitely not disappointed. The sunset was pleasing too! Prices very reasonable as well.
Perhaps now you have a better grasp of why you, too, should discover Savannah. There’s so much more than I can share with you here. And part of the allure is to discover your own Savannah, the way you want to. Wander and explore. Use my tips as a guideline and then, discover Savannah on your own terms. You’ll enjoy a wonderful getaway, I’m sure!