For history buffs, foodies, shoppers, beach goers, pub crawlers and paranormal seekers, Savannah makes for a fantastic weekend getaway. Explore more than three centuries of Savannah’s history, take an insightful walking tour or spooky ghost tour, visit Tybee Island and some of the most historic religious landmarks in the country, all in one weekend. Here’s what to include on your Savannah itinerary.
What Is There to Do in Savannah for 3 Days?
- Go Shopping
No matter what your shopaholic tendencies, you’ll satisfy them in Savannah. Head to Broughton Street for boutique shops tucked beside name-brand favorites and fine-dining restaurants. Favorites include The Paris Market & Brocante (be sure to visit the basement) and the Savannah Bee Company. Don’t miss charming Bull Street, which runs from the Starland District to the Historic District (start with a coffee at Foxy Loxy Café, an adorable house café with a cute outdoor courtyard). The Starland District is worth an hour on its own – the neighborhood is the brainchild of two Savannah College of Art and Design students who kickstarted the 1990s boom of funky shops, galleries and artists studios that now flourish here.
Be sure to pick up some Savannah-made goodies while you’re out shopping. Stop by Satchel for handmade leather goods in a beautiful, open-floor-plan store. Pick up beautiful furnishings and home decorative items made from locally sourced materials at Colas Modern. Then satiate your appetite at Byrd Cookie Company, baking world-famous treats since 1924 (the most popular is the Scotch Oatmeal).
2. Have a Picnic in the Park
Forsyth Park is the perfect place for a picnic – or an outdoor concert, or a run, or a wedding proposal, for that matter. Wander through the 30 acres of parkland in Savannah’s Historic District, being sure to snap a photo or two at the iconic, cast-iron fountain in the center of the park. The Fragrant Garden is especially nice in spring. Just north of the park, you’ll find another of the city’s 22 town squares – the peaceful Monterey Square, home to the Mercer Williams House and the murder mystery that was the subject of the famous book Midnight in the Garden and Good and Evil.
While you may not think of a cemetery when you think park, the Victorian-style Bonaventure Cemetery may change your view. Wind along the meandering pathways that crisscross 100 acres just outside the Historic District. During the springtime, the azaleas are outstanding.
3. Get Artsy
Art is big in Savannah, home to the Telfair Museums, the Southeast’s oldest public art museum collection. There are three buildings – the Telfair Academy, the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters, two National Historic Landmark sites, and the Jepson Center for the Arts. Spend some insightful time here, admiring centuries of art and architecture that define the history of Savannah. You’ll find paintings from American and European masters, classic sculptures and some of the Telfair family furnishings, including Savannah-made silver. The Jepson Center for the Arts alone will warrant a couple of hours, as you peruse the collections of Jasper Johns, Chuck Close, Jeff Koons and others.
The Savannah College of Art and Design brings talent to the city – many of the artisans stay right here after graduation and contribute to the city’s emerging art scene. The SCAD museum includes the permanent Walter O. Evans exhibit, the Earle W. Newton exhibit, a 19th– and 20th-century photography exhibit and more in a modern building with historic touches (the gray bricks on the walls are from the oldest antebellum railroad depot in the country).
4. Take a Trolley Tour or a Walking Tour
One of the best ways to get the most out of your weekend Savannah itinerary is to hop on a trolley. You can hop on and hop off throughout the day, learning about the history of Savannah as you go. Look for daily trolley tours with Old Town Trolley Tour company and Old Savannah Tours.
Another way to get the most out of your Savannah itinerary is by walking tour. This is how the original residents got around, way back when James Oglethorpe founded it and it’s still a worthy means of transportation when you’re seeking authentic Savannah. You’ll pass under thick canopies of oak trees, stroll through historic city squares, walk past antebellum mansions and historic churches and land at the doorstep of theaters and museums. Take an architectural tour, a ghost tour, a food tour, a shopping tour – you name it, it’s here.
An interesting fact about Savannah’s 200-year old River Street. Look down. The cobblestones you’ll see were hand-laid and were originally used as ballast on the ships that sailed into Savannah’s harbor – these very stones came from as far away as Madeira Island, Spain, Canada and the British Isles. Beautiful River Street is set along the broad Savannah River and lined with more than 75 antique shops, locally owned boutiques, enticing art galleries, brew pubs, fantastic restaurants and elegant inns. Look for the African American Monument, the WWII Memorial, the Waving Girl Statue and the Olympic Cauldron along River Street. This is where you can also catch a ride on the four-deck paddle wheeler that plies the waters of the river.
Take your own ghost tour on River Street – the very land upon which General James Oglethorpe built the city was originally a burial ground for Native tribes. In addition, many of the incoming indentured servants and slaves worked and perished in this area as they loaded and unloaded heavy freight from ships. Want more paranormal? Take a ride in a hearse. Enjoy a horse and carriage ghost tour. Take a late-night, super spooky, no-kids-allowed tour. This is a fantastic way to get to know the lore and legends of Savannah.
Savannah boasts a happening entertainment scene, with numerous festivals throughout the year, live music and theater. If you can fit it in, get tickets to a performance at the Savannah Theater or Lucas Theatre. Or, time your visit with the Savannah Music Festival or Savannah Philharmonic Picnic in the Park series in Forsyth Park. Music fans will find much to love, from live jazz and classical to alt-rock. As for museums, head to the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum, an insightful place to learn about Savannah’s African-American history. Stop by The Davenport House Museum to view artifacts and furnishings from home life in the 1800s. And visit the Pin Point Heritage Museum to learn about the Gullah-Geechee community, the only African-American Creole identity in North America. A favorite of military history buffs, the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force is in Savannah and is one of the top museums in the country dedicated to World War II history.
Just 20 minutes from downtown Savannah, you’ll find beautiful Tybee Island. An easy half-day visit (or stay here in one of the many adorable cottages or inns), the island boasts three miles of sandy beach, a bustling pier, the Tybee Island Light Station and Museum, the Crab Shack, the Tybee island Marine Science Center, kayak tours, nature walks, sunset cruises and incredible seafood. Try stand-up paddleboarding, head out on a dolphin-watching cruise or shop for antiques, art and quirky beach gifts at The Shoppes at 1207 on Tybrisa Street. If you’re a history buff, check out Fort Pulaski.
Savannah’s history is intriguing, so take the time to dive into it. One of the most significant southern religious sites here is the First African Baptists Church – home to North America’s oldest black congregation. Sign up for a tour (offered thrice daily) and learn about the historically black congregation that goes back farther than the founding of the United States. The church building has survived the Civil War, Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement. Another interesting stop, the oldest Jewish congregation in America practices at Congregation Mickve Israel (home to a 15th-century deerskin Torah, the oldest in North America). And don’t miss the show-stopping French Gothic-style Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist, one of the most photographed sites in the city thanks to its amazing stained-glass windows and rich murals. Note the main altar, which weighs 9,000 pounds, and the Great Rose Window above the massive pipe organ.
Savannah’s Historic District will keep you busy, with its cobblestone streets, oak-shaded parks and countless city squares, which themselves re home to museums, churches, antebellum mansions, monuments and forts from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. At any given time, there’s likely to be an outdoor concert, pop-up art show or live theater performance that will further immerse you in Savannah’s history and culture.
While you’re in the historic district, take a walk along Bull Street (not just for shopping!). You’ll find City Hall, the US Customs House, many historic squares, including Johnson Square, and the Christ Episcopal Church. Consider a trolley tour or carriage tour of the area with hop-on/hop-off privileges.
During your whirlwind weekend getaway in Savannah, make the time to dive into good old Southern cooking. No matter which restaurant you choose, you’ll find a diverse lineup of cuisine and cocktails on the menu (and the usual crispy fried chicken and shrimp and grits). Head to Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room for traditional Southern hospitality and home-cooked favorites. Taste season Lowcountry cuisine at The Olde Pink House or dine in a seafaring ambience at The Pirates’ house. There are rooftop patios just begging for sunset cocktails, distilleries, craft breweries and Prohibition-era speakeasies.
Consider one of the city’s many food-focused tours. Take your tastebuds through the city’s beautiful square and streets, trying out the many incredible restaurants and trying everything from shepherd’s pie to pork-belly slides while you learn about Savannah’s turbulent history and unique culture.
Satisfy your sweet tooth at Leopold’s Ice Cream on Broughton Street, the most famous ice-cream shop in Savannah. They’re particularly famous for their Tutti Frutti ice cream, but any flavor will wow you.
Shop like a local at the lively City Market in Savannah’s historic center. This lovely shaded courtyard has been around since the 1700s, when it was Savannah’s shopping, trading and social hub. Today, the square is surrounded by bistros and cafes, shops, art galleries, street musicians and more. Shop for local artwork at six street-level galleries and the upstairs Art Center. You can see artists at work here, too. Grab a bite from one of the numerous restaurants, offering everything from steak and seafood to hot wings. Grab a cocktail-to-go and enjoy a live music concert in the courtyard. Then, head out from here for a carriage tour or trolley tour.
Stroll and take selfies on the stunning Jones Street, considered one of the most beautiful streets in the United States with its mid-19th-century, Greek Revival architecture. It has all the trappings of the Savannah in your mind – historic mansion after historic mansion, cobblestone stairways, oak trees draped with Spanish moss. Look for the wider-than-usual Jones Street near the center of the Historic District.
If you’ve included most of the above on your weekend getaway Savannah itinerary, you’ve likely made your way through most of Savannah’s public squares. Here’s a checklist of the one you’ll most want to see: Chippewa Square (known for its appearance in Forrest Gump) on historic Bull Street, Johnson Square (the city’s oldest and largest square), Madison Square, Ellis and Franklin Squares (near City Market), Crawford Square, Columbia Square, Chatham Square, Orleans Square and Pulaski Square.
The best time to visit Savannah, Georgia is between March and July. The temperatures are comfortably warm, but not oppressively hot and muggy. There are a number of festivals held during this season and the azaleas are starting to bloom. January and February are considered low season, when the hotel prices drop (as do the temperatures). Mid-September to mid-November is a wonderful time to visit, as well – fewer crowds, warm temperatures and lower hotel prices before the busy holiday season.