aerial photo of houses

One of the thirteen first colonies and Georgia’s most ancient city, Savannah is known for its architecture and overall landscape, where History meets the present. From the cobbled streets to the iron fences surrounding the town’s houses, without missing out on the 150-year-old fountain in Forsyth Park, Savannah offers an attractive view that has become a popular tourist spot.

Founded by James Oglethorpe and little more than a hundred settlers in 1733, when they arrived in Yamacraw Bluff, it was an economic landmark due to its port and cotton export. Nowadays, its fame has transcended into popular culture: from John Berendt’s novel “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” (1994) to the iconic bus stop scenes in Forrest Gump, the city has gained notoriety because of its delightful scenery and historical background.  

Savannah: What to do to make the best out of the city

It does not matter if you are looking for a historical immersion or a Savannah’s food tour: the city has everything in store for you. What can you do to have a whole experience of the town? Where to look out for the best architectural examples? Here are some ideas:

  • Visit the Historic District

Covering an area of 4 kilometers, it is the United States’ largest Historical District. It is Savannah’s core of activity, with restaurants, stores, accommodations, and squares. You can wander through the monuments, museums, and picturesque streets here.

  • Get Immersed in the Parks and Squares

While Savannah is known for its overall cobblestone streets and squares, Park Forsyth is the first to stand out as one of the most iconic sites to visit. Located in the Historic District, this iconic landscape (which dates back to 1840, with modifications in 1851) is both a park where you will be able to enjoy the outdoor air as well as a popular venue for cultural events, from movie projections to music festivals, the 30-acre area holds a stage, a cafeteria and the historical fountains to offer a beautiful experience. 

Part of the city’s original plan and a donation of Georgia’s governor, John Forsyth, it holds the famous white fountain (built in 1858), other monuments, a rose garden, and even a fort.

Another renowned square to visit is Chippewa Square, which mixes both references to historic famous characters (visitors can admire the sculpture of James Edward Oglethorpe, the founder of Georgia and Savannah) as well as to popular culture ones, for it was the location where the bench scene in Forrest Gump was filmed.

  • Have a Taste of the Local Culture

Beer, homemade ice cream, and southern delicacies are just some of the options you can try on your food tour in Savannah. Enjoy the rooftop bars, casual eateries, and even Michelin-starred restaurants. Some of the best-known names are the Olde Pink House and Elizabeth on 37th.

  • Meet the Arts

While there are many museums in the city, perhaps one of the most distinguished ones is the one affiliated with the SCAD (which stands for the Savannah College of Art and Design): the SCAD Museum of Art. This building holds contemporary art and rotating exhibitions in two main galleries: the Evans Gallery (which focuses on Afro-American works of art) and the André Leon Talley Gallery (dedicated to fashion and style). 

In the city, you can also find the Telfair Museums (which include the Telfair Academy, the Slave Quarters, the Owens-Thomas House, and the Jepson Center for the Arts). The Telfair Academy opened its doors in 1886, making it the oldest public art museum in the USA. Visitors can admire the marble rooms, the crystal details, and even an outdoor sculpture terrace. 

Tourists can also visit yet another trace of the city’s underlying cultural patchwork: the Savannah African Art Museum, which offers a glimpse of the Afro-American presence in the region.

  • Feel the Spooky Side of Savannah

The city has a lot to offer to those who are interested in the unknown: from the Bonaventure Cemetery (a 160-acre area located on a cliff near Wilmington River where exuberant nature meets the solemn tombs and mausoleums, made famous by “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” by John Berendt) to an Underground tour, you can make the best of one of America’s most haunted cities.

  • Beach Day

If you want a mixture of historic sites, local seafood, and little shops, then Tybee Island is for you. Just a few minutes away from the Historic District, it is one of the South’s best-known town beaches.

  • Shop at the City Market

Once the center of the city’s commercial activity (the meeting point of fishermen and farmers, among others), the City Market is nowadays as lively as ever. Restaurants, galleries, and shops welcome visitors to this four-block area. 

To get a glimpse of the local History, tourists can also visit the American Prohibition Museum, which offers animated portraits, detailed wax figures, live-acting exhibitions, movies, and even a rooftop bar.

  • Walk Alongside the River in River Street

This well-known cobblestone street follows the Savannah River, and it is filled with boutiques, galleries, art studios, restaurants, and pubs that stand where former cotton stores used to function. 

  • Architecture, History, and Religion: The Churches of Savannah

While the best-known postcard of the city may be the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist (sometimes referred to as the “Sistine of the South” and famous for its French Gothic style), in Savannah, you will also be able to find some historical landmarks like the First (and Second) African Baptist Church (when talking about black congregations in North America, this is the oldest one. It was built by enslaved people during the night, after having worked during the day) or the Congregation Mickve Israel (one of the most ancient Jewish congregations in America and the only synagogue in North America to present Gothic-style architecture). 

  • Dive into the Beauty of Wormsloe State Historic Site

Formerly known as the Wormsloe Plantation, this location is in the Isle of Hope, near the town. It is perfect for those who love photography, for its Avenue of the Oaks, its pre-war mansions, and its colonial ruins offer a unique view. You can also dive into History in the wattle and daub hut and the small outbuildings that resemble Noble Jones’ (the founder) living area for marines and enslaved people, all available at the colonial life demonstration area of the Site.

  • Other Museums

Some old houses have become museums where tourists can see historic lifestyles; this is the case of the Andrew Low House Museum (owned by a century merchant) and the Owens–Thomas House, an icon of English Regency architecture and, since 1976, a National Historic Landmark. As we have previously mentioned, it is operated by the Telfair Museums. Here, you will also be able to visit the carriage house, where enslaved workers (like the nanny, the butler, and the cook) lived.

Tours, shops, cemeteries, houses, and museums: Every place in Savannah has a mixture of History and architecture that gives the city its beautiful style. 

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