When one thinks of Savannah, Georgia, what springs to mind is that famous southern hospitality and all of the history and traditions that go along with it. From its prominence as a colonial capital, to its strategic importance during both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, to its long history with jazz, Savannah is simply teaming with stories, culture, historic forts, and elegant homes. And even if history isn’t your thing, the city is equally sought out for its food, booze, and great music.
Below, we give you an insider’s guide to the best spots to stay, play, eat and drink (and of course, where to catch a glimpse of a couple of good ole ghosts) for the full Savannah experience you won’t find in your tourist guide.
WHERE TO STAY
THE PERRY LANE HOTEL
Savannah’s seen an uptick in elevated experiences, and The Perry Lane checks that box for boutique hotels. It’s centrally located within walking distance to all the major tourist attractions, but still maintains a reclusive allure. Their main lobby restaurant Emporium is also one of the new “it” spots on the culinary scene.
256 E Perry St / Savannah, GA 31401 / 912.415.9000
This is where the cool kids are staying. On the water but off the tourist-beaten path, it’s got the views and easy access to downtown without all the noise. And if you don’t feel like venturing out, their Bar Julian serves great food and drinks.
415 East Paces Ferry Rd NE / Atlanta, GA 30305 / 404.574.1234
The Savannah Plant Riverside District is an event space spanning multiple buildings along the riverside, and the JW Marriott is one of the main structures. With a few outdoor restaurants and bars right on the water, and a live music venue right next door, there’s a lot to do just by stepping out the doors. Even if you don’t end up staying there, we highly recommend stopping by their lobby to check out the amazing eye-candy, like the giant bronzed brontosaurus skeleton standing right as you walk in, videos showing local history with private listening stations, and little pop up shops strewn throughout. It’s truly one of the most interestingly designed hotel lobbies you’ll see.
400 W River St / Savannah, GA 31401 / 912.373.9100
There are a lot of supposed haunted hotels in Savannah, and Hamilton-Turner has a few ghost stories of its own. One fun and not-so-freaky rumor: supposedly the Hamilton-Turner Inn was Walt Disney’s inspiration for the design of his Haunted Mansion ride.
330 Abercorn St / Savannah, GA 31401 / 912.233.1833
WHERE TO EAT
Savannah’s got a huge culinary scene, and most of is as great as they say. We’ve highlighted some of the best and most interesting here, but there’s a lot more out there to explore. Nearly everyone will tell you about The Olde Pink House, which is definitely worth checking out, but for the sake of expanding your horizons, here’s some other favorites.
A lot of restaurants here are built in former single-family homes, which adds a lot of charm. Common Thread has charm overload, situated on a corner lot with a wraparound porch. Tables are situated throughout the former living and dining rooms on the main floor, and the upstairs was turned into a bar. They also only use locally sourced food in all their dishes.
122 E 37th St / Savannah, GA 31401 / 912.944.7482
Dark wood, deep reds and leather seats are the main decorative themes throughout this cool new restaurant. With a large bar area and plenty of table seating, this is a great spot for casual drinks, a quick appetizer or a long dinner date. And if you like grilled octopus, theirs is cooked to perfection.
125 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd / Savannah, GA 31401 / 912.200.9255
A chic little restaurant on the main tourist thoroughfare, Bay Street, it has a small but delicious menu, great cocktails, and the best oysters in Savannah.
7 Drayton St / Savannah, GA 31401 / 912.662.8901
LITTLE DUCK DINER
An upscale diner that’s great for brunch, lunch or dinner. All of their cocktails come with a toy rubber ducky in them, but you’ve got to fork over an extra dollar to take it home with you (or slyly sneak it out).
150 W Saint Julian Street / Savannah, GA 31401 / 912.235.6773
The old school diner you love with all your traditional favorites – the food’s cheap, the portions are big, and it’s all delicious. If you’re a movie buff, eat at the counter to relive one of John Cusack’s scenes in Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil, which was filmed there.
404 Abercorn St / Savannah, GA 31401 / 912.233.0402
LEOPOLD’S ICE CREAM
Leopold’s has been around for over 100 years for a reason. If you’re hungry you can grab a sandwich or soup here too, but they’re best known for their ice cream. Stratton Leopold, the current owner, was also a film producer for a time and the main lobby is decorated with one sheets of films he produced. But beware: there’s never NOT a line at Leopold’s. You’ll probably be waiting for about 45 minutes.
212 E Broughton St / Savannah, GA 31401 / 912.234.4442
The Starland District is Savannah’s Brooklyn, with a lot of cool shops, restaurants and tattoo parlors. Starland Yard is their food truck park, with a rotating lineup of food trucks that stop by. It’s great for families and pets, and they’ve got a calendar on their website with the food truck schedule if you want to plan around your favorite one.
2411 De Soto Ave / Savannah, GA 31401 / 912.417.3001
LULU’S CHOCOLATE BAR
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’ll love this place. They’ve got great desserts and dessert cocktails. Don’t think about the calories and you’ll be fine.
WHERE TO DRINK
42 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd / Savannah, GA 31401 / 912.480.4564
A hidden gem of a wine bar, they’ve also got beer and charcuterie. Very laid back and cool.
2312 Abercorn St / Savannah, GA 31401 / 678.608.9162
THE RAIL PUB
For dive bar fanatics, this is for you. It’s been around since 1890, is located in what used to be known as Savannah’s “Red Light” district, and fully embraces its raunchiness. They’ve got cheap beer and karaoke every night. EVERY. NIGHT.
405 W Congress St #2410 / Savannah, GA 31401 / 912.238.1311
St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah is no joke. On a typical weekend there are 100,000-200,000 people in Savannah – for St. Patrick’s Day there are two million. The city literally shuts down. And McDonough’s is the epicenter.
21 E Mc Donough St / Savannah, GA 31401 / 912.233.6136
WHERE TO SHOP
E. SHAVER BOOKS
An amazing local bookstore that’s great to spend an afternoon wandering through its labyrinth of shelves. They prominently feature a local author section to celebrate their community, and even have a small sitting room in the back where they often have readings. Your inner bookworm will thank you for visiting.
326 Bull St / Savannah, GA 31401 / 912.234.7257
THE PARIS MARKET
They’ve got everything from coffee table books to room diffusers to kids’ clothes to tableware and jewelry (made by the store’s owner). A great place for gifts or to get the random furnishings you need for your home. They’ve even got a little coffee shop/bakery if you need to get reenergized after too many hours of shopping.
36 W Broughton St / Savannah, GA 31401 / 912.232.500
HOUSE OF STRUT
Quirky and fun, they boast about their curated selection of men’s and women’s pieces dating from the ’30s to the ’90s.
For all you comic book aficionados (note we didn’t say nerd, even though it’s in the name), this store’s for you. While they don’t have the biggest comic book selection to choose from, they’ve got all the games and Funko toys to fill your heart’s content.
106 E Broughton St / Savannah, GA 31401 / 912.349.1878
LOCALLY MADE SAVANNAH
Savannah’s got a ton of local artisans and this is just one of the stores that celebrates them. If you want to support small businesses, stop in here and pick up a knickknack or two.
223 W Broughton St / Savannah, GA 31401 / 912.999.7051
This gallery is run as a co-op with each artist taking turns working the sales desk. They work in a range of mediums from painting to photographs to jewelry design. It’s located right on the water in the midst of all the tourist traps, but it’s worth the trek.
209 E River St / Savannah, GA 31401 / 912.236.4583
Also located on the river, this is one of a few year-round Christmas shops for avid holiday lovers. This one’s my favorite, it’s a little oddly located under an overpass by the river but that doesn’t hinder its charm.
5 W River St / Savannah, GA 31401 / 912.298.6717
WHERE TO VISIT
GHOST CITY TOURS
Savannah’s got a huge paranormal history, whether you believe in it or not, this city will love to show it to you. Ghost City has a variety of tours, from a walking tour beginning in a cemetery and ending at the Mercer-Williams house (ie the Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil house), to a haunted pub crawl where you’re drinking the whole way (as a perk, Savannah has no open container laws).
Savannah has 22 squares in their downtown area, and they’re all within walking distance of each other. If you’re in town on a nice day, it’s definitely worth your time to walk through at least a couple of them.
Savannah’s version of Central Park, with its iconic fountain in the middle. A little south of all the squares, it’s got a large grassy area where people play a little catch or bring their dogs to run. The park often hosts outdoor festivals, so check the calendar for the dates you’re down here. Or just stop by to see what’s going on that weekend.
2 W Gaston St / Savannah, GA 31401
TELFAIR MUSEUM OF ART
Teflair is actually comprised of 3 separate structures, two of which sit next to each other on the same square in downtown Savannah. The Telfair Academy is a centuries-old mansion that houses some of the museums’ permanent collections, and the Jepson Center is the more modern structure right beside it that showcases their rotating collections.
207 W York St / Savannah, GA 31401 / 912.790.8800
SCAD MUSEUM OF ART
The Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) is a top-rated art school with buildings scattered around the city. Their art museum sits beside a restored building housing their architectural classes and their outdoor student lounge called SCAD Beach.
601 Turner Blvd / Savannah, GA 31401 / 912.525.7191
TYBEE ISLAND & HILTON HEAD BEACHES
There are a bunch of little islands off the coast of Savannah to check out, but Tybee Island is the most frequented. It’s a charming little beach community with a few bars and restaurants, and if you’re in town the first weekend in October you can catch their annual Pirate Festival complete with Pirate Parade. Who would wanna miss that