Savannah, so many people recommended that we visit it on our travels and we were excited to see what all the buzz was about. My parents came for a visit and we got to spend a long weekend in an airbnb, which was a nice break from Wanda’s close quarters. Continuing our trend of bad luck with the weather, we had some wind, rain and cooler temps to contend with but we still had a great time.
We explored the town, did several tours and ate at several restaurants and came up with a list of our top picks of things to do and places to eat (all while I sang Savannah oh na-na, half of my heart is in Savannah oh na-na on a continuous loop in my head for our entire trip, totally wrong place but hey the song still works)
Anyway, here’s are our top 5:
Hop on Hop off Tour with Old Town Trolley Tours
As is our pattern, the first day we arrived in Savannah we took a hop on hop off tour to give us an overview of the city.
The historic district is made up of 22 squares and parks and the trolley tour goes around most of them. We got to hear stories of who the squares were named for, the war heroes memorialized in many of them and some interesting background on how the city was originally laid out.
Stops include: Forsyth Park, City Market, River Street, Ellis Square, Bull Street Corridor, Massie Heritage Museum, Davenport House, Bay Street, Ships of the Sea Museum, Madison Square, Cathedral of St John, Pirates House and the Exchange Bell. Check out a map here.
We got off at Forsyth to stroll through the park. The trees, the grounds, the statutes and the fountain are just beautiful...it’s a great spot to snap some pictures.
Our next hop off was at River Street. River Street is a row of of little boutiques, restaurants, candy shops and bars in
what used to be cotton warehouses along the Savannah River. We spent a while eating our way through the peanut
shop, Savannah’s Candy Kitchen and River Street Sweets. All this sugar obviously made us quite thirsty, so we had to
stop off for a cocktail at Vic’s on the River.
The tour is $33 for a 1 day tour but if you purchase online, you can get tickets for $29.70.
Bonaventure Cemetery Tour with Don
If you do only do one tour during your time in Savannah, I would hands down choose this one. While you can wander through the cemetery on your own, you will lose out on so much of Bonaventure’s interesting history, how it used to be a plantation but was later transformed into a cemetery, the interesting “marketing” tactics the original owner of the cemetery engaged in to get the upperclass residents of Savannah to purchase plots there and bios on its most notable residents.
All four of us enjoyed this tour so much and agreed it was the best thing we did in Savannah. A lot of that is due to Don. Don has a unique connection with the cemetery as his family is buried in it and he is a member of the Bonaventure Historical Society. He is a terrific storyteller and keeps your attention while giving you so much history and information. He doesn’t simply recite a script. He gives you accurate descriptions instead of the somewhat fanciful tales you may here on other tours (we passed another tour group, and I listened to the guide for a few minutes to compare and found it to be over the top in an effort to be more dramatic and spooky).
A really smart business tactic Don uses is that it’s a name your own price tour. After wandering through the beautiful cemetery (although it’s strange to call a cemetery beautiful, it truly is) for several hours with him listening to his lively dialogue, he allows you to choose the amount you pay. He leaves it up to the customer as to how much they can afford and what they think he deserves. I imagine he does very well this way. We were so impressed with him that we paid more than we had originally planned on. (And if our testimonial isn’t enough to convince you, he has plenty of outstanding reviews on tripadvisor)
You can find more information on Don and book his tour here
Owens-Thomas House and Slave Quarters
There are several house tours that you can take in Savannah but unfortunately there isn’t really a great package deal for them like we found in Charleston. But we knew we wanted to see the Owens-Thomas House and if you purchase that ticket for $20, the Telfair Academy and Jepsen Center are included.
The Owens-Thomas House is very unique. During the tour, you go through the mansion, gardens, carriage house and slave quarters. It was the only house tour we have done where we got to see preserved slave quarters, which definitely gives you a different perspective on what life must have been like back then. We were also all pretty shocked to find out that the Owens-Thomas house had indoor plumbing. It was built in 1819 and had two toilets, multiple sinks, 3 bathtubs and at least one shower. That was pretty wild for that time, the White House didn’t even have running water for drinking and bathing until 1833, that's 14 years later! Another interesting element is the bridge staircase, pretty fancy to have a bridge connecting the front and rear hallways of the second floor.
Tybee Boat Tour
Since we grew up on Long Island being near or on the water is always appealing to us. We took a 3 hour private boat tour with Sundial Charters called Little Tybee Unplugged. Our captain was Rene who was very knowledgeable about the area and accommodating. We had booked the boat trip and within 10 minutes of departing it was raining and pretty miserable so she took us back free of charge and we rescheduled for the following day. The boat trip works with the high tide to take you deep into the preserve, creeks and beaches. We saw pods of dolphins and all kinds of birds. We then landed on a beach and took a stroll along the water collecting shells and sand dollars. We had a really great time, even though it certainly was a bit chilly.
This tour cost $295.00. They also offer several other tours.
Alligator Soul Restaurant
This restaurant was a recommendation for us and we can understand why, our meal was outstanding! It's downtown near Telfair Square in what was once a grain warehouse so it’s a beautiful rustic setting. It is a farm to table fine dining restaurant. Our drinks, dinners and desserts were delicious. We had frog legs shrimp and grits, scallops, gumbo and a sweet potato pasta dish. There is a pretty large menu of traditional southern dishes as well as some eclectic and adventurous choices but they also cater to those who are gluten free and vegetarian/vegan. Check out their menu.
Green Truck Neighborhood Pub
This is a small casual pub with excellent burgers and delicious salads. Be prepared for a wait, it is a popular place and doesn't have too many tables but it's worth it.
So, that’s our roundup of must see and eats in Savannah, how did we do? Did we miss anything? Let us know.
By: Ashley Quiambao