Savannah has been on my travel bucket list ever since I met the tourism board of Savannah at the 2017 Women in Travel Summit conference. The city seemed absolutely beautiful and enchanting, hooking me immediately. And I am happy to report that it lived up to the hype — from my first glimpse at the Spanish moss and public parks, I was in love with Savannah.
If you’re looking for a perfect long-weekend destination for any occasion, Savannah is your place! This southern city is appropriate for families, bachelorette parties or a romantic getaway, thanks to it’s natural beauty, interesting activities and friendly local vibe.
Here is my ideal itinerary and complete guide for spending 2 days in Savannah, Georgia!
Morning: Coffee and Wandering Forsyth Park
Perhaps the most iconic part of Savannah, Forsyth Park a large central park lined with the famous old trees draped with Spanish moss. This park is surrounded by old mansions, many of which have been restored and are simply stunning. It takes about half and hour to walk around the entire edge of the park, but if you stop and take photos or relax, it could easily fill a whole morning!
I would recommend grabbing coffee prior to heading to the park. If you are walking from downtown, I really enjoyed my cold brew from Collins Quarter, which has a convenient walk up window where you can grab and go. The homey Sentient Bean at the south end of the park is another good option, or you can try Henny Penny, and adorable half art studio half coffee shop, in the Metropolitan neighborhood.
In the center of the park, there is a beautiful fountain and large monument surrounded by comfortable iron benches, perfect for people watching and sipping a morning coffee. As the sunlight streams through the Spanish moss, your heart will swoon at the beauty and charm. This is truly a lovely place. If you happen to be in Savannah on Saturday, there is a small farmer’s market in Forsyth Park where you can pick up a baked treat to enjoy with your coffee.
Afternoon: SCAD campus and Museum
After you are sufficiently caffeinated and finished exploring the park, west to the main Savannah College of Art and Design campus. Also known as SCAD, this is a well-known and prestigious art college which is a major employer in the city, and is responsible for a lot of the recent urban development around downtown.
Their campus encompasses over 50 buildings, and the picturesque area is worth wandering around. Visitors can see outdoor art installations on the campus green on West Turner Boulevard.
During our visit, there was a fascinating No Access black mirror installation by Tom Burr on the green. The panels appeared to be just black metal panels, but when you looked at them through a black mirror like your cellphone, all of a sudden they turned into mirrors. The student led art museum is also open to the public, with several free exhibits and a few paid exhibits. See the next major US artists before they make it big!
Night: Haunted Ghost Tour
Believe it not, there is a university in the south that studies paranormal activity and after a long-term study, it was determined that Savannah is the most haunted city in the US, due to its high rates of paranormal activity. I’m not sure I necessarily believe in that kind of thing, but if there was a city to convince me that ghosts existed, it would be Savannah.
Excited to explore this side of Savannah’s history, I signed up for a haunted walking tour around old Savannah with Blue Orb Tours. The group met at 10:00pm, many with to-go cocktails to fuel the 2 hour walk around downtown Savannah. I’m pretty easily spooked, so I was happy that our tour guide, Adam, inserted a lot of humor and jokes into his tour. Thankfully, there were not ghost sightseeing or moments where something popped out at us.
Our walking tour made several stops at buildings around the central Savannah area, including Calhoun Square, the Sorel Weed house, the Colonial Park cemetery and a few other spots. At each stop, our guide would tell us the story of how this place became haunted.
The creepiest one was the Mercer Williams house which had several ghost stories attached to it. In one case, a small boy was reported to have become possessed by a ghost and jumped from the roof and impaled himself on a fence post on his fall. There was also Jim Williams, a wealthy man, who murdered his lover in this home, and later the movie version, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, starring Kevin Spacey was made after the story.
Morning: Breakfast and Bike Ride
Take your second morning in Savannah to sleep in a bit and enjoy a slow-paced brunch. One of the best parts of being in the south is soaking in the local culture, and Sunday mornings in the south can be quite slow. Take it easy!
We tried out a few different brunch spots during our time in Savannah. If you’re staying in the downtown area, I loved our brunch at Little Duck Dinner near Market Square. The well-styled art deco entire sets the stage for their full menu that offers breakfast all day!
After you fill up on breakfast, hop on a rented bike to ride your way to one of the most beautiful parts of Savannah—Bonaventure Cemetery. This bike ride is largely flat and takes about 30 minutes each way. When you picture the historic south, this parks is almost identical to what you picture in your mind. The public cemetery is over 100 acres and sits on the banks of the Wilmington River, with free admission from 8am until 5pm each day. Normally I would not be one to enjoy biking around a cemetery, but this one is surprisingly peaceful and historical.
Afternoon: Historical Walking Tour of Downtown
With nearly a 300 year history, Savannah is one of the oldest and most historic cities in the US. It would be a shame not to dive into a bit of that history, especially with so many different eras to explore. The architecture here is fascinating, the civil war history is storied, and this was one of the major cities involved in the slave trade for a darker take on Savannah’s background.
We opted for the Footprints of Slavery tour with the locally-based business owner, which you can sign up for calling the tour leader directly to make a reservation. Led by former newscaster and slavery historian Vaughnette Goode-Walker, we were lucky enough to be the only people signed up for the tour that day, making it a private historical tour! The structure of the tour is loose, but deeply informed, with frequent stops and stories about live for black Africans in Savannah during the 1700 and 1800s.
Although this tour was the highlight of my time in Savannah, it covers dark and disturbing topics in American history and white people particularly should be prepared to feel uncomfortable with what that means. I think that it is deeply important for people to dive into these stories because they continue to inform our society in profound ways today, which is why this was one of my favorite activities in Savannah.
Vaughnette did an amazing job tying in Savannah’s slave history to structures of power that persist today, such as banks and institutions, many of which were founded during the slave trade. Prior to the tour, I also listened to the podcast Uncivil which retells Civil War stories from the perspective of people of color.
Night: Shopping, Dinner and Drinks on Bull Street
You’re probably getting hungry around this time, so head off the SCAD campus back towards downtown towards Bull Street, one of the main thoroughfares through central Savannah. Bull Street has multiple small parks/squares with monuments every few blocks. It offers visitors the chance to walk through Savannah’s history!
Bull Street is also home to many of Savannah’s cutest boutiques, restaurants and shops. We wandered up and down this street several times over our trip, since our AirBnb was located nearby, and each time, we’d pop into a few different stores or restaurants.
- ShopSCAD: Buy pieces from SCAD artists and students
- Satchel: Locally made leather goods in a stunning array of colors and styles
- 24e Design Co.: Super fashionable home decor store with new and vintage pieces
- East + Down: Well-curated vintage clothing and accessory shop (pictured above)
- Measure: Cozy little fabric store
- Mamie Ruth: Long-time clothing and jewelry boutique
- 13 Secrets: Local and long-distance handmade jewelry boutique
Savannah has a vibrant food and culinary scene to explore during your visit. I was actually surprised by the amount of wonderful restaurants to choose from! Most of the highly-rated restaurants are clustered in the historical downtown area, but there are a plenty of good options outside of that as well.
Near Bull Street, I would recommend a few restaurants. The same spot I mentioned above, Collins Quarter, also has delicious dinner options! Don’t miss their boozy cocktail options and order an appetizer to start! Just a few blocks away is another good option– Public Kitchen & Bar. The stunning interior offers a beautiful ambiance, and their diverse menu options mean there is something for everyone. I really liked their PEI Mussels for a starter and the braised lamb shank was everything I wanted!
My favorite meal in the downtown area however was at The Grey. The restaurant is built inside a former bus depot, and much of the vintage vibe remains, including the bus entryways that open up onto a beautiful patio. The food here is amazing too! Their pecan crusted catch of the day was the best thing I ate on the entire trip. The fish was so buttery and melted in your mouth with a salty and delightful pecan crust. Can’t recommend this spot highly enough!
What to Know Before You Go
Savannah has open container laws
The only other city in the US besides New Orleans with open container laws, Savannah allows people to carry alcoholic drinks throughout the city. Many bars offer to-go cups and you can drink on the street. Makes for lots of fun walking tours!
The “downtown” area is easily walkable
Although Savannah looks big on a map, it is VERY easy to walk the downtown area. We walked nearly everywhere during our trip, and it was no problem. The downtown area is pretty compact, and it would take about 20 minutes to walk from the river to Forsyth park, the length of the central spot. From there, it is only about 20 minutes more to get to Midtown, a hip foodie area of the city. Of course, Lyfts and Ubers are available should your feet get too tired!
The weather might not be as warm as you think—check beforehand!
I just assumed prior to my trip that everything south of Kentucky would be warm and comfortable all year round to a Chicagoan. While that was true during the day in the sun, the temperatures got into the low 50s at night, making it a bit chilly on my ghost walking tour. Layers are the way to go here!