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Savannah Waterfront

The combination of genteel manner, elegant air and mysterious, seductive aura continually draws visitors to this historic coastal Georgia city, where there is so much to discover and uncover.

Savannah is stately. It is a place where incredible architectural elements of mass and symmetry evoke stability; where huge oaks root it firmly to the land and formal gardens speak to its English sensibility and Southern graciousness. It is a unique community with a heritage as much colonial America as antebellum South. It is a city of brilliant urban design, where neighborhoods of commercial enterprises and grand residences surround 21 squares, laid out in a plan envisioned by its founder, James Oglethorpe in 1733, before he even set foot on the bluff overlooking the Savannah River, 10 miles upriver from the Atlantic Ocean.

Savannah is a proud city filled with magnificent architectural symbols of its past, rescued and wonderfully restored through major efforts initiated in 1955 by a group of Savannah women who saved the 1820 Isaiah Davenport House from destruction. Their Historic Savannah Foundation was the genesis of a Savannah renaissance. Since the 1980s, the Savannah School of Art and Design (SCAD) has invested millions in the restoration of commercial downtown Savannah. The end result is a magnificent collection of more than 1700 restored building in a 2.5 square-mile National Historic Landmark District.

Underlying the established, very English order of things is a Savannah that is melancholy and mysterious. It’s in the air: steamy and humid. It’s in the landscape outside the city: endless marsh grass laced with creeks snaking to the sea, where impenetrable spartina grass has overgrown once productive rice fields of antebellum plantations. It flows from the cumulative tragedy of a people who faced the upheaval brought about by the Civil War and who survived fire and pestilence. It is permeated by the superstitions of the Gullah or Geechee culture of the descendents of slaves from West Africa who settled in the relative isolation of the marshes at the end of the Civil War.

A stroll through Savannah is pure discovery. Around every corner and square, architectural specimens, thankfully spared by Sherman march, stand proudly on display, framed by manicured gardens and intricate ironwork. Representing every important architectural style and constructed of Savannah grey brick, Georgia granite, red brick, or ochre or sunset pink washed stucco, each has story to tell.

It is in the architectural gems of Savannah that her mysteries unfold. In the Gothic Revival Green-Meldin House, medieval in feeling, General Sherman quartered. The Greek Revival Sorrel-Weed House welcomed Robert E. Lee through its Doric columned entrance, the Champion-McAlpin House, fronted by Corinthian columns, whose garden well hid the gold of the owner’s bank from Civil War confiscation. The Federal Isaiah Davenport House is a true example of American architecture in the 1800s. Two houses of worship were designed in styles uncommon to their denomination: the Episcopal Christ Church, the “Mother Church of Georgia,” is an imposing classic Greek temple and the Temple Mickve Israel, the third oldest Jewish synagogue in America, is unusual in its Gothic style. The imposing Regency mansion on Bull Street was the Halloween night birthplace of Girl Scout founder, Juliette Gordon Low. Fashionably Queen Anne detailed, the Romanesque Revival Cotton Exchange, “King Cotton’s Palace,” stands proudly in recognition of the city’s wealth once reaped from cotton. The fine Georgian Olde Pink House on Albercorn Street is now home to one of the city’s best restaurants and, at the center of contemporary pop culture, the events inside the Italianate Mercer House behind the iron fence on Monterey Square set the stage for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

In Savannah’s signature squares, shaded by moss-draped live oak and glossy magnolias, blazing with azaleas and centered by dramatic fountains, its history is told in larger than life statues and commemorative monuments. In Chippewa Square admire the detailed statue of James Oglethorpe, whose egalitarian principles created a city of diverse people, or sit on a bench, as Forrest Gump did. Find out about Chief Tomochichi, buried in Wright’s Square, whose goodwill enabled the early settlement to live in peace; and in Columbia Square, listen to the fountain which once graced Wormsloe Plantation, one of the first in Georgia. Stop by Johnson Square, the first of the original squares, where public meetings and rallies have been held since colonial times.

As you make your way from square to square in this walkable city, notice the details: dolphin downspouts, intricate iron balustrades and railings; columns, smooth, fluted and scrolled; gracious shaded verandahs; the tabby on St. Julian Street; doors painted the Gullah way, a distinctive blue/green called “Haint Blue,” to keep the spirits out.

Jepson CenterBe sure to stop along the way. View art at the Jepson Center for the Arts or at Savannah College of Art and Design. Take time for afternoon tea in the alcove window of a historic mansion; dine on local seafood in yet another. Sit outside under a canopy at a bistro in City Market, where the work of local artists is displayed, or walk around the corner to “The Lady” for a superb Lowcountry lunch buffet. Happen upon SCAD students on curbs sketching the wonderful old structures and admire their work. Enjoy a performance at the Savannah Theater, the oldest theater site in continuous operation in the country. Discover wonderful garden art, painted furniture, baubles and more in the Downtown Design District; browse for antiques shops clustered around Bull and Broughton Streets.

Walk down the bluff to cobblestone River Street along Savannah’s working riverfront to savor she-crab soup, find a gift in shops along Factor’s Row, sample a Savannah praline. Drive through the mysterious marshes to the beaches of Tybee Island, stopping along the way at the Civil War era Fort Pulaksi, or for a Lowcountry fish boil at the Crab Shack. If you’re lucky, find a sweetgrass basket at a roadside stand.

Experience Savannah. Her elegance captivates, her mystery intrigues.


Jan - Feb 61.7° 39°
Mar - April 73.8° 50.4°
May 84.2° 62.3°
June - July - August 89.8° 70.5°
September 85.6° 67.6°
October 77.8° 55.9°
Nov - Dec 66° 42.6°

Savannah River


Much like her temperament, the temperatures of Savannah are never extreme.
Savannah’s weather is neither too hot nor too cold – it’s just right. There is some seasonal differentiation, with only about four weeks where the temperature may hover near the freezing mark. The thermometer hits 90° in July and August, the hottest months, when the beaches and activities on Tybee Island beckon.

In Savannah, there is much to celebrate, and celebrate she does with over 200 festivals spanning all seasons. By far the largest is the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March, celebrating the city’s Irish heritage. The first festivities were held in the early 1800s, making it the third oldest, behind New York and Boston, and the second largest in the country. During the weeklong celebration of parades, music, food and fun, green reigns. Anything and everything that can be dyed turns green: green hair, green eye shadow, green beads, green costumed pets, and even fountains and drink flow green.

Savannah’s balmy spring heralds temperatures in the 70s and flowers bloom in abundance. Set in this glorious backdrop are the Savannah Music Festival, “Southern, Soulful and Sophisticated,” the Blues and BBQ and the Spring Fling Art and Music Festival. Home and garden tours offer a rare glimpse into fabulous private homes.

Warm summer days are perfect for the Tybee Beach Bum Parade, the Island Summer Concert Series, seafood festivals, the Shakespeare Festival and fireworks on River Street and on the beach. Crisp fall air is filled with sounds music and aromas of food of Oktoberfest, the Greek Festival, and the Jewish Food Festival. As the Holidays approach, the squares glow in white light, stores are decorated, private homes in holiday finery open for the Holiday Tour of Homes, trees light up during the Southern Lights Celebration, and plays and concerts are presented in many venues.


In the 2004 census, Savannah’s population within the city limits was 129,800, with an average age of 34. This permanent population is enhanced and infused by the coming and going of SCAD students who bring a distinct creativity and energy to the city.


The Historic District is 2.5 square miles, bounded by the Savannah River, East Broad Street, Gwinnett Street, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. While there is plenty to captivate you within that area, the surrounding area offers additional options.


Savannah is accessible by air into Savannah International Airport.
By car, interstate highways are just 10 miles from the Historic District. The Historic District is very walkable, however, there are other options. The Chatham Area Transit (CAT) offers schedule bus transportation from downtown hotels and the Savannah Visitor Information Center to many sites, connecting with various bus routes serving the downtown area.

The Old Town Trolley Tours® of Savannah offers a great way to see the city before you head out on your own. Take the fully narrated 90 minute tour where you’ll see all the important sights from a great vantage point and through a local’s perspective. Best of all, it will help you determine where you’ll want to visit throughout the rest of your stay. Be sure to jot these down on the free map provided by the trolley when you purchase your ticket. The Old Town Trolley also offers the option of getting off and back on again at any of the 17 stops along the tour to explore on your own.


Savannah is a special place to stay.
Her gracious culture permeates the more than 12,000 rooms in elegant hotels, historic inns, cozy guest houses and seaside cottages.

Savannah Old Town Trolley & the Tellfair Mansion

1.) See Savannah aboard the Old Town Trolley Tours®
The best first thing you can do is set aside the first 90 minutes of your visit for an interesting narrated tour of historic Savannah. From your vantage point aboard the trolley you’ll see sights you might otherwise miss. You’ll get an insider’s view of Savannah: the charming, the grand, the refined, the intriguing, the unusual, the mysterious, the unexplained. You’ll hear tales of pirates, of the colonial silk experiment, of Civil War romance and tragedies, of duels and mysterious happenings, of the waving girl and the bird girl, of secrets, specters and unusual events. You’ll not miss the significant historic houses and you’ll notice the architectural details. Take the express tour: one loop around, without getting off. Or, get off and back on again at 17 convenient stops to explore on your own. You’ll have fun, get informed, get oriented.

2.) Walk the Squares
Take your map, mark your starting point and head out! Savannah’s sensible layout is easy to follow from square to square and surprises await you around each one. You’ll be awed by the architecture, charmed by gardens, fountains, magnolias and live oak, and delighted by all you’ll find to see and do.

3.) See the Houses
The exquisite jewels of Savannah, around every square, down every street. Locals live and work in them; visitors are drawn by the history they hold. Admire the private ones behind intricate ironwork fences. Here is what you’ll find at the ones open as museums:

Isaiah Davenport HouseIsaiah Davenport House (1820)
Federal style, the very American architecture of the time. Interior is elegant, but not overly so, predominantly painted in “federal blue” with slender interior marble columns, black and white marble entrance floor, marble mummy head mantle and furnished in period furniture.

Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace (1818) is a Girls Scout touchstone. English Regency, in somber in shades of brown and furnished in late 19th century period pieces of the time of her birth, it offers a glimpse into Victorian family life.

Telfair Mansion (1819) evolved into the Telfair Academy of Arts & Sciences, Savannah’s premier art museum. The magnificent neo-classical, vast and opulent Regency style house with its Octagon room and restored rotunda gallery is filled with 18th and 19th century American and European art.

Owens - Thomas House (1819), the finest example of English Regency style architecture in the US is resplendent with exquisite interior details: brass inlaid staircase, a bridge spanning the central stairwell and the Greek key patterned amber window.

Scarborough House (1819)
Yet another Regency masterpiece converted to museum. Inside its curved walls and under distinctive cornices, the important 18th and 19th century maritime industry is gloriously exhibited in the Ships of the Seas Museum. Admire the fine scrimshaw collection; walk through the largest garden in the historic district.

Andrew Low House (1847)
Delicate Italianate architecture, filigree-framed in iron balconies, epitomizes pre-civil war Savannah affluence. The interior, with imported mahogany and rosewood furniture, gold fabric and gilded accessories, interior pilasters with capitals carved in lotus and acanthus reflect the wealth and worldliness of its cotton factor owner.

Green Meldrim Mansion.
(1850) Neo-Gothic, architecturally imposing and significant, with furnishings a collection of donated pieces, it was famously General Sherman’s Savannah headquarters.

4.) Find the places mentioned in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
If you’ve read the book, you’ll want to find some of those landmarks. Center stage of the book, the Mercer-Williams House on Bull Street, is open for tours. Others, the Oglethorpe Club, the Hamilton-Turner House and Clary’s Café on Abercorn the Armstrong House on Bull Street, to name a few, are walk bys. You’ll find the Bird Girl, not at Bonaventure Cemetery, but in the Telfair Museum of Arts and Sciences.

Savannah Ghost Tours 5.) Take a Ghost Tour if you dare.
Whether attributable to the paranormal qualities emitted by the sandy soil on which it sits, the ghosts of those who suffered its tragedies, the souls who are though to be buried beneath its streets, or the spiritual and cultural mix of those who have passed through it, Savannah is one of the “Scariest Places on Earth.” See for yourself on trolley, carriage, walking, or even hearse tours. Be frightfully entertained aboard the Ghosts & Gravestones® Tours of Savannah with stops at the Colonial Cemetery and a tour of the spirited Sorrel Weed House. Venture into parapsychology on the Sixth Sense Savannah Ghost Tour or see the ghostly side of the city on carriage tour by candlelight.

6.) Climb through the Forts
Old Fort Jackson (1808), the oldest standing brick fort in Georgia; Fort Pulaski (1846) built in the marshes as a state of the art coastal defense system and was occupied by Union forces in 1862. What little remains of Fort Severn (1898), has been incorporated into the charming Tybee Island community, with the exception of one battery open for tours.

7.) See the river town on a Savannah River Cruise, by day, by moonlight; for lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch.
Enjoy a narrated day tour; be entertained on a gospel dinner cruise; participate in a murder mystery dinner cruise. Experience the mysterious marshes on nature tours, the Marsh

8.) Discovery Walks and Beach Discovery
Walks from the Marine Science Center on Tybee Island, whose aquarium showcases local sea life, or take the once a week 4-hour Savannah National Wildlife Refuge tour through the fascinating ecosystem of the endless dense grasses.

Savannah Carriage Rides

National Landmark Historic District
The Historic District is more than a museum piece to be viewed from afar. In this heart of Savannah, there are fine hotels and historic inns, great restaurants of all types, fascinating museums, spectacular architecture to see, significant houses to visit, interesting shops and boutiques everywhere, and intriguing art and antique galleries to wander through. Oglethorpe’s visionary idea of the squares as communal neighborhood gathering places is as relevant today as it was in 1733 and Savannahians live and work in the historic homes and commercial buildings throughout the district. What you feel when you visit Savannah is this sense of place and pride.

Victorian District
In the late 1800s, as the historic district outgrew its boundaries, homes were built just south in the Victorian architecture popular at the time. Today street after street of these intricately embellished wood frame homes, some beautifully restored, others much in need of a facelift, creates an amazing sight.

Thomas Square Streetcar Historic District
Artists and musicians have brought new life to this residential area south of the Victorian District. Grand restored homes line lovely 37th Street, their stately presence once again earning it the name “Millionaires Row.” The area is home to the block-size Little Sisters of the Poor Convent, to Savannah’s main library, the centerpiece of the revitalization of Bull Street, and to the Gingerbread House, a favorite wedding venue.

Andrew Lowe HouseGordonston
Five minutes from downtown Savannah, Gordonston was planned and designed in the early 1900s by the Gordon family whose best known member was Girl Scout founder, Juliette Gordon Low. In contrast to the squares of Savannah, the streets of Gordonston fan out from the central Pierpont Circle, lined with homes ranging from elegant brick mansions to cozy cottages.

Tybee Island

Quietly attractive and a bit quirky, Tybee Island is Savannah’s beach community, distinguished by its154’ black and white landmark lighthouse marking the entrance to the Savannah River. Tybee Island’s 5 miles of Atlantic beaches backed by sea oat covered sand dunes offers beach activities, fishing, boating and events on the pier. A favorite of naturalists is kayaking or birdwatching in the surrounding Lowcountry marshes, while history buffs and explorers enjoy what remains of Fort Severn and the largely intact Fort Pulaski. Everyone enjoys the wonderful fresh seafood so famous in the Lowcountry, served in the casual atmosphere of over 30 restaurants. For a place to stay, there are hotels and sea-side cottages.

Forsyth Park

All too often when visiting a city we miss special places and things because they are either better known to locals or are a bit outside of the hub of greatest tourist activity.

A few blocks east of Forsyth Park on East Huntington you’ll glimpse Savannah and coastal Georgia black history in the restored 1879 Kings-Tisdale Cottage where displays of art, artifacts and intricate sweetgrass baskets reflect the influence of the African-American heritage on the character of Savannah.

“Slow down and taste the sweet life” at the Back in the Day Bakery, one block from Forsyth Park in the Downtown Design District which runs along Whitaker between Pulaski and Chatham Squares. While in the area, browse through the 13 eclectic boutiques and galleries, whose unique names and unusual finds will lure you in: the Paris Flea Market, Southern Charm Antiques, Savannah Fine Linens, Etc., Oseaa Upstairs, 12 West Jones Street Antiques, the Folk Traditions Store, One Fish Two Fish, Urban Oasis, Architectural Elements, and Skylark, to name a few.

If you like folk art, find the carvings and sculptures of Ulysses Davis on permanent display in the Beach Institute, founded in 1865 to educate black Savannahians. The Institute, a few blocks south and east of Colonial Park Cemetery also features a wonderful array of changing displays of the work of African American artists from the Savannah area and is a great place to get a feel for the Gullah/Geechee culture.

For a nostalgic treat of early 20th century Savannah, try delicious homemade ice cream at Leopold’s Ice Cream on East Broughton, a Savannah tradition that began in 1920, but which, much to the chagrin of its local following, closed in 1970. To their delight it re-opened in 2004 with much fanfare. You can still find composer and favorite son Johnny Mercer’s favorite, Tutti-Frutti, in the 1935 ice-cream parlor atmosphere.

Savannah Temple

Savannah’s cemeteries silently tell her stories. Bonaventure Cemetery, over 100 peaceful acres established as a cemetery in 1847, is hauntingly beautiful. Massive live oaks in hues of dark green shrouded in smoky green Spanish moss form the backdrop for winged angels, pensive and mournful, carved crypts, simple plots and ornate vaults of granite and tabby in shades of grey, and in white marble, from weathered to stark, and together create an otherworld atmosphere. Bring your camera as you’ll find the countless unique gravestones to be an art form. The smaller Colonial Cemetery, as Savannah’s public cemetery from 1750 to 1853, is the final resting place of those who were part of the development of early Savannah.

House of worship.
Marvel at the Greek temple design of Christ Church (1842), the Mother Church of Georgia, and the First Baptist Church (1833). Notice the Gothic Revival architectural similarities between Templ Mickve Israel (1878), whose museum holds the 15th century Torah brought over by the early settlers, Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, elaborate in interior details and the oldest Catholic Church in Georgia, and the lovely Lutheran Church of the Ascension (1979).

Forsyth Park.
In the 20 acres of shady areas and open space, children play, Frisbees whirl, and a pick-up game of tag football is easy to find. Play tennis, bring a blanket for a summer concert, or happen upon a wedding ceremony in front of the signature fountain, whose water is turned green in the kick-off event the St. Patrick’s Day Festivities.

City Market, a place to gather and gossip during anti-bellum days
when produce grown in plantation fields and seafood from the marshy coast was brought in for sale, continues its tradition as a social center. Today what draws locals and visitors alike are shops, live music, art galleries, sidewalk restaurants, bistros and fun pubs and drinking establishments. On the first Friday of each month, catch First Friday for the Arts at the Art Center at City Market.

Cross over Factors Walk to active River Street lined with shops and restaurants
on one side and large cargo vessels maneuvering the bends of the active Savannah River on the other. Walk to the park on the east end of the street to see Savannah’s Waving Girl. If you’re visiting on the first Saturday of each month from March – November, enjoy regional arts, craft and food along the river at the First Saturday Festivities.

You don’t have to make a purchase to enjoy walking through the countless antique stores, many clustered around Broughton and Bull Streets. You’ll enjoy fabulous finds at galleries scattered throughout the city. Stop by ShopSCAD on the corner of Bull and Charlton to see (and purchase) the handmade wares and artistic creations of yet to be discovered students, faculty and alumni of SCAD. Savannahians love their pralines, so candy shops abound. Nibble on free samples often graciously put out to try; thumb through every book imaginable at E. Shaver, Bookseller.

Hang out at Tybee Beach Pier for awhile to watch the pier fishing, gaze out at the ocean or just enjoy the activity around quirky Tybee Beach or simply experience the marshes on a drive out Highway 80 towards Tybee.

Savannah River Street

Savor the food of Savannah. Fabulous and unique, it plays a large role in the Savannah experience. Restaurants proudly pay tribute to their regional culinary heritage through menus laced with the deliciously distinctive Lowcountry ingredients.

For a creative variation of Lowcountry cuisine, an evening at Elizabeth’s on 37th is a delight. Savor this: a blackeyed pea patty with greens and curry cream for starters, followed by spicy Savannah red rice and Georgia shrimp, clams, sausage and oysters! Devoted to Southern cooking, most specifically Savannah cooking in the 18th and 19th centuries, award winning chef Elizabeth Terry’s unusual and surprising mélange of traditional flavors, fresh local ingredients and home grown herbs delight the senses.

Be prepared to stand in line to get into the famous Lady and Sons buffet and the family style Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room, where mouth-watering traditional Southern favorites of fried chicken, butter beans, biscuits, hoe cakes, black eyed peas and collards are irresistible. Try Firefly Café for a big Southern breakfast and a wonderful Sunday brunch or stop for lunch at the SoHo Café for soups and sandwiches with a regional flair.

For more traditional American menus, with just a hint of Lowcountry influence, take in the sophisticated atmosphere of Bedford’s, in City Market, known for fine seafood and steaks, creatively prepared; the artistic, sophisticated and eclectic atmosphere at 700 Drayton in the magnificent Mansion at Forsyth Park; the delightful seafood specialties in the special ambience of the 1771 Olde Pink House on Abercorn Street.

View the art then pause for a light lunch in the Telfair Café overlooking the Jepson Center for the Arts Center Atrium; take a break from exploring this remarkable city by stopping for scones, sweets and clotted cream at high tea at The Tea Room or the Gryphon Tea Room.

While browsing City Market stop for an al fresco sidewalk lunch or dinner
at the Café at City Market; enjoy seafood the Italian way at Garibaldi’s. Munch on a pizza, savor delicious tapas, have a homemade gelato, or indulge in a nibble of candy or cake.

From one end to the other, River Street has numerous choices for food and drink, all with a casual, festive atmosphere; many with views of the river activity; most offering all variety of fresh seafood; all in a wonderful collection of restored brick riverfront warehouses. Here, too, you’ll find riverfront taverns and pubs with Irish names offering music, great happy hours and just plain fun.

Drive out to Tybee Island for a nice change of scenery and wonderful seafood. The delicious flavor fusion at George’s of Tybee will astound you; the comfortable atmosphere at the many seafood restaurants will make you linger. Do not leave Savannah without venturing out into the marshes to the Crab Shack for a Lowcountry fish boil or Uncle Bubbas Oyster House for fresh seafood, Lowcountry sides and a view of Turner’s Creek.