Beneath the Spanish-moss-draped oaks and behind the Southern drawls, resident Michelle Ryan says Savannah’s got can’t-miss dining, shopping and historical attractions.
Savannah always seems to be getting some sort of stamp of approval as a top destination. Most recently, Travel + Leisure magazine tapped it as one of the Top 10 Best Cities in the U.S. and Canada. Just a few months ago, it made travel planning site TripAdvisor’s Top 25 Travelers’ Choice U.S. Destinations.
No wonder a steady stream of visitors pass through its uniquely laid out downtown on foot, on trolley tours and on horse-drawn carriages. There’s more to Savannah than Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Paula Deen—though those are big reasons that get visitors in the city limits to start.
Below those Spanish-moss-draped oaks and behind those Southern drawls, there’s a wealth of good eating, shopping, sightseeing and merriment to enjoy. Here’s the can’t-miss guide on what to see, eat and do if you visit Savannah. (Note: Falling under its charming spell is not optional.)
Just the fact that Savannah is a coastal Southern city ought to give this one away. But you’ll find a lot more than great fried chicken (and all the fixin’s) and seafood here. So much so that it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few places, but this is at least a delicious start.
Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room: With National Geographic and Taste of the South magazines’ blessing, you can’t go wrong here. Fried chicken, corn, Savannah red rice, cornbread and more is served community style. Better get there early. The line starts forming at 10:30 a.m. for lunch.
Vic’s on the River: For a great view of the Savannah River—and the occasional cargo ship passing by—treat yourself to a fried shrimp po-boy (with a side of Old Bay-seasoned fries). It may be the best you’ll eat this far east of New Orleans.
The Olde Pink House: Some of the best food in town is served in this old (and, yes, pink) home. Don’t miss the BLT Salad, which made Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate” cut. For added ambiance and entertainment, head down to the tavern area for a drink or dinner. The wait is worth it.
What’s lunch or dinner without dessert? If you’re craving sugar after a meal or just because, you’ll be glad to know Savannah’s got a sweet tooth too.
Leopold’s Ice Cream: Cool off with a scoop (or two) in this family-owned ice cream shop decorated with movie posters and Hollywood props. Tutti-Frutti is a signature flavor, but since The Toronto Sun put Leopold’s in among the top 10 ice cream shops in the world, any flavor should be pretty good.
Savannah Candy Kitchen: During a stroll along River Street, stop in for pralines, peanut brittle, divinity or fudge. Be sure to get extra. That sugar high will wear off and you’ll want more later.
Lulu’s Chocolate Bar: You can even have your chocolate with an array of from-scratch desserts and drink it too with a wide selection of candy- and dessert-inspired martinis.
After all that eating (and eating), you’ll need to walk off the calories, and there’s no better way than exploring what the downtown shops have to offer. The presence of the Savannah College of Art and Design means there’s shops that cater to both the fashionista and the art lover.
Striking out on your own is part of the fun there, but specifically, don’t miss:
Nourish: Find all-natural soaps, moisturizers and more for you and your pet in this corner store. It’s worth a walk-through for the aromatherapy alone.
Kitchens on the Square: Need a useful—or just a fun—kitchen gadget? This place is full of ‘em! For a unique experience, register for one of the store’s cooking classes. The lesson ends with a yummy lunch.
There’s a lot of stories to be told in Savannah—if only the walls could talk! As “America’s Most Haunted City,” it wouldn’t be a surprise if they do. Whether you’re a ghost hunter or a history buff, you won’t want to miss:
Fort Pulaski: Notable for the warfare innovations tested here by the Union Army during the Civil War, this site was one of many—and also the most Southern point—on the Underground Railroad.
First Headquarters Museum: Girl Scouting is special to Savannah in that Juliette Gordon Low founded the organization here more than 100 years ago. In addition to her birthplace and adult home, this museum contains scouting memorabilia on the site where some of the first meetings were held.
Guided Tours: Get an overview of the city’s past (haunted or not) on one of the many trolley tours, carriage rides, hearses or pub crawls.
You can take in any of the hot spots on this list year-round, but you’ll want to plan ahead—or keep coming back—to enjoy two of Savannah’s most unique attractions.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade: Everyone is Irish at least for the day during Savannah’s largest annual event—and the second largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration and parade in the U.S. Even the fountains go green!
Savannah Film Festival: Held annually in the fall, this week-long event features work from award-winning and up-and-coming student filmmakers. You never know what stars you’ll see in Savannah!
For even more visuals or to create a travel board for your trip to Savannah, check out our latest Pinterest board featuring Michelle’s picks!