New York City often gets all the accolades for its grid design, but Savannah, Georgia, was actually America’s first planned city. Founded in 1733, it originally consisted of twenty-four squares laid out across a series of grids, bringing together streets, public squares, and city parks for its citizens to enjoy. And despite how much it’s grown since, twenty-two of those original squares remain today.
Though Savannah’s history is complex, the beauty of the city is undeniable. Visitors are sure to encounter a great mixture of historical, whimsical, and modern architecture, experiences, and even dining. With a little something for everybody, it’s a prime destination for quick getaways and longer family vacations alike.
Take in the sites
Thanks to its rich history, Savannah boasts beautiful, enchanting sites around every corner. You can spend a full day strolling down the city streets, taking in nearly three hundred years of architectural history and getting lost in the beauty of the different periods and styles. You could also book a guided tour with Architectural Tours of Savannah, a locally owned tour company, to learn more about the story behind each building.
For a more unique dive into history, visit the only American museum dedicated to the era of Prohibition, the American Prohibition Museum. Besides its twenty exhibits, it also boasts an authentic speakeasy where you can enjoy a 1920s craft cocktail or mocktail. You could also take a break from history with art: explore contemporary pieces from both established and emerging artists at the SCAD Museum of Art, or walk through the three distinct buildings and art collections at the Telfair Museums.
No visit would be complete without a stop at two of Savannah’s most iconic churches, the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist and the First African Baptist Church (FABC). The gothic-style Cathedral is the oldest Roman Catholic church in the state, and its towering twin spires are a noteworthy part of the Savannah skyline. The FABC, which was founded in 1773, is a National Historic Landmark filled with ornate stained-glass windows and original pews, light fixtures, and baptismal pools, along with numerous other historical and cultural elements representative of its past and present congregations.
Explore different districtcs
Savannah is broken up into multiple city districts, each of which is filled with unique architecture, entertainment and dining experiences, and stories that are just waiting to be told.
- Historic Landmark District: Home to the remaining twenty-two squares from the city’s founding, the Historic Landmark District contains many of the city’s museums, monuments, and houses that tell great tales of centuries past. Walk the cobblestone streets of this downtown hub to encounter much of what makes Savannah so wonderful.
- Victorian District: With fifty blocks of Victorian architecture, this district holds Savannah’s first suburb. Explore the beauty of the homes lining the streets, and enjoy any of the restaurants and shops found here. Take a break from the summer heat in Forsyth Park, a thirty-acre area bordering the Historic and Victorian districts that’s perfect for a picnic laid out under the shade of the city’s famous oak trees adorned with Spanish moss.
- Starland: An artist’s haven, the Starland District brings together unique dining experiences, funky galleries, and vintage shopping. You never know what you’ll find while wandering through this district, but you won’t regret the time spent exploring all this area has to offer.
- Moon River District: Only twenty minutes from downtown, this district offers six different historical sites and a waterfront village for visitors to explore. Take a walk through a maritime forest, get an up-close look at Savannah’s native marine life at the University of Georgia Marine Education Center and Aquarium, and learn more about the Gullah-Geechee culture through a guided tour at the Pin Point Heritage Museum.
Visit Tybee Island
Located eighteen miles outside Savannah, the charming beach town of Tybee Island is a must-visit for your vacation. It’s the perfect place to slow down and relax: find a spot to lay out on the three miles of pristine beaches, take a bike ride throughout the island, or rent a kayak to explore the marshlands by Back River Beach, a hidden gem away from the usual tourist crowds. You can even go fossil hunting on Little Tybee Island, an uninhabited nature preserve that is only accessible by water.
As you unwind, make sure to check out the town’s many historical landmarks, including the Tybee Island Light Station and Museum, which is home to Georgia’s tallest and oldest lighthouse, and the Tybee Pier and Pavilion, a great place to fish or sit and watch the sunset. Then wrap up your trip with a performance or movie at the Tybee Post Theater.
Tybee Island also offers a unique collection of local produce stands and restaurants, including the Original Crab Shack. This restaurant boasts the best and freshest seafood in the area, but it’s more than just a dining experience. You also have the options of feeding the numerous alligators located in the Gator Lagoon and playing a game or two in the arcade.
With its mix of history, art, quirky and fine dining, and relaxing spots, Savannah is a great choice for any vacation. Make the most of your visit, and take in all the fantastic sites and experiences it has to offer.
For more info, go to visitsavannah.com