Take a stroll over to the Owens-Thomas House which is considered by architectural historians to be among the finest examples of English Regency architecture in the US. Then head to the Mercer-Williams House built for Confederate Army General High Weedon Mercer, or the Telfair Academy, a neoclassical Regency style mansion which houses the first public art museum in the Southern US. These are just a few examples of the period buildings that can be found in the Historic District of Savannah which has been declared a national historic landmark and is considered to be one of the largest in the country.
But Savannah is far from being a city that lives solely in the past. Here you’ll also find modern spaces such as the Jepson Centre for Arts, as well as a vibrant bar scene.
The town is also a hub for civil rights history being the hometown of the late Dr Ralph Mark Gilbert, leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) and is considered by many as the father of Savannah’s modern day Civil Rights Movement. It is for this man that the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum is named. The museum contains three floors of historic photographic and interactive exhibits that offer a glimpse of life during the civil rights struggle in Savannah and Georgia.
Places to Visit in Savannah
- Historic District
- River Street
- Tricentennial Park
- Forsyth Park
- Tybee Island
Unique Things to See and Do in Savannah
- Learn about the town’s role in the civil rights struggle at the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum
- Explore the Historic District – one of the largest historic landmarks in the country
- Glimpse times gone-by in the museums and art galleries
- Enjoy the buzz of the town’s bar scene after dark
- Hit the beach at beautiful Tybee Island
One of America’s Largest Historic Landmarks
Savannah, the oldest city in the state of Georgia, was established in 1733 when General James Oglethorpe and the 120 passengers of the vessel named Anne touched down along the Savannah River. In fact, it was Oglethorpe who named the state Georgia after England’s George II when it became the 13th and final American colony.
The city is also known for being America’s first planned city, laid out in a series of grids with wide streets interspersed with public squares and parks – 22 of the 24 original squares are still in existence today.
Its fertile soil and favourable climate meant cotton and rice thrived, and, as a result, the city was soon surrounded by slave plantations. Many of the slaves that were brought to America came through the port of Savannah.
But the profitable city was not immune from disaster. It was devastated by fires in 1796 and 1820 which reduced half the city to ashes, and then by the Civil War when sea blockades shattered its economy. And although its cotton industry bounced back at the turn of the 20th century, it was stricken once again by weevils.
The city did not recover again until the post-war years. In the 1950s, the Historic Savannah Foundation was created to preserve its old buildings that were slated for demolition. The city’s Historic District was in fact named a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and is now considered to be one of the largest historic landmarks in the country.
Getting Around Savannah
Savannah is a wonderful city to explore by foot. But if time is of the essence, and you’re committed to visiting as many of the city’s sights as possible, then there are a number of other options to help you on your way.
For example, there is a bus network as well as the DOT shuttle which serves 12 stops around the Historic District and is free of charge. The DOT service also includes a 54-passenger 1930s streetcar with six stops along River Street.
There is also the Savannah Belles Ferry which connects downtown with Hutchinson Island and the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center.
Did you know…?
Parts of the movie Forrest Gump were filmed in Savannah. In fact, Gump was on a bench on the north side of Chippewa Square when he delivered the famous line “Life is like a box of chocolates”.
Did you ALSO know…?
Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low was born in Savannah, which is where the first ever Girl Scouts meeting was held.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Savannah
From March to July, warm temperatures are the norm, bringing with them the leaves and flowers of spring and making it the ideal time to visit. During these months, you’ll also find a number of festivals taking place, enhancing the city’s already considerable appeal. As a result, hotel rates can be on the high side.
If you’re after a cheaper break head there in the late winter months of January and February, when the lower temperatures see prices fall.
Ready to plan your visit to Savannah? Check out these popular guides and trips.