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If you’re heading to Savannah, there are a few things you should keep in mind: you’re going to eat a ton (especially if you love fresh seafood), you’re going to walk more than you’re used to, and you’re going to fall in love. Whether it’s the quaint bungalows or traditional Federal-style homes, you’ll be planning your hypothetical second home before you leave.
Even if you haven’t been to Savannah, you’ve probably heard the rumors of fresh seafood and a history so deep you can practically feel it dropping off of every building. Both of those things are very real aspects of the 286-year-old city. The best part: If you’re planning to stay in the city center, you don’t need to rent a car to get around. Uber and other rideshare apps are readily available at all times of the day, making it easier than ever (and lighter on the wallet) to explore. The ride from the airport will take around 30 minutes, traffic depending, and put you back $20(ish). You can also rent bikes or Segways to explore Savannah during your stay, if you’re looking to give your feet a bit of a break.
One important thing to note: If you happen to have more than a day to spend in the area, consider taking a day trip to the nearby Tybee Island. There you’ll find beaches, even more seafood, and lots of sunshine… and it’ll take you less than an hour to get there. If you do get a chance to make it over to Tybee Island, grab some fresh, shuck-them-yourself oysters and seafood soup from the wonderfully kitschy Crab Shack at Chimney Creek; meet some of the water-bound locals with Captain Mike Dolphin Cruises; and find a spot on the beach to sprawl out on.
Back to Savannah. From the bar-lined River Street and the scenic Historic District to the charming Victorian District and the artsy Starland District, there are so many things to do in Savannah that require more than 24 hours—but we’re going to do our best to give you a taste of the entire city, even if you only have one day to do some exploring. If you’re looking for a recommendation on where to stay, the Perry Lane Hotel, an American Express Fine Hotel & Resort property, is a perfectly located hotel that gets top scores for its restaurant, bars, luxury amenities, and service. Let’s start you off there, in the downtown district of Savannah...
8 a.m.: Start your day off at the Perry Lane, where hotel guests can pick up a complimentary cup of coffee from the bar in between the lobby and The Emporium Kitchen & Wine Market, the hotel’s main restaurant (and a great spot for brunch). There, you can try Bowerbird Coffee, a locally owned brand that’s set up shop inside the hotel. But we’re going to send you somewhere else for breakfast...
8:30 a.m.: Forsyth Square may be one of the most photographed spots in Savannah, with its picturesque fountain. For breakfast, take a slight detour from the Perry Lane Hotel to pick up a myriad of goodies from Fox & Fig Cafe and walk the 14 minutes to the square. Spoiler: Fox & Fig is a vegan cafe, but one of those spots even meat-eaters will love. Once you’re in the square, find a bench—or a soft patch of grass—and settle in for some people watching. From here, you’re an 18-minute walk from the next activity, so don’t let yourself nap too long.
10 a.m.: While group tours can be hit or miss, Savannah is the perfect location for an architecture tour. If you’re looking to get one in before brunch—and we recommend you do—check out Architectural Savannah. This 90-minute tour is led by a SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design) grad will take you from the oldest building in Savannah and guide you through the various architecture styles right up to present day.
If you’re visiting towards the end of March, don’t miss the annual Savannah Tour of Homes & Gardens. This is a rare opportunity to take a peek inside private residences with professional guides who can shed some light on the historic elements that still live within these homes.
12 p.m.: If you have the time and patience to wait in line for what may be the best and most southern lunch of your life, head to Mrs. Wilke’s Dining Room. The wait on the weekends can be hours and even then you may not get in. Your best bet is to go during the week, but be warned that it’s closed on Mondays. If you get inside, here’s what to expect: Three tables that seat 12 at a time completely covered in everything the restaurant makes (collard greens, mac and cheese, fried chicken, creamed corn, coleslaw—the list goes on). Everyone at the table sits at the same time for a family-style meal with the choice of water or sweet tea. Once everyone is done feasting, the entire table gets dessert and then you bus your own tables… and you’re on your way.
If you're visiting on a weekend and you don’t have time to wait, head to brunch at The Collins Quarter, a five-minute walk back towards the Savannah River. There, you’ll find brunch staples with an Australian twist: baked eggs on Persian flatbread, biscuits and gravy with apple slaw, and avocado smash with beet hummus.
2 p.m.: When you’re on vacation, dessert post-lunch is always acceptable. Start walking toward the famous Leopold’s Ice Cream on East Broughton Street, but take time to hop into local boutiques and stores while you’re on your way. The wait in line for a few scoops will be entirely worth it, especially if you can catch sight of Stratton Leopold, one of three sons of the soda fountain founder and famous American film producer. (He’s had a hand in Mission: Impossible 3, They Live, and Captain America, to name a few.) There are display cases filled with movie props located around this location.
Other shops to peruse: Savannah Bee Company, where you’ll find delicious honey and other natural skincare products and cosmetics; the antique-filled Paris Market and Brocante; vintage clothing shop Civvies; and Zia Couture, a jewelry shop specializing in finds from around the world. Once you’ve had your fill of shopping on Broughton Street, head toward Coffee Fox for an afternoon pick-me-up (or try the Horchata if you’re not looking for caffeine) and head down toward River Street. If you have more than a day, factor in a harbor tour by boat for another afternoon. But if you’re short on time, a walk along the river will get you the fresh Savannah air you’ve been craving.
5 p.m.: If you only have one day to spend in the city, don’t miss checking out the stunning (and totally haunted) Husk Savannah. An extension of the original Charleston location, Sean Brock brought his touch to traditional Southern dishes to Savannah in early 2018 and people have been traveling to experience it for themselves ever since. Make an early reservation for a cocktail and cheese plate before you head to the main event. This iconic mansion is located right in the middle of the Historic District, so plan on spending some time taking in the homes in the area. Once the sun starts to set, the city seems to get just a little creepier.
7 p.m.: There are so many memorable spots to have dinner in Savannah, but do yourself a favor and book a table at The Grey as soon as you book your flights. Located in an old bus station, the restaurant is run by chef Mashama Bailey who returned home after cooking in kitchens in New York City to bring gourmet-spins on local flavors to the city she grew up in. Don’t miss the oysters, foie and grits, soft shell crab, and smashed new potatoes—although, you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. And take note of the photographs and art on the walls. If you visit the bathroom downstairs, you’ll be treated to some breathtaking portraits of locals lurking on the dimly lit walls.
9:30 p.m.: Genteel and Bard offers an experience called The Savannah Ghost Encounter Tour. While you won’t be going into any homes, you will get an A+ lesson in the spirits that haunt the city. But first thing’s first: Grab a beer or mixed drink to go—open-container drinks are allowed on the sidewalks and there’s nothing better than pairing ghost stories with a cup of wine. But back to the tour: T.C. and Brenna Michaels are both authors, front and foremost storytellers, and it shows on the tour. T.C. is passionate about the history and the detail provided on the walk proves that. It’s a long tour—beginning at 9:30 p.m. and ending close to midnight at times—so wear your best walking shoes.
If you’re still looking for some adventure after the tour ends, check out the Jinx, Artillery, or El-Rocko Lounge… or grab a nightcap at The Wayward or the rooftop Peregrin Bar before heading back up to your hotel room.