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Savannah is the darling of Georgia’s coastline and harbors a deep connection to its seaport, now home to the lively River Street collection of quirky galleries, cafes and boutiques. Horse-drawn carriages clip-clop along cobblestone alleyways while riverboats cruise the Savannah River alongside tug boats and ocean-bound cargo vessels.
The city hosts the largest National Historic Landmark District in America, with more than 20 squares overflowing with Civil War forts, antebellum mansions, towering monuments and ancient churches. In Savannah, food, drink and music flow as freely as the moonlit river, with jazz, reggae, blues and salsa music drifting through the humid night skies as it has for generations.
REASONS TO GO:
River Street: River Street’s “Jekyll and Hyde” persona predictably flips when the sun comes up and goes down. Visit during the day for a family-friendly romp on quaint cobblestone streets, where you can stop into the Village Craftsmen of Savannah art gallery for local pottery, hop on the Old Town Trolley, or board a classic Southern riverboat. When the sun sets, hit one of the lively rooftop bars or BYOB to the square for outdoor reggae music and slow-dancing to saxophone duets. Open containers (nicknamed “to-go cups”) are legal in Savannah.
Historic District: Just a few blocks from River Street, sandwiched between Ellis and Franklin squares, the City Market square earns its reputation as one of the best places to visit in Savannah. Spend some time exploring attractions such as Forsyth Park, Telfair Museums, the circa-1820 Isaiah Davenport house and museum, or Colonial Park Cemetery, the resting place for Revolutionary War heroes.
Dine and Drink: In Savannah restaurants, mint juleps and bourgeois seafood hold equal footing with barbecue and crawdads. Check out a famous Georgia low country boil platter at Bernie’s River Street, featuring wild Georgia shrimp, crawfish and crab. Tip your glass with one of 100 craft beers at The Distillery, or get cozy with soft jazz and handcrafted martinis at the Circa 1875 gastropub.
Tybee Island: No trip to Savannah is complete without hitting the beach at Tybee Island, less than 20 miles from the downtown area. Rent jet skis, kayaks or SUP boards, book a dolphin tour with Captain Derek, or head out to the Atlantic on an Amick’s Deep Sea fishing charter. You can also visit the Tybee Island Lighthouse and Museum, or paddle over to Cockspur Island for some birdwatching and hiking at the Civil War-era Fort Pulaski.
WHEN TO GO: Savannah sizzles in the summer: Temps average in the mid-80s in July and August, but peak near 100 degrees, with high humidity and frequent summer storms. Keep an eye on the sky so you can duck into a bar or onto a tour bus when an afternoon shower rolls in.
Balmy autumn days offer lower temps and smaller crowds, ensuring you a shorter line to get a box of freshly made pralines on River Street.
Winter is ideal for low hotel rates, while spring is considered the high season, with dozens of festivals, art walks and historic home tours.
TRAVEL TIP: Savannah is a walking city, and the historic river district has cobblestone streets and steep stone stairs, so wear comfortable shoes. Slip some heels in your bag for the nightlife scene if you must, but save room for a light sweater because most venues crank up the air conditioning full blast.