A mere two-hour drive from Charleston, Savannah is the perfect setting for a day trip. Just as you’d head to Charleston to enjoy the pastel-colored mansions and waterfront views, you might take a trip to Savannah to enjoy the large estates and charming city squares. Charleston’s sister city might share a small amount of history with its younger sibling, but the differences are substantial enough to make the trip out to Savannah for the day. While you’re there, you can’t miss some of its most iconic sites — and food.
Start your day at Gallery Espresso for a cup of coffee (and possibly a pastry if you’re up for it — both their scones and croissants are legendary). Gallery’s eclectic décor is the perfect place to talk a little Savannah history.
Established in 1733, Savannah was the first state capital of Georgia. It was here that General James Oglethorpe landed in February of that year, naming Georgia after King George II of England. Not only was Savannah the first capital in Georgia, it was also the state’s first city.
Savannah is known for its many squares. On a day trip to Savannah, you’ll easily see half a dozen squares — some with gorgeous fountains. Chippewa Square was named after the Battle of Chippewa, a victory for the U.S. in the war of 1812.
It’s also where Forest Gump sat and awaited his bus in the legendary titular movie. You may want to take your coffee here to enjoy some of the sights and sounds of the city before heading on to your next stop.
If you’re headed to Savannah on your own, you might want to consider taking a tour of the Historic District. Here you’ll find dozens of parks, shops, restaurants and historic homes. If you decide to go it alone, consider stopping at a few of the below sites.
Possibly one of the most well-recognized squares in Savannah, Forsyth Park offers visitors a glimpse at quiet southern living.
You’ll see plenty of tourists and locals crowded around the fountain on any given day, and it’s easy to see why: the large water feature was designed in the beaux art style and shoots water from all sides. It’s a popular spot for engagements. It’s also over 150 years old.
In addition to the fountain, there’s a large amphitheater, a fragrant garden for the blind as well as tennis and basketball courts.
No trip to Savannah is complete without a stop at the Cathedral of St. the Baptist. This ornate French Gothic style church was dedicated in 1876 and is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Savannah. The interior is heavenly, and some of the features include stained glass windows, an organ loft and flying buttresses.
This Regency-style mansion was built in 1819 and was home to the shipping merchant and slave trader Richard Richardson. It was also the home of George Welshman Owens, former mayor of Savannah, in 1830.
Today the house is used as a teaching tool to help visitors understand slavery in Savannah and the relationships between political powers in the 1800s. Exhibits include displays of decorative arts with docents who tell the stories of the families who once lived here.
Stop by the Juliette Gordon Low district to learn about the woman who started the Girl Scouts. Here, you’ll find three buildings dedicated to the first Girl Scouts headquarters, including the Wayne-Gorden House, the Andrew Low House and its carriage house.
If you’re feeling especially hungry, head to Mrs. Wilkes for a communal lunch consisting of fried chicken, sausage, beef stew and meatloaf — as well as an array of sides. If you’re planning on heading here, you’ll want to bring a big appetite with you. Otherwise, try out one of the spots below.
This eclectic spot is known for its grab-and-go African comfort food. Their hefty sandwiches are legendary. The padkos (a sandwich that travels well and is meant for a long journey) are filled with a variety of toppings and topped with an ample amount of sauce. Wash it down with a South African sweet tea or a bottle of Yoo-hoo.
If you want something fast and easy to fill up your belly, but you’re not feeling African cuisine, head to Narobia’s Grits & Gravy. This soul food outpost is known for its fried chicken, biscuits and (of course) its grits and gravy. Most dishes clock in at under $10 each, so you can fill up without emptying your wallet.
If you’re not totally stuffed after lunch (and even if you are), a trip to City Market must be next on your list of must-do attractions. Established in the 1700s, this four-block open-air market offers plenty of shopping and classic Savannah charm.
Keep walking along the waterfront on River Street. The cobblestone walkways line old cotton warehouses and make for a peaceful spot to walk off all those grits and biscuits. Along the way, you’ll pass by antique shops and art galleries.
Learn about the history of prohibition at the APM. You’ll discover the historic events that propelled prohibition into existence (and the events that lead to its demise). If you’re not driving, head to the speakeasy for a prohibition-themed cocktail before you make your way back to Charleston.
On your way out of town, make sure to stop at the Bonaventure Cemetery. You’ll recognize it as the cemetery from the novel “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” Yet you won’t find the famous bird girl statue that was featured on the book jacket here anymore; it was moved after tourists began flocking here for photos.
Don’t want to go it alone? Walks of Charleston can take you and your group to Savannah for the day! Book a day or half-day private tour with one of our experienced guides, and we can customize your day trip to Savannah for you, based on your preferences.
On the way, your guide will entertain you with Charleston and Savannah history. You also don’t need to worry about getting lost during your short stay in the Hostess City of the South, as your guide will take you from attraction to attraction by foot, car or trolley.
Take a private tour of Charleston to gain a deeper understanding of the Holy City. Private tours allow you to ask in-depth questions, visit areas of the city that large tour groups can’t access and customize your experience. From plantation tours to Civil War tours, you won’t miss an inch of the city with our guides.
Family owned and operated from the beginning, Walks of Charleston is passionate about the history, architecture and culture of Charleston and is dedicated to sharing it with you for a memorable experience on every tour.
“Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time”
– Steven Wright