There are few cities in North America that boast Southern charm and character like Savannah, Georgia. From its many laid-back city squares to its lax open liquor laws, a weekend in Savannah can be both relaxing and fun. Here’s my takeaway from doing just that.
Savannah’s preserved character didn’t happen by chance. To spare the city from rampage during the Civil War, General Sherman and his men had the run of the town. It is said that Savannah was too beautiful to destroy so while much of the path of General Shermans “March to the Sea” was left in ruins, Savannah was not.
Thanks to this agreement Savannah is now home to one of the largest historic districts in the USA. Its mansions are grand, it’s roads are wide, and its squares are many.Compare prices on flights to Savannah with Skyscanner
What Can You See With A Weekend in Savannah?
City of Squares
Savannah is known as the city of squares…probably. There are 22 squares remaining from the 24 meticulously thought out city plans. Today they offer locals and guests a shady and green retreat within the city. Most squares include statues or fountains and are lined with historic homes, churches, and/or restaurants. Squares of note include Ellis Square for its location next to the busy City Market and Chippewa Square which was made famous by Forest Gump’s bench side ramblings.
Although it is in the tourist core of the city, River Street does offer more than overpriced restaurants and hotels. Once a bustling port, today River Street provides a unique promenade stroll. The easy-to-identify Cotton Exchange once rivalled the markets of Wall Street in profits.
Savannah’s history, of course, is not sheltered from the ugly past that was the slave trade in the south. Many of River Streets buildings were once holding pens for incoming slaves. This most certainly has to do with the port being known as the most haunted part of the city.
Colonial Park Cemetery
Speaking of ghosts, a stroll through Colonial Park Cemetery is a unique thing to see when spending a weekend in Savannah. It’s above-ground tombs date back to the 1750s and is home to some of Savannah’s first settlers. Among them is Button Gwinnett whose signature you will find on the Declaration of Independence. He met his end in a duel (how South is that?) opposed to his now 700+ neighbours who lost their lives to the yellow fever epidemic of 1820.
What Can you Do With A Weekend in Savannah?
The theme of death continues in this list of what to do with the weekend in Savannah as it is, after all, considered to be the most haunted city in the USA. Because of that there is no shortage of ghosts and haunted walks to partake in.
Unfortunately, I can’t comment on it as the tour I booked never showed up for us. Because of that, I can’t recommend a company, only which one to avoid – Savannah Movie Tours and More. I did take an entertaining Ghost and Gravestone tour in Key West and they have a sister operation in Savannah so I would suggest them instead.
Either way, taking a haunted tour consistently ranks as the number one thing to do in Savannah. Don’t miss out like me!
What I definitely did not want to miss out on while spending a weekend in Savannah was a food tour. Southern food is a serious business and no place does it better than Savannah. With so many great restaurants in town serving up staples like shrimp and grits, fried chicken, and She-Crab Soup, it’s tough to go wrong.
To better understand what makes Savannah stand out and where to find the unique eats we took a tour with Savannah Taste Experience. On this three-hour Famous & Secret East Side tasting (and drinking) tour (~$60), we experienced a side of Savannah that even the locals on the tour had yet to explore.
Small shops and hidden gems highlight this walk. Also, fascinating to me, learning the role the slave trade and spice trail had in creating what is now Southern food.
To burn off the belly-busting food tour we rented bikes from Savannah on Wheels and experienced the city in a new way. Turns out, Savannah is incredibly bike-friendly. For one, it is flat making it easy to navigate. Two, it’s many parks and squares makes for plenty of great places to stop for a break.
Sleep in a Mansion
Last but certainly not least on this list of what to do with a weekend in Savannah is, simply, sleep. With a seemingly endless amount of mansions and historic homes, Savannah has no shortage of unique accommodation of options. We stayed at the amazingly fitting Hamilton-Turner Inn and highly recommend you do the same.
This character-filled mansion is now a small hotel offering Southern hospitality at its best. Enjoy modern amenities with historic charm, evening port and snacks in the opulent parlour, and incredible Southern breakfasts which became our favourite meals while in town. That is saying a lot given the foodie forward city that Savannah is!
Fun fact: The Hamilton-Turner Inn was built in 1873 and was one of the first properties in Savannah to have electricity. Each night, locals would gather in Lafayette Square to watch the lights come on, being careful not to get too close as most were convinced it was going to blow up at any minute!
What Should I Eat & Drink With A Weekend in Savannah?
As noted, Savannah is a foodie town thanks to its mixing of cultures and access to unique ingredients. Although having a bad meal in Savannah is hard to find, favourite stops of mine included Wall’s BBQ, Vic’s on the River, and Cha Bella for its farm-to-table meals and daily cocktail creations.
Savannah is only one of a handful of cities in the USA that allows open liquor in public places. Much like Vegas and New Orleans, Savannah lets you take your drink to go. How it differs is, unlike its open liquor sister cities, Savannah does it without sweet and slushy cocktails by the yard.
So enjoy a mint julep in one of Savannah’s many squares or head to famous bars like Kevin Barry’s Irish Pub on River Street (known for it’s St. Patrick’s Day parties and live music) or Pinkie Master’s for dirt cheap PBR’s. The latter is where former president and Savannah local Jimmy Carter was known to party in true Savannah fashion.
Where Should You Stay on Your A Weekend in Savannah?
As mentioned above, I highly recommend the Hamilton-Turner Inn for its nostalgia and cool history. For the best rates and availability plug in your dates below!
Spend A Weekend in Savannah
So there you have it, a weekend in Savannah that is both laid-back and fun, tasty and educational. Before visiting I had comparisons of New Orleans in my head. Although the food is amazing and the liquor flows freely, that was about where the comparisons end. Savannah is much more laid back and quieter yet can still let loose making for a great weekend escape.