12 Reasons to Pack Your Bags for Savannah This Summer
Summer in Savannah. Yes, the temperatures can touch the 90s -- but that's the summer forecast just about anywhere in the U.S. these days. And this Georgia city is one of the coolest towns our Deal Experts have visited -- any time of year.
Some cities dare you to go big or go home. That's not the case here. Instead it's a city better explored at a leisurely pace. Visitors will find historic buildings straight out of a movie set, hear centuries-old ghost stories, taste distinctly Southern flavors and feel at home in Savannah after a couple days.
Here are 12 reasons we have Savannah on our summer vacation short list ...
1. You're Never Far from the Water
Tucked up against the Savannah River, this historic port city has been connected to the water since it was a haven for pirates in the early 18th century. Get yourself down to River Street and hop aboard a riverboat cruise, a fun way to learn about Savannah's history while enjoying the breeze off the water, chowing down on dinner or enjoying a cocktail and getting a view of the skyline.
The riverfront is a great spot for shopping and nightlife or for a late-afternoon stroll. Make sure you're down by the river for First Friday Fireworks at 9:30 p.m. on the first Friday of every month.
2. Try Whatever Floats Your Boat
If you're looking to power yourself down the river, rent a canoe or kayak for the day and go exploring.
There are guided tours you can take to places like undeveloped Little Tybee Island, the black water swamp of Ebenezer Creek and the barrier island of Skidaway Narrows to see the coastal wildlife or just enjoy some peaceful time on the water.
3. Chill Out in the Summer Sun
The sun's out, it's warm -- might as well hit the beach. After a morning of walking beneath moss-draped trees in town, spend the afternoon lounging under a beach umbrella, wriggling your toes in the sand and hopping in the sea at Tybee Island, Savannah's beach, located a 20-minute drive from the city. The beach can get crowded around the pier at 16th Street, so head down a few blocks if you want a quieter beach day.
If it's dramatic sunrise photos you're after -- get up early to capture a memorable shot or two.
4. Chow Down on Some Low Country Goodness
Savannah's culinary chops are well-known -- from celeb chef fine dining to down-home Southern cooking to the ever-present pralines, you won't go home hungry. In the summer, it's water-to-table coastal cuisine that takes top billing and should be at the top of your to-do list.
Touted as a place "where the elite eat in their bare feet", The Crab Shack is a local favorite on Tybee Island thanks to its Low Country-style seafood such as Georgia shrimp and Blue Crabs. Being open 362 days a year helps as well (they're only closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Pull up to a picnic table, kick off your shoes and get ready to dig into some serious eats.
5. Elvis is in the Building
Cool off in the air conditioning while you check out behind-the-scenes photos of an American music icon -- before he hit the big time. Sixty years ago, Elvis Presley shook his hips at a Savannah audience for the first time. In celebration, the photography exhibit "Elvis at 21" is open through October 2 at the Jepson Center for the Arts.
6. Visit Some Old Haunts
Savannah doesn't hide from its well-earned reputation as America's most haunted city -- and ghost tours help bring these legends to life. Check out Old Savannah Tours for a particularly rousing trolley ride, including costumed actors from the city's past and visits to haunted buildings.
7. The Cemeteries Will Take Your Breath Away
If you're feeling brave enough, visit some spooky sites on your own. Dating back to the 1700s, Colonial Park Cemetery is in the heart of the Historic District with gravestones (and ghost stories) dating back to the 1700s.
Bonaventure Cemetery, made famous by "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil", is a 15-minute drive from the city that is well worth the trip. The cemetery spans approximately 100 acres and has a plethora of moss-draped trees interspersed with Victorian Gothic statues and headstones. If a cemetery can be considered breathtaking (no pun intended), this is it.
8. You'll Be Lining Up at Leopold's (at least once)
A cool treat goes a long way in a Savannah summer, which may explain why Leopold's Ice Cream has been doing such good business since 1919.
Stop in for a scoop (or two) of peanut butter chippy, honey almond & cream with Savannah Bee Company honey or tutti frutti (rum ice cream with candied fruit and roasted Georgia pecans). Post your treat on Instagram before it melts!
9. The Architecture is In'spire'ing
You'll see the towering spires of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist from many spots throughout Savannah -- they are hard to miss and are a good compass point as you explore the city on foot. Walk over to Lafayette Square to see this beautiful church up close, and make sure to go inside to see the stained glass and woodwork.
10. Put it in Park
You don't have to be in a hurry to see Savannah. It's the perfect place for a morning or late-afternoon stroll past the red-brick mansions and wrought-iron fences of Jones Street or the boutiques and galleries in City Market. In between shopping and Instagramming, take a break in the shade of ever-present moss-draped trees in one of Savannah's 22 public squares.
Dotted around the city, these parks all have unique names and stories -- whether it's the ghost of Nathaniel Greene keeping away the Spanish moss from the trees in Johnson Square or the sprinkling of the picturesque fountain in Forsyth Park or the Forrest Gump photo-takers stopping by Chippewa Square with their boxes of chocolates.
11. Attend a Duel After Dark
Savannah really comes alive at night (and we're not just talking about the ghosts). Grab a cold beverage to go (locals call them 'travelers') while walking through the cobblestone streets of the Historic District. For a fun evening of singing and drinking and more singing, head over to Savannah Smiles Dueling Pianos, an all-request show where piano players battle it out and play everything from jazz to rock to rap to country. It's kind of like karaoke with your own piano man. The bar attracts a wide range of ages (over 21, that is).
12. You Can Go Big, And Call It Home (for a couple of days)
Splash out on an extravagant experience at "your mansion". No, really, you can literally take over The Whitman Historic Savannah, an opulent 5-room antebellum property that overlooks Forsyth Park, Savannah's biggest park. A minimum-night stay varies by season, but with it comes an executive chef and a staff catering to your every need.
Ready to go?
Summer is when we see some of the best hotel deals of the year in Savannah. Midweek rates are often lower, so extend your weekend an extra night or two so you can explore Savannah every way possible this summer.