For so long, Savannah was such a best-kept secret that it took me until my mid-20s to discover it. And OK, while it’s not exactly secret anymore, it is a beloved gem among Southerners that those hailing from other regions around the United States don’t often think to plan a weekend in Savannah, many making their maiden voyage to the South centered around bigger cities like Nashville, New Orleans, Charleston and even Atlanta.
The post was last updated in July 2022.
Well, I’m here to tell you that you should rethink that plan. Because Savannah is my favorite city in the South—if not, the entire country—and should be the first stop you make on any Southern road trip (particularly as so much of the region’s history is steeped in the weeping oaks of this romantic Georgia city). Continue reading for all the reasons why you should consider a weekend in Savannah.
Why you should spend a weekend in Savannah
It also tends to be one of those places that once you discover, there’s no going back. BAM! Suddenly, you’re in a long-term relationship that will likely span a lifetime, and you didn’t even realize it was happening.
“Loved Savannah! Probably a hair more than Charleston even,” came a text from Seattle friends recently as they arrived in the Southern city for the first time. “So friendly! Great food! It’s all so manageable on foot. And there’s a bit of a gritty edge that keeps it interesting. Why didn’t we visit here before now?”
My thoughts exactly, boys.
SVV’s aunt, a Californian born and raised, inquired about Savannah’s appeal recently, as well, after my Facebook post soliciting recommendations returned more than 50 overly excited responses.
“So from a Westerner, why is Savannah attracting such warm reactions?” she posed.
Well, Aunt Kathy, pull up a chair and stay awhile. Once you see what all a weekend in Savannah has to offer, you’ll be on the next flight out…
How to plan a weekend in Savannah
Savannah is lively any day of the week, but going into the weekend, the energy is palpable. How long do you need to see Savannah? A minimum of four days, though obviously the longer, the better.
Day 1: Thursday in Savannah
Once you arrive, you’ll want to drop your bags at the hotel before you hit the town by foot. It’s not uncommon that you’ll leave your car parked in the garage for a full day (maybe even longer), no need to move it as Savannah is just so darn walkable (and you’ll want to stop every 10 feet for photos anyway).
You’ve got two options by way of lodging: one, the more hotel/inn route, as we opted for this time. We stayed in the Marshall House, which has a lot going for it. Housed in an 1851 building, it’s got all the old World charm you come to expect out of Savannah and it occupies a prime location right on Broughton Street, meaning you’re within walking distance to all the shops and many of the city’s most celebrated restaurants.
Staying at the Marshall House comes with a lot of perks, like the daily complimentary wine hour and history talks, but I adored it for its hospitable staff and sheer convenience.
But Savannah’s also known for its adorably charming B&Bs, and if that’s your preference, you’ll want to track down Teresa Jacobson and force her to rent you one of her rooms at Azalea Inn. It’s where I stayed on my first overnight visit to Savannah, and it’s still one of the best B&B experiences I’ve had ever, anywhere, period.
Furthermore, Teresa has expanded the B&B in recent years to include a total of 13 luxury rooms, suites and villas. You can’t go wrong with any of them! And while the Forsyth Park area in which the B&B is located is another great base for exploring Savannah, you’ll likely want to carve out some time to have a glass of sherry with Teresa in the living room and learn all about the area, the inn and the history.
No matter where you stay, though, the Artillery is the perfect first evening stop to make to acquaint yourself with the city’s cocktail movement and classic southern tradition. Punch in a pineapple goblet? Why not! You’ll need days to sip your way through the tome of the menu at this 19th century-inspired, military-themed bar, but you should give it your best shot nevertheless.
We were told in advance that nice clothing (no flip-flops!) was required, so I expected the bar to err on the snobby side, but not at all—we couldn’t have had a more pleasant experience with attentive servers who really know their stuff.
The problem with dining out in Savannah is that there are just too many restaurants to try—ones we wanted to make it to this visit but didn’t get to include Atlantic, Green Truck Pub and Circa 1875—but alas, we had to be choosy with just three dinners on the docket. Fellow foodies friends had all told us to make one a priority, so we did just that: Cotton & Rye.
The restaurant doesn’t take reservations online, but we arrived and found a table right away and were instantly wowed by the level of service we received and the sleek interior of this remodeled, mid-century modern bank. The menu left us delirious with options but SVV opted for the market fish, which was a black cod affair on top of fresh ingredients that only made him look once at my house-ground cheeseburger and fries (we share .. usually).
I had to keep batting his hand away from my plate as he nibbled away at it but the real battle came when the server brought out the house-made candy bars, which was like a super-sized Twix but actually good and dusted with gold. OMG. That is all.
Day 2: Friday in Savannah
On Friday, we got up early to knock out some work, then grabbed coffee and a pastry to go from the Coffee Fox (their iced horchata latte is the stuff of dreams). Today, we were checking out Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), which has some 40 buildings scattered around town.
I’d been in shopSCAD before but never inside any of the academic buildings. In need of a bathroom break, I wandered into the admissions building, then stayed awhile. Can you believe this art? It’s open to the public, so anyone can mosey on in and take a look.
Though we were right next to Gryphon House—I’m forever temped by the offer of afternoon tea—we’d heard the brunch at The Collins Quarter is out of this world, and no fewer than 10 people told me to order the spiced lavender mocha. They weren’t wrong. I’ll have dreams about this drink (and that French toast) for years to come.
The design of this three-year-old restaurant combined all my interests: natural light, white subway tile and a bold color palette. I also loved that there was a walk-up take-out window for those who don’t have time to wait.
We devoted the rest of the afternoon to shopping along Broughton Street and wandering aimlessly among Bay and River.
That night, we walked to dinner at The Grey, which has garnered all sorts of national acclaim in the three years since I’ve been back to Savannah (it opened in 2015). If you know anything about SVV and me, you’ll know we’re lovers of Art Deco, so the Grey appealed to both our taste buds and our design preferences. Located in the former Greyhound station (hence the name), the Grey has been custom-designed to reflect that era and the building the restaurant inhabits.
The food is contemporary American, and while the menu changes frequently, the server told us the Yardbird is “as close to a signature dish as we have,” so we couldn’t help but order that and the filet with a strawberry hand pie as the cherry on top.
Late night, if after the Grey you still have energy to expend, you can head on over to Rocks on the Roof in the Bohemian Hotel for live music. This was a popular activity among the bachelorettes I took to Savannah several years ago and—bonus: You’ll get some nice nighttime views of the river.
Day 3: Saturday in Savannah
Up and at ’em! If you’re staying at the Marshall House, there’s the option to eat breakfast there for an added cost. We didn’t do this on this occasion, though, as my dining list for Savannah was a mile long—and I only had three days. Eat, eat and eat some more (as we do)!
So down the street to Goose Feathers Café we went, where we loaded up on bagels, pastries and coffee to get us through our morning walk.
Our day officially started with Jonathan Stalcup, SCAD grad who has been giving architectural tours of Savannah since 2004. We have a lot more to say about this awesome activity, so I’ll save that for its own dedicated post, but our guided walk ran from 10 to nearly noon and covered 300 years worth of Savannah history, as well as a handful of the city’s 24 squares. Jonathan’s tours run most days of the week at 10am for just $30 a person.
Jazzed about all we learned, we continued our stroll south to Forsyth Park, which is one of my favorite shady spots in town. I also had an ulterior motive: to break for a little AcroYoga play!
A couple flows and some static poses later, we were both starving, and we’d passed a very interesting looking spot the previous day that intrigued us. Have you ever heard of Twelve Tribes? This was completely new to me, but it’s a religious movement started just down the road from my home, actually, in Chattanooga. The local chapter has a cafe, Mate Factor, that looked a bit granola on the outside, but on the inside was full of delicious and healthy food. This might have been the most pleasantly surprised I’ve been by a lunch in a long time!
You know us, though, we’re always on the lookout for an afternoon beer, particularly after we’ve been fed. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it back up to either Service Brewing or the beer garden at Moon River Brewing Company (next visit!), but we did find Crystal Beer Parlor, nabbed a couple of bar stools and sampled some brews from the region.
Savannah, again with its walkability and after two beers each, we didn’t even need to call a Lyft as we just strolled the 20 minutes back to our hotel, soaking up the diverse brownstone style architecture and gorgeous little gardens along the way. Of course, if you didn’t feel like walking, you could always hop one of the dozens of trolleys that are always rattling through the streets.
Once we got to Broughton Street, I was hungry again (always) and saw that Leopold’s marquee sign beckoning. You guys, I consider myself an ice cream connoisseur, and Leopold’s is some of the best I’ve ever encountered.
While I didn’t get to mingle with Hollywood legend Stratton Leopold on this visit, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing him in the past, and I was thrilled to find that we’d shown up on the last day the ice creamery was selling their drool-worthy Thin Mint ice cream! (Girls Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low hailed from Savannah, in case you didn’t know.)
On night three, we stuck close to home for dinner and went back to an oldie, but goodie: the Olde Pink House. For those who want that very Savannah experience, you’ll get it here. The menu doesn’t often change, though, for those who have been here before, but you’ll find all the token Southern dishes—from shrimp and grits to fried green tomatoes, to blue crab beignets and fried chicken.
Before you say good-night to Savannah for the evening, you must stop into AlleyCat Lounge, which our traveling friends have described as “having the best cocktails, ever, of anywhere.” High endorsement right there (and something we unfortunately weren’t told until after we were gone…again, next time!).
Day 4: Sunday in Savannah
Today is your beach day, so rise early and head west. En route, you can stop by the Moon River District south of downtown—which includes Wormsloe State Historic Site, Bethesda Academy and Pin Point—to take advantage of that early morning light before it’s directly overhead.
Then, you’re making your way to Isle of Hope as we did, with our local pal Susan as our guide. She took us to brunch at the Wyld Dock Bar, which turned out to be wildly popular and had been featured in Garden & Gun that very week.
With bocce ball, a massive patio and a waterfront perch, it was easy to see why the Wyld is beloved by locals (and also prying tourists like myself).
From Isle of Hope, Tybee Island is a half hour’s drive—and about the same distance if you’re coming directly from downtown. Seriously, though, it was my fourth visit to this fair city—why am I just now finding out that Tybee is so close?
Once we arrived at the mouth of the Savannah River right on the Georgia-South Carolina border, SVV and I oriented ourselves with a 90-minute dolphin tour with Captain Mike.
We saw so many dolphins but also got to glimpse the coastline, a pair of lighthouses and North Beach, from the water.
Afterward, we headed to North Beach Bar & Grill for a drink before exploring the rest of the small island. Just three square miles in size, Tybee can easily be seen in an afternoon by bike (which you can rent from Tim’s Beach Gear), by foot, by car or even by kayak.
There are a few hotels and dozens of vacation rentals down near Mid Beach and South Beach, where the pier is located, but personally, I loved the dichotomy of staying in a mid-sized city like Savannah then spending the afternoon in the small beach town. It was the best of both worlds!
As the sun sets and you head to the airport (or interstate, as was our case), you’ll likely be overwhelmed by how much you saw, did, ate and drank during your long weekend in Savannah. And the best part? There’s even more where that came from, as Savannah’s star will only continue to shine the more it grows. My advice? Plan a return trip sooner rather than later.
Need even more inspiration for your weekend in Savannah? Start here:
- Eating & Drinking Our Way Through Savannah
- Shop Till You Drop in Savannah
- The Inside Scoop on Savannah
- The Azalea Inn: A Sassy Stay in Savannah
- Tea and Honey: Sweet & Savory in Savannah
- Girl Power in Savannah: The Girl Scouts Legacy
oh man you actually made me miss Savannah! Spent my good ol college years there 🙂
I bet that was a pretty awesome place to go to college! Just big enough to have things to do, but small enough to know everyone and everything.
thanks for sharing, great advices..
Okay, now I have to get back to Savannah! I lived near SAV for five years and moved to Nashville in 2012… and the only places I’ve been to on this post are Olde Pink House, Circa 1875, Leopold’s, Rocks on the Roof, and Tybee! Of course Broughton/Forsyth stuff too, but still! I need to get back.
Ahhh that’s so cool you lived down there! I’d have a problem being so close to Leopold’s, though, as I’d want to eat there every day 😉
You mentioned a lot of the newer places that while good don’t have that consistency that Savannah has to offer. Staying at the Marshall house you missed one of the real gems of Savannah in 45 bistro. By far the best dining experience downtown. You also missed Savannah Bee Company which is one of a kind when it comes to experiences.
Hi Jack! As a Sewanee alum, I adore Ted and am a huge fan of Savannah Bee—I buy it frequently at my Whole Foods in Nashville and am happy to have seen them just explode in popularity the past five years. Did you see the other posts I linked to at the bottom of this one? Many other great spots are included there from my past couple Savannah visits, this was simply a roundup of new ones I visited this time:
Make sure to come back after the flagship remodel in quarter one of 2018. Wasn’t trying to be rude just have never figured out how Savannah Bee dominates yelp and trip advisor and just never seems to get mentioned anymore. Maybe I can be your guide one trip. Show you some old Savannah tricks
I would love that! There’s nothing better than a local as a guide. I did pop into the store briefly on this visit but totally forgot to come back for a tasting. Kicking myself now for missing that opportunity—my husband has never been to the flagship and would have loved that (he dreams about opening an apiary someday). I’ll have to take him out to Wilmington Island (isn’t that where Ted keeps his hives?) next time we’re back, which hopefully will be soon 😉
Just call either and ask for Jack.
And I promise to visit 45 bistro on my next visit, you have my word. I was simply going off recommendations of locals I know who live there and were steering me to their favorite spots at the moment =)
Savannah looks so beautiful (and all the food, omg)! Reminds me a bit of Charleston.
There are a lot of similarities—especially given they’re just two hours a part, if that—but at the same, they each have their own distinct culture. I think if you love Charleston, you’d LOVE (all caps for emphasis) Savannah =)
Oddly enough, Savannah is a newish discovery for me, too! I’m thinking it’d make a great place for our 2018 girls’ trip, eh?
YES. There’s no question about that.
What a fun city it is! My mom has been there a couple of times and always raved about it. I think I told you once that I’ve never been to the South. Never. I know, it’s crazy. I think I would be very happy to start a trip there in Savannah. Love that it’s walkable and there are so many good places to eat and drink.
I still think that is bonkers! Well, luckily, you have a good tour guide to help you plot your itinerary when ever that finally does happen 😉
So so gorgeous! I need to get down there! Thanks for the guide.
You owe me a visit in Nashville anyway, so just tack on an extra city 😉
I have been dying to get to Savannah! This is proof I definitely need to make it a higher priority 🙂
You definitely do! It’s perfect for your next four-day weekend, and they’re adding more direct flights, too.
This place looks so stunning.To be honest, this is the first time I’ve heard of Savannah, but you have me just about convinced! Thank you for this post, very inspiring.
Oh, Nicole, it’s positively stunning! Hope you have a chance to visit someday.
Girl, you’d LOVE it there! Didn’t you actually go once before?
Charleston, but not Savannah, although it was an option. Must go exploring!
I just wanted to confess something. I committed two sexual assaults while in Savannah on a vacation. I’ve felt a lot guilt. These numbers 9/19 Will mean something. I’m so sorry
Noted, Savannah would definitely be on my list if I would go on a southern road trip. The picture of the dogs on the boat is too gorgeous! They look like they are loving their life 🙂
Thank you, Dominique! Ella would have been living her best life on that boat had she been there, too.
WOW, what an epic post! I can’t believe this was just a weekend!! You did SO much. I’ve been meaning to explore Savannah for years but this post definitely pushed it up to the top of my list! Next time we’re driving down to Florida I’m making it a point to stop. Thanks for such a great post!
Right? Three days? More like 10 for a normal person, HA! We are overly ambitious, I will admit 😉
I love you blog name 🙂 Really cute. I haven’t been to Savannah, but it looks like a charming place where you can totally relax and recharge batteries.
Thanks so much, Anna! And I really do hope you get a chance to visit Savannah someday =)
I haven’t been to Savannah, but I’ve wanted to go for SUCH A LONG TIME. The trees and buildings look SO cute–and it looks like a photographer’s dream. I need to see more of my own country!
It really is! however, that said, I find the Spanish moss so challenging to capture with all the variable lighting!
Love your photojournalism. My friends lives in Savannah, and I should go visit her!
Thank you, Angela! Free place to stay? You DEFINITELY need to get down there!
As a Georgia girl I’m so embarrassed to even admit I have only been to Savannah once, seven years ago. Thank you so much for sharing all of these tips! I can’t wait to try the Crystal Beer Parlor and The Grey. Both have been on my list for a while.
Well, the good thing is that it will always be there when you go home to visit 😉
I’m loving all the cocktail bars and food pics and those acroyoga pics are so much fun! Savannah sounds like an awesome place for a getaway. I love the Southern drawl…
but oh the food porn on this post! I’m envious!
Thank you, Alaine! It’s the perfect city to go to if you like to fill your days with eating (and who doesn’t?!).
Savannah is so charming…and photogenic! I interviewed for a job there years ago, and got to explore a bit. One of my funniest flight stories was leaving Savannah on the earliest flight where the flight attendant was late, had bar stamps on her hands and passed out in the jump seat as soon as we took off. I’m guessing she was a fan of Savannah’s nightlife!
HA! That’s hysterical. I can’t say I’ve ever had a flight quite that entertaining 😉
Your pictures and descriptions are first class 🙂 You got me, I will plan a trip to the South, next time I get an opportunity to go overseas 😀 (I’m European). I love these charming hotels!
That’s great to hear, Lana! It almost feels a bit European in parts—with a good dose of Southern hospitality 😉
I have been dying to visit Savannah for YEARS! It looks like a place you can totally fall in love with and never leave. I love the architecture.
I’m so sad you didn’t get there on your epic cross-country road trip! Guess you’ll have to come back for a Savannah-Charleston-Nashville trifecta 😉
Savannah has been on my list for SO LONG! When my niece was at SCAD I swore we would make it down to visit her and it never happened but I’m going to get back there eventually!
Well, maybe you’ll just have to fly her back with you so you have a tour guide! What a fun place to go to college!
Savannah has been on my list of places to visit for so long, and you just catapulted it up even further on the list. With all of those great looking restaurants, I’m glad it’s a nice walking city – so you can make room between meals. Also love that you do acro yoga!
Oh yeah, the walking is imperative! And I’m actually disappointed in myself that I didn’t have space in my stomach for my usual five meals a day when traveling 😉
I love savannah! Such a beautiful and historic city. I’ve got to say when we went to the beach outside of the city, we saw what I thought were sharks in the water, but none of the locals seemed too worried. Turns out they were a different breed of dolphin than we have in So. Cal. 🙂
I had no idea there were different breeds of dolphins in the US! Color me ignorant =)
I have YET to visit Savannah and now I want to go even more after seeing all your fab photos! That French toast looks KILLER!! Oh my, so much to see and do!
Ahhh, Christina, but you’d LOVE the food there!
Thoroughly enjoyed your Savannahs “excursion “. Like another reader said…It made me miss Savannah. Have it on my summer travel list. Thanks for your “hard work”.
Thank you, Angela! Did you used to live there yourself?
You covered Savannah perfectly! It’s such a great city, I love going down there for a day or a weekend. It’s great that’s it’s also so close to home (Hilton Head)!
Ahh, thank you, Joan! Hilton Head is such a great spot, too. I’d love to go back as an adult (haven’t been since senior year in college!).
Thank you for sharing these pictures and all of the interesting tidbits! Before you get to Tybee, there’s a great restaurant called Crab Shack. Next time you’re there, you must try it!
Great intel, Debbi! We’re actually heading back there in November and might stay on Tybee this time. Thanks for the tip!
Really looking forward to exploring Savannah briefly over the 4th July. Visiting from New Zealand and only there for a night but great to get some ideas as to where to go! Thanks!
I hope you have such a great time, Sally!
Love your blog.
Did you make it to Tybee in November? Would love some recommendations for Tybee.
Girls trip planned in March 2019 to Savannah but staying in a house on Tybee.
Hello, Lori! We did make it to Tybee on both trips. The only places I’ve been there, however, are to the lighthouse, the pier, Fort Pulaski and North Beach Bar & Grille. We were told to try out Salt Island Fish & Beer, but didn’t have time on this last visit.
I live in Richmond Hill, just south of Savannah. It’s great to have access to such a beautiful city without the hustle and bustle of actually living there.
Amazing! You described Savannah so well. Thanks, Kristin for this Savannah GA travel guide. Planning to go there as well.
Savannah is well worth a weekend visit. I absolutely love all the antique shops, ghost tours and couldn’t get enough of just wandering around through all the different squares, admiring the homes, the Spanish moss trees.
This post is a wonderful find, we are planning our extended trip to Savannah, and I got several ideas from your site! I have read good things about the Grey restaurant you recommended, and it makes me excited to try them. Leopold’s is our favorite as well.
Thanks for sharing this! I’m already planning my visit there before this year ends and this really helps me to plan ahead! I really love Savannah. Not only do they have great beaches, tourist attractions, and the best Hotels in there, but the people and the hospitality is also great! Savannah GA really offers so much and I’m really recommending it!
All you need to do first is really find one of the best hotels in Savannah GA and your all set. Look for them in blogs or sites like https://www.visitsavannah.com/hotels-motels . As for the fun stuff, there are lots to do there so you really won’t run out of things to do!