It is no surprise that Savannah garners high rankings on many “favorites” lists—Top Ten Friendliest Cities in America, The 9 Most Romantic Cities in the South, and 2014 World’s Best Cities Awards to name just a few. (For a listing of more 2014 rankings, click here and scroll down.) In fact, there is so much to do in Savannah that you will need at least a week to even scratch the surface! It is difficult to limit myself to a Top Ten list, and even more difficult to order my ten selections by preference. So, I have formulated a list…but not necessarily in any particular order. In this post I will outline the first five recommendations…
- Trolley Tour: Anytime I visit a city for the first time—or even as a repeat visitor—I find that this is a great way to get the lay of the land and begin to formulate a plan. Savannah has a number of trolley tour options—Old Town Trolley Tours, Oglethorpe Trolley Tours, and Old Savannah Tours. We had not done any real research before arriving so went with Old Town Trolley Tours. We had to wait for a second trolley as the first one that came by was full. The tour was informative and interesting. We were not happy at all, however, when we discovered that the tour ends promptly at 5:30, at which time we were dumped at the Visitor Center and forced to walk a fair distance back to the main drag. No one told us that when we purchased our tickets, so be sure to check the time schedule to avoid finding yourself in this predicament! The locals we spoke to later recommended Old Savannah Tours, complete with guides attired in authentic Southern garb. I think we will give them a try next time around. Most, if not all, of the trolleys offer hop-on, hop-off service, which is quite convenient.
- Carriage Tour: Climb into a horse-drawn carriage for a tour of the historic district if you prefer. Public or private tours are available through Carriage Tours of Savannah, Historic Savannah Carriage Tours, or Plantation Carriage Company. You might want to book in advance—particularly during the busy season.
- Walking Tour: I find that a local guide adds so much to the tourist experience! I generally make arrangements for a private tour whenever I visit a new city. Granted, this can be a bit pricey, but I find it worthwhile as it guarantees that I will see the most important sights while efficiently budgeting my time. I try to schedule the tour for the second day so that I have plenty of time later to follow up on anything that piques my interest or that I would like to explore in greater depth. If a group tour is more to you liking, you might stop by the Savannah Visitor Center or consider Savannah Walks. Another option is a self-guided walking tour. I purchased a fabulous Guide for about seven dollars at Parker’s Market. It is called The Savannah Guidebook Including 4 Unique Walking Tours. I highly recommend it! Or you can drop by the Visitor Center and pick up self-guided walking, driving and bike tours, free maps and brochures on local attractions.
- City Market: This four-block area in historic downtown Savannah is a throwback to the city’s open market of bygone days. With restaurants, entertainment, art galleries, gift and specialty shops (I quickly ran inside one of these and purchased an umbrella when it began to rain unexpectedly), sweet shops, beautiful flowers, and even benches to rest your weary feet, this is a great place to browse, rest, or purchase tickets for a trolley or carriage tour.
- Forsyth Park: Dating back to the 1840s, this serene and beautiful park was envisioned by General Oglethorpe and later laid out and named for Governor John Forsyth. Visitors are drawn to the regal Forsyth Fountain which stands as the park’s crowning glory. Likely the most photographed thing in all of Savannah, the cast iron structure is said to have been modeled after the fountain in Paris’ Place de la Concorde. (While by no means identical, there is a resemblance.) Also located in the 20-acre park is the Confederate War Memorial, dating back to 1879. This is a great place for a stroll or simply for quiet contemplation. The park plays host to a variety of cultural events throughout the year.
I will round out my Savannah Top Ten in the next post, so stay tuned…