DAY TRIP SAVANNAH, GEORGIA: BEST 1 DAY ITINERARY

The best things to do on a one-day trip to Savannah are to absorb the historic atmosphere and sample the mouthwatering southern cuisine.

If you’re planning a day trip to Savannah and want to maximize your visit to this beguiling city, check out these suggestions.

With all that Savannah has to offer, it’s simple to overlook a few of the highlights! We recognize that narrowing down the list of things to do during your visit can be challenging because there are so many fun things to do in Savannah.

Savannah is one of those destinations where visitors may come back time and time again and always discover something new.

At least a handful of the top 15 best things to do in Savannah, Georgia, should definitely be on your itinerary, regardless of whether you’re visiting the Hostess City for the first time or you can’t seem to get away from it.

day trip to savannah

BEST THINGS TO DO IN SAVANNAH ON A DAY TRIP

Take a Trolley Tour to maximize your one day in Savannah

If your time is limited on your day trip to Savannah, Hop-on-hop-off buses and trolleys are an efficient way to get a feel for a city quickly.

Old Town Trolley Tours does a good job of highlighting the city’s main points of interest on a 15-stop tour.

For $30.00 the tour will take you through the main neighborhoods, parks, and riverfront. Get off where you want and hop back on when you’re ready.

We were lucky to get a good tour guide with a solid grasp of the city’s history, gossip, and facts.

A big plus of this tour is the free parking provided, which in the historic center of Savannah is a major advantage.

Explore Savannah’s Squares

Savannah Sq, things to do in Savannah

You can visit many of these squares just in one day in Savanah. Savannah is a city of firsts. 

Savannah was the first planned U.S. city. In 1733 Englishman James Oglethorpe and a group of 114 colonists arrived on the banks of the Savannah River and founded America’s 13th colony. 

Oglethorpe planned the layout of the city establishing 24 squares. Twenty-one of these squares still remain today.

The best way to discover the city on a day trip to Savannah is to wander around these squares reading the historic markers and absorbing the atmosphere.

The squares were originally planned as strategically placed locations where the citizens could meet and organize to protect themselves against the Spaniards to the south, and potentially dangerous native Americans.

The squares are all beautifully maintained with thick, leafy foliage, manicured lawns, monuments to local heroes and plaques explaining the city’s history. 

Most squares are surrounded by architecturally impressive mansions or stately homes steeped in history.

Stroll through the City’s Parks

Spanning 30 acres, Forsyth Park offers a verdant escape in the heart of Savannah’s Historic District.

Stroll along the walking paths, spread out a picnic blanket, or attend a major event like the Savannah Jazz Festival held each September.

No matter when you visit, make sure to see the iconic fountain that makes Forsyth Park so instantly recognizable.

Then continue to Chippewa Square to find the wooden bench where Forrest Gump delivered his famous monologue in the hit movie. 

With expansive lawns, towering trees, and a lively atmosphere, Forsyth Park is the ideal place to slow down and appreciate the natural beauty within Savannah’s historic core.

Let this postcard-perfect green space refresh you between visiting the city’s many landmarks and museums.

Savannah is a . . . lovely pastel dream of tight cobbled streets. . . . There are legendary scenes . . . to rival any dreamed up by Tennessee Williams. Click To Tweet

Get Spooked at a Haunted House

mansion interior, best things to do in Savannah

Savannah loves its ghosts and meeting them is one of the best things to do on a day trip to Savannah.  There are several haunted tours in the city. 

One that gets a lot of press is the Sorrel-Weed House, rumored to be the most haunted in Savannah. 

The 2-hour tour takes you through the 19th Century rooms where the tour guide will show you photos of ghosts that appeared in photos taken by unsuspecting tourists.

More ghosts are reported to lurk in the basement and other parts of the home. Guests are cautioned to hold on to their earrings as a certain ghost named Nellie may pull the earrings off and hide them. 

The management takes no responsibility for the mischievous antics of their resident ghosts. 

Good fun, and even if no ghosts annoy you, you will still get a chance to see a beautifully appointed, typical period home, one of the best things to do in Savannah.

Visit the three Telfair Museums, the first public art museum in the South

As the oldest public art museum in the Southeast, Telfair Museums offers a trio of acclaimed institutions all accessible with one ticket.

The historic Telfair Academy and Owens-Thomas Household National Historic Landmark are notable for their magnificent 19th-century architecture.

Complementing these structures is the modern Jepson Center for the Arts, constructed in 2006 to showcase Telfair’s expansive collection spanning from 19th-century pieces to contemporary works.

Together, these three landmarks provide a comprehensive overview of Savannah’s artistic heritage within three unique settings.

Don’t miss exploring the 19th-century mansions, admiring diverse exhibits and sculptures, and learning about the region’s cultural history through interactive displays and educational programs.

Allow plenty of time to discover centuries of creativity all under the banner of Telfair Museums, Savannah’s premier art institutions.

Your one ticket grants you access to a world of art, history, and architecture.

Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist

Towering over Lafayette Square, the soaring Gothic spires of the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist are an awe-inspiring sight.

Though not the original structure, this cathedral still impresses with its brick facade, Italian marble altar, and stunning stained glass.

Founded in 1799 by French colonists, it holds the distinction of being one of the largest Catholic cathedrals in the predominantly Protestant American South.

Many visitors compare its ornate beauty to medieval European churches.

Even if you don’t attend mass, it’s worth stepping inside for 10-15 minutes to admire the breathtaking interior.

Self-guided tours are permitted but remember to be respectful as this is an active house of worship.

The soaring vaulted ceilings, intricate details, and talented choir create a transcendent experience for any visitor.

You needn’t be Catholic to appreciate this architectural and historic Savannah landmark.

Let the imposing Gothic grandeur of the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist transport you to the splendor of Europe without leaving Georgia.

 

Enjoy at least one Authentic Southern Meal in one day in Savannah

It’s pretty easy to get good, southern cuisine in the low country — even if you’re just on a day trip to Savannah. Any cursory search will yield a wide range of cuisine specialties.

Without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Savannah is to EAT! Three restaurants kept rising to the top in any search undertaken.

The Pirates’ House. Specializing in seafood is a complex with multiple dining rooms said to have been in existence since 1753.

It is here where you will find what the tour guides say is the oldest house in Georgia.

Pirates gathered here to recount their sea-borne adventures and Robert Louis Stevenson was inspired to write Treasure Island in these taverns.

Vic’s on the River. As the name implies it is on the Savannah River, an area ringed with historic buildings sitting on the original cobblestones.

Vic’s specializes in southern cuisine with a focus on seafood.  Here is where I tried one of Savannah’s specialties, she-crab soup. 

Everything was good here, the food, service, location and value-for-money price.

The Old Pink House. on one of Savannah’s most beautiful squares is an 18th-century mansion converted into an upscale restaurant specializing in southern fare.

The mansion is beautiful with several dining rooms decorated with period furniture. It’s like eating in a museum.

As impressive as the restaurant is, the underground bar is even more so. It is a dimly lit, cozy welcoming venue resembling a speakeasy. It also offers one of the best martinis I’ve ever had.  

This location is definitely a Savannah highlight.

You can’t beat Savannah for eats. And here is a guide to the best food in Savannah and where to eat it.

Load up on sweet treats at Back In The Day Bakery.

After hours of wandering Savannah’s charming streets, stop at Back in the Day Bakery for a tasty midday treat.

This local favorite owned by Cheryl and Griffith Day serves up delicious baked goods like wildflower honey buns and blueberry muffins.

The from-scratch, homemade flavors at Back in the Day will give you a much-needed energy boost to keep exploring.

Whether you opt for something sweet like a giant cupcake or savory like a hand pie, you can’t go wrong with a stop at this cozy bakery.

Mandatory Day Trip to Savannah Activity: Eat Ice Cream at Leopold’s

Eat ice cream at Leopold’s.  Apparently, it’s the law in Savannah. You MUST go here and indulge in decadently rich and creamy ice cream.

Ask anyone who has even a passing familiarity with Savannah what they think you should do in the city and they will invariably tell you, “Have ice cream at Leopold’s.” They’re right. The stuff is amazing.

Leopold’s is an old-time ice cream parlor on Broughton Street, Savannah’s main drag. 

The location is decorated in the style of an American movie theatre lobby from the 50s complete with vintage movie posters and polished wood paneling.

They offer tons of flavors and little samples to tempt you. Yum!

Leopold’s should definitely be included in the best ice cream parlors in the world.

Explore Bonaventure Cemetery

Explore Bonaventure cemetery.  About 20 minutes from the center of Savannah is Bonaventure Cemetery, on the grounds of what was once a plantation.

This cemetery was made famous by the novel-turned-movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. 

The book tells the story of a local antique dealer who kills a young man, goes to trial and is eventually acquitted.  

Along the way, the book introduces the reader to an interesting collection of local Savannah characters.

One of these is a voodoo priestess who performs ceremonies late at night in Bonaventure Cemetery.  The book and movie are worth exploring to set the mood for a day trip to Savannah.

The stately mansion where the murder took place, the Mercer Williams House, is a museum today offering daily guided tours of the property.

The cemetery itself is not large, but the grounds are beautiful, and it does have a nice collection of interesting monuments.

A popular one is “Grace” the pretty little 6-year-old whose charm inspired the sculptor to create her life-size statue.  

It is worth wandering the tombs under the large live-oak trees covered in Spanish moss. 

As is the case in most cemeteries in the United States, if you read the tombstones you get a mini-history lesson of the area.

Visit the Jepsen Center for the Arts

One statue you won’t find here is the “Bird Girl,” which is the symbol of the cemetery and the picture on the cover of the book by John Berendt.

After the popularity of the movie and book in 1994, tourists began to flock to Bonaventure to see the statue. 

Fearing the statue might be damaged, the city of Savannah moved the statue to the local Telfair Museum’s Jepsen Center for the Arts to protect it.

There is a sign on the museum’s door that says, “She is here!” along with a picture of the statue.

If you like art and architecture, a visit to the museum is one of the best things to do on your day trip to Savannah.

Bird Girl statue.
Photo credit: Judson McCranie – Own work

Visit the Savannah African Art Museum

Tucked away in Savannah, the Savannah African Art Museum contains a treasure trove of over 1,000 pieces originating from West and Central Africa.

This diverse collection of 19th and 20th-century art includes ceremonial masks, textiles, sculptures, and more carved from metal, wood, and ceramics.

Guided tours held Wednesday through Saturday provide fascinating insights into the spiritual and cultural significance behind each artwork.

Visitors can choose to focus on either the West African or Central African collections, with each hour-long tour limited to small groups.

Travelers love this hidden gem and are impressed by the sheer diversity of art forms and media on display.

There are plenty of knowledgeable guides to illuminate the amazing histories and traditions behind the stunning artifacts.

This is the ideal place for a uniquely immersive experience in Savannah. The Savannah African Art Museum has a one-of-a-kind collection of African art and artifacts.

Discover these works through engaging, educational tours.

See Contemporary Works At The SCAD Museum Of Art

Make time to visit the stunning SCAD Museum of Art, part of the renowned Savannah College of Art and Design.

This contemporary art institution houses an amazing collection of exhibitions showcasing diverse artists and genres. 

Besides seeing the art on display, you can also attend film screenings, artist talks, and live performances held at the museum.

Don’t miss exploring the magnificent building itself, designed and renovated by SCAD’s own architects.

The light-filled atrium with its 86-foot steel and glass lantern is a breathtaking centerpiece.

From the permanent collection to the regularly revolving special exhibitions, the SCAD Museum offers a welcoming space to engage with creative talents from around the world.

Cap off your day trip in Savannah in this modern architectural gem representing Savannah’s artistic heritage.

Stay at the Drayton Hotel in the Historic District

When it’s time to book accommodation, get a room at the charming Drayton Hotel located right in Savannah’s Historic District.

This cozy boutique hotel offers an intimate yet luxurious place to stay in the center of the city’s grand mansions and tree-lined streets.

With just 50 beautifully decorated rooms and suites, the Drayton Hotel provides a peaceful oasis from Savannah’s hustle and bustle.

Guests can enjoy delicious local seafood at the on-site brasserie, enjoy cocktails in the elegant underground bar, or take in panoramic city views from the rooftop terrace.

This historic building has been restored to evoke its 20th-century beginnings while also providing modern amenities.

Stay at the Drayton and enjoy Southern hospitality right at the heart of Savannah’s most charming and lovely neighborhoods.

Browse the shelves at E Shaver Booksellers.

Even if you’re not an avid reader, you’ll adore the charm of E. Shaver Booksellers, a beloved Savannah bookstore on Bull Street.

Book lovers will enjoy a day browsing the extensive collection of new and used books spanning every genre.

Beyond the shelves of literary treasures, E. Shaver’s draws visitors with its cozy atmosphere and feline residents.

Make sure to pet the bookstore’s cute kitties lounging amongst the stacks before you go.

With helpful staff, regular author events, and an eclectic inventory, visiting E. Shaver Booksellers is a must-visit and one of the best things to do in Savannah.

You’ll leave with new treasures in hand and a glimpse into Savannah’s traditional local businesses.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Savannah

Spring (March-May)

  • Warm weather in the 60s-80s makes outdoor activities pleasant
  • Blooming azaleas and dogwood trees create beautiful scenery
  • Fun festivals like the Savannah Music Festival happen in spring
  • Mild humidity before summer sets in
  • Spring break crowds dissipate by April

Fall (September – November)

  • Warm days and cooler nights as temperatures decrease
  • Amazing fall foliage colors throughout the city
  • Fewer crowds after summer tourists leave
  • Peak season for cultural events and festivals
  • Accommodation prices lower than peak summer rates

Winter (December – February)

  • Mild temps in the 50s-60s, cooler at night
  • Decked out for the holidays with lights and celebrations
  • Hotel prices and airfare are generally the lowest
  • Smaller crowds make it easy to explore attractions
  • Potential for rain that can limit outdoor activities

The shoulder seasons of spring and fall are ideal for moderate temperatures, beautiful scenery, fun events, and smaller crowds.

Clearly, there are plenty of things to do in Savannah year-round!

How To Get To And Around Savannah

Here are some tips for getting to and getting around Savannah:

Getting To Savannah:

  • By air: Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) is located about 20 minutes from downtown Savannah. It’s served by major airlines like American, Delta, JetBlue, and United with nonstop flights from cities across the U.S.
  • By car: Savannah is easily accessed by car, located off I-95. It’s about a 4.5-hour drive from Atlanta and 3.5 hours from Jacksonville. Parking downtown can be tricky, so consider using rideshares, taxis, or tour buses to get around the city.
  • By train: Amtrak has a train station in Savannah. It is located just a couple of miles from the historic district. The Palmetto train offers service between New York City and Savannah.

Getting Around Savannah:

  • Walking: The historic district is very walkable. Many attractions, shops, and restaurants and, of course, the squares, are located within a compact area. Just be prepared for cobblestone streets!
  • Trolley tours: Hop-on, hop-off trolley tours like Old Savannah Tours are a popular way to see the sights without walking everywhere. These help you get acclimated to the city and are some of the best things to do in Savannah.
  • Public bus: Chatham Area Transit (CAT) has buses running throughout Savannah and into surrounding areas. The free DOT Downtown Savannah Shuttle hits major downtown spots.
  • Rideshare: Uber, Lyft, and taxis can also efficiently get you around Savannah and across the river to River Street.
  • Biking: Savannah has a bikeshare program, Pace Bikes, with stations around downtown. Renting a bike is a great option for exploring the riverfront and squares.

A day trip to Savannah is nowhere near enough time to truly appreciate all this beautiful and quirky city has to offer.

My one regret is that I didn’t realize how interesting Savannah was going to be before I visited. I should have made arrangements to stay longer.

If you are planning your trip and wondering if one day is enough in Savannah, it isn’t.

Try to plan for 2 or 3 days to really experience the best things to do in Savannah and make sure to explore more fun and cool things to do in Savannah.

Here are some top guidebooks to help you maximize your trip: Fodors in Focus: SavannahThe Savannah Walking Tour, Savannah Historic District, and A Self-Guided Tour of Savannah.

Discover cool hotels to stay in Savannah here

Updated November 2021

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BTW, if you are getting ready for your trip, make sure to take advantage of these useful, money-saving links to book your trip:

  • Research and book your flight with Skyscanner. I have found them to be the best because they list all airlines including the budget ones. You are always sure of having researched all options.
  • For car rental around the world, Discover Cars has flexible pickup and drop-off options, I recommend Discover Cars.
  • Book your accommodation with Booking.com. I find they have a wide selection and a nice, user-friendly, transparent website.
  • Protect your trip and, more importantly, protect yourself with travel insurance. I use Travelinsurance.com and have been very happy with them.
  • Looking for a small group tour to unforgettable destinations with top professionals? Intrepid Travel is your choice.
  • For more general tours to any destination or attraction, book with Viator. Check them out.
  • Need a visa?  Get your visa for all countries with Passport Visa Express.
  • Looking for a cool walking tour to explore a city? My favorite walking tours are offered by Take Walks.
  • Food and drink tours are the best way to enjoy a city. And Devour Tours are my favorite.
  • Looking for a good VPN to protect your security, privacy and freedom online while traveling? Nordvpn is your best option.
  • The best and most economical way to stay connected while traveling is with an Airalo eSIM.

I personally use, and can recommend, all the companies listed here and elsewhere on my blog. By booking through these sites, the small commission we earn – at no cost to you – helps us maintain this site so we can continue to offer our readers valuable travel tips and advice.

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Talek Nantes

This blog was created to inspire your travels and to explore experiences in fascinating locations. What you will find are thoughts on how to immerse yourself in local culture, food, history and people. On your way to these adventures I hope to provide you with useful information to help you get there. Come see the world with me!

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I may earn from qualifying purchases. Posts may contain affiliate links. If you click on one of them, we may receive a commission at no cost to you.



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