Savannah Georgia City Guide

From the beautiful trees dripping with spanish moss, to the brick lined streets overlooking the river, it is so easy to fall in love with Savannah. We have been living 8 minutes from downtown, and it has been an absolute dream. I spend every Saturday morning doing my long run through Forsyth park, and then wandering the cute, little farmers market. I have loved the history, the people, and the food. I was asked if I recommend Savannah for a vacation, and YES! There are so many close day trips, and it’s only a couple of hours drive to Charleston as well, so you could take a whole week and visit both amazing cities! Below I’ve organized Savannah into food, things to do/see, and day trips close by.

Parking tip: Savannah is an easy city to drive through and navigate. We never had a problem finding parking. There are parking meters which are around $1 per hour, but on Sundays it’s FREE to park, and on Saturday it’s free for spots south of Liberty St. We had tons of luck finding parking around Forsyth Park. Around the squares they also have a lot of 30 minute parking if you are running quick errands.

WHERE TO EAT

Breakfast/Brunch

Breakfast is hands down my favorite meal of the day. I could eat breakfast food for every single meal. With Lyle’s work schedule, we did a lot more breakfast outings than dinner. SO many breakfast options! When I pick, I try to find places that are unique to that location. I look at the menu to see specialty items, and look at pictures. You can get eggs anywhere, so I try to pick places with either unique food, or a fun location, etc. The only place that I would not recommend that we’ve tried was Goosefeathers Express Cafe. Hard pass. Collins Quarter was rated highly, but I don’t love frou-frou food and pretty lattes, BUT, I will admit, the locations were beautiful, and perfect for a girls brunch!

  • Hueys

Pros: right on river street, so easy, accessible location, and amazing variety with healthy options as well. We loved everything! We took my parents when they visited, and went again since we loved it so much. Highly recommend getting an order of the beignets for the table, AND the seafood omelette.

Cons: always a wait. I recommend putting your name in and then walking around river street. They also don’t take reservations ahead of time (at least right now with covid, idk if that will change in the future.)

  • Foxy Loxy Cafe

Quick and cute little cafe with outdoor seating. A random assortment of tacos, coffee, pastries, breakfast sandwiches, etc. It’s in a quieter location which we loved and it was so relaxing sitting under the beautiful trees. Loved the churro muffin and cookie dough brownie bar. Lyle got a savory kolache and really liked that. It also offers some vegan options.

  • Auspicious Baking Company

pictured:lemon loaf, pop tart, apple gallette, cinnamon rolls
Lyles commentary haha

The best bakery we found in the savannah area (and believe me, I tried them all).

Pros: amazing cinnamon rolls! A rotating variety of treats (you can look on Instagram to see what the new treats are).

Cons: only open 3 days a week (Fri, Sat & Sun). You also have to go early because things do sell out, especially on Friday when people are up early for work.  It isn’t in the walkable downtown area. I also feel like its pricier than other bakeries but so worth it! Reminds me of a legit french bakery.

TIP: Go here on Fri, Sat, or Sun and explore the Wormsloe historic site the same day. It is out of the way a bit but these two are right by each other so grab some amazing pastries and then hit up Wormsloe early on to beat the heat and the crowds!

  • Treylor Park

pictured: peanut butter & jelly wings & strawberry pancake tacos

 The atmosphere is fun and light and they were showing Home Alone in May haha. We got sat at the bar and it was a big brunch/hang out scene. I would recommend this place to anyone who wanted to get a couple drinks and socialize, not really families although it was a mixture of everything. It’s pretty small inside and they did have a unique menu which is what drew me to it in the first place. Lyle really liked what we ordered but I would like to go and try different things next time but overall it was a good time. The Ordinary pub also was like this and had an equally fun menu!

  • 700 Drayton Breakfast

I really want to go here for breakfast or brunch but we haven’t made it there yet! It is right outside Forsyth park in a beautiful hotel. Breakfast is from 7-11am and brunch is 11am-2pm. The french toast and cold pressed juices look amazing. They also have a fruit plate and chicken and waffles. Look at both menus because they are slightly different when deciding which you’d prefer! I will update this when we go.

(Maple St Biscuit Company looks amazing too!)

 

Lunch/Dinner

  • Frali Gourmet

Hand. rolled. pasta. YESSSSS. We went here for Lyles birthday and it was so good and a nice change from all the traditional southern food. Fair warning though, once you’ve tried hand made pasta you will never want Olive Garden again! They had big portions and serve it with fresh warm bread as well.

  • Olde Pink House 
  • The Pirates House

We didn’t end up eating here but I heard its really great for kids because its pirate themed but it has so much real history too. It’s more of a for the atmosphere kind of restaurant and not the food from what I’ve read but if we lived here longer I would have definitely tried it. I love how so many of the restaurants and buildings have amazing stories and history.

  • Leopolds

Others: Pearls Saltwater Grill, Vinnie Van Go Go’s (pizza in the city market), Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room (this is communal dining but the hours just didn’t work for us), Cotton & Rye.

Things to Do/ See

A Ghost Tour

Easily my favorite thing that we did. I LOVED the ghost tour we did in New Orleans so I had some high standards but this one was really good!! There are SO many tours to choose from but after endless research I ended up going with Savannah History & Haunts and it was sooo good! He was so informed and I loved how much history is intertwined. It really is just dark history with some creepy things thrown in so if you aren’t into ghosts and things you will still love this tour. There is just something about walking the squares and beautiful streets at night. TIP: Do the later tour so its completely dark!

Savannah Bananas Game

I know this one can only be done in the summer but this was the best baseball game I have ever been to. Tickets were pretty hard to get so I had to sign up for their emails to get notified for early access. I logged on immediately and the waited for hours and didn’t get any. We logged on for single game tickets and somehow snagged some. I think they were only $20 a piece and they come with unlimited soda, hot dogs, cookies, chips and chicken burgers. The energy was contagious with constant music and the players dancing and doing back flips so you are entertained the whole game.

Walking Tour with Free Tours by FootThis is the all time best thing to do in a new city for a million reasons. I love to do them first thing in a new city because you have this experienced local guide who knows the city like the back of their hand. You can pick their brain for restaurants, tips…anything. When we start walking around I’ll save little shops or restaurants or spots I want to come back to and explore more. It also helps me get my feel for the layout of the city as well. We learned so much amazing history, got to walk through many of the beautiful squares and hear some spots the locals love. This specific company I love because it’s pay what you feel the tour is worth so its affordable for everyone. We have used this company for multiple cities.

Wander the Beautiful Squares/Jones Street

I feel like these pictures speak for themselves. Just perfect. Jones street is considered one of the most beautiful streets in America and it is supposedly where the phrase “Keeping up with the Joneses” came from. I felt like every street I walked down just left me speechless though. Besides this street a lot of my favorite homes and these pictures are from the streets around Forsyth park. There are 22 squares and they are all beautiful. Madison was the creepiest at night (do the ghost tour) and honestly if you realized majority of the squares and places in Savannah you are walking over are just burial grounds is a little unnerving.

Explore the cute boutiques/shops (The Paris Market!)

Savannah has some of the cutest shops. You need to visit the Paris market. It has such beautiful things and the store itself has a cute little cafe inside (that sells Auspicious baked goods & drinks & what not) and is decorated like a beautiful museum so you need to at least wander inside. Some cute little boutiques I stumbled upon were Harper (above), Red Clover and Arrowleaf to name just a few. You will stumble upon some of the cutest little shops just wandering around.

Stroll through Forsyth Park

One of my favorite places in all of savannah and I truly feel pictures don’t do it justice (I have a ridiculous amount of videos on my phone that I watch all the time and then tell Lyle I want to leave here haha). I would wake up on Saturday mornings and run around the park (it’s about a mile). It is surrounded my beautiful homes and historical buildings and the beautiful trees dripping with the spanish moss make for one of the dreamiest places ever. Afterwards I would wander through the farmers market that happens on Saturdays from 9-1. It’s a great place for a picnic, to walk your dog, to people watch or take pictures in front of the beautiful fountain. I just love everything about it. I also never had problems parking here. They have free parking around the park and I always felt safe there.

Riverboat Cruise

We did the sightseeing riverboat tour one Sunday (they have dinner, sunset and lunch ones as well) and it was a fun way to see the riverwalk. I wouldn’t say this was the best thing but maybe because it was really sunny and hot this day haha and I didn’t want to hang out inside so we stood on the top to see everything and listen to the guide talk about some history of Savannah. You can buy food and drinks on board too. It was about $33 pp so it was a lot for just hearing a lot of information we had heard from other tours but overall I am glad we did it.

Honey Tasting @ Savannah Bee Co

This picture is from the last time we went to Savannah but this little honey shop is so cute! You can sample a huge variety of honey. I happen to loveeee honey and the little jars make the cutest little souvenirs for friends and family or even yourself. Its a fun and different experience that you can’t just have anywhere either.

Bonaventure Cemetery

Bonaventure is labeled as one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the United States. It is hauntingly beautiful (but I don’t think it’s a must do) but we drove through it on a beautiful morning and googled some of the stories and people who were buried there and had our own free self tour. Sidenote: we actually toured a cemetery in New Orleans and that was sooo good. You learn about Nicholas Cage burial plot and it was so interesting.

Wormsloe Historic Site

In all honesty, this spot is worth visiting for the tree lined drive alone. It’s $10 pp and there is a person who monitors if you first purchased your ticket before taking pictures. This beautifulll place is open every day from 9am-4:45 every day. If you go in the summer I highly recommend going right at 9 to beat the heat (and the crowds as well). If you skipped the food part above I’ll say it again but if you go here on Fri, Sat or Sun stop at Auspicious Baking Co for some amazing pastries. They are both outside the downtown area by like 15 minutes so you should definitely grab some pastries and then head over to Wormsloe. We visited this spot years ago as well and its just a cool spot with some history to wander around and be out in nature. The trees were the highlight for me though.

Savannah City Market/River Street

River street is so lively/fun/beautiful and you have to walk through it checking out all the restaurants, shops, bars, etc. Theres so much to see and do. This is where you leave for the riverboat cruise, and if you like to drink, there are alcoholic slushies everyone was carrying around and just seemed to be having a good time. Theres also a cool market with crafts and souvenirs from local vendors thats worth checking out also. The Savannah market is just North of here and has a lot of food and shops as well. You have to check out the savannah candy kitchen for some praline samples (my mom loved these) and River Street Sweets for all the candy you could ever dream of haha. We didn’t need a hotel but I would look for one around here because it has tons of food options and even being there at night we always felt safe and saw families out so its pretty touristy. Theres some cool rooftop hotel bars that overlook the river as well.

Tour a historic home

We chose not to do this but when we did our walking tour and ghost tour as they would point out some of the historical homes they were told you could tour them as well which would be really cool if you wanted extra history on a home or to see the inside! (I’m sure you could also just google it as well…)

Day Trips

Jekyll Island

Jekyll Island is about and hour and a half from Savannah and is such a cute little island. You can rent bikes and ride around the whole island, theres beautiful beaches (the one above is driftwood beach and it is so unique) cute little shops and some yummy food places. You do have to pay to get on the island. We went for fourth of July so it was a few dollars more but it is only $8 typically because it’s a state park.

Charleston

I am so in love with Charleston and the surrounding area. It is for sure in my top 5 favorite cities in the US (prob top 3). The food is amazing, its beautiful and it seemed just cleaner and more charming than a lot of the cities that it shares some similarities with. I am wanting to do a post on Charleston at some point too! If you can I would visit Charleston and Savannah in the same trip (especially for my Utah friends who are coming to the East coast because they are only a couple hours apart).

Hilton Head & Tybee Island

Both of these beaches are so close to Savannah and make for the perfect day or weekend trip. It varies a bit but from where we live it’s about 45 minutes to Hilton head and 30 minutes to Tybee. Tybee is just a cute and small local island with several food places and shops. You can also go to the historical lighthouse and museum on the island as well. You do have to pay to park and we had a hard time finding parking sometimes so I’d recommend going earlier. You can stop at the Crab Shack for a seafood place the kids will love too (you can feed gators). Hilton head is a lot nicer and bigger but both are worth checking out.

At the Copa, Copacabana

If you’ve read my Top 10 Places to Visit in South America, then you’ve already been introduced to a little bit of my love for this amazing place. Before we visited Rio I had a huge list of things to do, places to eat and things to see and we quickly realized how ambitious I was. Part of the reason was we wanted to relax a bit and enjoy the beaches. Rio was not another typical go go go city. We were in Rio for about 6 days and I could have easily spent months there. We got into a routine where we would get up and run along Copacabana beach, get our daily juice/smoothie and then go to the beach or go exploring. I will share a list of first time things to do in Rio because it can get overwhelming along with a list of things I wanted to do but we ran out of time for and some tips as well. If you can swing it try to line up your trip with New Years when they do an amazing celebration on Copa beach or obviously for Carnival. We loved Rio so easily that we have already talked about heading back when they do Carnival one year.

RIO FAVORITES

Mirante Dona Marta for sunset views. I can not tell you enough how beautiful this spot was! I was surprised at how amazing it was and the fact that we only had to share it with just a handful of people. There are lots of look out spots but next to Sugarloaf, you can not miss this one. There are two sides to it and the left side when driving up was my favorite. I honestly think the best way to get there is to take an uber up to the top. They waited for us so while we watched the sunset and then took us back down because there wasn’t much traffic and for safety issues. I highly recommend doing it this way.

Eat at a real Brazilian Churrasco. HEAVENNNNN. Tucanos is one of my favorite places to eat so we were both stoked to eat at a “real” Brazilian one. It was pretty similar to Tucanos but really fancy with more options. Be prepared to spend some money though, it was definitely not cheap, but when in Brazil right? We went to one a couple blocks from where we stayed. It was Churrascaria Palace and it was bomb. If this isn’t close to you, ask your hotel desk about really good options! I was wondering how we have no pictures here but then I remember this day and how we were running late and starving and the camera did not eat first here haha.

Pedra da Gavea. I wouldn’t really recommend this place because it’s SOOO far out & you wait in line forever in the sun.

-Parque Lage. This little park was so beautiful and on a clear day you can see the cristo statue! It was one of my favorite spots in Rio. We took a taxi there and knocked out the this, the gardens and a food spot we wanted to try. There is a little breakfast place that we got really yummy french toast at. You can’t use cameras inside, only your phone and there is a guard who walks around and makes sure people follow this. There usually is a line to take pictures here but it moves pretty fast. Afterwards we walked to the Jardim Botanical to wander a bit. After this you can go to La Bicyclette for some amazing pastries. Lyle got the banana nutella and I got the raisin cinnamon roll and it was so good I precisely ordered a second one because yolo. haha. SO good. 

– Pão de Açúcar. This is a can’t miss and I loved it more than the Cristo statue experience. We went up maybe an hour and a half before sunset so we could see the views during the day, at night and at sunset. They have several food and snack places up at the top with spots to hang out as well. A lot of people did a free drink combo since there is a bar at the top but since we don’t drink that didn’t appeal to us. At the top you have 360 degree views of basically all of Rio. Once it gets close to sunset, people will scout out their spots and then thats it so pick yours early if you are there for photos. We lucked out and found a spot right next to where you get onto the cable car to go back down and it was perfect. We got to watch the sunset with just us two and had amazing shots of the car going up and down since we were right on top of it. It is the best spot in the house.


-Try the Acai. The Acai bowls in Rio are out of this world. I asked what the heck do they put in them to make them so good and I was told its the agave syrup, so there you go. We would lay out on the beaches and people would just walk around selling juices and foods and bring them right up to you so it was so nice. The first time we tried the acai bowls was on the beach when someone walked up with a whole tray of them and they were so good. Those and the smoothies on the beach were our favorites! Our fav acai place was Maria Acai. They had a ridiculous amount of toppings to choose from!

-Escadaria Selaron. The history of these steps in so inspiring. The artist has over 2000 tiles from over 60 countries around the world and you could honestly spend and afternoon just examining every inch of it. If you go in the afternoon you will be swamped with locals and tourists alike taking the steps to get from point A to B. We met a couple here that did come back because they couldn’t see all the tiles with so many people. I recommend getting here by 7 or 7:30 am to get to see all the amazing details. 

-Head to the beaches. There are so many beaches to explore in Rio alone. Ipanema, Copacabana, Joatinga and Barra da Tijuca to name just a few of them. They are all known for different vibes so depending on the reason for your travel you might want a more family friendly beach or a more relaxed beach vibe. I could care less as long as there was sun so I wasn’t too picky.

-See the Cristo Statue. You can’t go to Rio without seeing one of the wonders of the world. We took an uber to the spot where you can buy tickets and then take the cable car up. We got the first time slot which was I think 8 and we realized that there was a cable car heading up before that and we knew we had to get on it. We talked to a bunch of people and managed to get on the earlier train because people ended up not showing up. It was a miracle and it pays to ask my friends or in our case…sound desperate. Apparently tour groups get the earliest slot and then get to be a the top first. When we got off at the top, we ran to the elevators and pressed 2. We were kind of confused and people were leaving the door open so it slowed us down but now you guys know haha. Even if its just you two, close the doors! Then you get out and run up the escalators and enjoy the very short time you have all to yourself! I took pictures of Lyle first and not a single person is in them. It was such an amazing feeling to be up at the top, just us two! Even when people started to trickle up we were able to set up our tripod and get lots of pictures which would never happen if we got up an hour later. Our room mate didn’t care about going early so he went up in the middle of the day and you can not even move. We experienced this as we were leaving a bit. There isn’t much space at the top and it gets really claustrophobic. Also, Rio was so hot everyday we were there you are just roasting in the sun because there is no shade at the very top so keep that in mind too. The morning we were there it was cloudy and the fact that Lyle and I didn’t do a tour we stayed up at the top until it cleared but there were people all around us who were disappointed because their tour group didn’t have time to stay at the top. I figure for the early cable car to the top, you can sign up and just leave your tour group in the event of a weather condition such as this one. Sunset wouldn’t be a good time to see the statue because everything would be silhouetted for pictures and it would be too dark so I think first thing in the morning is the best time to go!

Look how foggy it got at one point! ^

Sorry if this is sacrilegious…  

We also loved Confiteria Lisboa for amazing pastel de natas (one of my all time favs) and other baked goods. Another thing you can’t miss is one of the awesome markets for cool souvenirs either! We did several, the feira de Copacabana and I can’t really remember the name of the other one but it was located near Confiteria Lisboa.

If you haven’t been to Rio, you need to go! We never felt any danger there but we did choose to take taxis everywhere because they were so cheap and easy. We would pull up a place and say it and show a picture if the language barrier was too difficult. Most people speak English but I always recommend learning basics for the country you are traveling in. My favorite taxi guy had an app on his phone that translated what he said into English and he was so funny because he then said he would save a bunch of money on not needing to take any English classes now haha. There are all sorts of apps you can use for translating so it’s not really a concern. When you take the taxi in from the airport, we asked two people heading out for taxi fares and they both seemed high so we asked a third person and it was cheaper than both the others. Take your time to ask around, people still do give you high numbers because you’re a tourist. We experienced this at the beach too. We rented a chair and an umbrella everyday and everyone was offering different prices. I think it was like $15 for a chair and an umbrella for the whole day at the cheapest place and the most expensive $22. When I go next time I would love to the Costao de Itacoatiara hike or lookout (it looks so cool!), go to the Aventureiro beach, stay at the Praia Ipanema Hotel (the pool views kill me) and experience Carnival!! One thing I wanted to do more than anything on this entire trip was hang glide around the statue but apparently it only works out on very few occasions because the weather has to be perfect so hopefully we get to do that someday too. We stayed in a hostel that had an amazing location, just a couple blocks up from Copacabana beach but my fav Nike jacket got stolen out of the bathroom so I wouldn’t recommend it haha.

 

Oh and Lyle would like me to tell you to get all the Pao de Queijo you can get your hands on (cheese bread). They sell it everywhere and its little cheese balls…or not so little ones haha.

XO, Cait