Savannah is proof that even something as inherently dull as a grid street pattern can be breathtakingly beautiful. There are delights at every corner, plenty of historic monuments, and a perpetually vibrant feel permeating the city.
The 22 squares ♥♥♥ remaining from the original town plan are an undeniable highlight, each with its own defining features, each surrounded by impressive buildings. There will also be at least one street musician livening up the atmosphere on each square at practically any time of day or night. The streets connecting the squares are also full of architectural delights and are almost invariably very green, with Spanish moss a prominent part of the vegetation.
River Street ♥♥ is a popular promenade for tourists and locals alike, with cafes, shops, statues, street entertainment, and a market at one end. From here, you can take a river cruise ♥ which provides a pretty good commentary but somewhat lacks in views; too little of the town can be seen from the river – aside from the riverfront, you mostly see parts of the port.
A trolley tour ♥ of the historic town is a popular activity offered by several companies (we rode with Oglethorpe Company). The driver’s narration was very lively, with tons of information and stories that may or may not have been necessary – we probably got our money’s worth, but it was a bit of an information overload.
There are quite a few interesting historic mansions in the town center. Owens-Thomas House ♥♥ is among the most impressive and the only one that has partially-restored service spaces on the ground level, in addition to grand rooms. Davenport House ♥ offers many interesting architectural details and yet another story of a made-good resident of Savannah. We lucked into having a personal guide (near the end of the day in a relative off-season) who allowed our child to be photographed with the artifacts inside a child’s bedroom. In fact, this house is the only one that allows photography on the premises (no flash). Andrew Low House ♥ is, on balance, the least impressive of the three mansions mentioned herewith. Well-preserved and furnished, but the rooms on the upper floor can only be viewed from the landing.
Several places of worship are worth considering in Savannah. Congregation Mickve Israel is expected to be closed on Shabbat and during the High Holidays, but even its exterior is worth stopping by. The Cathedral of St John Baptist offered us only a glimpse of its greenish-marble interior in between masses; it definitely merits more attention on a future visit. There are other churches in town that might be interesting to step into.
Potentially interesting museums worth considering in town include the Ships of the Sea Museum and the Railroad Museum. There is also Old Fort Jackson and Oatland Island Wildlife Center further afield.
Forsyth Park ♥♥, marking the southern boundary of the historic city center, is a handsome green space centered on an impressive fountain. There are several monuments, including a major Confederate Memorial, a mix of open spaces and shaded walkways, and a fantastic playground for younger kids.
City Market ♥ gets especially bustling in the evenings – live music acts are a frequent occurrence – but it is not a true market; rather, it is a couple of blocks of shops and galleries, impressive primarily for the concentration of the latter.
In the “memorable stays” category, on account of it being a Nationally-listed Historic Place, Hotel Marshall House (link) is a paragon of Southern charm and hospitality in the most central location in town. Historic features are all over the place. Being also a popular wedding venue, the place may generate noise well into the evening.
As far as eating out is concerned, whether you reserve a table in advance based on online ratings or just pick a restaurant at random, it is hard to have a truly disappointing meal in Savannah.
Worthy of specific recommendations are: The Olde Pink House Restaurant (on Reynolds Square), a storied local institution serving exceptional food that is very busy, cavernous, and atmospheric, with live piano music after 7 pm; and A.lure (around the corner from the market on Congress), always full and always fantastic.