Travel

35 Reasons to Drive to Savannah, Georgia

Amazing restaurants, public art, and beautiful scenery abound.

After a year of feeling cramped in our homes and communities due to COVID-19, we could all use a break. Although Atlanta is easily one of the coolest places in the world, the city  is probably starting to look pretty mundane to you, especially if you forwent vacationing altogether in 2020. There are several awesome  locations in Georgia that are worthy of a road trip, but Savannah is probably your best bet. Despite it being a popular weekend respite for nearby college students, Savannah is so much more than that. With acclaimed local eateries, eccentric attractions, waterfront appeals, and plenty of historical sites spread throughout the city, the city is full of adventures. You’ll arrive in Georgia’s oldest city within a matter of hours and, once you’re there, you’ll have an amazing time.

Enjoy some great seafood and breweries

Arguably the best reason to visit the Georgia coast is to enjoy some fresh seafood. Stop by The Olde Pink House, Savannah Seafood Shack, Sorry Charlie’s Oyster Bar, Shabazz Seafood Restaurant, and River House Seafood. Considering the ongoing pandemic, there’s also a fair share of restaurants with outdoor dining areas, including Treylor Park, Starland Park, and Moon River Brewing Company. From delicious brunch spots to zany dive bars, Savannah is filled to the brim with tremendous food options.

Tybee Island, Georgia
Tybee Island, Georgia | Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Hop over to beautiful Tybee Island

Savannah’s close proximity to the water makes it an essential spring and summertime getaway. Since the city is situated right on the Savannah River, visitors can enjoy a vast assortment of boat tours and experiences, from scanning the waters for Atlantic bottlenose dolphins to visiting the isolated island of Daufuskie. Savannah is also 25 minutes away from Tybee Island, so visiting the coastal city gets easy access to one of Georgia’s favorite beaches. Sure, you could make a slightly longer drive to visit Hilton Head, but Tybee Island will give you all the vibes and beachfront photo-ops that you need. Plus, visiting the Tybee Island Lighthouse is a must.

Take a photo that will make pop culture nerds jealous

Movie buffs and pop culture fanatics alike know that Savannah is the location of one of the most iconic movies of all time. Unless you’ve been actively avoiding it your entire life, you’ve likely seen Forrest Gump and witnessed the opening scene in which Tom Hanks’ classic character is seen sitting on a bench in a park while waiting for a bus. Well, it turns out that famous scene was filmed at Chippewa Square, the epicenter of Savannah’s downtown historic district. The bench that Hanks sat on throughout the bulk of Forrest Gump is actually a movie prop that’s housed in the nearby Savannah Theatre, but Chippewa Square still makes for an unforgettable photo-op.

Take in some history and relive the Roaring ’20s

Even though the 2020s have gotten off to a roar of their own, the 1920s is still one of the most important decades in American history. Characterized by economic prosperity and significant culture change, the 1920s also marked the start of Prohibition in the United States. As we all know, the ban on liquor (thankfully) ceased in the ’30s, but the American Prohibition Museum in Savannah is still dedicated to teaching visitors about that odd era in American history. What makes it even cooler—in true anti-prohibition fashion, patrons can enjoy cocktails while visiting the City Market attraction

Explore some haunted attractions

As wild as it may sound, some people are drawn to the inexplicable, supernatural folklore of certain cities, and it just so happens that Savannah is widely regarded as one of the most haunted cities in America. If you find real-life ghost stories fascinated or are simply flabbergasted that such a beautiful city could be haunted, exploring Savannah’s spirited landmarks will definitely interest you, so drive on down and sign up for one of the city’s nighttime ghost tours.

Find inspiration in the city’s creative energy

Georgia’s oldest city is also home to the highly regarded Savannah College of Art and Design. In contrast to Atlanta's SCAD campus, the private art school’s original location boasts a much larger campus and leans on Savannah’s Southern charm as a never-ending source of inspiration. In addition to the renowned art institution, the city itself oozes artistry and creativity. Strolling through Forsyth Park, you’re liable to see local artisans making special creations while musicians set up shop for impromptu public performances. Many of the city’s artists get their supplies at Starlandia Art Supply, and endearing attractions like the Savannah African Art Museum attract creatives who are in town visiting. If you’ve been searching for inspiration, you’re bound to find it in Savannah.

Fall in love with the vintage charm of River Street

If you’ve ever heard someone raving about Savannah, you’ve probably heard of them mention River Street. The beloved strip is a standout from the city’s historic district, and River Street’s centuries-old lodging and infrastructure, long list of noteworthy monuments, and lingering sense of nostalgia all combine to form its one-of-a-kind aesthetic. With so many must-visit restaurants and bars on River Street, rest assured knowing that you can’t go wrong with grabbing some grub from Vic’s on the River, Top Deck Bar, or Huey’s. The two-mile stretch is home to a bevy of unique boutiques and galleries, including River Street Market Place, Mad Hatter, Gallery 209, River Street Sweets, and several others.  Classic souvenir shops like Bob’s Your Uncle and True Grits are also found on River Street, so be sure to grab a keepsake from one of them before you conclude your road trip and head back to Atlanta.

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Joshua Robinson is an Atlanta-based entertainment critic and lifestyle writer for Thrillist. Follow him on Instagram at at @roshjobin.

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