Welcome to Savannah, Georgia. We are pleased to see you. This seaport city is beautiful, majestic, picturesque, historical, and more than a little quirky.
When you are fortunate enough to smell the blossoms of gardenias blending with jasmine carried to you over sea winds, you will experience the meaning of the word, swoon. Prepare to fall prey to the charms of Savannah and the Lowcountry because nothing, but nothing, will save your soul from wanting to immerse yourself up to your hip-bones in the southerness of our corner of the South!
Savannah. Say it like a native – drawl those three syllables into five and add a little cadence: Sa-va-a-na-ah. That is your first step in feeling the melodic essence of the lady of Southern cities. Think of her as a beautiful woman, drenched with twinkling moonstones, as dynamic and fluid as the river that runs through her. Savannah is warmth and sunshine dappled with old oak leaf shadows, crowned with Spanish moss, as strong as her wrought iron railings, and with enough history and mystery to endlessly entertain anyone who visits her.
Like some ladies of a certain age, Savannah has some sprawl to her, so the distinction between Savannah the city, and the neighborhoods, is very important. The largest, and most central, neighborhood for much of what goes on is Downtown, also called the Historic District. The Historic District starts at the river and is about twelve blocks wide and thirty blocks deep, and this is where first time visitors to Savannah will want to explore, experience and breathe the Confederate jasmine-scented air.
The city of Savannah, founded in 1733 by General James Ogelthorpe, is laid out in a grid system that makes it a very easy city to understand and to navigate. The original plan, comprised of four squares, has expanded over time to twenty-two squares; each has its own character and provides a bit of shaded respite. In addition to the squares is a magnificent 30-acre park. Forsythe Park, on the southern edge of the historic district, boasts one of the most photographed fountains, beautiful surrounding mansions, and plenty of entertainment.
Savannah is a food lovers paradise. There are many award winning restaurants from those with innovative cuisine fashioned from a myriad of local ingredients, to charming little bakeries tucked into the odd corner spot.
The best way to acquaint yourself with Savannah is to take a tour, and there are many from which to choose. Savannah is a city of tours, events, festivals, and characters. It’s not just an expression for Southerners to say, “We don’t take our crazy people and put them in a home, we put them in a rocking chair on the front porch and give them cocktails.” It isn’t unusual to see the Forrest Gump look-alike from the movie wandering around town with his suitcase and box of chocolates. The Lady Chablis, from the movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, used to perform at a local drag club. And don’t neglect to take a ghost tour because Savannah certainly has her fair share of ghosts.
The architecture itself is enough to take your breath away. Wrought iron railings and balconies, window boxes filled to the brim with flowers, and metal dolphins attached to drain pipes stir the imagination. There is a wide variety of architectural styles, so looking at the houses is like trying to choose penny candy; you can’t decide which is the best.
A stroll down the cobblestoned River Street yields all manner of shops, restaurants, and bars. Stop in for a praline coming right out of the oven or some local shrimp and grits. Listen to a variety of live music, and carry your cocktail with you as you wander and watch container ships and tugboats ply the river between the port and the Atlantic Ocean.
We hope to see y’all soon!
Enjoy these itineraries which showcase a few special parts of Savannah:
Absolutely anytime is the time to go to Savannah. Summers can be hot and humid, but the beach is not far away and every place is air conditioned. There is always something going on in Savannah. There are museums, historical places to visit, tours of all sorts, and ghosts to chase.
If you can only go for one day – go! The longer you can stay, the better it is because there are so many things to see and do. If you have ample time, you can venture forth along the coast, visit some of the barrier islands, or head into the country for a day’s excursion if you so desire.
There really isn’t a high and low season in Savannah, but there are times when it is busier than others. Saint Patrick’s Day hosts a huge celebration and the city is brimming over with about 300,000 folks celebrating the Irish. The Savannah Film Festival and the Savannah Music Festival also bring visitors from all over the world. If you want to have the city a little more to yourself and not worry about crowds, just check the calendar of events before you plan your trip.
In Savannah the summers can be hot and humid and the winters are chilly. Over the course of the year, the temperature can vary from 42°F to 91°F but is rarely below 29°F or above 96°F.
The hottest part of the season starts at the end of May and typically lasts through mid-September, with an average daily high temperature above 85 degrees. The coolest part of the season is from the end of November through the end of February, with an average daily high temperature below 67 degrees.
It rains more from June through September than it does in the other months. The good news is that there is plenty of sunshine with the shortest day of the year having 10 hours and three minutes of daylight, and the longest day of the year has 14 hours and 15 minutes of daylight.
If you’re a beach goer, or water sports person, the water temperature from June through September averages above 79 degrees, with an average low in February in the low 60 degree range.
Perhaps the most important local event in Savannah is St. Patrick’s Day on March 17. However, St. Paddy’s Day celebrations aren’t limited to just one day and this city turns green – from green beer to the greening of the fountain in Forsyth Park. The St. Patrick’s Day parade is one of the biggest parades in the world, right behind Dublin and New York City.
The festivals and events are too numerous to mention but here are some of the highlights –
Martin Luther King Jr. Observance Day Celebration
Annual Low Country Home & Garden Show
Georgia Heritage Celebration’s Colonial Faire and Muster
Savannah Black Heritage Festival
Savannah Irish Festival
Savannah Book Festival
St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations
Savannah Music Festival
Annual Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens
Savannah’s Annual A-Town Get Down Music & Art Festival
SCAD International Festival
N.O.G.S. Tour of Hidden Gardens
Sidewalk Art Festival
Savannah Garden Expo
Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf , PGA Champions Tour
Blues & BBQ Festival
Earth Day Celebration
Spring Fling Art and Music Festival (Tybee Island)
Savannah Shakespeare Festival
Savannah Scottish Games Festival
Fine Arts on the River Festival
Tybee Island Beach Bum Parade
SCAD Sand Arts Festival (Tybee Island)
Savannah Asian Festival
Blues, Jazz & BBQ
Fourth of July on the Waterfront
Fourth of July Fireworks on the Beach (Tybee Island)
Seafood and Music Festival (Tybee Island)
Savannah Jazz Festival
Oktoberfest on the River
St. Paul’s Greek Festival
Savannah Film Festival
Shalom Y’all Jewish Food Festival
Savannah Food & Wine Festival (A Taste of Savannah)
Telfair Art Fair
Boat Parade of Lights
Savannah River Bridge Run
Christmas on the River and Lighted Parade
Holiday Tour of Homes
Note: Additionally, Forsyth Park has it’s own set of events and calendar.
January (1st): New Year’s Day
January (third Monday): Martin Luther King Jr. Day
February (third Monday): Presidents Day
May (last Monday): Memorial Day
July (4th): Independence Day
September (first Monday): Labor Day
October (second Monday): Columbus Day
November (11th): Veterans Day
November (fourth Thursday): Thanksgiving Day
December (25th): Christmas
Savannah GA is located in the Eastern time zone.
To check the local time in Savannah GA, click here: www.worldtimeserver.com
Daylight Savings Time (DST) happens in the spring (on the second Sunday morning of March at 2 a.m.). It’s when clocks are advanced one hour so there is more daylight later into the evening. In the fall (on the first Sunday morning in November at 2 a.m.), clocks shift back one hour to standard time. The entire U.S. (except Hawaii and most of Arizona) participates in this ritual of ‘springing forward’ and ‘falling back.’
The first thing to pack is a pair, or two, of good, comfortable walking shoes. Some of the streets are cobblestone and uneven, and you want your feet to be happy at the end of the day. Savannah is casual by day, and can be casual, or dressy, at night depending on what you choose to do. If you plan to stay on River Street, you can wear shorts and flip-flops all day and night. If you want to go to some of the nicer restaurants, or events, then “high casual” will take you just about anywhere. That would be slacks and a collard shirt for men, a sports jacket wouldn’t be out of place in some establishments. Nice slacks with a dressy top, a skirt or a favorite dress, for women will cover the bases for evening wear; be comfortable during the day. And ladies, you may absolutely take your pearls. A light sweater or jacket is advisable for air conditioning, and an umbrella or rain jacket is a good thing to have.
In winter take a warm jacket or coat, it does dip around freezing from time to time.
Don’t forget to pack a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen. If you’re thinking of going to the beach, or your hotel has a swimming pool, stick a bathing suit in the suitcase.
Prices often fluctuate dynamically depending on capacity, seasonality and deals. We don’t want to lead you astray by quoting exact prices that quickly become wrong. To give you a rough idea for budgetary planning purposes, though, we have indicated general price ranges for all points of interest.
Price ranges are quoted in $US.
See & Do
N/A => Not applicable
$ => Tickets less than $10 per person
$$ => Tickets $11–25 per person
$$$ => Tickets $26+ per person
$ => Rooms less than $150 for a double
$$ => Rooms $150–$300 for a double
$$$ => Rooms $300+ for a double
$ => Up to $15 for average main at dinner (or lunch/breakfast if no dinner is served)
$$ => $16–22 for average main at dinner (or lunch/breakfast if no dinner is served)
$$$ => $23+ for average main at dinner (or lunch/breakfast if no dinner is served)
N/A => Not applicable
$ => Tickets less than $10 per person
$$ => Tickets $11–25 per person
$$$ => Tickets $26+ per person
Fly the Friendly Skies
Airfares are a fickle thing. When you need it to be low, it’s high. And when prices dip, what happens? You can’t get off work to travel. Sigh.
But you can get notifications from companies like Kayak, which will email you when airfares drop. Type your destination and the dates you are watching and boom, when there’s a deal, you’ll hear about it immediately via your inbox.
Sites like Momondo www.momondo.com also display prices for multiple airlines, so you can compare rates without visiting individual airline sites.
That said, there is an advantage to visiting an individual airline’s site. Why? Because some of their really great deals don’t show up on the aggregator airfare sites. Most airlines share limited-time, super-specials via their Facebook pages or email blasts. So it pays to be their ‘friend’ or subscribe to their e-mailings.
Have Car, Will Travel
Like airlines, car rental rates are all over the map. Companies like Expedia and Hotwire offer comparison price shopping.
There are also name-your-own-price sites, like Priceline, where you tell ‘em what you want to pay and they hook you up with a car rental company who can fit the bill. There are some great deals here, if you are not too picky about the make and model of your rental.
Zipcar is another choice for rentals. Available in many major cities and college towns in the U.S., Zipcar is a great alternative for super-short term rentals. Picture this scenario: you are in a big city with terrific public transportation, so you don’t need a car. But then you hear about an amazing restaurant 20 miles away in the suburbs. You can’t go home without trying it. A taxi would cost a fortune. You’d have to wait a long time to get a return taxi. Open the Zipcar app; search for a nearby Zipcar locale. You need to apply for membership and download the app in advance. Memberships cost about $7 a month; rentals are about $8 to10 per hour; gas and insurance are included. Foreign drivers can apply and you don’t need to pay a monthly fee if you’re an occasional driver (from $25 per year for a membership).
Ride-sharing companies, Uber and Lyft, are also ubiquitous in major cities. Through a smart phone app, you can line up rides all over town. It’s convenient because no money changes hands (payment is made through the app) and it’s usually cheaper than a taxi. Another bonus? After requesting a ride, you can see where the driver is on a map, so you know that they are on their way and how long it will be. Try that with a cab.
Also, the Savannah Pedicab is a popular way of getting around town without having to park and re-park your car. Also it’s a nice option after dinner, or after dinner drinks, if your hotel isn’t within comfortable walking distance. However, since Pedicabs are open, they won’t be available if it is raining
Money Saving Tip: Costco, because of its behemoth size and price negotiating power, offers great low prices for most major car rental companies. Yes, you need to purchase an annual Costco membership first, but it more than pays for itself with what you’ll save with a typical week’s car rental (i.e. searches turn up a mid-size car through Costco for $225 and a comparable car through another aggregator for $325.)
Did You Know: Budget Car Rental offers drivers residing at the same address (i.e. unmarried partners or BFFs) complimentary extra driver coverage. Other car rental companies charge upwards of $10/day. By the way, when renting in California, there are no additional driver fees by law.
Hopefully, your trip to (or within) the U.S. goes without a glitch. But what if an unexpected situation arises? Will you lose the money you invested in the trip? Will you need quick cash to cover sudden costs?
Travel insurance policies are meant to cover these unexpected costs and assist you when problems arise. The fee is typically based on the cost of the trip and the age of the traveler.
Most travel insurance providers offer comprehensive coverage that usually includes protection for the following common events:
Trip Cancellation: About 40 percent of all claims fall in this category.
Medical: Health services in the U.S. are expensive for the uninsured. This is a major reason to consider purchasing insurance. Whether you break a leg or need a blood transfusion, you will likely incur costs far higher than you might pay in other nations. And what if you have an accident that requires transport to a major medical center? Air ambulances alone could set you back $15,000 to $30,000.
Trip Interruption: For example, if you become ill during your trip or if someone at home gets sick, and you have to get off the cruise ship or abandon a tour. The insurer will often pay up to 150% of the cost of your trip to get you home.
Travel Delay: Insurance usually covers incidentals like meals and overnight lodging while you wait to travel home.
Baggage: Insurance will typically cover lost and mishandled baggage.
Some insurance companies allow you to purchase a policy that allows you to cancel for any reason. This may cost more (often 10% or more), but it is worthwhile for certain travelers.
Do I need travel insurance?
If your trip costs $4,000 to $6,000 (or more), it’s probably a good idea. Your age and health are important factors. So is your destination. If you’re traveling to a hurricane-prone area during hurricane season, for example, you’ll probably want some coverage “just in case” … no matter what.
Your English language skills are also an important factor. Insurance policies often include concierge services with 24-hour hotlines that can connect you quickly with someone who speaks your language.
How do I choose an insurance provider?
Do your homework; check around.
The largest insurers in the U.S. include Travel Guard, Allianz and CSA Travel Protection. Smaller reputable companies include Berkley, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, Travel Insured International and Travelex. You may also find deals through aggregator sites like Squaremouth and InsureMyTrip.
Many airlines and travel companies also offer travel insurance when you book your flight (often contracted with the above major players).
If you have pre-existing health conditions: Many policies have exclusion policies if you have a pre-existing medical condition. But companies also offer waivers that overwrite the exclusion if you purchase the policy within a certain time frame of paying for your trip (e.g., within 24 hours of buying your cruise package). Again, it’s best to check the fine print.
Credit card insurance: If you buy your airfare or trip with a credit card, you may be partially covered by the credit card’s issuing bank. Check directly with the company to find out exactly what’s covered, as many have “stripped down” coverage and restrictions.
The travel insurance business is expanding and evolving rapidly. As “shared space” lodging options like VRBO, Airbnb and Homeaway become more popular in the travel and leisure market, so does the need for insurance for both property owners and travelers.
For more information, visit the US Travel Insurance Association.
U.S. dollars come in $1, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills. They are all the same size and color, so non-Americans have an understandably tricky time telling them apart. The $2 bill is in circulation but rarely seen.
Coins in wide circulation include the penny (one cent), nickel (five cents), dime (ten cents) and quarter (25 cents). The 50-cent and one-dollar coins are seen occasionally.
Smaller businesses may not accept $50 or $100 bills, so have twenties or smaller bills in hand. ATMs usually dispense $20 bills
If you get money from an ATM machine, you may incur charges (often $2 or $3 per transaction). Check with your bank before you leave home to find out which, if any, U.S. banks will allow you to get cash without an extra charge. Many grocery stores, gas stations and major retail outlets let you get a limited amount of “cash back” when paying for your goods — this is an easy way to get cash while on the go.
Credit and debit cards are accepted widely throughout the U.S.
Don’t forget to call your debit and/or credit card company before you travel to inform them of your planned itinerary. This goes for U.S. residents traveling out of state. If you don’t do this in advance, you risk having your card denied/declined when you try to use it in a destination far from home. You should also call your company immediately to report loss or theft. The numbers to call are usually on the back of the card — which doesn’t make sense if it is lost or stolen. So make a note of them and store them where you’ll have easy access.
Recently, companies have been issuing cards with embedded chips that prevent counterfeit fraud. Banks and merchants that don’t offer the chip-and-PIN technology are beginning to be held liable for fraud. Check with your bank and credit card company for details on your specific cards.
Tipping is a cost you must build into the budget for any U.S. travel experience, whether urban or rural. Tipping is most relevant to dining out and hotel stays, but other costs should also be taken in to consideration. General guidelines include:
For excellent service, plan to tip 20% on the total bill, before taxes. For less-than-stellar service, 10-15% is customary, as an imperfect experience is often not solely the responsibility of the server. In many states, servers work for below minimum wage and live mostly on tips, so consider the ramifications of your tipping decisions.
To complicate matters, many restaurants in the major metropolitan areas — New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco — are moving to a no-tipping model in which service is included. The verdict isn’t yet in on whether this new model will stick, so be sure you understand the tipping policy at each restaurant you visit.
Oh, and one more complication: Sometimes a tip is automatically included, usually for groups of six or more people. But at least it will be itemized in plain sight on the bill, if you look closely for it.
Most bell staff receive $1 to $2 per bag they assist with; if someone carts all of your bags up to your room, expect to tip $5 to $10.
Tips for housekeeping are also good form. The rule of thumb is $2 to $3 per day and about $5 per day in higher-end properties.
At properties with concierge services, consider tipping concierge staff who assist you in planning activities, making reservations or acquiring tickets around $10 to $20 per day. Concierge staff do not normally expect a tip for simply orienting you with driving directions or public transportation info. Car valet staff expect $2 when returning your car. Spa employees (massage therapists, aestheticians, etc.) usually see 20% tips on their services, whether performed at the spa or in your room.
Invariably, there are incidental costs associated with being on the road. Make sure to budget between $10 and $40 per day for batteries, lost phone chargers, bug repellent, headache medicine, sunburn relief and other personal items you might have forgotten. If you’re traveling with kids, consider the snack budget. Local grocery and drug stores will be cheaper than tourist shops for all of the above.
Sales Taxes, Lodging Taxes & Resort Fees
In GA, the combined total for state and local taxes on all retail goods and services varies from 4% to 8.9%, depending on where you are. In general, cities have higher taxes than rural areas do. Taxes are not usually included in display prices, unless otherwise stated. The sales tax in Savannah is 7%.
Georgia does not have a statewide hotel tax, but allows local governments to collect up to a 3% excise tax or up to an 8 % sales tax. Savannah charges 6%. This tax applies whether you are staying at a private vacation rental, a bed-and-breakfast, or a full-fledged hotel. Taxes are not usually stated up front in the advertised room rate. Neither are the mandatory nightly “resort fees” being charged by an increasing number of hotels . Sometimes this fee covers internet access, parking, and a few incidentals, while at other times it’s merely a surcharge for amenities that should be free. Georgia charges $5 per night for a hotel or motel room, which is not part of a “resort fee”. Beware that third-party booking agents, especially online, often don’t include resort fees in their reservation charges, so you may be unhappily surprised by the final bill when you check out.
You can get to Savannah by rail, air, road, or boat.
Amtrak Silver Service stops in Savannah on the north-south route between Miami FL and New York City.
The Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) in Georgia services Savannah with direct flights to Atlanta GA, Baltimore MD, Boston MA, Charlotte NC, Chicago IL, Cincinnati OH, Cleveland OH, Columbus OH, Dallas/Fort Worth TX, Detroit MI, Houston TX, Minneapolis/St. Paul MN, New York City airports, Philadelphia PA, Pittsburgh PA, Toronto ON CAN, and Washington DC airports. Through those cities, there are flights everywhere. The Savannah/Hilton Head airport is about 12 miles and 25 minutes away from downtown Savannah.
Do not be confused by the flights into and out of Charlotte NC that fly into Hilton Head Airport (HHI) on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. The Hilton Head airport is about forty miles and an hour away from downtown Savannah.
Sometimes you can get a greater deal on flights into Jacksonville FL (JAX) airport. If so, that drive is about 130 miles and 2 hours up I95 through GA.
If you are driving from the north or south, Savannah is just a few miles east of I95. If you’re a back roads driver, there are lots of other routes from all directions. If you want to leave the driving to someone else, the Greyhound Bus Terminal is right on the edge of the historic district.
There are a few small specialty cruises that come to Savannah, but there is no cruise-passenger terminal; the ships dock at the Georgia Ports Authority, which is not downtown.
There are many ways to get around Savannah. You can have your car, rent a car, take the bus, use public transportation, take a carriage ride or other tour, pedicab, bicycle; experience a Segway, Uber, or just plain walk.
Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport: 400 Airways Ave, Savannah, GA 31408
Amtrak: 2611 Seaboard Coastline Dr, Savannah, GA 31401
CAT – Chatham Area Transit: CAT offers bus service on 19 lines, including to and from the airport, short term bike rentals, and free downtown rides. The free downtown rides include: the dot Express Shuttle which goes around the Historic District; the Savannah Belles Ferry which goes back and forth across the Savannah River to Hutchinson Island where the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center and the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa are located; the Liberty Street Parking Shuttle which goes to 5 of the downtown parking garages.
91.5% of the population in Savannah speak English, followed by about 4.2% speaking Spanish. French speakers comprise 0.42 % and then Chinese with 0.35%.
An interesting fact is that in 2015, 298 residents of Savannah were native Gujarati speakers, which is apparently about 1.71 times more than would be expected in Savannah. Gujarati is an Indo-Aryan language.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
Savannah Food A Delicious History by Stu Card and Donald Card
Civil War Savannah Volumes I – IV by Barry Sheehy & Cindy Wallace with Vaughnette Goode-Walker
The Bee and the Acorn by Paula Susan Wallace
Slavery by Another Name Paintings and Assemblages by Robert Claiborne Morris
Sentimental Savannah Reflections on a Southern City’s Past by Polly Powers Stramm
Savannah Blues by Mary Kay Andrews
The Complete Stories by Flannery O’connor
At The Southern Table With Paula Deen
Elemental The Power of Illuminated Love The Art of Luther E. Vann With Poetry by Aberjhani
SCAD Museum of Art: 601 Turner Blvd, Savannah, GA 31401
Jepson Center for the Arts: 207 W York St, Savannah, GA 31401
Telfair Academy: 121 Barnard St, Savannah, GA 31401
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Born, and buried, in Savannah, John Herndon Mercer was an American lyricist, songwriter and singer. He was also a record label executive who co-founded Capitol Records, and one of the greatest lyricists of the American Songbook who wrote such classics as: Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive, Autumn Leaves, Blues In The Night (My Mama Done Tol’ Me), Come Rain Or Come Shine, Days Of Wine and Roses, Emily,Fools Rush In, Hooray For Hollywood, I Wanna Be Around, Jeepers Creepers,Laura, Moon River, My Shining Hour ,One For My Baby (And One More For The Road), Satin Doll, Skylark, That Old Black Magic, You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby.
Savannah has many venues for music and 2 outstanding music festivals: the fifteen day Savannah Music Festival in March/April, and the week long Savannah Jazz Festival in September .
The Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra is a professional orchestra which presents concerts, from classics to pops, September to May. The Savannah Philharmonic Chorus is a community based ensemble that often performs with the Orchestra.
Savannah Winds is a community wind symphony presented by Armstrong State University’s Department of Art, Music and Theater, they perform concerts several times a year both at the University and other venues.
Savannah Concert Association has four prize winning pianists.Concerts are on Saturdays at 6 p.m. at the Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church, 429 Abercorn Street.