Updated: Jul 21
Savannah is a place made for slowing down. This Georgia coastal city will lull you into a slow stroll through its cobblestoned squares underneath the live oaks dripping with Spanish moss. As America’s first planned city, historic downtown Savannah is extremely walkable. Here are a few of our favorite low-key things to do for a relaxed day in Savannah:
Explore the squares in the Historic Landmark District.
One of our favorite ways to spend an afternoon in Savannah is to stroll from square to square in the Historic Landmark District. There are 22 squares to explore in the downtown district, each with its own unique history. Surrounded by historic homes, the squares contain at least one feature – a monument, sculpture, or fountain – that reveals a piece of the city’s history. You may recognize Chippewa Square from the opening scenes of Forrest Gump (1994), where Forrest waited on the bench for the bus.
Walk through the Bonaventure Cemetery.
Sitting on 160-acres just east of the Historic Landmark District, the scenic Bonaventure Cemetery rests on a bluff overlooking the Wilmington River. With its curving pathways, elaborate monuments, gothic sculptures, and hundreds of azaleas, the cemetery is well worth exploring. Entry into the cemetery is free and you can grab a guide from the visitor’s center for a self-guided tour. Be sure to keep an eye for some of Bonaventure’s most haunting tombs – the grave of Corinne Elliot Lawton, the grave of Gracie Watson, and The Bonaventure Jogger. If you want to learn more about Bonaventure’s famous residents, the Bonaventure Historical Society offers a free guided tour on the second weekend of every month.
Pro Tip: If a guided tour is more your thing, we highly recommend taking Shannon Scott's Bonaventure Cemetery is Forever Tour. He's a fantastic storyteller with a deep knowledge of the history of Bonaventure Cemetery. Plus, he's an absolute sweetheart. Book his tour through my affiliate link above, and tell him Alyssa sent you!
Hunt for ghosts and paranormal activity.
With its reputation as one of the most haunted cities in the US, a visit to Savannah can’t be complete without adding a ghost hunt to your itinerary. There are a lot of ghost tour options – from walking tours to trolley tours, to hearse tours. Our pick is the 90-minute evening ghost tour of the Sorrel-Weed House. Led by a knowledgeable storyteller, the tour through the historic home strikes just the right balance of history and spooky. While we didn’t spot any paranormal activity on our visit, we had a great time learning about the home’s history and its former residents.
Watch the boats float down the Savannah River.
I like big boats and I cannot lie. The Port of Savannah ranks as the fourth busiest seaport in the United States, serving 36 oceangoing cargo ships every week. It’s fascinating to watch these large vessels navigate the Savannah River as they move out to the Atlantic Ocean. Grab a meal or cocktail at one of the many restaurants or rooftop bars on River Street to watch the ships. We recommend lunch at Vic’s On the River – make sure you ask for a table on the riverside of the restaurant.
Grab a drink at The Original Pinkie Master’s
Drop a quarter in the jukebox and pull up a barstool at The Original Pinkie Master’s, this old-school, cash-only dive bar is a Savannah institution. A favorite among locals, you won’t find fancy cocktails here – just stick to the $3 domestics, well drinks, or their famous slushies, which are fresh-squeezed daily. Found on Drayton Street, the bar’s claim to fame is that President Jimmy Carter once stood on the bar to speak to the crowd. Special shout-out to Burke! The Pinkie Master’s bartender brings the good-time energy, even in the middle of the day.
Support a local bookstore.
Savannah has two notable bookstores just about a block from each other in the downtown Historic Landmark District – E. Shaver, Booksellers, and The Book Lady Bookstore. Savannah’s oldest bookstore, E. Shaver is located just across Madison Square on Bull Street, and you’ll find The Book Lady Bookstore nestled in the basement at 6 E Liberty Street. Both are equally the bookstores of dreams; E. Shaver, with its room after room of books and a cat lounging in the window, and The Book Lady – loaded to the ceiling with books and a cozy couch in front of a fireplace. If you want to know more about the area, both stores have healthy local history sections with tons of interesting selections about ghosts, the Civil War, and the local food and culture.
People watch in Forsyth Park.
Occupying 30 acres, the picturesque Forsyth Park is the perfect space for people watching, an afternoon picnic, or an evening stroll. The park is always bustling with activity from joggers to street performers to weddings. On the North end of the park, you’ll find the Forsyth Park Fountain, one of Savannah’s most photographed locations. The park is also a popular filming destination and has been featured in 15 film and tv productions, including The Underground Railroad (2020), The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000), and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997). Grab a coffee at The Sentient Bean and relax on a park bench near the fountain.
Visit Flannery O’Connor’s Childhood Home.
For fans of the Southern gothic writer, visiting Savannah offers an opportunity to see Flannery O’Connor’s Childhood Home. Just across from Lafayette Square, the Greek Revival home turned house museum has been historically restored back to the Depression era. A visit to the home includes a 30-minute guided tour through each room with insights into O’Connor’s childhood and day-to-day family life. If you’re visiting in March, you may be lucky enough to catch the annual “Flannery O’Connor Birthday Street Fair & Cavalcade” celebrating the Savannah native with live music and a parade of characters.
Not familiar with Flannery’s fiction? Check out her most famous short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”
Find a unique souvenir from shopSCAD Savannah.
Located on Bull Street across from Madison Square, ShopSCAD Savannah sells original art from students, professors, and alumni of the Savannah College of Art Design. With its gallery-like setting, ShopSCAD makes for great window shopping or for scoring that one-of-a-kind souvenir to take home.
Take a day trip to one of Georgia’s barrier islands.
Savannah makes an ideal home base for visiting one of Georgia’s many barrier islands. Tybee Island, the easiest barrier island to reach, is just a 30-minute drive from downtown Savannah. Plan to eat at The Crab Shack and spend the afternoon enjoying 3 miles of beautiful beaches. Heading about 1.5-hour south of Savannah, you will reach the Golden Isles, a group of four barrier islands – St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Jekyll Island, Little St. Simons Island - and the port city of Brunswick.
Looking to plan a trip to Savannah? Read my Things to Do in Savannah, Georgia, guide over on Fora for hotel, activity, and restaurant recommendations.