Travel
Creative Corners – Things to do in Savannah
November 2, 2017
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Forsyth Park, Savannah

Savannah is the very definition of a picture-perfect town, with its charming historic architecture arranged in an easily navigable grid of oak-shaded streets and squares. The town is a treasure trove of history, art and architecture for a curious and creative traveller to explore. Here are some highlights of the Georgian city and things to do in Savannah for travellers with an eye for beauty and appetite for culture.

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Architectural wanderings

When it comes to architecture, Savannah truly represents! There are samples of styles from nearly every period of American history including Colonial, Federal, Antebellum, Victorian, and turn of the century through to contemporary. Furthermore, the planning and evolution of the Savannah historic district is as interesting as its buildings. A morning tour with Jonathan from Architectural Savannah is the perfect introduction to the town’s history, layout and beautiful structures.

Davenport House
Savannah Courthouse
The Romanesque Revival Savannah Courthouse
Scottish Rite Free Masonry, home of Gryphon Tea Rooms
Scottish Rite Free Masonry, home of Gryphon Tea Rooms

Tour interiors

Once you’ve explored the streets and facades of Savannah’s architecture, it’s time to go inside. If you are only going to tour the interior of one Savannah building, Owens-Thomas House is the one to choose for its historical accuracy.

Mercer-Williams House is my second pick, particularly for my fellow interior design enthusiasts. The current owner still resides in the home, so you will only see the lower level. Tour guides are well versed on the background of each unique artwork, Chippendale chair and Murano glass chandelier. If that doesn’t entice you, Mercer-Williams house was featured in the 1997 Clint Eastwood directed flick Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Note: Interior photography of these homes is not allowed, so put away your camera and just take it all in.

Mercer-Williams House, Savannah
The interiors of Mercer-Williams House featured in Midnight in the film Garden of Good and Evil
Owens-Thomas House, Savannah
Owens-Thomas garden and carriage house as viewed from the homes back porch

Movie locations

The number of Hollywood productions set in Savannah indicate that it has enchanted more than a few movie directors. In addition to the aforementioned Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, you will find locations from movies such as Now and Then (1995), and Something to Talk About (1995), though arguably the most famous would be Forrest Gump. Make your way to Chippewa Square, where Tom Hanks famously uttered the line “life is like a box of chocolates.” Don’t go looking for the bench where Forrest sat, as it was a movie prop that is now in the Savannah History Museum. There is no plaque or other indication of the film setting, but this is the place. If you watch the movie’s opening sequence that follows a floating feather, you will also recognize some of the surrounding architecture.

Oak-lined streets hanging with Spanish Moss
Oak-lined streets hanging with Spanish Moss
Independent Presbyterian Church, Savannah
Independent Presbyterian Church designed by architect John Holden Greene in the English restoration style
Seeking scenery from Forrest Gump in Savannah, GA
Seeking scenery from Forrest Gump

Museum hop

Avoid the afternoon heat by museum hopping your way through the local art scene. The Jepson Center offers a collection of contemporary art housed in a equally modern, Moshe Safdie designed structure.

The Telfair Academy, on the other hand, is a former home turned public art museum. Inside the William Jay designed Regency style house are two rooms historically staged to reflect their 19th century residential origins. The remainder of the home has been transformed into gallery space, displaying a variety of paintings and sculptures by local and overseas artists.

Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum and the SCAD Museum of Art are also worth exploring if you have the time. Current and former Girl Scout’s may be interested in touring Juliette Gordon Low’s birthplace.

Anne Ferrer's Hot Pink in the Jepson Center
Anne Ferrer's Hot Pink in the Jepson Center
Sill Life with Picasso, 1973 by Roy Lichtenstein
Sill Life with Picasso, 1973 by Roy Lichtenstein
Inside the Telfair Academy
The Telfair Academy lower level
La Madrilenita (The Girl of Madrid), 1910 by American artist Robert Henri
La Madrilenita (The Girl of Madrid), 1910 by American artist Robert Henri

Eat your weight in food

There is so much good food and coffee in Savannah you will feel like there aren’t enough meals in the day. Skip the familiar chains and support local eateries with these suggestions to narrow down the many options.

Brunch at Australian inspired The Collins Quarter or the budget-friendly Goose Feathers Café.

Lunch on fresh seafood at Savannah Seafood Shack, their low country boils are some of the best in town. Alternatively, the Public Kitchen and Bar has a garden-fresh menu of culinary goodies and the SCAD owned Gryphon Tea Rooms within the Scottish Rite building is worthy for not only its great food but interesting interior.

If you still feel like dinner The Ordinary Pub and Alligator Soul have you covered. Or return to the Savannah Seafood Shack to try their po’boys and shrimp tacos, like we did.

For dessert, skip the endless queue at Leopold’s and try the Thai street-food inspired, rolled ice cream at Below Zero.

Shrimp tacos and catfish po'boy at Savannah Seafood Shack
Shrimp tacos and catfish po'boy at Savannah Seafood Shack
Rolled ice cream
Rolled ice cream from Below Zero
The Collins Quarter, Savannah, Georgia
The Collins Quarter

Savannah travel tips:

  • Pack comfy walking shoes and book a centrally located hotel, because Savannah is flat and its attractions are concentrated mostly within the historic district. This makes it a very walkable destination, though historic roads and sidewalks can be a little uneven under foot.
  • Telfair Museums owns Owen-Thomas House, the Jepson Center and Telfair Academy, so one ticket will get you entry to all three.
  • The Maritime Museum has a lovely garden you can wander through for free.
  • The plethora of antique stores and ShopSCAD are great places to pick up soulful souvenirs. You can also find some lovely things at Paris Market and Brocante, although only a small number of their products are locally made.
  • Avoid City Market which has the authenticity of a theme park.
  • Visit River Street for its historical value but do so early before the stale-beer smelling joints open their doors and the tourists pour in.
  • If you would like to take advantage of Savannah’s open drink laws, and partake in a takeaway cocktail or two, note that there are restrictions on the type of cup you can carry your beverage in (read more here). Until Savannah’s environmental preservation catches up with its progressive alcohol regulation, you will find us sustainable travellers at the bar with a reusable glass (no plastic straw).

Planning resources

Find flights to Savannah with Skyscanner.

Search for accommodation using Tripadvisor.

Don’t forget travel insurance, I recommend Seven Corners or World Nomads.

Enjoy the picturesque, history-steeped avenues and all the artful things to do in Savannah, Georgia.

Peace, love & inspiring travel,

Madam ZoZo

Forsyth Park Fountain
Creative Corners - Things to do in Savannah | Duende by Madam ZoZo

About author

Madam ZoZo

Hi! I'm Madam ZoZo, aka Zoë, an Australian designer, creative consultant, blogger and digital nomad. I'm passionate about travel, design, dance and new experiences that fuel my creativity. I strive to travel in a style that is gentle on the earth and that contributes to the communities I visits, even if it is merely to take away a greater understanding of a different culture. Duende by Madam ZoZo, is where I share the stories of my travels and the duende (soul/inspiration) I find along the way.

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