a beautiful red and white paddleboat on the water in front of a bridge in savannah, ga

One Day In Savannah, Ga: Best Things To Do With Just 24 Hours

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Only have one day in Savannah, Ga? You’ve come to the right place as we share what to see if you only have 24 hours in this beautiful city!

We are frequent U.S. travelers who recently made a trip here and know how best to explore this vibrant city in a day. Why? Because, just like you, we only had one day to see everything we could.

We also understand the pressure to make the most of a short trip, and we are here to give you tips and advice on how to have an unforgettable experience.

Savannah has history, beauty, charm, culture, and entertainment. And whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation during your stay, you will surely find it here in this gorgeous Southern city.

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Itinerary for One Day In Savannah, Ga

We are breaking our itinerary into morning, afternoon, and evening to help you plan.

But if there is something you know you absolutely don’t want to miss, consider switching around the schedule to suit your needs.

Morning Of Your Savannah One Day Itinerary

Let’s start with what we think you should see first thing.

Forsyth Park

Forsyth Park is a fantastic way to start your day in Savannah, Ga.

if you only have one day in savannah, ga, you must see the forsyth park fountain

The 30-acre park is one of the most popular spots in Savannah, and it’s easy to see why.

Forsyth Park is the perfect place for a morning stroll, with a beautiful central fountain and sprawling oak trees with Spanish moss.

The fountain, built in 1858, emulates one found in Paris. It is one of the most recognized and photographed places in the city.

We suggest Forsyth Park as your first stop, especially if you are interested in photography, because the park can get incredibly busy later in the day. Enjoy some quiet time, and take photos of the fountain while only a few people are wandering around.

If you want breakfast, now is a great time to stop before moving on with the itinerary. Located in the park itself is Collins Quarter at Forsyth. Or consider Clary’s Cafe, which is only a few minutes away.

πŸ“Ž Tip: If you’re visiting Savannah in the springtime, be sure to look for the famous azaleas in bloom.


Savannah Historic District

If you only have one day in Savannah, Ga, you are going to spend most of it in the Historic District.

gorgeous oak trees with spanish moss are everywhere in the city

The Savannah Historic District is one of the largest and best-preserved historic districts in the United States.

The 22-block area was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and contains homes and buildings dating from the mid-1760s to the early 1900s.

Notable buildings in this area include the First African Baptist Church and the Juliette Gordon Low birth house (she later went on to create the Girl Scouts).

There are also several museums, the Colonial Park Cemetery, and more than 20 green squares in the area.

We found time passing quickly as we aimlessly wandered around this area because you will find another attractive old home or building to photograph everywhere you turn.

Stroll down cobblestone streets and admire the antebellum architecture, or take a horse-drawn carriage ride for an authentic experience.

Mercer-Williams House

For a dose of history and mystery, head to the Mercer Williams House Museum, where reality meets fiction.

if you only have one day in savannah, ga, swing by the mercer-williams house as seen in the movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

This historic mansion was completed in 1868. The estate was later acquired by a man named Jim Williams more than 100 years later, in 1969. Jim, a successful antique dealer, was accused of murdering his lover, Danny, in 1981.

His trial was one of the most sensationalized in American history, and it inspired the book and movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Jim was eventually acquitted after enduring four different trials.

Even if you’re unfamiliar with the story or haven’t seen the movie, this museum is worth visiting for its beautiful architecture and fascinating exhibits.

Inside, you will see original doors, flooring, and a stained glass dome from the 1860s.

The Williams family runs the museum, so you won’t find anything about the trial here. But you will find pieces from Jim Williams’s antique collection, including Regency furniture, Chinese porcelain vases, and more.

Cathedral Basilica Of St John The Baptist

No visit to Savannah can be complete without a stop at the Cathedral Basilica. This French Gothic-style church is very pleasing to the eye.

The church’s exterior is covered with intricate carvings, and the interior is just as impressive with beautifully painted murals.

the cathedral basilica is a gorgeous church inside and out

The church you see today dates back to 1874, but its roots date back to 1700. It has had its share of setbacks, including fires over the years.

The current version is built with brick. If fact, it is considered the first building made from brick in all of Georgia.

It includes more than 80 stained glass windows and 16 gargoyles to admire.

Be sure to take a look at the pipe organ. It is much newer than the rest of the cathedral but no less impressive.

Afternoon Of Your Savannah One Day Itinerary

Time for a lunch break before starting your afternoon itinerary. While we aren’t recommending anywhere specific, there are tons of yummy places to stop for a bite.

Check out the options in the adjoining blocks, or wait until you reach the Savannah City Market in a few stops for even more options.

We ate at The Pirate’s House.

Chippewa Square

Your first afternoon stop while spending one day in Savannah, Ga, should be Chippewa Square. The square was built to remember the Americans who died in the Battle of Chippawa during the War of 1812.

James Oglethorpe stands among the oak trees in chippewa square

In the middle of the square, you will find a monument to James Oglethorpe, who founded the city of Savannah and the Province of Georgia. The monument dates back to 1910.

While the square and monument are impressive, it is one of the most popular squares in Savannah for another reason.

The opening scene from Forrest Gump was filmed in Chippewa Square, on the North Side of the green space.

The bench from the movie was a prop and no longer sits in the park, but the film’s location still brings in people eager to sit in the approximate place as Forrest.

You can find a replica of the bench at the Savannah Visitors Center.

Owen Thomas House & Slave Quarters

The Owen Thomas House and Slave Quarters in Savannah are two historical landmarks with a rich history. The Owen Thomas House was built in 1819 and is one of the older homes still standing in Savannah.

the own thomas house is one of the older homes in savannah and should be part of your one day visit to savannah, ga

The Slave Quarters split the back carriage house with what was once the stables.

A total of 6 rooms housed up to 15 slaves between 1819 and when they were freed at the end of the Civil War. The space then became used for servants, many of whom were the same individuals who stayed on.

The tour takes you through the slave quarters, the parterre-style garden, and into the main house, where you can see furnishings from the Regency Era.

Savannah City Market

Located between Franklin Square and Ellis Square, this four-block open-air market has been a mainstay in the area since the 1700s.

It has survived the Civil War, the 1896 hurricane, and two large fires.

savannah city market is a great place to spend some time if you only have time for a day trip to savannah, shown is the brick buildings of the market along with flowers and greenery in exterior beds

Today, the market is a bustling, vibrant place in the city’s heart. If you didn’t stop for lunch before Chippewa Square, there are many choices to grab a bite here at the market.

Open daily; there seems to always be something going on. You can watch artisans performing their crafts, listen to live musicians and look for souvenirs.

The market is also a great place to relax and people-watch while taking in the sights and sounds of Savannah.

Hours change slightly based on the day of the week and time of year, but if you head here in the afternoon, you are sure to find most of the shops and restaurants open (they are always open between 1-5 pm each day).

River Street

Only a couple of blocks from the city market, we suggest you move on to River Street.

This historic street is one of the best spots in Savannah for views of the river and the city skyline. And whether you spend five minutes or two hours, this are shouldn’t be missed during your day in Savannah, Ga.

the river front with the savannah bridge and one of the tourist riverboats

The buildings along River Street are a mix of old and new. Several large brick warehouse buildings dating back to the 1800s, combined with more recent structures, give it an eclectic feel.

The street is lined with trees, providing much-needed shade in the summer months.

Wander along the cobblestone streets and see if you can spot the beautiful red and white riverboats. Look at the numerous monuments, including one of our favorites from the area, the Waving Girl statue.

Or find the old harbor light, which looks like a very large street light but was actually a guiding light for ships heading into the harbor at one point.

Similar to Savannah City Market, you can find just about anything you might want on River Street. More souvenir shops, restaurants, and bars overflow in this area.

Our favorite stop was River Street Sweets where we picked up a snack for our long car ride the following day.

Leopold’s Ice Cream

If you love ice cream, you won’t want to miss this suggestion as you spend one day in Savannah, Ga.

2 scoops of ice cream melt down the side of a waffle cone as a woman holds up the yummy treat

Leopold’s Ice Cream is a family-owned and operated ice cream shop. The shop was founded in 1919 by three brothers from Greece, and it has been passed down through the generations since.

Leopold’s is best known for its old-fashioned ice cream, including classics like chocolate and vanilla.

In addition to ice cream, Leopold’s serves up a variety of other sweet treats, such as milkshakes, sundaes, floats, and ice cream cakes.

If you’re looking for a delicious dessert or a cool treat, especially in the summer, you won’t be disappointed to add this to your itinerary!

Evening On Your Savannah One Day Itinerary

We have two options for the evening. You can go spooky or take a relaxing cruise along the river.

Either tour will still give you time to have dinner before or after the activity. We recommend heading back to River Street for plenty of options. Or hit up the area for a drink at one of the many local bars.

Option 1: Riverboat Cruise


A sunset riverboat cruise in Savannah is an enchanting experience that showcases the city’s rich history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking natural beauty.

As you board the riverboat, you are immediately transported back in time. The vessel captures the essence of the antebellum era while providing modern-day comforts and amenities.

the famous riverboat sits along the river walk at sunset

As the riverboat departs from the historic River Street, the sun begins its descent over the horizon, casting a warm golden hue on the city’s iconic landmarks.

The lush greenery of the coastal Georgia landscape blends harmoniously with the beautifully preserved 18th and 19th-century buildings, offering a unique panorama that is distinctly Savannah.

From the picturesque homes of the Historic District to the grandeur of the Talmadge Memorial Bridge, the sunset casts a magical glow on the city’s skyline, illuminating its charm and elegance.

Onboard the riverboat, live music adds an air of festivity, with jazz and local bands setting the perfect soundtrack for a memorable evening.

As the sun sets and the vibrant hues of pink, orange, and purple blend seamlessly into the darkening sky, the river is transformed into a canvas of shimmering reflections.

A sunset riverboat cruise in Savannah is not only a mesmerizing visual feast but also an opportunity to experience the city’s rich heritage, Southern hospitality, and captivating beauty in a truly unforgettable way.

➑️ Book your sunset cruise

Option 2: Ghost Tour

A ghost tour in Savannah is a thrilling and spine-tingling adventure that transports you to a world of mystery, intrigue, and eerie tales.

As one of America’s most haunted cities, Savannah’s rich history, colorful characters, and tragic events provide the perfect backdrop for spine-chilling stories that will leave you with goosebumps.

an old oak tree with hanging spanish moss taken after dark

As you embark on this ghostly journey, you’ll explore the cobblestone streets, shadowy squares, and historic buildings of Savannah, all while being guided by an expert storyteller who will immerse you in the city’s haunted past.

As you traverse the streets of the Historic District, your guide will recount tales of Savannah’s darker side, introducing you to the restless spirits that are said to roam the city still.

You might hear stories of the tragic fire at the Sorrel-Weed House or the chilling tales of the old Colonial Park Cemetery. The tales of voodoo practices and ghostly encounters at the famous Bonaventure Cemetery will captivate you.

At the same time, accounts of the haunted Pirate’s House will transport you back to when pirates roamed the streets of Savannah.

The ghost tours in Savannah are not only about the paranormal; they also provide an opportunity to discover the city’s rich history and architectural beauty under the cloak of darkness.

The gas-lit streets, live oak trees draped with Spanish moss, and beautifully preserved antebellum mansions create an eerie and enchanting atmosphere that adds to the overall experience.

Whether you’re a skeptic or a believer, the ghost tours of Savannah are sure to captivate your imagination, leaving you with memories that will linger long after you’ve left the city’s haunted streets.

➑️ Book the Candlelit Walking Ghost Tour

Other Options If You Have More Time During Your Savannah Day Trip

Unlike everything else above, the following options are amazing but not within walking distance of Savannah’s historic downtown.

So if you have additional time or decide to skip one of our other suggestions, we hope you will consider one of these two places.

Bonaventure Cemetery

For something a bit more unique, visit Bonaventure Cemetery. This Victorian-style cemetery sits on the site that was once Bonaventure Plantation.

a statue of a women sits among the gravestones in bonaventure cemetery, which you shouldn't miss if you have time during your one day in savannah, ga

Like the Mercer-Williams house, the cemetery is famous for being included in the novel and movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

It is also one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the country. This place was one of our favorites, with tree-lined roadways, plenty of incredible headstones and sculptures, and some haunted history.

It is home to many famous residents, including poet Conrad Aiken and musician Johnny Mercer.

This option is a extra rather than on our official itinerary because of the distance to get here. But you certainly won’t regret it if you can make it here during your one day in Savannah, Ga.

πŸ“Ž Tip: Be aware that the cemetery gates close at 5 pm daily. We didn’t see the sign upon entering, and we got locked inside along with another set of guests. Don’t be us!

Wormsloe Historic Site

Wormsloe Historic Site is a must-see for history buffs. This state park was once a plantation estate owned by Noble Jones, who came to Georgia with James Oglethorpe in the 1730s.

archway of mossy trees line the wormsloe historic site

Today you can see the ruins of the tabby house built in 1745, making it the oldest standing structure in the city.

Explore the grounds on foot, visit the museum, or take a scenic drive through the live oak trees that line the entrance road.

This 1.5-mile archway of mossy trees is a photographer’s dream, and if you can find a way to see it during your one day in Savannah, Ga, you definitely should.

Rundown Of One Day In Savannah, Georgia

Wow! We gave you a lot to fill up your day, didn’t we? Let’s do a quick recap and provide a map to make things easier.

Recap Of What To Visit In Savannah

  • Morning Plans:
    • Forsyth Park
    • Savannah Historic District
    • Mercer-Williams House
    • Cathedral Basilica of St John
  • Afternoon Plans:
    • Chippewa Square
    • Owen Thomas House & Slave Quarters
    • Savannah City Market
    • River Street
    • Leopold’s Ice Cream
  • Evening Plans:
    • Option 1: Sunset Riverboat Cruise
    • Option 2: Ghost Tour
  • Extras/Other Options: Bonaventure Cemetery & Wormsloe Historic Site

Map For Your One Day In Savannah Itinerary

We are providing a map with all the locations marked to help you find all the spots we hope you visit on your day trip to Savannah.

The purple icons are the ones we highly recommend you check out first. They are close together, and you should have a fairly easy time seeing them all, even with just a day trip to the city.

The two green icons are our optional suggestions. As mentioned above, they are further away and will be harder to fit into the day. But if they highly interest you, make the time as they are both special places.


Where To Stay In Savannah

If you plan to spend just one day in Savannah, Ga, you may not have planned to stay overnight.

But if you want to enjoy the evening activities or head back down to River Street for some evening drinks, then staying in the city is a must.

Here are our suggestions.

Luxury πŸ’΅ πŸ’΅ πŸ’΅- The Drayton Hotel

  • Situated in the heart of the Historic District, this hotel provides easy access to Savannah’s iconic attractions, shopping, dining, and entertainment options
  • Offers a unique boutique experience, blending modern elegance with historic charm; with beautifully appointed rooms, contemporary amenities, and personalized service
  • One of the hotel’s standout features is its rooftop bar, offering stunning views of the Savannah River and the city’s historic skyline; unwind with a signature cocktail while taking in the breathtaking views

➑️ Check Availability & Prices at The Drayton Hotel


Mid-Range πŸ’΅ πŸ’΅ Eliza Thompson House

  • Beautifully preserved 19th-century mansion for adults only, providing guests with an authentic Savannah experience steeped in history, with elegant rooms adorned with antiques and period furnishings
  • Offers guests a true taste of Southern hospitality, from the delicious daily breakfast to the evening wine and hors d’oeuvres reception
  • Private, lush garden courtyard is a true oasis where you can relax and unwind amidst the tranquil setting, surrounded by beautiful plants, fountains, and the soothing sounds of nature

➑️ Check availability & prices at Eliza Thompson House


Budget πŸ’΅ – Planters Inn on Reynolds Square

  • Situated on the charming Reynolds Square, this inn offers guests a prime location within the Historic District and is within walking distance to numerous famous attractions
  • Captures the essence of Savannah’s history and charm with its traditional Southern dΓ©cor, featuring elegant four-poster beds, period furnishings, and warm, inviting colors
  • Offers a daily complimentary wine and cheese reception, allowing guests to socialize and unwind after a day of exploring Savannah, which offers an extra touch of warmth and community to the inn

➑️ Check Availability & Prices at Planters Inn on Reynolds Square


a huge oak tree towers over gravestones at the cemetery as the sun sets

Best Ways To Get Around Savannah

Getting around Savannah is easy and convenient thanks to the city’s pedestrian-friendly layout and its various public transportation options. From walking the historic streets to hopping on the free DOT shuttle bus system or enjoying the flexibility of the hop-on-hop-off trolley, visitors can explore Savannah in a way that best suits their needs and preferences.

Walking

Savannah’s Historic District is known for its grid-like layout and beautiful, tree-lined squares, making walking an enjoyable and practical way to explore the city.

With its cobblestone streets and magnificent architecture, there’s always something to see and discover as you stroll through the city.

Walking allows you to take in the sights at your own pace, with plenty of opportunities to stop and appreciate the historic homes, lush gardens, and vibrant local shops and eateries that give Savannah its unique character.

Many of the city’s most popular attractions, including River Street, City Market, and Forsyth Park, are within walking distance, making it easy to plan a route (like ours!) that covers all the must-see spots.

Hop On Hop Off Trolley

The hop-on-hop-off trolley is an excellent option if you are looking for a little less walking but still want flexibility in your day.

These narrated tours offer a comprehensive overview of the city’s history, architecture, and attractions, allowing guests to understand Savannah’s rich heritage better.

With numerous stops throughout the city, the hop-on-hop-off trolley enables you to explore Savannah at your own pace, hopping off at any point of interest and rejoining the tour when you are ready to continue.

The hop-on-hop-off trolley combines the convenience of guided transportation with the freedom to customize your sightseeing experience.

It’s an excellent choice for first-time visitors or those looking to cover a lot of ground in a limited time, say 24 hours.

We choose to do the trolley tour as a quicker way to get around the city and highly recommend it to save your feet and learn about the city.

➑️ Book your Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley tickets

a bench sits in a small courtyard we found during our one day in savannah, ga

Bus

The free DOT Shuttle Bus System is a budget-friendly way to navigate Savannah.

The shuttle operates on two routes – the Downtown Loop and the Forsyth Loop – covering many of the city’s major attractions, including the Historic District, the Savannah Belles Ferry, and the Savannah Visitor Center. It visits more than 20 locations daily between 7 am and 7 pm.

The shuttle buses run approximately every 10 minutes, making it easy to plan your day around their schedule.

The system also offers a real-time shuttle tracker on their website, allowing you to easily plan your trip and minimize wait times.

Tips For Your Savannah One Day Trip

Let’s discuss a few tips to make your day trip to Savannah more enjoyable.

Plan Which Day To Visit Based On What You Want

If you want a quieter experience, visit the city between Sunday and Wednesday. If you are more of a “partier” and thrive on louder, rowdier crowds, then Thursday to Saturday is your best option.

Savannah is a college town, so the city changes into a party atmosphere on weekends. You will find more crowds during this time. This is perfect if that is what you enjoy, but it can be overwhelming if you aren’t expecting it and are more of an introvert.

These crowds won’t necessarily impact you visiting many of the tourist destinations during the day. But areas like River Street, where you will find various bars, will be extra crowded after dark.

spanish moss hangs from trees along the old homes of the historic district, a must see for one day in savannah ga

Make Reservations Ahead Of Time

In addition to all the historic Southern charm, Savannah has some fantastic restaurants. But the most popular ones will fill up, sometimes months in advance.

If you know you want to eat at a special place during your day trip to Savannah, like The Olde Pink House or The Grey, make sure you plan in advance and make some reservations.

Otherwise, you might be disappointed to find out that everywhere is booked, and you are stuck eating at some random deli.

Careful Of The Spanish Moss

If you haven’t been to the South before, you may have never seen or touched Spanish Moss. It hangs from the trees, looks beautiful, and is supposedly infested with bugs.

Specifically, small mites that you can’t see but bite, kind of like noseeums.

We had heard this rumor before our visit, but it actually isn’t true.

If the moss is hanging from the trees, it is likely just fine. Sure, there could be a spider or insect on it, just like you might expect if you picked a leaf off a tree. But it won’t be infested.

On the contrary, be extremely careful of picking up Spanish moss that has fallen to the ground.

This is the point where it may now be infested with insects that might be in the grass, like mites or chiggers. Don’t pick it up, take it back to your room, don’t throw it on your friend’s head, etc.

a tree lined street in Savannah has hanging Spanish moss over the sidewalk

Day Trips Near Savannah

Have a bit more time in the area? Here are a few places we had a chance to visit during our quick visit through the area and recommend.

Tybee Island

If you have done all the exploring you want around Savannah and are ready to enjoy some relaxation, head to the beach on Tybee Island. It is the perfect place to unwind.

This popular vacation spot for tourists and locals alike has beautiful sand beaches.

Take a dip if the weather is warm enough, walk along the beach, and do some coastal bird watching.

If you are on the island, don’t forget to check out the lighthouse and the pier.

Fort Pulaski

If you are interested in Civil War history, Fort Pulaski is only 14 miles from Savannah, near Tybee Island.

The fort traded hands between the troops but is known for the Union Army testing one of the first rifled cannons here in 1862.

Explore the structure, including the moat and draw bridge entrance, and enjoy a reenactment. Make sure to head up to the top of the fort for sprawling views.

Like Savannah, this location also has ties to several movies, including Robert Redford’s The Conspirator.

jones street in savannah, american flags hang outside historic homes along the tree lined sidewalk

FAQs For Visiting Savannah In A Day

Time for a few popular questions about Savannah.

Best Time To Visit Savannah?

The best time to visit Savannah is spring (March-May) and fall (September-November). These seasons offer pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and vibrant scenery, making them ideal for exploring the city’s charm and attractions.

Is One Day Enough To See Savannah?

Yes, one day is enough to see Savannah if you focus on the main highlights. However, to fully appreciate the city’s charm, history, and culture, a longer stay is recommended. A one-day visit will require prioritizing key attractions and a well-planned itinerary that includes the activities you are most interested in.

What Is The Prettiest Street To Walk Down In Savannah?

Jones Street is considered the prettiest street in Savannah. It boasts a picturesque cobblestone road, beautifully restored historic homes, and stunning live oak trees draped with Spanish moss, creating a captivating and enchanting atmosphere.

Is Savannah Worth Visiting?

Savannah is definitely worth visiting for its unique blend of historic architecture, Southern hospitality, beautiful parks, and rich cultural experiences. The city’s charm, picturesque streets, and vibrant food scene create a memorable destination that appeals to history buffs, nature lovers, and food enthusiasts alike.

Is Savannah Safe For Tourists?

Generally, Savannah is safe for tourists. However, it’s important to exercise caution, stay in well-populated areas, and follow common safety practices while exploring the city. Theft is the most common crime in the Historic District, so don’t leave valuables visible in your car, and watch your possessions. Using common sense, you can enjoy a worry-free and memorable experience in Savannah.

the forsyth park fountain at night is magical and the perfect time to visit

To Finish – One Day In Savannah, Ga: Best Things To Do With Just 24 Hours

We only had one day in Savannah, Ga, during our visit to the South. It was a whirlwind of a day, our feet were tired by the end (even with using the trolley), but we had an amazing time.

So even if you can’t devote more time to the city, seeing the historic district with all its impressive green squares and homes is still very much worth a visit.

We hope our itinerary has been helpful. You can undoubtedly switch things around and do them in any order, as many of our suggestions are only minutes apart.

Just ensure you enjoy your time here, as it is a special place we can’t wait to re-visit.