Savannah: History, Art and Outdoor Fun
Savannah has a little bit of something for everyone, whether your idea of paradise is lounging at the beach, exploring the ruins of an 18th-century plantation or admiring a one-of-a-kind painting. Thanks to the city’s countless museums, fascinating historic sites, ample green space and beloved beach, there’s never a shortage of activities to keep you busy.
Savannah has a surprising number of museums, a testament to Savannahians’ thirst for history, art and culture. The Telfair Museums operate three sites: The Telfair Academy, the oldest public art museum in the South, features 19th- and 20th-century paintings, works on paper, decorative arts and sculptures. The Jepson Center is a 64,000-square-foot modern art museum with an impressive permanent collection and a two-story, interactive kids’ gallery for children and their families. The Telfairs’ Owens-Thomas House, considered one of the finest examples of English Regency architecture in America, boasts a decorative arts collection including original 19th-century furnishings.
The SCAD Museum of Art features a permanent collection with works by artists such as Dalí, Warhol and Picasso, along with unique visiting exhibitions.
Savannah also has several historical museums, among them the Savannah History Museum, Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum and Pin Point Heritage Museum, along with several family friendly museums, including the Savannah Children’s Museum and Georgia State Railroad Museum.
History buffs will be mesmerized by Savannah’s historic treasures. The city’s National Historic Landmark District — the largest in the nation — features 22 public squares filled with fascinating monuments and impressive 18th- and 19th-century homes and buildings, including the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, home of the founder of the Girl Scouts of the USA. Some of the most intriguing historic sites are located on the outskirts of the city, among them Fort Pulaski National Monument and Old Fort Jackson, two intact Civil War-era forts, and Wormsloe Plantation, a former 18th-century plantation.
Savannah has numerous parks and squares that are perfect for strolls, picnics, frolicking and more. Forsyth Park, a 30-acre park on the edge of the city’s Historic District, features vast green space, two playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts, a magnificent fountain, monuments, a band shell and a café. The Historic District is also home to 22 public squares, which boast green space, benches and monuments.
Savannah’s recreational parks include Daffin Park, which features a two-mile paved walking trail, lake and tennis courts, and Lake Mayer, a 75-acre park with a lake, one-and-a-half-mile paved track, playground, baseball field, tennis courts, basketball courts, hockey rink and more.
Hiking and nature watching are plentiful at Skidaway Island State Park, a 588-acre park that borders the Intracoastal Waterway. Nature lovers will adore the Savannah-Ogeechee Barge Canal, a historic canal that features more than 5 miles of hiking trails and 200 acres of swamp and woodland.
One of Savannah’s most beloved attractions is Tybee Island, a laid-back beach town just 20 minutes from downtown Savannah. Tybee boasts five miles of Atlantic Ocean beaches, a public pier, lighthouse and marine science center, plus lots of casual restaurants and shops.
There’s no shortage of kids’ activities in Savannah, with favorites including the Jepson Center’s interactive ArtZeum and the Savannah Children’s Museum, a multilevel outdoor play space. Mini train buffs go crazy for the antique locomotives and impressive miniature train display at the Georgia State Railroad Museum.
The animal kingdom comes alive at Oatland Island Wildlife Center, which features miles of walking trails and an array of animals including bald eagles, cougars, falcons, wolves, bobcats, red foxes, bison, owls, alligators and more. For kids who prefer sea creatures, the University of Georgia Marine Education Center and Aquarium on Skidaway Island features 16 exhibit tanks that showcase the area’s varied marine life.
And of course Savannah has its fair share of fun indoor attractions, including soft play areas and carousels at both malls, inflatable play centers, arcades, bowling alleys and more.