Savannah, Georgia is reminiscent of a slower paced way of life. Steeped in history and Southern charm, it’s easy to see how Savannah earned the nickname “Hostess City of the South.” The historical downtown area is still laid out in the original squares designed by General James Oglethorpe in 1733. History buffs could spend months exploring the history, but it’s harder to explore with children. We’ve found fun family-friendly ideas for Savannah, Georgia that will allow the adults to explore, but keep the kids content too.
1. Old Town Trolley tours offers an exceptional “hop on-hop off” trolley package. We began our day by taking the complete guided trolley tour, which lasts approximately an hour. Our guide shared interesting historical facts and highlights of the city. Because the trolley drives slowly through the city, it was easy to snap pictures of attractions. Once we completed the tour, we enjoyed “on-off” privileges for the rest of the day at the 15 trolley stops located around the city. This saved trying to navigate the city in our vehicle and find parking. Plus, it’s much easier to ride with small children than walk!
Their online GPS tool is helpful too. At first we wandered around the city, trying to use our map to direct us to trolley stops. The GPS tool allows users to easily find the next trolley stop and determine the amount of time before the next trolley arrives. One important note to remember: from August to March the trolleys run from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM. You must be at a trolley stop by 5 PM if you want to ride back to your original destination.
2. Forsyth Park is the largest park in downtown Savannah and has everything for the family! It’s pet-friendly and has two playgrounds for the children. On weekends, Forsyth Park hosts a farmer’s market filled with local goodies. One of the highlights of the park is the beautiful Forsyth Park Fountain, which was built in 1858. Can you believe this fountain was purchased through mail order and shipped to Savannah for assembly?
Forsyth Park is the perfect spot to stop, relax and unwind. Bonus! They have spacious and clean public restrooms in the Forsyth Park Cafe. The park is open from sunrise until sunset.
3. Leopold’s Ice Cream Shop We were intrigued when we discovered that Leopold’s Ice Cream shop had been in business almost 100 years, since 1919. It has to be good to be in business that long! Then we were informed by our trolley tour guide that Leopold’s was consistently ranked as one of the top ten best ice creams in the world. We hopped off at the next stop to see for ourselves.
Leopold’s is a classic old fashioned ice cream fountain, decorated much the same as it would have been originally, using the black marble soda fountain, wooden back bar and telephone booth from the original Leopold’s location. The ice cream is available in a cup or in a fountain glass and all the choices look delicious. I finally settled on the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip. Once I tasted it I wished I had ordered a larger size! Leopold’s is located on Broughton Street, but be warned; the line for ice cream can be long.
4. River Street Once a warehouse district for the cotton industry, today River Street is a bustling area of shops and restaurants. Located by the Savannah River, you can stroll down the streets created with 200-year-old cobblestones, people watch, shop, eat and listen to street performers. If you’re brave you can climb the historic stairs (very steep and designated with a sign saying, “Climb at your own risk.” Be sure to walk down to see the historic waving girl statue.
5. Savannah Riverboat Cruises Much of the history of Savannah can be attributed to its location near the water. The River Sightseeing Tour is a wonderful way to relax and enjoy the nautical history of the city. We took one of the afternoon Harbor cruises, a 1 1/2 hour tour. The atmosphere was relaxed and casual. The ship travels up the river, passing the ports, while the Captain explains how the Savannah River has evolved over time as an important waterway for the delivery of goods from around the world.
Cruising down the river, we were told the true story behind the Waving Girl statue. The cruise also passes Old Fort Jackson, where, if you are lucky, you can hear the daily cannon fire. Our Captain informed us of the history of Old Fort Jackson and the parts it played in both the American Revolution and the Civil War. If you get hungry on the cruise, a concession stand is available which serves snacks and drinks. Tip: Even on a fairly warm fall afternoon, the wind can be quite brisk on the ship. Take a jacket.
6. The Pirate’s House is steeped in mystery and legend. It was originally a pub where men met for a drink, only to wake up and find themselves aboard a ship, shanghaied into service. The underground passageways where the men were dragged to their destiny have been sealed, but many say the souls of the departed still dwell here. Later, the Pirate’s House served as the inspiration for Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Today, the Pirate’s House is a restaurant where they serve a delicious lunch buffet, including crispy fried chicken. A pirate awaits outside to direct you to the entrance, adding a touch of history from the moment you walk up to the restaurant. You can make reservations as the Pirate’s House tends to be busy in the evenings.
Have you visited Savannah? What are your favorite family-friendly activities?