What to do and see in Savannah, Georgia (GA): The Best Free Things to do

January 25, 2022 Myesha Cogley

Charming Savannah is the picture of antebellum hospitality, thanks to period architecture and oak-lined streets. It’s tempting to spend your trip just relaxing on vast verandas and sipping mint juleps, but there are plenty of historical sites and museums to explore. Haunting (and possibly haunted) Bonaventure Cemetery is one of the hallmarks of the city, featuring beautiful obelisks, masses of flowers, and ivy-covered crypts. Dine on fresh seafood and creamy grits for a taste of Savannah home cooking.
Restaurants in Savannah

1. Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

222 E Harris St, Savannah, GA 31401-4616 +1 912-233-4709 [email protected] http://www.savannahcathedral.org/
Excellent
83%
Good
14%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5.0 based on 9,384 reviews

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

The oldest Roman Catholic church in Georgia.

Reviewed By P5560OMamym

This enormous Cathedral is in the heart of historic Savannah and is an exotically prayerful & powerful landmark for which to visit, admire, study, film and light a candle.

2. Savannah Historic District

301 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Savannah, GA 31401-4217 +1 912-944-0455 http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/geo-flor/1.htm
Excellent
83%
Good
14%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5.0 based on 14,018 reviews

Savannah Historic District

Savannah's picturesque historic district brings the traditional southern atmosphere to life.

Reviewed By mmwinters

The Savannah historic district will thrill those who love American history, especially colonial or civil war times; African American history; art and architecture; seafood or southern foods; trees and landscaping; fountains and sculptures. Several convenient modes of travel will help you get around - trolleys, horse-drawn carriages, Uber type services, and the free DOT bus system. Parking for cars is limited. I think it would be difficult to try to see things with your personal car. Be sure to wear a good pair of walking shoes and stay hydrated. It’s hard to recommend the “best” things to see and do. As a history lover, I wanted to see it ALL and hope to return someday to see the places I couldn’t get worked in. I think Savannah, budding and blooming in the spring, would be the most beautiful time to tour. August is very hot and humid, but bearable because the the sites are just so darned interesting and the beach is nearby!

3. Savannah College of Art and Design

Kiah Hall, 227 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Savannah, GA 31402-2072 +1 912-525-7191 [email protected] http://www.scad.edu/
Excellent
83%
Good
16%
Satisfactory
2%
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0%
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5.0 based on 116 reviews

Savannah College of Art and Design

Reviewed By Queenbia22 - Montreal, Canada

Great little intro to the SCAD and it’s history! What a great school and a big part of Savannah’s history and culture

4. Bonaventure Cemetery

330 Bonaventure Rd, Savannah, GA 31404-3295 +1 912-651-6843 http://www.bonaventurehistorical.org/
Excellent
71%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 6,548 reviews

Bonaventure Cemetery

Bonaventure Cemetery was developed on the historically-significant site of Bonaventure Plantation. The peaceful setting rests on a scenic bluff of the Wilmington River, east of Savannah. The site was purchased for a private cemetery in 1846 and became a public cemetery in 1907. Citizens and others can still purchase interment rights in Bonaventure. This charming site has been a world famous tourist destination for more than 150 years due to the old tree-lined roadways, the many notable persons interred, the unique cemetery sculpture and architecture, and the folklore associated with the site and the people. The entrance to the cemetery is located at 330 Bonaventure Road and is the largest of the municipal cemeteries containing nearly 100 acres. The cemetery is open to the public daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. . The main office of the Department of Cemeteries is located in the Bonaventure Administrative Building at the entrance.

Reviewed By 866TaylorB - Chicago, United States

Established in 1846 and covering nearly 160 acres on a scenic bluff overlooking the Wilmington River, east of Savannah, Georgia, the Bonaventure Cemetery is the largest of the city's municipal cemeteries. In recent years, it has become one of Savannah's most popular tourist attractions, primarily due to its role in John Berendt's best-selling book "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," which was turned into a movie directed by Clint Eastwood. The cover of the book features the "Bird Girl," an evocative sculpture which used to reside in the cemetery. After going virtually unnoticed for over 50 years, it was relocated from the cemetery in 1997 for display in the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah. Many of the city's statesmen, prominent citizens and soldiers are buried in Bonaventure Cemetery in the shade of 250-year-old moss-laden oak trees, including Savannah founders Noble Wimberly Jones and Edward Telfair. Five Civil War generals and one admiral are buried there. So is singer, lyricist and composer Johnny Mercer and poet Conrad Aiken. In a cemetery of many unusual tombstones, perhaps one of the most unique is one in the shape of a piano, Mercer's grave site. The interesting tombstones and vaults and mausoleums, the colorful azaleas and camellias and the old oak, dogwood and magnolia trees have made the cemetery one of the most photographed in the country. The cemetery is open from dusk to dawn with tours available at the Bonaventure Historical Society Visitor's Center. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.

5. Colonial Park Cemetery

200 Abercorn St, Savannah, GA 31401 +1 912-651-6843 http://www.savannahga.gov/879/Colonial-Park-Cemetery
Excellent
55%
Good
36%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
1%
Terrible
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Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1,730 reviews

Colonial Park Cemetery

The city's oldest cemetery, with family plots dating back to the 1700s.

Reviewed By trmdwelk - Centreville, United States

Not only is this a beautiful place to stroll but it is packed with history all around! Best of all, the city has placed many historic markers that share the story of the many important Americans who rest here and even if all you do is go from marker to marker, you'll have a great visit. But don't miss two important elements of this resting ground, the first of which are the many headstones that have been separated from their owners, posted along the back wall, which tell moving stories on their own. Second, look for the several headstones "humorously modified" by Union soldiers in 1864-65, like the man who died at 143 years of age - it's a fun sort of treasure hunt!

6. Johnson Square

Bull Street Between Bryan and Congress Streets, Savannah, GA
Excellent
56%
Good
36%
Satisfactory
8%
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0%
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4.5 based on 80 reviews

Johnson Square

A city square lined by giant oak trees and an obelisk honoring Nathanael Greene, a New England-born general.

Reviewed By Z7475THjasonj - Bristol, United States

Really like how the city has all of these squares with giant live oaks in them. Really tranquil place to just sit and people watch or just have some peace and quiet. This particular square is not very large but it is right across from the pink house restaurant. The habersham family used to own it and it is an expensive restaurant now.

7. Reynolds Square

Abercorn Street Between East Bryant and East Congress Streets, Savannah, GA 31401
Excellent
60%
Good
37%
Satisfactory
3%
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0%
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4.5 based on 68 reviews

Reynolds Square

City square with a statue of John Wesley and the Lucas Theater, which is being restored to its architectural glory of the 1920s.

Reviewed By RonWamberal - Sydney, Australia

Enjoyed the square both because of its beauty and location - walked through it a few times as it was central to most of my activities but what was most fascinating was the statue and history of John Wesley. Had no idea of his involvement here and it was quite an eye opener. Lovely square to sit and relax as so many people were doing.

8. Wright Square

Bull Street Between West State and West York Streets, Savannah, GA
Excellent
47%
Good
45%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
0%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 53 reviews

Wright Square

The monument in the middle of this historic square honors railroad magnate W.W. Gordon.

Reviewed By Texasirishblonde - Belton, United States

Sitting on the corner of State St and Bull St- it has an interesting history. The square contains 2 monuments one dedicated to William Washington Gordon and one to Tomo-Chi-Chi. It also has been nicknamed The Hanging Square because the first hanging in Savannah took place here. Alice Riley an Irish indentured servant was accused of murdering her abusive master by slitting his throat. She was pregnant at the time so they held her in jail until the birth of her son and hanged her immediately after giving birth. Unfortunately, her son died soon after because no one would assume care of an infant whose mother committed a crime. Incidentally, the old jail sits on the corner of the square and now houses a CVS Pharmacy. The pharmacy is the only CVS that closes early due to repeated reports of paranormal activity. The "hanging tree" still sits in the square and its branches overhang the pathway.

9. Oglethorpe Square

112 E State St Between E State St. And E York St. At Abercorn St, Savannah, GA 31401-3715 +1 912-354-8560 http://www.oglethorpeinn.com
Excellent
44%
Good
43%
Satisfactory
13%
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0%
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4.5 based on 70 reviews

Oglethorpe Square

Town square named for Georgia's founder, James Oglethorpe.

Reviewed By TXMARTINS - Atlanta, United States

Charming large square with huge sweeping moss trees, a bubbly fountain and tons of benches. Surrounded by some stunning homes this is great place you will often find locals at. This fountain is known to be died green for St Patty’s.

10. Chippewa Square

Bull Street Between Hull Street and Perry Street, Savannah, GA 31401 +1 912-351-3837 http://savannahga.gov/index.aspx
Excellent
55%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
11%
Poor
1%
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Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 575 reviews

Chippewa Square

Many historic attractions are located at this city square, which is named for the Battle of Chippewa in the War of 1812.

Reviewed By TheExplorerFamily - Somerset, United States

This pretty square is located on Bull Street – right in the path of several of our tour destinations. It was laid out in 1815, and named for the Battle of Chippewa during the War of 1812. In the center there is a 9-foor Bronze Statue of James Edward Oglethorpe – the great soldier and philanthropist who founded the Colony of Georgia. The four Lions at the corners of the huge base hold the Coat of Arms of Oglethorpe, plus the great Seals of the Colony of Georgia, the State of Georgia and the City of Savannah. The Statue faces Southward symbolizing the warding off the threat of Spain's imperial ambitions to the young colony. The artist who created this impressive Memorial Statue, completed in 1910, was one of America’s foremost sculptors – Daniel Chester French (very famous for his collaboration with Henry Bacon to create the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC). The Square is shady and soothing, and most people visit it expecting to see the bench occupied by Forrest Gump in the movie of the same name with Tom Hanks as the actor. Of course the famous bench was only there for the movie, and can be seen in the Museum of History near the Visitor Center. Just like the other lovely Squares, this one is also worth visiting.

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