Savannah, Georgia is a beautiful, artsy town (thanks in part to the Savannah College of Art and Design) near the border of South Carolina. It’s relaxed, it’s laid back, there are plenty of outdoor places and spaces to enjoy for free, and it has a rich southern history. All in all it’s a great place to visit and won’t cost you as much as many other popular destinations in the U.S.
Free Things to do in Savannah
Don your walking shoes because you’ll be hitting the streets!
City Market: Only pedestrians tread here. The cobblestone streets and planters offer plenty of places to sit, unwind and take in the beauty of the area. In between browsing eclectic shops and art galleries, that is. It’s also where you can hop on a horse-drawn carriage tour of the city (not free) and pick up a map of the area to chart your course. No kitschy souvenirs here!
Fun on River Street: It seems like there’s almost always something happening on River Street. Dog Days, Bacon Fest, concerts. If you happen to be in town on the first weekend of the moth between March-December you can see free Fireworks on Friday night which are often accompanied by music and vendors. For a schedule, check out riverstreetsavannah.com.
Forsyth Park: It also seems like there’s always something going on at this popular park. On Saturdays check out the farmers market and pick up some fresh cheese and veggies. There are often free concerts by SCAD alumni and outdoor movies. Check out what’s coming up on their facebook page.
Art: An art march south of Forsyth Park on the first Friday of the month during the summer and early fall offers onlookers a chance to check out new gallery shows, art scavenger hunts, and generally enjoy an evening out on the town. There’s no cost to browse! But art goes well with coffee, so grab a mug at any one of the cafes on the route and enjoy. For dates and maps visit artmarchsavannah.com.
Our Favorite Things
They may not be free, but they come highly recommended.
Horse-drawn carriage tour: Most towns with a history as rich and storied as Savannah (and many that do not) offer bus or walking tours, but it’s not everyday you can learn about the quirks and historical tidbits of an area via a carriage. The tour guides are usually fun and personable and offer insight into the city that is far from boring. Tours are $20 for adults, $10 for kids 5-11 and free for the anyone younger.
Oakland Island Wildlife Center: It’s only $5 for adults to get in, $3 for children 4-17 and free for anyone younger. The Center is all about conservation, education and discovery and offers lots of programs and opportunities to see wild animals up close and personal. There are bobcats, bison, wolves and turtles and lots of walking in between the exhibits in the great outdoors, so wear comfortable shoes. Don’t forget your camera!
Lucas Theatre for the Arts: There are certainly plenty of upscale and professional live shows (music and theatre) here at the Lucas Theatre, but if you’re looking for entertainment for less, don’t miss the theatre’s Summer movie series. “Spaceballs” and “Alien” are two scheduled for 2014 and tickets are only $8, $5 for students, seniors or military. Show up 60-30 minutes early and enjoy half price beer and popcorn specials! Check out their schedule here.
Grab a Bite
There are no shortage of locally-owned restaurants in Savannah and many of them are budget-friendly. Pick one and enjoy!
The Funky Brunch Cafe: This breakfast and lunch joint is one of a kind. The decor is lively and fun, there are bright colors on the walls and a courtyard with hopscotch and sidewalk chalk for the kids (or kids at heart), but the real draw is the griddles built into about half of the restaurant’s tables. That’s right: griddles. Sure, you can order a normal brunch like french toast or omletes be delivered to your table…or you could make your own. One brunch option is to have pancake batter delivered to your table with one or all of your favorite toppings and mix-ins and have fun pouring and flipping them yourself. Forget about your mother telling you not to play with your food. Here it’s highly recommended. And go ahead, get a mimosa or bloody Mary to go with your eggs. Meals hover around the $8 mark and are filling to boot. On weekends it’s much busier so if you can, save this one for a weekday or go before or after peak brunch hours.
The Sentient Bean: Organic fair trade coffee, a wide variety of tea and even a solid handful of vegan and vegetarian lunch options are available at this laid back coffee shop. It’s not swank and upscale with it’s mismatched mugs and seating, but there is usually local art on the walls and local musicians playing in the evenings. Try the giant vegan breakfast burrito with curried tofu scramble and vegan sausage with a latte. It’s big enough to share and if you like you can get it to go and enjoy it in Forsyth Park across the road.
The Mellow Mushroom: I know it’s a chain, but they’re not everywhere, so if you’ve never been, give it a go. The decor is nothing less than psychedelic and the pizza is good, too. There are even vegan and gluten free pizza options with vegan and gluten free crust and cheese. Split a pie with friends and you’re looking at less than $10 per meal.
Money Saving Tips
Ditch the car: Sure it’s an easy way to get from here to there, and parking is available just about everywhere, but most of it is metered, so you’re going to pay. If you’re able, wear comfortable shoes and walk or bring your bike along. There are bicycle rentals near City Market, but they’re not free, either, so weigh your options.
Pick up a copy of Connect Savannah, a weekly publication full of local news, entertainment and events, and find out what cheap or free attractions are available on the days you’ll be in town. Or check out visitsavannah.com for a list of scheduled events.
Savannah is beautiful, full of history and a great place to visit when you just want to sit back on someone else’s porch in someone else’s rocking chair and relax with a frosty iced tea or mint julep. It’s history, it’s romance, it’s outdoors. It’s Savannah. Enjoy it!