Lowcountry charm oozes from Savannah’s cobblestone streets and moss-covered trees, and it is brimming with options for a great family getaway. Georgia’s oldest city was a strategic port during both the American Revolution and the Civil War and continues to be a bustling seaport today. Savannah has plenty to keep your family engaged for a long weekend and then some.
Get your bearings as you explore Savannah’s parklike historic squares. There are 22 scattered around the city and several are near Forsyth Park, the most popular. Forsyth was built in the 1840s and is particularly known for its beautiful fountain. Afterward, walk along Jones Street, voted one of the prettiest streets in America, and then try lunch at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room. There will be a line at this local institution, which serves meals communal-style with just about every Southern home cooking favorite imaginable. (Mrs. Wilkes opens at 11 a.m. and only takes cash.)
After lunch, walk toward the waterfront and take a peek at all the activity along River Street. Younger children may enjoy taking one of the Savannah trolley tours this afternoon to cover more ground with minimal effort, especially in the heat. Older kids and teens might be interested in the nearby Owen-Thomas House, an antebellum home offering tours of the property and its old slave quarters, or a visit to First African Baptist Church, the first black church in North America.
Afterward, everyone will enjoy a break for ice cream at Leopold’s. “The spot” for ice cream in Savannah, Leopold’s is an old-fashioned soda shop that has been serving its homemade treats since 1919.
If you dare, check out one of the local ghost tours tonight to bring Savannah’s notable haunted history to life — beginning in the 1700s when pirates made their mark on the area.
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Grab a flaky croissant (and coffee for mom and dad) at the gorgeous Paris Market and Brocante, and then head to the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace. This 1821 childhood home of the founder of the Girl Scouts is a national historic landmark, and the guides are pros at engaging kids.
Have lunch in town and then head 15 minutes east to Fort Pulaski National Monument, a 19th-century fort occupied by the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Its moats, ramparts and tunnels remain intact and make great places to let kids roam and explore. Be sure to check out the walking trails with views of the marsh and Savannah River. Extra points for anyone who spots one of the fort’s 11 protected species, including loggerhead sea turtles and bald eagles.
Tonight, consider a Savannah Bananas baseball game for some good old-fashioned family fun. The Bananas feature top college players from around the country and play in the Coastal Plain League. Their focus is on entertainment and making every game a memorable event for the fans, and they often sell out.
Today is a day to pick and choose based on your family’s particular interests.
If your kids like art…
Savannah Children’s Museum will entertain the youngest of fans with arts and crafts, storytime and water play. ArtZeum, a hands-on gallery that encourages kids to explore at the Telfair Museum, will be a great morning for elementary schoolers and up. Older kids and teens will appreciate SCAD, a contemporary art museum affiliated with the Savannah College of Art & Design.
If your kids like nature…
Oatland Island Wildlife Center, about 15 minutes southeast of Savannah, is a compact way to explore regional wildlife. Explore the trails and views and get a peek at animals including wolves, foxes, bobcats and birds of prey. If underwater habitats are more appealing, check out The University of Georgia Aquarium & Marine Education Center to learn about Georgia’s diverse marine life.
If your kids like vehicles and all things that move…
Located in Tricentennial Park, Georgia State Railroad Museum is an exciting national historic landmark. Explore period railcars, see a large model train layout of Savannah and experience a huge operating turntable in action. Note: the Georgia State Railroad Museum is in the same complex as the Savannah Children’s Museum.
Older kids and teens might enjoy the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum. Dedicated to the stories and history of those who have served the Eighth Air Force from World War II to the present day, this museum is about 30 minutes west of Savannah. Visitors can explore exhibits explaining the history of bombing missions that were used against Hitler’s Reich, and even experience what it would have been like to fly a B-17 bomber with the museum’s interactive flight simulator.
If you have an additional day or longer, explore some of the other options for day three or consider visiting Hilton Head, South Carolina, a nearby family-friendly beach that is a whole vacation destination unto itself. One of our favorite resorts with kids, the Montage Palmetto Bluff, is an easy drive across the South Carolina border.
Editor’s Note: Photos by Visit Savannah.
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