Long Weekend Family Vacation: 3 Days in Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia, is a gem of a destination. The city’s laid-back pace allows busy families to recharge and reconnect with each other. And the variety of fun and cost-effective Savannah activities means that your family won’t be spending a fortune to have a memorable vacation.

A long weekend easily fits into most families’ travel plans, and Savannah has no shortage of must-sees for the whole crew to make the most of the trip — from pirates to colonists, and from gators to ghosts.

Here is a three-day itinerary for your family to enjoy a Savannah, Georgia, vacation.

How to Get There

Fly into Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport and pick up your rental car. Drive about 10 miles southeast to downtown Savannah.

Where to Stay

The central location of the Hampton Inn Savannah Historic District makes it convenient to explore museums, restaurants and the riverfront. Enjoy free breakfast and a rooftop pool overlooking the Savannah River.

At the Georgia State Railroad Museum in Savannah, visitors can tour a historic rail car, operate a handcar and ride on a working locomotive. Photo by Judson McCranie.

 

Day 1: Three Museums in One Place

Start your Savannah vacation with a visit to Tricentennial Park, which is just a short walk from much of the Historic District. Home to three museums, the park is a unique mix of living history and play space for families.

At the Savannah History Museum, take a self-guided tour that transports you to 1733, when native tribes and the first European settlers populated the area. Museum installations explore the history of not only Savannah but also the United States. The exhibits “Savannah in the American Revolution” and “Undercover: Quilts, Coverlets & Creativity” showcase Savannah’s role in the American Revolution and Civil War. Other exhibits highlight the city’s artistic and cultural contributions — learn about Juliette Gordon Low, who was the founder of the Girl Scouts and a Savannah resident, and see the bus-stop bench from the movie “Forrest Gump.” (In nearby Chippewa Square, you can sit and make your own movie at the site of this famous film scene.)

Next, head to the Georgia State Railroad Museum, where you can take a ride on a working historic steam or diesel locomotive. As you wander the museum on a guided or self-guided tour, check out a restored private luxury rail car and step inside a model train room, where small-scale trains ride through a partial model of the city.

The final museum in the triad, the Savannah Children’s Museum, is a great place to burn off energy. The entire museum is outdoors, with plenty of interactive exhibits to awaken children’s imaginations. In the sensory garden, kids get hands-on as they learn about healthy lifestyles and the environment.

Can’t-miss food: Just a block from the Savannah River, The Pirates’ House was a working inn for sailors dating to the 1700s. After a renovation in the 1940s, it became a full-service restaurant and bar. Costumed pirates will visit guest tables upon request. The place accepts reservations and has a children’s menu.

Savannah Riverboat Cruises takes guests on a sightseeing tour of riverfront landmarks aboard a multideck paddle-wheel boat.

 

Day 2: Boats and Ghosts

Walk to the Savannah River to greet passing ships. The Port of Savannah is an active seaport with container vessels coming and going worldwide 24 hours a day. Looking north, you’re likely to see tugboats guiding ships into the port under the Talmadge Memorial Bridge. To get an even closer look at the action, board the Savannah Belles Ferry for a free, 30-minute round-trip ride that connects the riverfront with Hutchinson Island (the ferry runs nearly every day, starting at 7 a.m.).

Continue your watercraft adventures with a sightseeing tour aboard Savannah Riverboat Cruises. On this captain-narrated outing, you’ll hear historical facts and tall tales while floating past Savannah riverfront landmarks. If you’re lucky, you’ll experience one of the daily cannon firings at Old Fort Jackson.

Savannah’s intriguing history contributes to its reputation as one of America’s most haunted cities. On the Hearse Ghost Tour, you’ll be picked up in a former hearse with specially designed seating for eight. As you ride through the cemeteries and streets of historic Savannah, your guide will point out the locations of eerie occurrences. The first tour begins at 6 p.m., when it’s not quite dark and shouldn’t be as spooky for kids.

Can’t-miss food: Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room is a Southern soul-food restaurant with family-style seating at tables of 10. There is no set menu; tables are filled with platters of meat — fried chicken, meat loaf, beef stew — and sides for guests to serve themselves. Mrs. Wilkes’ is only open for lunch on weekdays, and it doesn’t accept credit cards or reservations, so plan accordingly.

Have a late-night treat at Leopold’s Ice Cream. This legendary Savannah shop is celebrating its centennial in 2019 and hasn’t changed the recipe in 96 years. It’s known for handcrafted batches of smooth, creamy ice cream in unique flavors, including tutti-frutti, which the founding family claims to have invented in 1919. Leopold’s also offers vegan and dairy-free treats.

Forsyth Fountain, Forsyth Park, Savannah, Georgia Forsyth Fountain provides a picturesque backdrop for family photos while walking the Historic District of Savannah.

 

Day 3: Nature Areas

Spend your final day walking on the wild side of Savannah. Go about a mile from the riverfront to Forsyth Park and visit the iconic Forsyth Fountain. It’s a perfect backdrop for family photos; the wide sidewalks are lined with traditional live oaks and draping Spanish moss that typify Savannah’s landscape.

Next, drive about 18 miles south and east to the University of Georgia Marine Education Center and Aquarium. The interactive research center features a touch tank full of snails and crabs and the opportunity to learn about the uniquely diverse tidal ecosystem along the Georgia coast. Exhibit tanks house lionfish, jellyfish and sea turtles that have been rescued locally.

Close out the day with a visit to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge about 9 miles north of the Historic District. The refuge features more than 30,000 acres of freshwater marshes, tidal rivers and creeks on the former rice fields of plantations from the 1700s. Keep your eyes peeled for alligators and waterfowl, which can be seen from Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive and nearby hiking trails.

Can’t-miss food: The kid-friendly Original Crab Shack on Tybee Island is not too far from the marine center. Its perch on the marshland where the Savannah River meets the Atlantic Ocean gives your family a new and unique view of coastal Georgia.

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About the Author

Kendra Pierson is a homeschooling, Atlanta-based freelance writer, wife and mom of two active boys. You can follow their adventures on LoveLearnTravel.com and Instagram @kendra.pierson.