The Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, a 15 minute drive from downtown and then further along its scenic four mile driving trail, is the likeliest place to find alligators, wetland birds, and bobcats. In the opposite direction sits Skidaway Island State Park, a lesser known area featuring walking trails through brush and over marshland. Nearby kayak outfitters offer a view of the backcountry wildlife while floating down the Skidaway River.
The Mercer-Williams House Museum, notorious as the murder mystery location in the nonfiction novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, hosts tours dedicated to the restoration of the historic home. Additionally, the famous "Bird Girl" statue on the cover of said book is housed in the Jepson Center for the Arts downtown.
Best Day Trip
Jekyll Island is a barrier island on the coast between Savannah and the Florida border. Here, Driftwood Beach and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center are mandatory stops. The former Jekyll Island Club, known as "the richest, most inaccessible club in the world" in the early 1900s, has become the Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark, an ongoing restoration and preservation project.
Off the Beaten Path
Tybee Island is well known as Savannah's beach attraction; however, at the tail end of Highway 80 (Butler Avenue), past the popular Tybee Beach Pier and Pavilion, is a small lane leading out to the Chatham Ave. Beach Access. Here the Tybee Creek flows into the Atlantic, and the sandbar stretches out to the horizon at low tide.
Most Iconic Place
Bonaventure Cemetery, the original home of the "Bird Girl" statue, made iconic in scenes from the film adaptation of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, lies just outside the city along the Wilmington River. The cemetery serves as the resting ground for poet Conrad Aiken and songwriter Johnny Mercer, along with many famous figures throughout Savannah's history.
West Congress Street offers an array of after-hours options, from a raucous karaoke joint with peanuts in the shell to a snazzy Irish pub. Note the downtown Historic District has an open container policy (like New Orleans), but that liquor cannot be purchased on Sundays before 12:30 p.m.
Wormsloe Historic Site lies between downtown Savannah and Skidaway Island on the Isle of Hope. Once a large colonial estate, the ruins of the original Wormsloe estate are found down a picturesque, oak tree-lined track, with the ever present Spanish moss hanging down through the canopy. At certain times of the year, the site hosts events and programs with period actors demonstrating skills of the area's early settlers.
Neighborhood to Explore
City Market, a relaxed, pedestrian-only zone, serves as the place to find a local pizza institution favored by locals and tourists alike, and the starting point for an after-dinner, horse-drawn carriage ride. The Market area borders Ellis Square, a newly restored and lively public space.
The famous bus stop scene in Forrest Gump comes to life in Chippewa Square. Though the exact bench is not to be found, many line the paths facing the James Oglethorpe monument. A popular local café and gallery sits at the edge of the square with plenty of tables along the sidewalk.
Best Coffee Shop
Sentient Bean, a vegetarian café popular with locals, sits at the southern end of Forsythe Park. The inside is bright and airy; the coffee is 100% fair trade, organic, and available in bulk. The Bean, as it's affectionately known, also hosts live music, open mic events, and a "Psychotronic Film Night."