With its old Southern charm, Savannah is known as a city for the affluent. However, there are also a surprising amount of affordable, and better yet, free things to enjoy when visiting this historic Georgia city. Thanks to sprawling architectural offerings and plenty of public areas, you can enjoy many parts of Savannah without spending a dime.
As its name suggests, this street runs alongside the Savannah River. Although this district is primarily tourist gift shops, it’s set in a historic area with cobblestone roads, riverside views, and art sculptures and monuments. The shops are worth at least a quick peek inside as they offer locally made sweets and have a decent selection of local guide books. You can also find some affordable watering holes along the way.
In addition to the typical tourist fare, you can also enjoy several sculptures along the way. The World War II memorial called “The Cracked Earth” and honors those who served from the Chatham County area. Nearby is the African American Memorial reminding visitors of the history of slavery within the southern region. Other memorials include the Anchor Monument honoring the lives of those lost at sea, the Waving Girl, and many others throughout the city.
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is a perfect example of French Gothic architecture. This beautiful cathedral not only honors St. John the Baptist, but also features moving depictions of the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion. This serene landmark was originally dedicated in the late 1800s and has received only the most necessary renovations throughout the years.
Admission to the Cathedral is free. As it is a religious institution, a small donation is appreciated. In addition to free public access to the main areas, pictures are allowed. Just be sure that your group’s photographers remain respectful to worshipers. Whether you consider yourself a religious person or simply enjoy historic buildings, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist should be a priority stop.
City Market is not your typical shopping experience. By combining classic southern charm and contemporary shopping, as well as live entertainment and local artwork, City Market is a unique district. You can find many local boutiques, specialty shops, and restaurants to enjoy. Open container laws mean you can grab a drink and enjoy a live musician under a shade tree.
Shopping choices run from candy shop goodies and gifts to boutique clothing stores and local jewelers. Taking up hardly any space at all is the local Little Convenience Shoppe, which offers a small selection of gifts and pick-me-ups.
From cheap eats to upscale dining, there is a surprising variety of restaurant choices. Whether you’re looking for typical pub menu items at Wet Willies or an elegant meal of steak and seafood at the award-winning (and aptly named) Belford’s Seafood and Steaks, you can find something for everyone to enjoy.
The unmistakable funeral veil-like visage of the Spanish Moss trees hanging listlessly above ancient tombs and headstones makes Bonaventure Cemetery look like it sprang straight out of a Hollywood ghost story. In fact, some believe that Disney lifted many of its spooky elements for its famed Haunted Mansion attraction from areas in the city like this.
From ghost-seeking enthusiasts to those looking for a peaceful outdoor walk, many guests visit Bonaventure Cemetery. And considering that it opened its gates over 150 years ago, it certainly has an otherworldly charm about it that you don’t experience elsewhere.
Savannah Belles Ferry
I’m not sure why, but riding on a steamboat, real or replica, just feels American. You can let your inner river adventurist out on the Savannah Belles Ferry. This company offers four ferry boats, each one named after a prominent female historical figure from the city. Each ferry transports visitors several times per hour. Learn about run times at the Chatham Area Transit website.
This on-the-water view of the city is spectacular and connects travelers conveniently from the historic downtown to the modern Savannah International Trade & Convention Center. No matter where your itinerary is taking you, do yourself a favor and hop a ride; if nothing else, it’s free transportation.