Like a Southern belle with a split personality, this grand historic town revolves around formal antebellum architecture and unbridled public debauchery. It sits alongside the Savannah River, about 18 miles from the coast, amid Lowcountry swamps and mammoth live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss. With its gorgeous mansions, cotton warehouses and Colonial public buildings, Savannah preserves its past with pride, grace and a slight smirk. Unlike its sister city of Charleston, SC, which retains its reputation as a dignified and refined cultural center, Savannah revels in being the bad girl – the town has been described as ‘a beautiful lady with a dirty face,’ and in some ways it resembles a pint-sized New Orleans. Savannah loves its sinful pleasures, be they cheese grits, cocktails, or the bump and grind of partying local students.
Savannah has a somber side, but she never takes herself too seriously. Savannah College of Art & Design – which is known locally as SCAD – has a surprisingly strong presence that keeps the city from getting too staid. The city’s massive St Patrick’s Day celebration is a legendary rite of spring and there is an entire cottage industry catering to those tourists who have heard that Savannah is haunted – curious ghost-hunters are able to arrange to take tours of the city in a chauffeured hearse.
Best places to stay in Savannah
Top 10 places to go in the US in 2011
Here at Lonely Planet, we're passionate about travel. We spend our days thinking about the best places to go, and quite often, wishing we were there. This year, we polled the staff in our US-based office to see what US cities, states or regions were on their list for 2011 and why...
Savannah destination guides
Spooky Savannah: America's Most Haunted City?
Savannah is many things: Absolutely gorgeous, historically fascinating, and full of Old South charisma. But there's a harrowing, dark side to this sassy charmer...
Savannah River Cruise and Hop-on Hop-off Trolley Tour
See Savannah by land and by boat on this combo tour! Take a hop-on hop-off trolley tour to explore the Savannah Historic District, the Victorian District, River Street, Savannah City Market and more. Enjoy live onboard narration on the 1.5-hour loop, and hop off at 15 stops to sightsee by foot.
Savannah Haunted Trolley Tour and 2-day Hop-on Hop-off Pass
Explore Savannah's famous Historic District at your own pace, and learn about the skeletons and ghosts in the city's closet with this flexible sightseeing package. See top Savannah attractions such as River Street, City Market and the Cathedral of St John the Baptist at your own pace with your 2-day hop-on hop-off trolley pass.