It’s a running joke in the South that how you greet someone can reveal volumes about where you are from. For instance, in Atlanta, they ask, “What do you do for a living?” In Charlotte, they ask, “Where are you from?” In Charleston, it’s “What’s your mother’s maiden name?” and in Savannah, it’s “What are you drinking?”

It’s not that the refreshments are boozy, but more that the Hostess City is dripping with Southern charm – there’s always a pitcher of sweet tea stocked in the fridge to welcome visitors of all ages.

In addition to the hospitality extended by locals, there’s also a plethora of attractions, activities and intentionally-designed streets inviting families with children to make this their next vacation destination.

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Is Savannah good for kids?

There’s something about the relaxed pace and viridescent spaces that draw families to every corner of Savannah’s iconic squares.

Wide, flat, paved streets are sparsely crowded and shaded courtyards are easy to navigate by foot. Given its claim to fame as America’s first planned city, one wonders if founder James Oglethorpe had envisioned a city filled with women pushing perambulators and small children swarming its impeccably manicured squares. Public garages are conveniently located throughout downtown so families can find a spot to park, pop open even a double stroller and start walking through the town comfortably.

But don’t be fooled by this sleepy city’s pace or that relaxed Southern drawl. From Tybee Beach to the riverfront, playgrounds to cemeteries, and trolleys to the Savannah Belles Ferry, this city bursts with a variety of scenery and modes of transportation to keep families engaged and on the move.

Families walking around Forsyth Park in Savannah, Georgia
Forsyth Park has lots of open green spaces for tiny tots to play in © Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock

Best things to do in Savannah with babies and toddlers

Engage in hands-on play at the Children’s Museum

While it’s still cool in the morning, head to the Children’s Museum, a rainbow labyrinth situated outdoors on the grounds of an old railroad station. Amidst the brick archways of what once was the Central of Georgia Railway Carpentry Shop, young children can feed their curiosity with hands-on play. They can explore a dizzying maze constructed of multicolor wooden panels, build towers with Legos or life-size blocks, and slide down winding chutes or scale walls.

Unlike typical indoor facilities in other cities, Savannah’s Children’s Museum doesn’t feel like the chaotic frenzy of parents chasing after kids as they run from one station to another. The outdoor experience muffles noise and tempers moods to produce an easy-going play environment that adults can appreciate.

Access to the play area is provided via the Georgia State Railroad Museum, so little ones will also be able to see actual rail cars.

Stroll the squares of downtown Savannah and Forsyth Park

The South’s history springs to life in the streets of the old town, where live oaks draped in Spanish moss, marble and cast iron statues and Georgian architecture whisper stories of its colonial and post-Civil War past.

It’s possible to explore independently, but a 90-minute guided walking tour provides more detail into the tales of the tall Yamacraw chief Tomochichi, who assisted Oglethorpe in settling the area; of Catherine Greene, who invited Eli Whitney to the region before supporting him in developing the cotton gin; and of General William Sherman, who, for reasons still not confirmed today, seemed to have left Savannah unscathed after burning down many other Southern towns on his quest to defeat Confederate forces.

For children who may not have the patience to walk for 90 minutes, a hop-on-hop-off trolley tour extends all-day access to visitors across about 15 stops. This may be ideal for kids who grow restless or families who need more frequent breaks.

Splash around at the Riverside Fountain

As a Southern coastal town surrounded by marshes, Savannah heats up regardless of the season. Temperatures in the sixties during winter offer some reprieve, but visitors who spend the day exploring on foot are still likely to warm up quickly.

To stay cool, kids can scamper through the streams at the splash pad just outside of the Plant Riverside District, where there are also clothing, beauty and gift boutiques for parents to shop locally. The Plant Riverside District houses restaurants and event venues along the Savannah River.

Two women walking through Savannah with their daughter between them, all holding hands
Savannah is the perfect family vacation spot for every age © Getty Images / Tetra images RF

Best things to do in Savannah with kids

Satisfy their cravings at the sweet shops

The gooey treats at River Street Sweets are bound to beckon to little ones. Wall-to-wall displays showcase an assortment of luscious, gummy, chocolate-dipped varieties, from freshly glazed pecans and crunchy brittle to barrels of glossy lollipops and hard candies.

Visitors can witness staff stirring Georgia pecans in copper kettles and coating them in a sticky mix of cream, butter and sugar to make their signature pralines.

If it’s the heat you’re trying to beat, endure a few more minutes of the humidity by waiting in line for Leopold's Ice Cream. A buttery scoop of Chocolate Chewies & Cream on a crispy waffle cone or a fizzy float offers the ideal midday pick-me-up.

Look for animals at wildlife sanctuaries

Slather on the sunscreen and bug spray for an adventure across Savannah’s surrounding marshlands. At the Savannah Wildlife Refuge, little ones can scour coastal ecosystems for alligators, migratory birds and turtles while traipsing along the miles of short and flat trails through the freshwater marshes and coastal forest.

If taking a rideshare to the refuge, request to be driven to the main wildlife viewing area (not the Visitor Center). The Visitor Center is miles from the wildlife drive, and there is no transportation available between the two, where cell phone service is also spotty.

Families who prefer an indoor sensory experience can view critters at the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium. See marine life such as alligators, seahorses or longnose gar housed in one of its 16 tanks, and even touch species like the knobbed whelk or hermit crab at one of their touch tanks.

Plan a beach day at Tybee Island

Spend a day along the sudsy shoreline of Tybee Island, building sandcastles and bouncing in the waves. Consider yourself lucky if you can find a spot to pitch your umbrella and lay out a towel, as crowds from all walks of life flock to Tybee Beach, especially in the summertime.

Families with tiny tots can spend the day basking on the sand, while those with children ages five and up can rent a jet ski or kayak with kids in tow. Rentals are available near the beach pier and pavilion.

Note: Dogs are not allowed on the beach due to efforts to protect sea turtles and local birds.

Mourning sculpture at the Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah
Take your teens on a spooky cemetery tour in Savannah © Daniela Duncan / Getty Images

Best things to do in Savannah with teenagers and tweenagers

Search for dolphins along the coast

If your tween or teen seems disinterested in what they believe to be cringey tourist outings, flip the script by taking to the water and booking a dolphin cruise. The whistles of these playful creatures are bound to bring a smile to even the most cynical of teens. On the off chance you don’t spot a dolphin, just the experience of being on the water, particularly for a sunset cruise when the golden coast glows, is an enjoyable experience.

Get spooked at a historic cemetery

Once the sun sets, turrets hovering above the squares and the marble columns of mansions cast shadows over America’s most haunted city. Tweens looking for fodder for their next sleepover with friends will enjoy the stories and sights offered on a ghost tour. Stoic guides take visitors through historic cemeteries, imposing mansions, and former bloodied battlegrounds, regaling visitors on how residents ravaged by Yellow Fever in the 1700-1800s were accidentally buried alive after having been assumed dead. More daring teens can try a tour in a hearse.

Don’t forget a camera, as guides advise that some paranormal activity may reveal itself in a photo.

Catch a live show at the Plant Riverside District

The site of the 1912 power plant facility has been restored and buzzes to life at night. Blues croons from the speakers of restaurants and live shows light up the lofty event spaces inside.

Before your show, start the evening with a walk through the Grand Bohemian Gallery (before it shuts down for the night at 6pm), peruse the curated collections of the district boutiques, and then grab a Neopolitan pizza at the whimsical Graffito.

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