When it comes to cool Southern towns, Savannah offers the whole package. The aptly nicknamed “Hostess City” offers up history, art, seafood, and laid-back coastal vibes with impeccable charm. From the solo adventurer to the luxury-minded jet setter, every kind of traveler will find something fun to do here. 

And, luckily, you don’t have to break the bank to fall in love with Savannah. With a little creativity – plus a few solid recommendations from folks in the know – even the most cost-conscious visitor can enjoy much of this historic Georgia city for free.

an angel sculpture framed by Spanish moss at Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, GA
Discover sculptures of angels and other figures at the famous Bonaventure Cemetery ©Daniela Duncan/Getty Images

Stroll the parks and cemeteries

In the historic district alone you'll find more than 20 different parks and squares. The British colonist James Oglethorpe first laid out the city's plan, which features a rigid grid of streets that intersect at verdant public squares. These iconic green spaces, surrounded by historic mansions and tree-lined streets, define the character of Savannah. Each has its own unique feel – and all of them invite a calming respite. 

Some may argue you haven’t really been to Savannah until you’ve snapped an obligatory photo of the Forsyth Park fountain or a stone angel in Bonaventure Cemetery. 

Hop on a bike on Tybee Island, Savannah's beach town

Eighteen miles down I-80 and across the Talmadge Memorial Bridge is Tybee Island, on the Atlantic Ocean. Since the parking game can be stressful, heading there on a bike will be a vigorous yet relaxing excursion. 

North Beach offers a busy yet amenity-packed waterfront option – think taco lunches and rum drinks after a dip in the ocean. To get to a quieter stretch of sand, continue toward Back River or Savannah River Beaches. Better yet, disappear into the waterways around Little Tybee, an unspoiled nature preserve reachable only by boat or kayak. 

steps lead to the beach on Tybee Island, near Savannah, Georgia
The (free) beaches of Tybee Island are only a short distance from Savannah © Kayla Brady / EyeEm / Getty Images

Explore Savannah Botanical Gardens

Even if you can’t tell a camellia from a canna lily, you’ll want to fill your Instagram feed with shots of the gorgeous flora at Savannah Botanical Gardens, where entry is always free. Located off Eisenhower Drive, this lush 10-acre property is yet another example of how Savannah gets its green spaces right. Come back over multiple days to stroll the nature trails or lounge beside the pond at your leisure. Four-legged friends are welcome if leashed, and there’s a Children’s Garden for little nature lovers.  

Wander Broughton Street

The wide sidewalks of Broughton Street make it a pleasure to spend an afternoon hitting up the vintage shops, antique galleries, and boutiques. After browsing, pull up a seat at the Paris Market Café to people watch while you nibble on a macaron sampler. (This isn't free, by the way – but at $15 for six cakes it's worth every penny.)

At the south end of Forsyth Park, check out downtown’s funkier little sister, the Starland District. Once the site of Starland Dairy, it’s now where Savannah's creative class goes to buy vinyl and drink espresso. When your feet get tired, hop aboard Savannah’s free (and air-conditioned) “dot” shuttle to get back to where you're staying.

Find a festival

Get the most bang for your proverbial buck by timing your visit with one of Savannah’s many annual festivals. Since Georgians love a good party, special events (most of which are free) abound, from Savannah Pride to Oktoberfest.

Catch a vegan cooking demo, attend a reading by a local author, or – if it brings you joy – get your face painted. Just be sure to plan well in advance for such major events as the SCAD Savannah Film Festival and the Savannah Food and Wine Festival, as hotels tend to book up quickly.

Discover Southern charm at outdoor markets

Riverstreet Marketplace is the largest outdoor market in the city; it's open daily from 10am to 8pm. Peruse the stalls to find products made locally and from around the world. Browsing is always free – but it might be hard to leave without buying a small piece of art, jewelry, or jar of hot sauce to commemorate your trip.

For more of a small-town-locals-only vibe, visit the Forsyth Farmers Market on Saturdays. If “trash to treasure” is what you’re into, put Keller’s Flea Market on your list for all things secondhand.

Tour the Savannah College of Art and Design

The Savannah College of Art and Design has provided the cultural heartbeat of the city since 1978. The school hosts programs all year long, many of which are free and open to the general public. Scattered across Savannah's historic center, the school's buildings are works of art in themselves – but if you’re eager for new work by up-and-coming artists, hit up any of the six galleries scattered across campus. The SCAD Museum of Art, which charges $10 for admission, shouldn’t be missed.

The facade of the historic Sorrell Weed House on Madison square in Savannah.
Savannah's many historic homes and other sites are open for free on the annual Super Museum Sunday ©Natalia Bratslavsky/Shutterstock

Save the date for Super Museum Sunday

History buffs take note: the Georgia Historical Society hosts a day each year devoted to “reacquainting” people with areas of cultural interest. One Sunday each year, residents and out-of-towners alike enjoy free access to over 100 sites, homes, and museums – many not usually open to the public. Dive into a lesson on the American Prohibition or the Tybee Island Light Station, all free of charge. 

Check the GHS website for each year's full list of participating museums as well as information on directions and hours of operation.

Take to the water

You’re missing out if you don't spend at least a little time off dry land in these parts. Savannah is surrounded by blue-green waterways just begging to be paddled. 

Take the short drive out of town to meander through the marshy inlets of Savannah National Wildlife Reserve or head south to Skidaway Island State Park. These barrier islands and estuaries provide an up-close look at the cabbage palms and white egrets of Georgia’s Low Country. 

Taste the town

Since dining out in Savannah can be pricey, we recommend sipping and sampling before settling on a place for dinner. Try out regional wines (or a moonshine smoothie!) at the Georgia Tasting Room, or get a sugar rush with a free praline at Savannah's Candy Kitchen

Leopold’s gives out free samples of its famous ice cream (think flavors like Savannah Socialite or Peanut Butter Chippy). At longtime favorite Olde Pink House, you can enjoy a reasonable (if not free) meal by ordering up the blue crab beignet or fried green tomato appetizers.

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