Dangers & Annoyances
Dangerous and violent crime is a reality in Savannah, with one of the highest rates – across communities of all sizes – in the US. Cases of rape, murder, armed robbery and aggravated assault, and property crime continue to rise.
- Practice vigilance and avoid walking alone at night in areas where there aren't a lot of people; that being said, robberies have been known to happen in broad daylight and even in parts of downtown with heavy tourist traffic.
- Don't leave valuables in vehicles, as car break-ins and theft happen frequently.
There isn't much in the way of multivenue discount passes, but a couple of trolley sightseeing tour companies offer a range of packages with access to top sights. Visit any visitor's kiosk around the Historic District for coupons to individual attractions.
- Savannah e-PASS (www.savannahepass.com/tourist) Mobile app that offers discounts on dining, shopping, entertainment, spas and tours with over 300 merchants. $4.95 for three days.
- Old Town Trolley Tours (www.trolleytours.com) Various hop-on, hop-off-style trolley-transport tour passes include discounted admission to many sights. Pick from a range of themes and prices.
- City Pass Adventures (www.citypassadventures.com) The Savannah 'Do It All' package offers access to 10 attractions for $99, including transport by Old Town Trolley.
Emergency & Important Numbers
|Emergency services (fire, police, ambulance)||911|
|Nonemergency police line||912-652-6500|
|Municipal offices & information||311|
Savannahians ooze Southern charm and politeness. Don't be alarmed by people wanting to chat to you and learn your life story – and tell you theirs – anywhere you go.
- Greetings Handshakes are common when meeting men and women for the first time. Say 'hello' and 'goodbye' to staff when visiting shops, restaurants and sights.
- Queues Known as 'lines,' these are dutifully respected. Odds are you'll make a few friends while standing in them.
- Taboo Topics It may be best to keep thoughts on US politics to yourself – while Savannah is largely a blue city, you never know who you might offend. And, being the South, Christian culture is overt; tread conscientiously with topics relating to religion.
- Gratuity Savannah runs on hospitality. Tipping is compulsory.
Gay & Lesbian Travelers
The Savannah LGBTQ community is out and proud, which may come as a surprise for a city in the South. First City Network (www.firstcitynetwork.org), the state's oldest LGBTQ organization, provides useful information and has a dedicated center (www.savannahlgbtcenter.org) in Midtown. Gay Savannah (www.gaysavannah.com) has a directory of a gay-friendly businesses.
Savannah has high-quality healthcare and hospitals, but they can be prohibitively expensive without health insurance. It's essential to purchase travel health insurance if your existing policy doesn't cover you while you're abroad. Consider supplementary health or travel insurance if necessary and find out in advance if the insurance company will pay providers directly or reimburse you for any overseas health care expenditures. Note that even a simple visit to a doctor's office can cost several hundreds of dollars, and a hospital stay thousands. Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
Checking insurance quotes…
Free public wi-fi is provided by the city under the network 'surfsavannah' in the following outside areas: River St, Bay St, Reynolds Sq, Ellis Sq, Franklin Sq, the South End of Forsyth Park and along Martin Luther King Blvd from Victory Dr to River St. Registration is required and usage limit is two hours per day.
Wi-fi is available at most cafes and some restaurants, and usually requires a password that you'll have to ask for when making a purchase. Accommodations also have wi-fi available for guests, often only accessible by a password or custom code.
ATMs are widely available; credit cards are accepted at most hotels, stores and restaurants. The farmers market, food trucks and some restaurants and bars may be cash only.
Tipping is not optional; only withhold tips in cases of outrageously bad service.
- Restaurant servers 18% to 20%, unless a gratuity is already charged on the bill (usually only for groups of six or more)
- Bartenders 15% to 20% per round, minimum per drink $1 standard drinks, $2 specialty cocktail
- Taxi drivers 10% to 15%, rounded up to the next dollar
- Hotel porters $2 per bag, minimum per cart $5
- Hotel maids $2 to $4 per night, left in envelope or under the card provided
Standard hours are generally as follows.
Banks 9am–4pm Monday to Thursday, to 6pm Friday, some also 9am–noon Saturday
Bars 3pm–3am, from noon on Saturday
Businesses 9am–5pm Monday to Friday
Restaurants Breakfast 6am–11am, lunch and weekend brunch 11am to around 3pm, dinner 5pm–11pm.
Shops 10am to around 6pm weekdays, to around 8pm Saturday, 11am–6pm Sunday, if they're open at all.
Post Office Historic District postal services.
Major holidays and special events may mean many businesses are closed, or may attract crowds, making dining and accommodations reservations difficult.
New Year’s Day January 1
Martin Luther King Jr Day Third Monday in January
Presidents’ Day Third Monday in February
St Patrick's Day March 17
Memorial Day Last Monday in May
Independence Day July 4
Labor Day First Monday in September
Halloween October 31
Thanksgiving Fourth Thursday in November
Christmas Day December 25
New Year’s Eve December 31
- Smoking Strictly prohibited in and within 10ft of enclosed public spaces, as well as most outdoor seating and serving areas of restaurants, outdoor stadiums, arenas and amphitheaters, and public transportation stations and shelters.
Taxes & Refunds
Retailers and most restaurants add an additional 7% sales tax to all purchases, so be sure to factor that in to the final cost (before gratuity in restaurants). Since the US has no nationwide value-added tax (VAT), there is no opportunity for foreign visitors to make ‘tax-free’ purchases.
Phone numbers within the US consist of a three-digit area code followed by a seven-digit local number. To make an international call, dial 011 + country code + area code + number. When calling Canada, there is no need to use the 011.
International travelers can use local SIM cards in an unlocked smartphone or buy a cheap US phone and load it up with prepaid minutes.
Go with either AT&T or T-Mobile (or companies using their networks) if using a SIM card, as these carriers run on the GSM network, the standard used in most other countries. You may be able to preorder a card at home or can easily purchase one from the relevant carrier's store in the US.
If purchasing a cheap US phone, you can also look into Verizon and Sprint, which use the CDMA network. Phones can be bought in telecom stores, drugstores, grocery stores and big retailers.
Data coverage in Savannah is LTE.
There are very few public restroom facilities in Savannah. Find them at Ellis Sq, the Bryan St and Liberty St parking garages, the Visitor's Center on MLK Blvd and the River St Hospitality Center.
Savannah Visitors Center Excellent resources and services are available in this center, based in a restored 1860s train station. Many privately operated city tours start here. There is also a small, interactive tourist-info kiosk in the visitor center at Forsyth Park.
Travel with Children
Savannah is a great place for families, with outdoor adventures in beautiful green spaces and kid-friendly activities at sights all across the city. Most restaurants welcome parties with children and there is loads of interesting history to make for an enriching visit.
- Savannah Children's Museum
This all-outdoor museum, located in Tricentennial Park at the old Central of Georgia Railway Carpentry Shop, is full of exciting and interactive activities, such as an underground archeology table and a giant lego panel.
- Tybee Island
From spotting dolphins and manatees along the shore to playing in the surf and building castles in the sand, Savannah's local beach is a ball for kids.
- Forsyth Park
The sprawling green space of Savannah's Central Park is great for games and picnics, and there's a playground where local and visiting kids convene.
- Ellis Sq
The large wading fountain in this square on the edge of City Market is a cool adventure on a hot summer day.
- River St
Savannah's riverfront is great for a stroll, with monuments to explore and the exciting Echo Sq in Rousakis Plaza, which kiddos can stand in the middle and hear their voice reverberate in an echo chamber. A ride on the free Savannah Belles Ferry is also lots of fun.
Culture & Enrichment
- Fort Pulaski National Monument
This huge fort with educational exhibitions and cool cannons is fun for the whole family. There are trails to walk and bike close by.
- Jepson Center for the Arts
ArtZeum, the Jepson Center's interactive children's learning gallery, gets little ones excited about art.
- Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum
Kids with a fascination for boats will enjoy the large models at this museum.
Travelers with Disabilities
Cobblestones and bumpy brick paths aside (chalk it up to the city's charm), Savannah is quite wheelchair accessible. Ramps and elevators are available at most multilevel sights and there are reserved parking spaces in the parking garages, plus a few here and there on the streets and squares.
Several of the higher priced hotels are wheelchair accessible, while many B&Bs are not; Kehoe House is a notable exception. CAT Freedom, Chatham Area Transit's disability services program, has partnered with Savannah Yellow Cab and the City of Savannah to offer ADA-compliant, wheelchair-accessible taxi vans.
Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guides from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.
Spend some time giving back in Savannah by volunteering with a range of organizations across town. HandsOn Savannah, a service of the United Way of the Coastal Empire (www.unitedwayvolunteers.org), recruits and refers volunteers to nonprofit organizations in the area. Other options include helping with dolphin research with the Dolphin Project, building and working retail for Habitat for Humanity, or lending a hand in various capacities to help the needy at the Old Savannah City Mission. Check listings in the local newspaper, the Savannah Morning News (www.savannahnow.com) for more.