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Exploring Old Town Savannah Like A Local: The Best Tours and Activities In The City 

Exploring Old Town Savannah
  This was a sponsored trip by the City of Savannah, however, as always, all opinions are my own :)   I may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay, it helps me keep the blog up :) Listed prices are accurate as of time of publication.

Do you want to experience the best of Old Town Savannah? With so many things to see and do, it can be hard to pick. Especially for someone going there for the first time. Well, no worries, I got you – I’ll show you how to experience this mystical place like a local. 

As someone who has been there myself, I’ve picked out my favorite tours and activities for visitors looking to explore Savannah like a local. I will also share insider tips and recommendations to help you get an authentic feel of the city!

This trip was sponsored by the Tourism board of Savannah; however, all opinions and recommendations are as always my own. 🙂

Sightseeing In Savannah With Old Town Savannah Tours 

Sightseeing in Savannah can get overwhelming quickly because there are so many things to do and see. If you only have limited time in Savannah and you’re looking to hit as many historical places and must-visit spots in the city as possible, then joining Old Town Savannah Tours is your best option – this is one of my favorite ways to explore a new area and narrow down quickly what I actually want to see the most. 

Several companies provide touring services all year round. These are the ones I recommend as they have stellar ratings from their clients:

  • Old Savannah ToursSavannah
  • Old Town Trolley Tours
  • Ghost City Tours

After all, what better way to explore a new place than getting an open-air overview of it? If you need more ideas here is why Savannah’s Historic District is your next dream destination

Hop On – Hop Off Trolley Tour by Old Savannah Tours

Climb aboard a fully narrated journey on a hop-on-hop-off trolley tour filled with exciting tales and trivia you otherwise won’t know. This tour takes you through all the major areas of the city, with stops at the most iconic tourist attractions

The complete tour will take 90 minutes if you just view the city from the trolley and do not alight at any stops. However, most tourists explore each destination at their own pace. Remember that the first trolley operation starts at 9 AM, and the last trolley goes at 4:30 PM. 

This was one of my favorite tours because it’s run by locals. They always have one or other secret to tell as well. One of my drivers was a former police officer. They talked about how the city has changed over the years, with the charm still sticking around. He explained each stop thoroughly with some things to highlight specifically. 

Here’s an example: While it is true that the Savannah theater is the oldest one remaining in operation, he noted that it had burnt down twice in the past and no longer looked like anything it used to back then. Over the past 200 years, it had changed a lot, yet it still remained a rather hidden gem within the South. 

2-Day Savannah Tour by Old Town Trolley Tours

Old Town Trolley Tours is another reputable company that provides a hop on – hop off service in Savannah. 

This 2-Day Old Town Savannah tour is perfect for those who want to cover the entire city at a very leisurely pace. Of course, they also offer a 1-Day Tour for those with limited time.

When you decide to get the 2-Day trolley tour, note that your pass is good for two consecutive days only. You can book a slot from their booths at the Visitors Center (301 MLK Blvd), Savannah Welcome Center (214 West Boundary, City Market, and River Street. 

If you’re in Savannah for a weekend, this tour is probably the way to go considering it’ll not only show you everything you need to see and cover but will also get you to places quicker. Rather than walk or take an Uber/Lyft, enjoy the fresh breeze in the open-air Trolley while getting to know Savannah more.  

The Grave Tales Ghost Tour by Ghost City Tours

The Grave Tales Ghost Tour is a great way to enjoy exciting activities while traveling with friends. Expect to hear lots of interesting and spooky tales about ghosts and key personalities in Old Town Savannah. Your guide will meet you at Johnson’s Square, where you will also begin your 90-minute walking tour around the historic district. 

Other stops include Colonial Park Cemetery, Madison Square, and Wright Square. Note that the Grave Tales Ghost Tour does not take you inside the old buildings. If you want a more edgy ghost adventure, try booking the Beyond Good and Evil Tour of the Dead of Night Tour

Exploring Old Town Savannah

City Tour Highlights: Old Town Trolley Savannah Stops 

Your Hop On-Hop Off Trolley Tour starts at the Old Savannah Tours Visitor’s Center at 215 West Boundary Street, Savannah, GA. 

To help you visualize the tour, I compiled a list of Old Town Trolley Savannah Stops that you might want to check out. 

Use it to plan out your trip better:

Stop #1: Chippewa Square

Just a mile from the Old Savannah Tours Visitor’s Center, you will reach your first stop on the Hop On – Hop Off Trolley Tour. Chippewa Square is one of the 22 squares in the city. It is named in honor of the soldiers who fought in the Battle of Chippewa in the 1800s. 

When you explore the park, you will also see the historic Savannah Theater. You can go back here in your free time to watch live shows and musical performances.

Trivia: Chippewa Square is most notably featured in the Forrest Gump movie! If you remember, Forrest sits on the bench in the square and tells his life story to anyone who will listen. You may not find the exact bench where Tom Hanks sat (hint: it’s already part of the Savannah History Museum), but it still feels surreal to visit this shooting location. 

Stop #2: Sorrel Weed House

Your trolley will take you next to the Sorrel-Weed House on Madison Square. People say this house is one of the scariest places in Savannah as ghosts still haunt it up to now. Despite all the creepy stories, nobody can deny the beauty of its architecture.

Want to see what a paranormal tour in the Sorrel-Weed House looks like? Check it out here!

Here’s what to expect: During the 1930s, the former wealthy Haitian plantation owner Francis Sorrel hosted famous guests (like Robert E. Lee) at one of their many parties. The Sorrel family’s parties were always the talk of the town, making the Sorrel Weed House & Carriage House Museum one of the most significant homes in the United States and the first to be designated a landmark in Georgia. 

Whether you go for the nighttime ghost walk or the daytime tour, you’ll get a comprehensive look at one of the most significant parts of Downtown Savannah and Bull Street. This is where the majority of the city’s historic mansions are located, guided by a knowledgeable local historical scholar. 

When Lucinda Moxley took her own life only a few years after her marriage to Francis, his fame quickly faded. Francis, however, is as sophisticated as ever, so he quickly moves on to marry Lucinda’s younger sister, Matilda — gotta keep it in the family, right? While they seemed to be quite happy together, you learn that Francis, well-known for his vices, had had an affair with one of his slaves called Molly and even given her a private room. 

When Matilda learned about Molly, she took her own life by leaping from a second-story balcony shortly after that. Molly felt remorse over Matilda’s death because of their affair – although, you can see how their power differential meant that she never really had a choice about the affair.  Molly, therefore, committed suicide by hanging herself in her chamber. She carried this mystery of whether or not this is how it really occurred to her grave.

Tip: Make sure to book the paranormal tour in advance because it books out quickly. The first time I went there, I discovered it by coincidence, and it was booked out for weeks – so, make sure to get it two weeks in advance. 

Exploring Old Town Savannah

Stop #3: Forsyth Park

This park is probably one of the most popular Old Town Trolley Savannah stops. When you arrive at Forsyth Park, you will be greeted by its iconic fountain, lovely flowers, and beautiful foliage. The park is huge, and many people flock here to have a picnic with friends and family. 

Tip: After strolling through Forsyth Park, consider stopping by the Mansion on Forsyth Park. If you’re an AmEX credit card holder, consider booking your stay through the American Express Travel Program for a free upgrade (if available), the champagne happy hour (5-6pm in the lobby) and some other smaller benefits. Not an AmEX holder yet? 

Don’t miss out on all their travel benefits and apply for one now and get 150,000 points to spend one free traveling. 

Stop #4: Massie Heritage Center

On this tour, one of my favorite Old Town Trolley Savannah stops is Massie Heritage Center, Savannah’s first and oldest public school. Visitors can see old classrooms and explore different exhibits about Georgia’s early history. Get a glimpse of what a classroom setting used to look like and notice how much it has changed over the decades. 

Stepping inside the building makes you feel like you have been transported back in time!

Stop #5: The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

The cathedral was built in the 1870s at Lafayette Square on Harris Street, Savannah. It is one of the most popular landmarks in Old Town Savannah because of its French Gothic Style architecture with its golden and rich statues, the artwork, and the beautiful stained glass inside, likely leaving you in awe. 

Exploring Old Town SavannahIt’s likely going to be one of the most beautiful churches you’ll ever see, making it so worth the stop – even if you’re not religious and just want to observe the beauty of it. 

Stop #6: The Pirates’ House

Savannah is a coastal town and was often visited by sailors and pirates. The Pirates’ House has a long and complicated history, including having been used as a tavern by real-life pirates. Some of the stories you can explore are how some guys would go to the bars and fall into a booze-induced nap, only to wake up the next morning starting their new job as a pirate – talk about interviews and offers, ha. 

The entire building is set on top of a cave system that leads to the coast, making it an easy way to go there. Even more so: if you take the Sixth Sense Tour, you will hear more about its hauntings and even see some of the pictures of ghosts that were taken in the tunnel before. 

Unfortunately, you can’t get inside the tunnels; however, you can stand on top and kind of look inside. The building itself is now a famous restaurant, with staff dressed as pirates happily serving their guests – with food just to die for. 

Exploring Old Town Savannah

Stop #7: Owens-Thomas House and Slave Quarters

The mansion was built in the early 1800s and is a fine example of Regency architecture. But what makes this stop truly unique is the opportunity to see the slave quarters. As you’re touring this with a self-guide on your phone, you get to listen to the stories of the people that used to live there. As you walk through the rooms, you will notice one of the trends from the time, which is the parallelism of everything. 

Take note of how each window is mirrored by another window on the other wall, even if the latter is really a fake. Similarly, there are doors that seemingly go nowhere as they’re mirroring a functioning door – cool, huh?

When going to visit the slave quarters, you will quickly notice the differences in living conditions back then. To your surprise, you will learn about many free slaves wanting to stay and work for the owners – yes, back then some of them were free and still chose to work, though they enjoyed many more benefits, of course.

Tip: Notice the arched passage connecting both sides of the upper floor. It’s the original wood floor, while the sides of it are made out of iron. The original owners were fascinated and convinced of using iron as the main element for buildings and structures. 

Stop #8: Telfair Academy and Jepson Center 

The Telfair Academy houses an impressive collection of American and European art from the 19th century. As soon as you step onto the street and look at the building, you will find the breathtaking architecture standing out among all the other houses. If you’re into contemporary art, make sure you spend some time there while you’re exploring the partially hands-on gallery. 

Exploring Old Town SavannahOn the other hand, the Jepson Center is a modern museum extension worth visiting for its displays and exhibits – tired and need a break? Enjoy some coffee or lunch at the Café while you recover for your next step.

Stop #9: Reynolds Square

Reynolds Square is a beautiful park that was dedicated to the first governor of Georgia. However, what stands out most is the statue of John Wesley, as not many people know he is the founder of Methodism. Many visitors also like walking to nearby shops to buy ice cream and some snacks.

When compared to other squares in Savannah, its a bit small but charming nonetheless. Some tourists find this the perfect spot for strolling and clearing their thoughts, especially in the morning. You can also find many animals like birds and squirrels playing around. And before I forget, there’s a nearby hotel where you can stay if you like being close to the river and many establishments.

Stop #10: River Street Market Place

Do you also like buying souvenirs from places you visit? If you’re like me, you will enjoy the open-air shopping experience at River Street Market Place. You might score cool items and find some unique handicraft pieces from local vendors in the area. 

If you don’t like shopping but still want to check out this covered open-air market, it’s OK because there are also eating establishments around the area. Breezing through the shops should not take you more than 10-15 minutes. So I definitely think it’s a nice little gem to add to your itinerary. 

Exploring Old Town Savannah

Stop #11: Old City Exchange Bell

Exploring Old Town Savannah

The trolley will take you from your shopping adventure to a replica of the Old City Exchange Tower. This is where this old iconic bell now hangs. Before, the sound from the bell signals that it is time for them to close the shops. This also meant that sailors and slaves could no longer wander on the streets — usually at 8 PM (9 PM during summers). Can you imagine having a curfew as early as that? Life back then was truly different. 

The local government also used the bell to warn residents of fires or other emergencies. Because of its importance in the daily life of people back then, many consider it the voice of the Old Town Savannah community. 

Fun Fact: The iconic bell is believed to be the oldest you can find in Georgia. It came from Amsterdam and has been in Savannah since 1803. It also survived a hurricane in 1940 when they temporarily hung it at the tower of Rourke Iron Works. 

Stop #12: Savannah City Hall

The City Hall is a must-see for anyone who plans on visiting Savannah. The building’s architecture and beautiful golden dome are unparalleled, in my opinion. It stands out from other buildings around town. I mean, it’s not every day that you get to see REAL GOLD on buildings, right? 

Many people go here to take amazing photos. It’s actually breathtaking at sunset because the sun hits the golden dome perfectly. However, the place is equally beautiful to visit at night when they light up the place.

Travel Tip: If you want to head to River Street, you can take the steps — or the elevator — located at the back corner of the City Hall. 

Lastly, the local government offers a FREE tour of the city hall — but the thing is, it only happens once every month on every first Tuesday. You can read more details and make your bookings here

Stop #13: Franklin Square 

The final stop of this Old Town Savannah Tour is this small square at the center of Savannah! Franklin Square is right next to the City Market and only a few minutes’ walk away from River Street. I think Franklin Square is the perfect last stop for tourists who want to go shopping, view galleries, or continue exploring the town.

Travel Tip: There’s not much to do here besides checking out the Haitian Monument at the center of the park. If you have more time, walk a few steps towards the west to spot the historic First African Baptist Church, which is said to be the oldest church for black congregations in America.

Old Town Savannah Restaurants: Tasting The South In A Bite!

Exploring Old Town Savannah

One of the things that I find super cool in Savannah is the city’s open container ordinance in certain areas of the Historic District. This policy pretty much allows anyone 21 years and older to carry an alcoholic beverage while walking, as long as the drinks are in a transparent or aluminum 16-ounce cup. Sounds like something you would like to try? This ordinance, combined with so many Old Town Savannah restaurants, makes the city a haven for food enthusiasts.

But the fun doesn’t stop there! Did you know that you can have a unique tour of the city’s booming cultural cuisine in just 2-3 hours?

An off-the-beaten-path experience in Old Town Savannah will leave you with a greater appreciation for food and where it comes from. You’ll learn about history as well — but more importantly, perhaps? — you’ll get a feast of the best dishes in town! Savannah Taste Experience offers phenomenal food-tasting tours perfect for small groups. 

Savannah Taste Experience: The First Squares Food Tour

If you are a first-timer in Savannah, this food tour is an excellent choice because it will cover the city’s historic Squares. 

Your tour guide will bring you to five different tasting locations, each with unique narratives to tell — whether it be about the food, the restaurant, the buildings, or the Southern culture in general. Thanks to the tour guide’s extensive local knowledge, you’ll be able to make connections between the history of the area and the food you’re eating at each stop. 

The First Squares Food Tour starts at 11:15 AM. The limit for participants is 12 people per group; kids are most welcome to join!

Tip: The food tour lasts 3 hours, so you don’t have to rush to finish your food. I suggest wearing comfortable clothes and walking shoes, as the tour would require a bit of relaxed walking. Caps or umbrellas are welcome, too, because it can get pretty hot in Savannah! I was looking forward to sampling Shrimp & Grits during this taste experience trip, and they were GOOD.

Savannah Taste Experience: Famous and Secret East Side Food Tour 

Every Wednesday to Saturday, Savannah Taste Experience offers a tour for the more adventurous! You will not only get to taste regional specialties but you will also be treated to some of Savannah’s best ghost stories and haunted spots. Sounds exciting, right?

You will get to visit these six Old Town Savannah restaurants for lunch:

  • Cha BellaSavannah
  • Parker’s Market
  • Mint to be Mojitos
  • Zunzi’s TakeOut
  • Leopold’s Ice Cream
  • Capital Bee Company 

It’s important to note that due to the more mature nature of this food tour, anyone under 13 is not recommended to participate.

Tip: I love Capital Bee Company, so I bought local raw honey products from them. You can do the same when you stop here, but I advise you to do the FREE honey-tasting first. Maybe you will discover your new favorite honey variety!

Aside from visiting hidden gems, joining this tour will save you from falling in line at some of Savannah’s best-known food destinations. Imagine getting a cup of Leopold’s ice cream just handed out to you by your tour guide? I wish I could skip lines every time! 

Savannah TasteExperience: Southern Fried Expectations Food Tour 

You can forget about your diet while on the Savannah Southern Fried Expectations Food Tour. For two hours, you will visit four Old Town Savannah restaurants known for serving up some of the best local flavors.

Southern Fried Expectations Tour Tasting Locations:

  • Parkers Market
  • Rise Biscuit
  • The Cotton Exchange
  • Savannah’s Candy Kitchen

Joining this tour is like having an insider’s guide to the best spots in Savannah. You will learn the history of the dish, like where it originated and the ingredients they use to make it scrumptious. Then you move on to the next restaurant to try a new set of dishes. 

What I like best is that as you walk to the next stop, the guide also throws interesting facts about the city, its architecture, or any current news about the surroundings. So in a way, you also get to know the city more from a local perspective.

Tip: What else can I say? I feel like this should be obvious already, but a short reminder won’t hurt: Don’t fill your stomach before going to this food experience! The dishes are filling, and there’s no waiting time when you enter the restaurants. And don’t worry about dessert —- the last stop is perfect for sweet lovers like me!

More Fun Things To Do in Savannah 

Visiting Old Town Savannah is not just about joining tours. The city has many hidden gems and activities that will make your weekend worth it. 

If you’re planning on solo traveling to Savannah, then here are the top traveling and safety apps you need in your back pocket.

Challenge Your Mind With Encryption Escape 

On the top of my list of fun things to do in Savannah is visiting this popular escape game. The family-friendly Encryption Escape is a themed activity that requires the use of just your wits and the clues found within the room to complete an escape mission. You’ll have 60 minutes to complete mentally challenging tasks such as deciphering codes or solving puzzles and riddles. 

You can pick from different adventure rooms in Encryption Escape: 

  • The Pirate Room (2-8 players)
  • Lights Out at the Museum (2-8 players)
  • Sorority Game (2-6 players)
  • The Hellevator (2-4 players)

During my stay in Savannah, I actually got to try the Hellevator experience, and I had a blast! The game’s premise is that players are stranded in the Roman Building on Congress Street during a citywide blackout. It’s a race against time as you try to figure out what has happened in this elevator, and if you don’t complete the missions, you risk a deadly descent 13 floors down – are you down to get your nerves tickled a little?

For me, the time limit makes the game much more challenging and nerve-wracking! I think kids would love the Pirate Room best because of the theme and props in the activity area. What game are you excited to try?  

Hop Aboard the Historic Savannah Riverboat Cruise 

Exploring Old Town Savannah

One unique way to explore the city is by booking the historic tour from Savannah Riverboat Cruises. This 90-minute historic cruise takes you along the beautiful Savannah River. From there you will be able to see all the sights of the city from the water. 

Aboard a classic and elegant boat, you’ll cruise past famous landmarks. You’ll get to see Fort Jackson and or other iconic monuments like the Waving Girl Statue. The guide will tell you all the interesting stories and trivia about the buildings. You can buy tickets at their designated office at the dock, which is also the tour’s departure point.

Please Note: The historic Savannah Riverboat Cruise does not include a lunch buffet. If you get thirsty or hungry, there’s a bar on the boat where you can buy some refreshments. This cruise is not ideal if you want to enjoy a full meal for lunch or dinner while touring. There’s a special Luncheon Cruise that you may take if you want an elevated experience and sample the company’s menu.

Interested in exploring more of Savannah’s River Walk Experience, then check out my article here.

Watch Performances At The Historic Savannah Theater

The Savannah Theater is a one-of-a-kind performance venue that opened its doors in 1818 and has been operating since then! Its located in the heart of the historic district in Chippewa Square. The theater never disappoints and offers a wide variety of shows like musicals and comedies.

Many people do not include watching shows as part of their itinerary to Savannah. However, this is one of the best indoor activities you can do in town, especially when it’s raining outside and you can’t explore the city easily. Whether it rains or not on your trip, why not dedicate a few hours to watching a live performance at the historic Savannah Theater? It might just be a surprise highlight of your vacation.  

Keep in mind: There are no performances every Sunday, so keep that in mind if you plan to watch upcoming shows in Savannah Theater. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling their office at (912) 233-7764.

Look For The Old Savannah Brick: An Unexpected Local Treasure

When I think of Savannah, my mind always goes to picturesque old brick buildings. These ancient bricks called “Savannah Grays” were produced by the enslaved people at the Hermitage Plantation about 200 years ago. They got their distinctive hue from the local marshland near the plantation, which contains gray clay muds.

Fun Fact: Did you know that an authentic Old Savannah Brick can sell for around $2.5 to $4 per piece? They have been rare and hard to find since production halted upon the commencement of the Civil War. 

Of course, since these are mostly salvaged bricks from destroyed Savannah homes and buildings, you cannot find Old Savannah bricks in uniform sizes. They are mostly irregular in shape as well, which for me, just adds charm and value to their character.

Drop By Jones Street: The Prettiest Street in Savannah

If you’re looking for the prettiest street in Savannah to walk down and take some photos, definitely head over to Jones Street. It’s one of the most popular streets in the city, and for a good reason – it’s just gorgeous!

The well-preserved row of townhouses all fit perfectly. And the Spanish moss hanging from the trees just adds to the charm. The tree-lined avenue is also incredibly picturesque; no wonder it’s a popular spot for photographers. 

Even if you’re not a big fan of taking photos, it’s worth just strolling down this street to take in the beauty. Trust me; you won’t be disappointed. It’s the perfect place to take a leisurely stroll and soak up the unique atmosphere of Savannah.

Visit Old Plantations in Savannah GA: The Wormsloe Historic Site 

Exploring Old Town SavannahThe Wormsloe Plantation is considered one of the most famous old plantations in Savannah GA. The founder, Noble Jones, was one of the first settlers from England. He would also become an essential figure in defending Georgia’s coast from the Spanish attack. 

Today you can find the Wormsloe Tabby Ruins. This also happens to be one of the oldest structures from before the 1800s. You can see portions of the original walls and the home’s old cellar and chimney. There’s just something about visiting the ruins that will make you feel melancholic and, at the same time, grateful that you are alive and living in the present. If you’re feeling brave, you can also visit the gravesite of the Jones family.

Facilities you can find on the plantation include:

  • A museum containing artifacts from the plantation
  • A mini theater showcasing a film history of the site 
  • Picnic Area and Bus Parking
  • Beautiful Walking Trails

Travel Tip: Driving down the oak avenue to see those majestic trees up close is surely enough to make you want to visit. Still, this is a nature trip. Prepare to do some walking! Put on some insect repellant as well if you’re going to follow the trails to the forest and river.

And, just to be clear, Wormsloe Historic Site is located a few miles outside Savannah’s Historic District. It is open from Tuesday to Saturday, so make sure to plan your visit accordingly!

Plan Your Perfect Old Town Savannah Trip

No matter your interests, there’s sure to be an Old Town Savannah Tour that fits the bill. You can find everything from history and architecture tours to food-tasting excursions.

Are there any other must-do activities or attractions in Savannah that I missed? Let me know in the comments below – I always love hearing from my readers.




P.S. Too many places to keep track of in Savannah, GA? Well, you are in luck. Here is a map of all the best places in Savannah, GA to visit. Enjoy!

  This was a sponsored trip by the City of Savannah, however, as always, all opinions are my own :)   I may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay, it helps me keep the blog up :) Listed prices are accurate as of time of publication.

Anna is a traveler, blogger, and entrepreneur who can’t keep herself still. She’s always on the move, whether working hard on a new passion project or exploring a new city as a part-time digital nomad. Dare to keep up? Check out The Tatted Nomad for everything digital nomad, social media marketing, mental health, and travel (and to see her latest addition, Novah, her service dog and travel companion). As a psychotherapist (to be) she also offers insights about your mental health related questions – anything you see that isn’t covered but you have questions about? Let her know!

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1 Comment

  1. May 4, 2023 / 1:12 am

    thank you for the information