Savannah’s beauty lies not only in its well-preserved historic district but also in the convenience of various transportation options available to travelers. I’ll share my insights and recommendations on how to navigate Savannah seamlessly, allowing you to make the most of your visit.
Walking: Discover the City at Your Own Pace
Savannah, often referred to as the “Hostess City of the South,” is a place where history, charm, and hospitality converge. Having had the pleasure of strolling its cobbled streets, sampling its delicious cuisine and immersing itself in its rich culture, I can attest to the city’s unique charm. One of the most delightful aspects of Savannah is the ease with which you can explore it on foot.
Strolling Through History: The Joy of Walking
Savannah’s historic district, known for its iconic squares, antebellum architecture, and tree-lined streets, is the ideal setting for a leisurely walk. The grid layout of the city, created by General James Oglethorpe in 1733, invites you to embark on a historical and cultural journey at your own pace.
The pleasure of walking in Savannah lies not only in the destination but in the journey itself. Here are some highlights:
- Forsyth Park: My journey often begins in Forsyth Park, a sprawling oasis of greenery, fountains, and fragrant gardens. The towering oaks create a natural canopy, providing a serene backdrop for relaxation or picnics.
- River Street: A stroll down to River Street unveils the bustling waterfront promenade. Along this iconic stretch, you’ll discover a myriad of shops, restaurants, and artists showcasing their talents. The riverboats navigating the Savannah River offer a picturesque spectacle.
- Historic Squares: Savannah is famous for its 22 picturesque squares, each with its unique character and history. Among my personal favorites are Chippewa Square, famous for the bench scene in “Forrest Gump,” and Lafayette Square, home to the exquisite Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
- Jones Street: Jones Street, often lauded as one of the most beautiful streets in the United States, is a must-visit. It provides a glimpse into Savannah’s architectural heritage, with its elegant homes and tranquil sidewalks.
Walking not only grants you an intimate encounter with Savannah’s architectural splendor and natural beauty but also allows you to discover hidden gems that might escape the notice of those rushing by in vehicles.
A Bike Lover’s Paradise: Exploring Savannah’s Charm on Two Wheels
For the adventurous traveler, cycling through Savannah offers a unique and delightful way to discover the city’s beauty. I can’t emphasize enough how enjoyable and practical exploring Savannah by bike can be, especially with the city’s flat terrain and abundance of bike-friendly lanes.
Where to Rent Bikes:
- Perry Rubber Bike Shop: Located conveniently on Bull Street, Perry Rubber Bike Shop is your go-to spot for renting bicycles. They offer a diverse selection, including cruisers and electric bikes, allowing you to choose the perfect ride for your exploration.
- Savannah on Wheels: Another fantastic option is Savannah on Wheels, situated on Oglethorpe Avenue. They not only provide a variety of bicycles and electric bikes for rent but also offer valuable insights into the most scenic and enjoyable routes to explore.
Cycling Through Savannah’s Treasures:
- Historic Neighborhoods: Get lost in the charming historic neighborhoods of Savannah, where oak-lined streets and historic homes create an idyllic setting. Biking gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace, stopping to admire the architecture or take photos as you wish.
- Forsyth Park: Begin your journey at Forsyth Park and meander through the park’s picturesque pathways. The serenity of the park, the grand Forsyth Fountain, and the fragrant gardens make it a must-visit spot.
- River Street: Head down to River Street and enjoy the bustling waterfront. The abundance of shops, restaurants, and street performances make it a vibrant destination. With your bike, you can easily cover more ground and see the sights at your own pace.
- Biking Along the River: Take advantage of the bike-friendly lanes along the Savannah River. The views of the river and the historic district from this vantage point are breathtaking.
Cycling through Savannah is a fantastic way to experience the city’s unique charm while staying active and enjoying the warm breeze on your face. The city’s flat terrain, bike lanes, and the abundance of bike rental options make it incredibly convenient and enjoyable.
Touring Savannah in Comfort: Hop-On, Hop-Off Trolley Adventures
For travelers who appreciate a guided experience and want to learn about Savannah’s history and culture, hop-on, hop-off trolley tours offer a fantastic option. These tours not only provide insightful commentary but also grant the freedom to disembark at points of interest and rejoin the tour later, making it a flexible way to explore the city.
The Best Trolley Tour Operators:
- Old Town Trolley Tours: Known for their informative and knowledgeable guides, Old Town Trolley Tours are a top choice for those seeking a comprehensive view of the city’s history and landmarks.
- Savannah Hop-on Hop-off: Another reputable operator, Savannah Hop-on Hop-off, offers a convenient way to delve into Savannah’s historic district, ensuring you won’t miss any of the city’s iconic attractions.
While hop-on, hop-off trolley tours might restrict your independence to some extent, they offer a comprehensive and time-efficient way to explore Savannah’s treasures. You can learn about the city’s history, culture, and landmarks, all while enjoying a comfortable and leisurely ride through its historic streets.
Navigating Savannah Seamlessly: Public Transport Tips
When it comes to getting around Savannah, Chatham Area Transit (CAT) buses are a cost-effective and practical choice. CAT operates a network of bus routes that efficiently connect major points of interest, making it an excellent option for travelers. Here are some essential tips to make the most of Savannah’s public transportation:
Affordable Travel with CAT Buses:
- Budget-Friendly Fares: CAT bus fares are incredibly reasonable, priced at just $1.50 for a one-way trip. Make sure to carry exact change to streamline the boarding process.
- Route Information: To plan your journeys effectively, acquire route maps and schedules from the CAT website or inquire with your accommodation. These resources will help you understand the bus routes, timetables, and stops, making your travels smoother.
Effortless Exploration of the Historic District: Downtown Shuttle (DOT)
- Hop on the DOT: The Downtown Transportation (DOT) shuttle is your go-to choice for navigating Savannah’s historic district without the need for a car. It’s not only a convenient but also a free service, making it an ideal way to access key attractions with ease.
- Exploring the Squares: The DOT shuttle is particularly handy when you’re eager to explore Savannah’s iconic squares, Forsyth Park, or the bustling City Market. The driver will take care of the route, ensuring you reach these essential destinations with minimal effort.
Scenic River Street Adventures: River Street Streetcar
- River Street Streetcar Convenience: For those who wish to experience the charm of River Street and its surrounding areas, the River Street Streetcar offers a convenient CAT service. This vintage-inspired streetcar transports you to one of Savannah’s most picturesque locations, where you can take in scenic river views, dine at riverside restaurants, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.
- Exploring the Riverfront: With the River Street Streetcar, you can easily explore the historic riverfront, making it simple to visit shops, restaurants, and historic landmarks along the way. This mode of transport provides a unique and leisurely journey while capturing the essence of Savannah’s rich history.
Taxis and Rideshares: Convenience at a Price
For those who prefer the convenience of door-to-door service, rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft are readily available in Savannah. Traditional taxis are also commonly found, especially in the downtown area.
However, it’s essential to note that these options are typically more expensive than other modes of transportation in Savannah.
Parking in Savannah: A Bit of Planning Goes a Long Way
If you choose to explore Savannah by car, it’s crucial to have a parking strategy in place. The historic district offers metered street parking, as well as parking garages and lots. Keep these considerations in mind:
- Street Parking: Metered street parking is available but can be limited and competitive, especially during peak tourist seasons. Plan to spend time searching for an available spot.
- Parking Garages and Lots: There are numerous parking garages and lots scattered throughout the historic district. They provide a convenient alternative to street parking, with varying rates.
- Park-and-Ride Services: Some accommodations offer park-and-ride services. This allows you to leave your car safely at your hotel and explore the city on foot, by bike, or via public transportation.
- Residential Parking: Be aware of residential parking zones, which are designated for local residents only. Unauthorized vehicles may be subject to towing.
- City Visitor Center: Visit the City Visitor Center to gather information on parking options and receive guidance on where to park based on your planned activities.
Pro Tips for Exploring Savannah
- Plan Your Route: Research Savannah’s top attractions and create an itinerary that maximizes your time. Factor in walking and resting breaks to fully appreciate the city’s beauty.
- Stay Hydrated: Savannah’s climate can be hot and humid, so bring a reusable water bottle and ensure you stay hydrated throughout the day.
- Sun Protection: Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat to protect yourself from the sun.
- Comfortable Footwear: Opt for comfortable walking shoes. Savannah’s cobblestone streets and extensive sidewalks can be demanding on your feet, so comfort is key.
- Sample Local Cuisine: Take the opportunity to explore the local cuisine, including Southern classics, fresh seafood, and international flavors. Savannah offers a diverse range of culinary delights.
Savannah’s transportation options cater to a variety of preferences and travel styles, making it a city that’s accessible and easy to explore. Whether you prefer leisurely strolls through historic squares, guided trolley tours, the freedom of biking, or the convenience of public transportation, Savannah has you covered. By making informed choices and planning your transportation in advance, you can make the most of your visit to this enchanting city and fully immerse yourself in its rich history, culture, and culinary delights.