The rumors are true. Savannah is an incredibly beautiful city, from its green public squares and oak-shaded sidewalks, to its cobblestone streets lined with historic antebellum mansions. Like many southern cities, Savannah also boasts a rich history, rewarding its visitors with a captivating story behind every beautiful sight. And there’s a lot of them. As the largest National Historic Landmark District in the United States, Savannah has more historical sites than you can visit in one trip—more than 20 city square’s worth. If you’re not a history buff, don’t worry. The locals are more than eager to spin a tale about their beloved city.
The quintessential Savannah experience begins in Forsyth Park. It is the centerpiece of the city’s historic district, sprawling more than 30 acres between Gaston Street and Park Avenue. Take a leisurely walk to the north end to visit its famous fountain, built in 1858. If you happen to visit during St. Patrick’s Day, you’re in for a treat. Every year the city of Savannah dyes the water in the fountain green during a special ceremony attended by hundreds of the city’s locals and tourists. For a low-key afternoon, take advantage of Savannah’s relaxed open-container policy and enjoy a picnic in the park, complete with a bottle of wine.
It’s impossible to ignore the looming presence of the mansions and historic homes that line Forsyth Park. For the curious, many offer a peek inside, complete with guided tours. Just past the north end of the park, visitors can step inside one of the city’s most mysterious homes, the Mercer-Williams House, which finished construction in 1868 after the Civil War. This historic home features furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries and a history of peculiar events, including recurring tragedies for those who have lived within its walls. Many locals consider the house to be haunted and its story was featured in the novel and film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
While in Savannah, don’t just spend the day visiting mansions. Spend the night, too. The Mansion at Forsyth Park is a historic Victorian Romanesque mansion that is also Savannah’s most iconic hotel. Meticulously restored in 2005 by Savannah native and art collector Richard Kessler, this mansion will take your breath away with its onyx and Verona marble, Versace furniture and extensive collection of original artwork.
You could spend an entire trip just in and around Forsyth Park. But if you’re feeling adventurous, take a short drive over to Bonaventure Cemetery. Beneath the magnificent live oak trees lies one of the world’s most beautiful resting places. Follow the gently curving walkways through this traditional Victorian cemetery and discover the exquisite marble carvings that adorn many of the historic gravesites. Bonaventure Cemetery is open daily, free to visit and provides guided tours through its 100+ acres every second Sunday. For travelers who appreciate history, beauty, a good story (or all three) Savannah is the city that keeps on giving.