As we rush into Halloween, there’s a town with quite a spooky reputation that more than most deserves our attention. Savannah is Georgia’s oldest and arguably most charming city and is known for its coastal scenery, vibrant history, incredible antebellum architecture and many, many local ghosts. Known by some as the “most haunted city in America”, Savannah is an ideal destination for a Halloween getaway, especially for the history buffs among us or those who just like to scare themselves. Of course, Savannah has so much more to offer than its haunted history; With exciting attractions, gorgeous parks, art museums, eclectic shopping, waterfront views and mouth-watering cuisine, there’s never been a better time to plan your visit to this Southern Belle. entirely American.
Any great trip to Savannah should center around the historic downtown and riverfront districts. It’s a very walkable city, so let yourself get lost in time as you stroll through the old cobbled streets. Don’t worry, though, as the first planned city in the United States, Savannah is a perfect grid, so it’s highly unlikely you’ll Actually Get lost. Stroll down famous Broughton Street, shop on Bull Street, and get your camera ready for Jones Street, known as Savannah’s prettiest street. If there’s one street you shouldn’t miss, it’s historic River Street, which overlooks the Savannah River. From here, you can really begin to understand the city by watching riverboats or huge freighters pass by, watching street performances and admiring the waterfront and the famous Talmadge Memorial Bridge. (It’s high time to rename this bridge, by the way.—Ed.)
Explore the city’s 22 peaceful park plazas, including Chippewa Square, where the famous Forrest Gump scene on the park bench was filmed, and discover incredible mansions, monuments and museums around every corner. House museums are particularly popular here, so visit Mercer-Williams House Museum, Owens-Thomas House and Slave Quarters, and Andrew Low House, where Girl Scouts founder Juliette Low once lived. As expected, all three houses have their fair share of notable historical moments, and they’re all said to be haunted. For something a little different, visit the American Prohibition Museum, the only museum in the country dedicated to preserving Prohibition-era stories. The Telfair Academy is another must-see museum, as it is the oldest public art museum in the South and the first art museum in the United States to be founded by a woman. If contemporary art is more your style, head to the SCAD Museum of Art instead.
Also be sure to spend some time strolling through Forsyth Park, the city’s oldest and largest public park. Snap a few photos in front of the park’s fountain, one of Savannah’s best-known icons, and swoon over the giant oak trees covered in Spanish moss that give the town a fairytale air. If you’re in town on a Saturday, be sure to visit the Farmers’ Market, which is held in the park.
If you want to delve into the strange history of Savannah, your first stop should be Bonaventure Cemetery. It was designed as a traditional Victorian graveyard and is a maze of old oak trees and overgrown Gothic-style tombstones. Thus, as with many Savannah landmarks, it is known to be one of the finest of its kind in the country. There are also plenty of ghost tours available, for anyone hoping to encounter the walking dead, including Hearse Ghost Tours, which, you guessed it, take guests on a late night ghostly ride in one of their funeral vehicles. If all of that sounds a little too scary, cut it down with the Haunted Savannah Pub Crawl or the Boo Y’all Comedy Ghost Tour instead. If you really want to scare yourself, head to Marshall House, a hotel used as a hospital during yellow fever outbreaks and the Civil War.
Rest assured, Savannah also has plenty of sightseeing options that aren’t designed to scare you out of town. Discover the city on foot with a myriad of varied walking tours, or if you’ve had enough of walking, don’t miss the iconic ‘hop on, hop off’ tram tours. Sightseeing is hard work, but luckily Savannah’s food scene has everything you need to refuel or indulge. For breakfast, visit adorable Mirabelle’s or Australian-style Collins Quarter at either of their two Savannah locations. For unbeatable southern cuisine, like fried green tomatoes or shrimp and grits, try The Olde Pink House, a colonial mansion with live music and a romantic atmosphere, or for something more laid back, don’t miss The Public Kitchen and Bar. If you have a sweet tooth, you should definitely check out Leopold’s Ice Cream Shop, the coolest spot in town. People are known to queue for up to an hour here, so you can be sure it’s worth the wait. Finally, for dining, shopping, entertainment, and good vibes, you must visit the Savannah City Market, an outdoor market that dates back to the 1700s. While you’re there, try a slice of pizza from New York style from the popular Vinnie Van Go-Go restaurant.
With a population of less than 200,000, Savannah is a relatively small city; two or three days is the perfect amount of time to explore what this city has to offer. Maybe you’ll even have enough time to rush out of town and enjoy one of the many nearby islands or great beaches, such as Hilton Head, Tybee or Cockspur Island. Whatever you decide to do, a trip to Savannah, with all its delicious cuisine and beautiful sights to see, is never a trip you will regret. Perhaps the reason so many of the dead decided to stay is simply because of all that this charming town has to offer. So don’t wait, try Savannah while you’re still alive.
Bryony Parker is a writer and artist currently living in São Paulo, Brazil, working on her Masters in International Affairs. You can find it on @by666ker on all social networks.