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A Stroll Through Savannah

Take in some Southern charm and explore the history and architectural treasures on a specialized Savannah sightseeing walking tour.

 

Savannah’s historic district is an unusually pedestrian-friendly place, and one of the great pleasures of a visit is simply strolling through it. Still, with so much rich history embedded in these elegant streets, it can help to have a guide. There are dozens of walking tours you can take, each with its particular theme, from Savannah historic tours to general sightseeing tours to haunted tours.

Here is a sampling of what’s offered. Most of these companies offer a range of other themed tours, and can also customize tours to satisfy any curiosity. As a rule, reservations—and sometimes, a minimum number of people—are required, too.

An Overview Tour

If you’ve never been to Savannah or only have one day in town, the 90-minute Savannah Stroll is a wise choice. You’ll be oriented to the city’s street layout and general history, and get recommendations for restaurants, shopping and activities.

The Savannah Walks, 37 Abercorn St. Tel. 888-SAVWALK (728-9255). Cost: $16 for adults, $7 for children 6 to 14. savannahwalks.com

Architecture

Iowa native Jonathan Stalcup’s fascination with Savannah architecture began with novels he read as a child. Now he has a doctorate in architecture from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)—and a continuing passion for the city. He has written Savannah Architectural Tours (Schiffer Publishing, 2008), a guidebook for those who want to explore on their own. But he also offers guided tours. These take in historic buildings from many eras, but he doesn’t slight the modern structures either.

Meet in Washington Square. Tel. 912-604-6354. Cost: $20 for adults, $10 for kids under 18. Tour times: March to September, 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 5 p.m.; October to February, 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m. architecturalsavannah.com

Bonaventure Cemetery

A 10-minute drive from the historic district brings you to Bonaventure Cemetery, on a riverfront bluff overlooking the marshes. A burial ground since 1868, Bonaventure is a virtual city of statuary under dreamy, moss-draped live oaks.

330 Bonaventure Road. Tel. 866-666-3323. Tickets: $30 for adults, $21 for kids 12 and under (costs after service fees and taxes). Hours: The 2.5-hour walk is given daily at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. www.bonaventurecemeterytours.com

Ghosts

The Sorrel-Weed House, aside from being one of the handsomest Regency mansions in Savannah, is said to be the most haunted. This 90-minute Savannah ghost tour—given at night, naturally—explores the house, nearby squares and historic Colonial Park Cemetery.

6 W. Harris St. Tel 912-236-8888. Tickets: $18 for adults, $10 for kids 7 to 12. Tour times: 6:45 p.m., 10 p.m, 11 p.m. and later as needed. savannahtours.net/savannahghosthunterstour

Gardens

Given Savannah’s moist, subtropical climate, things are blooming all year long—and a Savannah garden tour is a great way to discover them. Roy Heizer, a certified plant professional and author of Savannah Gardens (Schiffer Books, fall 2009), leads these tours through Savannah’s squares, identifying and discussing the history and folklore of the city’s trees, shrubs and flowers.

Tours start at Smooth coffee/smoothie shop at 143 Bull St. Tel. 912-713-7792. Tickets: $20 for adults, free for kids under 12. Hours: June to February, Mon. to Fri., 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m.; March to May, Tue. to Sat., same tour times. Call to reserve. greenfeetwalkabouts.com

Pirates

A costumed guide leads this tour of waterfront River Street. You’ll learn nautical history, plus legends of sailors, swashbucklers and sea rovers. This tour is especially popular with kids.

Tours meet at 135 Bull St. Tel. 912-234-3571. Tickets: $16 for adults, $5 for kids 6 to 14, free for children under 6. Tour times: daily at 12 p.m. pirateswalk.com

Photography

With its historic architecture, lush vegetation and interesting people, Savannah must be one of the most photogenic destinations. You can take a four-hour photo-taking tour under the guidance of local professional photographer Frank Barevich. It’s not about your skill level, or what kind of camera you have. Instead, Barevich will emphasize composition: capturing those perfect images.

Tour starts at Forsyth Park, 600 Drayton St. Tel. 912-660-6994. Tickets: $60 per person. www.savannahphotooutings.com 

Though they don’t fall into the category of walking tours, these options are also popular Savannah tours for some of the city’s other cultural attractions.

Day Clean Gullah Tours

Among the many van tours available, perhaps the most fascinating are those given by Day Clean Journeys. “Day clean” means “new day” or “dawn” in the language of the Gullah people. They are the descendants of Africans who, after slavery ended, remained isolated on the nearby coastal islands. And Gullah history and culture, in and around Savannah, are this company’s specialty. The African-American History Tour takes 2.5 hours. Its stops include the waterfront (where slaves were held and sold), the oldest continuously functioning African-American church in the United States and a school built for freed slaves that’s now a museum of African-American art.

Tel. 912-220-5966. Tickets: $25 for adults, $18 for students and kids 6 to 17, $3 for age 5, free for children under 5. daycleanjourneys.com

Horse-Drawn Carriage Tours

You won’t be in Savannah more than a few minutes before you hear the clip-clop of a horse-drawn carriage. Riding in one is a charming, foot-saving alternative to walking. You can join a 45-minute public Savannah carriage tour, or you can choose from a range of private tours, which start at about $95 per adult.

Pick-up at Hyatt Regency Hotel, 2 W. Bay St. Tel. 888-837-1011. Public tour tickets: $20 for adults, $9 for kids 9 to 11, free for children under 5. (Driver gratuity not included in ticket price.) Hours: daily. Winter, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; summer, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m). savannahcarriage.com 

Film Location Tour

Savannah has been the location for dozens of films. These include Forrest Gump, Something to Talk About and, of course, the city’s own tale of modern gothic madness, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. You can take a 90-minute Movie Tour that visits 68 film locations; adults $25. Or get a total immersion in Midnight with a four-hour in-depth V.I.P Movie Tour of places connected with the book and the film; this tour requires groups of four or more, $195 for adults, $185 for children 5 to 12.

Meet at the Savannah Visitors Center, 301 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Tel. 912-234-3440. Movie tour tickets: $25 for adults, $15 for children 5 to 12, free for children under 5. Tour times: 3 and 4 p.m. savannahmovietours.net


Destinations: Savannah

Themes: Historical Vacations

Activities: Sightseeing


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