Savannah, Georgia has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. It just radiates southern charm and history, doesn't it? I finally got the chance to experience Savannah for myself when I took a day trip from our home in northern Florida when my mom came to visit.
I was a bit nervous about the trip because my kids were 4, 2, and 6 months at the time. I wondered if I would be able to enjoy the sights while wrangling my spirited offspring. I'm glad I didn't let that stop me because the kids honestly enjoyed the trip as much as I did! By doing a mix of activities that appealed to little ones and adults, everyone was satisfied and excited to come back to Savannah at the end of the day.
If Savannah is on your bucket list, and you would like to add it to a vacation itinerary or make a day trip, here are my best tips for getting the most out of a short amount of time.
Trust me on this one - you're going to want to book a hop-on-hop-off trolley tour if you only have one day in Savannah. How it works is you get on the trolley at the Visitors Center, then you can get off an any of the 15 stops to sightsee, eat, or just walk around. You can get back on at any of the trolley's stops when you're ready to do something else.
There are a few reasons why I think this is the best way to spend your day in Savannah. First of all, you get free parking when you purchase your ticket, so you can leave your car in the lot for the entire day. It was so nice not having to worry about navigating unfamiliar streets or deciphering parking signs.
Second of all, my kids honestly thought they were on a ride at an amusement park the whole time we were on the trolley. They squealed with delight as I apologized to the retirees riding alongside us. My mom wouldn't stop singing, "Ding ding ding when the trolley..." while my kids were pretending they were Daniel Tiger riding on his trolley. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that everyone, young and old, will enjoy the ride itself.
Finally, the cost of the trolley was worth it to me because we were able to see the layout of the entire city and really get a feel for Savannah. The drivers are also tour guides, giving fun facts, history lessons, and if you're lucky, plenty of jokes to enlighten you as you take in Savannah.
Adults - $29.70 (if you buy online) // $33.00 if you buy in person
Children (4-12) - $11.25 (online) // $12.50 (in person)
Children (0-3) - FREE!
There is plenty of fine Southern cuisine in Savannah - almost so many options it will make your head spin! However, if you're traveling with small children, you might not be looking for fancy, or even the very best food. You're probably looking for a restaurant with decent food where you won't be mortified if your kids act like kids.
We chose The Pirates' House for lunch, and we were not disappointed! The food was great, but more importantly, the staff went out of their way to entertain our kids and make sure our experience was enjoyable. The history of the old seafarer's inn is fascinating, so take the tour if you're so inclined and have the time. Rumor has it Robert Louis Stevenson wrote part of Treasure Island there and was inspired by the sailors and pirates who told tales of their adventures on the high seas over a pint.
Wherever we go with the kids, we always have to find the best ice cream or donut shop in the area. In Savannah, that's Leopold's Ice Cream. It reminded me of an old-fashioned soda shop! It's a quaint ice cream parlor that was founded in 1919, and boasts tons of unique ice cream flavors. Be aware that it's a tourist destination, and could be a little crowded. In my opinion, it's worth the wait!
This would be my top recommendation for families spending a day in Savannah. This sprawling park is a great spot for a picnic lunch, a leisurely stroll to enjoy the live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, or letting the kids get their wiggles out.
We actually made this our last stop of the day. The sun was starting to set on Savannah, and we knew we had a long drive back home ahead of us. After our last trolley stop we picked up the van from the parking lot and drove the short distance to Forsyth Park.
First, we let the kids climb all over the gigantic playground and pushed them on the swings. They had been so good all day, going along with all the sightseeing and posing for pictures, so it was nice to reward them with some time to play and be kids.
When they seemed to be wearing themselves out, we loaded up the stroller and crossed the street to one of the beautiful neighborhoods surrounding Forsyth Park. My main goal in Savannah was to get some Instagram-worthy shots in front of stately southern homes with Spanish moss in the background, and that's just what I did!
Right after lunch, I could tell the baby needed a nap, so we took a break from the trolley so I could put him to sleep in my Lillebaby carrier. That required walking and bouncing, so we strolled in and out of the shops on River Street.
The kids naturally loved Savannah's Candy Kitchen because they were literally kids in a candy shop, but also because it was so fun to watch the candy and taffy being made! They make the taffy behind a giant window, then load it onto a train that travels along the ceiling before depositing the candy in a basket to be purchased. It was mesmerizing!
If souvenirs are your thing, there are tons of cute little shops on River Street with fun gifts and trinkets to remember your trip. I also made a mental note to come back with my husband and grab a cocktail at one of the sidewalk cafes overlooking the river.
Savannah is designed around lush city squares with monuments, park benches, and beautiful gardens. Your trolley tour guide will point these out to you and give you the history behind them. It's fun to come back and walk through them after hopping off the trolley, or on the way to see the sights. If I'm being 100% honest, the Squares are also highly Instagrammable, so stop when your kids are in a good mood so you can get them to pose nicely for you. (Only half kidding).
There are so many tours, historical churches and houses, restaurants, and activities, but we had less than a day to cram everything in. (No shock to anyone - we left way later in the morning than we had planned on, so our day was cut a little shorter than we had hoped).
I suggest having around 3 main things you want to do or see for your day in Savannah and plan your day around that. For us, those things were a park, ice cream, and wandering quaint neighborhoods. By having a plan and remaining flexible, a day trip to Savannah with kids will be a memory every member of your family will treasure.
Staying longer than a day?
Check out these spots in Savannah to stay!
What are your favorite spots in Savannah?