- 1 / 10
What’s the big picture here? Architectural Savannah, which has been around since 2005, starts its walking tours in Oglethorpe Square. The 90-minute route takes in the history and architecture of the city; groups are capped at 15, so make reservations in advance to ensure a spot.
Tell us about your fellow tourees. These tours draw local history buffs, architecture and interior design aficionados, and people with an intellectual curiosity. You’re on your feet for 90 minutes, but it doesn't feel strenuous.
How are the guides? Jonathan, an architecture graduate from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), has an unshakeable knowledge and obvious love of the subject matter. He describes buildings in a charming, witty, and very accessible way, making it easy for laypeople to soak in a lot.
Anything you’ll be remembering weeks or months or years from now? There are several memorable houses, including the oldest cottage in Savannah and the wonderful Kehoe House (now a bed and breakfast). The standout, though, is the Owens-Thomas House.
So: Who will enjoy Architectural Savannah most? Anyone who wants to understand how Savannah developed and learn more about its main architectural styles will love these tours. The buildings reflect changing demographics and politics, and Jonathan brings charisma and zeal to the subject matter.
- 2 / 10
Bonaventure Don: History in Headstones
What’s the big picture here? History in Headstones is a one-man operation and the passion project of Don, the guide, who embraces a conversational style rather than lectures. Book early—this is one of Savannah's top-rated tours, so you can expect it to be crowded.
Tell us about your fellow tourees. The group skewed older, and was filled with people who really love history. Over two and a half hours we walked around a mile and a half, but it’s easy terrain and there are plenty of rest stops, so it's fine for that older crowd.
How are the guides? As vice chairman of the Bonaventure Historical Society, Don has a rare level of expertise, but it’s his charismatic and engaging delivery that makes the tour. There’s a vague script in there somewhere, but his conversational style makes the experience feel like he’s showing old friends around his favorite spots.
Anything you’ll be remembering weeks or months or years from now? Fans of Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil will love just being in this cemetery, which features heavily in the novel (and movie). Don’s expertise is also memorable; he brings to life the city’s history through the graves of its most famous residents, from Savannah’s founding through the Civil War and beyond.
So: Who will enjoy History in Headstones most? This tour will appeal to history buffs craving a deeper, more personal exploration of Savannah’s past. It’s thoroughly entertaining to listen to a man who so obviously loves giving the tours—that passion runs through to the "pay what you feel it’s worth" philosophy.
- 3 / 10
Savannah Taste Experience: First Squares Food Tour
What’s the big picture here? Among the plethora of food-focused tours in Savannah, First Squares Food Tour is one of the longest-running, with an emphasis on fun and variety rather than nerdy facts. The three-hour jaunt takes in a selection of some of downtown Savannah’s favorite eating spots, with quirkier dishes and a focus on international flavors.
Tell us about your fellow tourees. Groups are capped at around 14 people, and they come from all over the country, consisting of families as well as younger couples. There’s some walking, but seats (and restrooms) at all six restaurants make the experience comfortable. Most people have an interest in food that is a bit above basic and are eager to share restaurant tips.
How is the guide? Dan, a former actor from New York City, is a lively, entertaining, and well-informed guide who injects a punchy style and infuses each pit-stop with some historical context.
What do you eat? Half-a-dozen stops serve items like shrimp and grits, a Southern classic, British savory pies, pork belly sliders, and raw honey.
So: Who will enjoy the First Squares tour most? Serious foodies may want to spring for a more in-depth tour, but this circuit of snacks and goodies makes for a lighter, surface-level assault on the culinary senses, one with a history lesson—and a couple of cocktails—to boot.
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- 4 / 10
Ghost City Tours: Beyond Good and Evil Tour
Give us an overview? There are dozens of ghost tours in Savannah—which claims to be the most haunted city in the United States—and Beyond Good & Evil is one of the more established companies. Our group of 20 or so met outside a suitably evocative downtown graveyard at 10 p.m., the full moon adding to the spookiness from the start.
Tell us about your fellow tourees. The 10 p.m. tour is adults only, and our group skewed young, according to our guide Nicole—she said these tours usually draw older tourists. Tours last 90 minutes and involve a bit of walking, but it's nothing too strenuous.
How's the guide? Nicole managed to evoke the scariest and weirdest tales of Old Savannah with a dry, deadpan style that hit as many humorous notes as it did spooky ones. Her ghost stories included personal anecdotes as well as a good amount of general history about the city, giving everything a robust context.
Anything you’ll be remembering weeks, months or years from now? Savannah is the perfect city for a ghost tour, its brutal history and Southern Gothic atmosphere making for a perfect storm of weird and macabre. The most striking tales included ones about people being buried alive in a graveyard, a "killer boy giant," and a haunted house known as "The Dark Place."
So: Who will enjoy this ghost tour most? Fans of horror and ghost stories will love this, as will anyone with a curiosity about local history. It’s hard to pass up the the chance to take a guided walk around Savannah’s beautiful squares on a lovely moonlit night.
- 5 / 10
Bonnie Blue Tours: Lightly Sauced
What’s the big picture here? Lightly Sauced, which has been operating since the mid-2010s, is a polished and professional operation helmed by Bonnie, a natural, charismatic guide. The tour looks at Savannah's history through the lens of one of its most famous elements: drinks. Naturally, this is one of the more social tours; your group will plant down in restaurants and bars, and you're likely to feel an instant camaraderie with your fellow tourees.
Tell us about those tourees. Groups are capped at 10, making it easy to get to know everyone. On a recent tour, our gang of seven was a lighthearted bunch, keen to ask questions about the history of Savannah. You're likely to encounter middle-aged and older couples—it’s not a young party crowd, but it’s a friendly one.
How are the guides? Bonnie is immediately engaging and goes off-script often, to delightful effect. The information is detailed enough to furnish guests with quirky, fun trivia.
What kinds of places do you go? The tour makes four stops to sample various drinks (with some snacks) and builds the history lessons from there. Learn about Madeira at Jazzed; honey-based mead at the Savannah Bee Company; mint juleps at 1790, a historic pub; and finally punch at Pirate’s House. All of these venues have something interesting to impart about the city, thanks to Bonnie’s excellent commentary.
So: Who will enjoy Lightly Sauced most? There’s a fair amount of booze involved—four drinks over three hours—so you should have some tolerance. But anyone with a general curiosity in the city, its history, and its drinking culture will love it.
- 6 / 10
Old Town Trolley Tours
What’s the big picture here? Old Town Trolley runs well-established, hop-on-hop-off tours that meander through Savannah’s downtown historic district, making 15 or so stops, including scenic squares, historic mansions, and major local museums. The charismatic drivers are trained tour guides who deliver an entertaining and educational history of the city.
Tell us about your fellow tourees. Some 20 or so people fit into the trolleys, but they run often enough that it's never too crowded. Groups are a mix of couples and families, and they're mostly first-time visitors.
How are the guides? Hopping on and off the trolley, guests will likely experience a few different tour guides throughout the day. They're all well-versed in the city’s history and deliver a scripted performance peppered with their own observations and jokes (with varying levels of delightful cheesiness).
Anything you’ll be remembering weeks, months or years from now? There are a bunch of trolley tours of Savannah, but Old Town stands out for its use of local "characters"—both historical and fictional—to bring some of the stops to life. As the trolley draws up to various buildings—say, a historic mansion or a an old movie theater—actors emerge playing figures like William Jay, the young British architect who designed some of the first townhouses, the Haitian fruit sellers who worked the first markets here, and the city’s most famous fictional resident: Forrest Gump.
So: What are these tours best for? They're great for a general history of the city, and the use of actors to embellish some elements elevates them beyond the ordinary.
- 7 / 10
Savannah Riverboat Cruises
What’s the big picture here? The city sprung up around the Savannah River, which still plays a large part in daily commercial life. Savannah Riverboat Cruises' two classic riverboats—The River Queen and the Georgia Queen, with capacities of 600 and 1,000 respectively—glide along the water for 90 minutes, visiting points of interest and serving up some tasty Southern treats.
Tell us about your fellow tourees. My lunchtime tour was very busy, with hundreds of people, mostly tourists, packing the tables and decks. It didn’t feel too crowded though, with plenty of places to sit and watch the landscape roll by.
How is the guided part of the tour? The narration gives enough general history and pointers for sightseeing that it feels helpful but not intrusive. It really is worth tuning where you can hear it best on the top deck, but if you want a quieter cruise you can go down below.
Any other tips? If you keep a sharp eye on the water, you might spot some dolphins. The servers are bright and breezy as they take orders and deliver drinks, and the buffet is excellent, the fried chicken a definite highlight.
Sum this up for us. This is 90 minutes well spent. The river is such a huge part of Savannah’s history, and sailing part of it in an evocative, historic riverboat is the only way to see it.
- 8 / 10
Savannah Art Walk
What’s the big picture here? Savannah Art Walk is a self-guided tour that takes place every Saturday. Guests aren’t left to their own devices entirely, though—there’s a map with participating galleries and suggestions, and a loose program that includes welcome and farewell drinks.
Tell us about your fellow tourees. About 150 people take the walk on any given Saturday; it's a cross-section of casual and serious art lovers, with around 80 percent out-of-towners. Orientation starts at the Hyatt Regency at 2 p.m., where there are mimosas, a welcome speech, and a live demonstration by local artists. Then visitors have four hours to stroll the galleries until the closing reception, allowing everyone to take things at their own pace.
What kinds of galleries participate? The walk is so well established that it feels like a huge celebration of Savannah. The mix of students, up-and-coming artists, and well-known figures is impressive. There’s a diverse range of art experiences and galleries, from smaller, independent places to larger outlets. The Tiffani Taylor Gallery, for instance, features the namesake artist's wonderfully vibrant works; the shopSCAD shows off dozens of works from students at the Savannah College of Art and Design. The final reception, at The Perry Lane Hotel, is a highlight, with drinks, a raffle, and more local art.
So: Who will enjoy the art walk most? This is a tour for anybody with even a passing interest in art. Most of the works are accessible, and anyone spending $20 on anything along the walk gets a raffle ticket to score even more art.
- 9 / 10
Savannah Bike Tours
What’s the big picture here? Savannah Bike Tours meet on Habersham Street in the middle of the historic district, where you'll saddle up on a street cruiser. Dee, the tour guide, explains a few rules and safety points, and then it’s away you go to see the sights of downtown Savannah. Be sure to reserve in advance, as the group size is capped at 14.
Tell us about your fellow tourees. This is a relaxed, easy tour that lends itself to all ages and abilities, and the three miles over about two hours couldn't be called strenuous under any circumstance. Savannah is a fairly flat city, so there are no steep uphill climbs. If you have basic bike riding skills you're good to go.
How are the guides? Dee is supremely knowledgeable about the city and has devised a coherent route around the downtown neighborhood. In addition to stories about the stops on the way, he acts as a concierge on wheels, giving dining and sightseeing advice as you roll along.
Anything you’ll be remembering weeks, months or years from now? The tour hits Savannah's most famous landmarks; highlights include Forsyth Park, mansions like the Hamilton Turner Inn, and the river, not to mention the evocative, Spanish moss–framed squares the city is most famous for.
So: What makes this tour a standout? This is a fun, physically accessible tour that covers more ground than a walking tour. You'll see all of the main downtown sights and get a charming, information-packed overview of the city’s history. Plus, in a city with such a rich food scene, even the gentlest workout feels good.
- 10 / 10
40 Acres and a Mule
What’s the big picture here? 40 Acres and a Mule is a very specific history tour that looks at the lives and politics of the white elites in Savannah and the struggles of the slaves at the same time. The company sprung from the long-held passion of the guide, Fritz, a playwright who has studied and written about this subject for many years. Group sizes are quite small, usually four to six people.
Tell us about your fellow tourees. Tourees tend to be mature travelers with a specific interest in the Civil War and African-American history. You'll visit six squares in the historic downtown district, and you’re walking for around 90 minutes.
How is the guide? Fritz is an excellent tour guide, and his passion for the subject matter and human rights is apparent. He has something of a theatrical background—he is a playwright after all—and incorporates recorded audio recreations (voiced by local actors) at some of the main stops, really bringing them to life.
What are the stops like? Each square represents a different chapter in the unfolding history of Savannah between 1733 and 1865. Fritz tells parallel stories about the slaves and their owners, touching on important events that shaped the narrative. You'll hear fascinating tales, including how the invention of the cotton gin increased the slave trade exponentially and how local people of color advocated their cause to the federal government.
So: Who will enjoy this tour most? This is a tour for people that want to delve deeper into the city’s (and the nation’s) history than the usual superficial trolley-type tours will allow. It’s an important story, one that doesn’t shy away from Savannah's shameful days of slavery. Fritz presents these details with erudition, empathy, and conviction, making for a truly worthwhile afternoon.
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