207 W. York St., Historic District
One of the oldest public art museums in the U.S., Telfair opened in the 1880s in a renovated family mansion, and has since expanded into three separate buildings, which includes a 4,000-piece permanent art collection, a mix of 18th-21st century pieces from America and Europe. The draw for kids, though, is really ArtZeum, which is located in Telfair’s Jepson Center. ArtZeum is home to a couple dozen activities that allow kids to explore art in a really hands-on way. For instance, there’s a glass house created by artist Therman Statom that kids can wander through, a magnetic sculpture wall, architectural blocks that kids can use to make their own buildings, and 3D shapes to mold. Perfect for a morning or afternoon activity.
While touristy, riding the trolley when you’re in Savannah just feels right. And a tour can be a good way to see more of the city on a day when everyone is feeling a bit tired.
As legend has it, Savannah is a haunted city. (A few ghost-favorite places are actually in this round-up: Marshall House and Olde Pink House.) For kids that enjoy spooky stories, touring the mansions, squares, and streets of Savannah that boast a dark past can be a real treat. You can walk your own route, or go on an organized tour with Ghost City.
Wormsloe Historic Site
7601 Skidaway Rd., Isle of Hope
Commonly referred to as Wormsloe Plantation, this is the former 18th-century estate of English pilgrim, Noble Jones, whose family owned the land until the state of Georgia acquired the majority of the plantation in 1973. It’s located on Isle of Hope, which is about a 20 minute drive from downtown, ending with a mile-long corridor of large oaks laden with Spanish moss. Inside, the site includes Wormsloe’s tabby ruin (the oldest standing structure in Savannah), the plantation house built by a Jones grandson in 1828, and a museum.
Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room
107 W. Jones St., Historic District
In 1943, a young woman named Selma Wilkes opened a traditional Southern boarding house (lodging upstairs, a few hearty meals downstairs). Still a family-run business today, Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room is where you head for real-deal Southern home cooking, although the upper part of the boarding house can actually be rented. It’s open every day for lunch (but closed in January), and everything is served family-style: fried chicken, sweet potato souffle, beef stew, collard greens, black-eyed peas, okra gumbo, corn muffins, and biscuits. It’s cash only and takes no reservations, so expect a line of people waiting to get in. After lunch, take a walk around beautiful Jones Street, which is lined with historic Southern homes and arched, weeping trees.
Leopold’s Ice Cream
212 E. Broughton St., Historic District
Family vacations are hardly complete without a trip to the local ice cream shop. Founded in 1919 by three brothers who moved to the States from Greece, Leopold’s is an institution in Savannah. And after one visit, it’s easy to understand (read: taste) why. In addition to their ice cream flavors and sundae creations, Leopold’s is known for old-fashioned fountain sodas (and hence, ice cream sodas, too). Oh, and you can choose to have your ice cream topped with an espresso shot, or dunked into hot cocoa.
404 Abercorn St., Historic District
You might recognize Clary’s from Clint Eastwood’s film adaptation of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. It’s long been a Savannah staple, serving up eggs, biscuits, and gravy for breakfast; black bean soup, jumbo fish sandwiches, and the like for lunch and dinner. Formerly a drugstore, Clary’s is decorated today with nostalgic knickknacks, family photos, and memorabilia—though you’re not coming here for the decor.
The Pink House
23 Abercorn St., Historic District
Located on Reynolds Square, this is a beloved local restaurant in an 18th-century (pink) mansion. The cuisine here is distinctly Southern: fried green tomatoes, local shrimp and grits, ravioli stuffed with Vidalia onions, corn bread with fried oysters—the kind of food you have to eat at least once while in Savannah.
The Florence (Closed)
1B W. Victory Dr., Bingville
The Florence’s menu is, not surprisingly, Italian-focused, with an emphasis on Southern-grown, locally harvested ingredients (e.g., the seafood stew comes from coastal Georgia and the bacon in Florence’s carbonara is house-cured). The crowd-pleaser? Hands down the pizza. Florence is closed on Mondays, but otherwise open for dinner and lunch Tuesday through Saturday, and they have a special Sunday brunch menu. Also, in addition to being an Italian restaurant, The Florence also functions as a coffee shop—good for a mid-day pick-me-up.
The Marshall House
123 E. Broughton St., Historic District
If you’re after old world charm, The Marshall House (also in historic Savannah) is your best bet. The hotel dates back to the mid 19th-century: In 1851, a French cabinetmaker named Gabriel Leaver built the four-story Marshall House; his daughter, Mary Leaver Marshall became the first proprietor. The house served as a hospital for soldiers at the end of the Civil War, and as a hotel on and off for years until closing in 1957. Forty-plus years later, The Marshall House was restored and reopened, with stunning original features, like the 19th-century doors and staircases; and carefully reconstructed spaces like the classically Southern veranda (complete with wooden rocking chairs and green shutters) off the hotel’s popular Broughton rooms, and bathrooms with antique claw-foot tubs.