The Historic District of Savannah is considered the heart of the city and corresponds to the area that defined Savannah prior to the American Civil War. It’s the largest National Historic Landmark District in the United States, attracting millions of visitors on an annual basis. Savannah’s Historic District encompasses more than 20 city squares laid out in a distinctive grid pattern. General James E. Oglethorpe, founder of the British Colony of Georgia, laid out the original plan back in 1733. Today, much of the original plan remains visible through its divisions, also called wards, squares and trustee lots. The Historic District showcases 18th and 19th century architecture styles like Georgian, Gothic and Greek Revival, and is home to a number of important buildings and complexes. Here, visitors will find museums, churches, mansions, famous forts and monuments dating back to the Revolutionary and Civil War periods. It’s also the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low.
Made famous by both the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, (and the Clint Eastwood-directed film of the same name), Bonaventure Cemetery, is an iconic cemetery positioned on a bluff overlooking the Wilmington River. With its live oaks, dramatic lawn sculptures, and dripping Spanish moss, the Bonaventure Cemetery has a distinctly eerie yet beautiful air to it, and thus makes for one of the best attractions in all of Savannah. Quintessentially Southern Gothic, a stroll through this cemetery is one of hot summer dreams, and on this stroll you’ll come across graves of ex-military generals, the poet Conrad Aiken, the Academy Award-winning lyricist Johnny Mercer, and Georgia’s first governor.
Named after a governor and made famous by its live oaks, dripping Spanish moss, and Confederate Memorial Statue, Forsyth Park is the green hub of historic downtown Savannah. A 30-acre park, this expansive stretch of greenery is home to outdoors enthusiasts, Victorian-era mansions, and architectural treasures like Hodgson Hall and the Lucy Armstrong Mansion. Enjoyed by all who visit, Forsyth Park is for anyone who wants to see post-card worthy Savannah at its finest.
The Cathedral of St John the Baptist, a Roman Catholic establishment, is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Savannah. The colonial charter of the city originally prohibited Roman Catholics from settling here for fear they would be more loyal to the Spanish authorities, but after the American Revolution, the prohibition on Roman Catholics began to fade.
French Catholic immigrants escaping slave rebellions in Haiti established Savannah’s first parish just before the end of the 18th century. As the number of Catholics continued to increase in Savannah, a second church was dedicated in 1839 and construction on the new Cathedral of St John the Baptist began in 1873. It was completed in 1896 as the spires were added.
Although the cathedral was almost entirely destroyed by a fire in 1898, it was painstakingly rebuilt and rededicated in 1900, when it also received new murals and decorations.
Since the early 1700's, Savannah City Market has been the commercial and social center of historic downtown Savannah. Known locally as the “art and soul” of Savannah, the moniker is a nod toward the numerous artist’s galleries, boutiques, and restaurants that make the City Market the social and commercial center of Savannah that it is today. A destination for dining, entertainment, art, and shopping in downtown Savannah, the vibrant City Market is still on the original site of used by farmers and traders since the city’s founding in the 18th century. Adjacent to Ellis Square, come here to sight-see, to window shop, dine, or simply watch life’s passing parade - the Savannah City Market is a highlight to any trip to Savannah.
River Street Savannah is not only a picturesque place to walk or jog along the river, but is also a hub of activity in downtown Savannah. Known for dreamy views of the river, its tree-lined promenade, and its strip of shops and restaurants, visitors to Savannah come here to get a sense of what Savannah has to offer. Whether it be a ferry boat ride along the winding Savannah River, a concert in the park, or just to sample some of the many local Savannah restaurants boasting delicious southern fare, the River Street is where you head if you want the authentic Savannah experience.
This 1820 Federal-style home is the origination of a lot more than beautiful genteel mansions in Savannah, Georgia. Once home to successful artisan Isaiah Davenport, throughout it’s near 200-year history this house developed a past all its own. A Cinderella tale of neglect and rebirth, saving the Davenport House Museum was the first act of the Historic Savannah Foundation, which has gone on to single-handedly save hundreds of historic buildings in downtown Savannah, thus imbuing the town with the charm it’s known for today. Now known as one of the finest examples of architecture in Savannah, the Davenport House not only boasts an impressive and peaceful garden, but also houses an exquisite look into 19th century living.
An ambitious “rails-to-trails” project, the Atlanta Beltline transforms the city’s trash-collecting tracks into more than 22 miles of footpaths for bikers, runners and pedestrians. The Beltline, a work in progress, merges the city's parks and green spaces, connects neighborhoods to each other and makes public transit more accessible. The Beltline shows off the very best parts of Atlanta.
The popular Eastside Trail and the Historic Fourth Ward Park are two projects, among many others, that have been completed. A planned streetcar is in the works, an addition that will connect the furthest reaches of the Beltline to more popular, central attractions in Atlanta. Some of the other highlights include 33 miles of multi-use trails, 1,300 acres of parks, more public art and historic preservation efforts.
The historic Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site commemorates the life, work, and legacy of the Civil Rights leader. The center takes up several blocks, which include King’s boyhood home and the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where both King’s father and grandfather served as ministers.
Before you begin your stroll around the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, stop by the visitors center for a map and brochure of area sites and exhibits. Inside the visitor center is a museum that chronicles the American Civil Rights movement, and Dr King’s role in it. You can also visit the two-story house where Dr. King was born.
Across from the visitors center, the King Center for Non-Violent Social Change has more information on Dr. King's life and work, and a few of his personal effects, including his Nobel Peace Prize. His gravesite, between the church and center, is surrounded by a long reflecting pool and can be viewed anytime.