26 Free Things to Do in Savannah & Budget Tips

White Forsyth Park Fountain of Savannah Georgia

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Looking for free things to do in Savannah, Georgia? This guide reveals the best free attractions so you can get the most out of this stunning southern city.

Regardless of whether you are a visitor on a budget or a local looking for something cheap to do, our article discusses affordable options that don’t skimp on fun and interest.

We’ve included free outdoor and indoor things to do all year round.

We’ll also explore free events and winter activities.

You might also like our guide, where to eat and other Savannah guides.

Best Free Things To Do in Savannah

Savannah’s Historic Squares

The Savannah Historic District, a National Historic Landmark, is notable for its unique grid pattern as well as its architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries.

General James E. Oglethorpe, the founder of the British colony of Georgia, set out the first town design in 1733. 

Savannah has kept much of this pattern, which is divided into 22 wards, squares, and “trustee lots.”

Most of the ancient squares have been preserved, and they are bordered by outstanding examples of Georgian, Greek Revival, and Gothic architecture.

Editor note: I wish I’d made a list of all of the squares to check off before photographing as I ended up photographing many of them several times!

  1. Johnson Square
  2. Wright Square
  3. Oglethorpe Square
  4. Ellis Square
  5. Liberty Square
  6. Elbert Square
  7. Telfair Square
  8. Chippewa Square
  9. Madison Square
  10. Monterey Square
  11. Orleans Square
  12. Pulaski Square
  13. Reynolds Square
  14. Warren Square
  15. Crawford Square
  16. Columbia Square
  17. Greene Square
  18. Troup Square
  19. Chatham Square
  20. Taylor Square (formerly Calhoun Square)
  21. Lafayette Square
  22. Washington Square
New Orleans Square German Memorial Fountain of Savannah Georgia

See Savannah’s Prettiest Street

Jones Street, with its oak trees and high stoops, has captured many a photographer’s lens over the years.

This historic street is named after American Revolutionary War Major, John Jones, who aided Brigadier General Lachlan McIntosh at the 1779 siege of Savannah.

This is where you’ll also find the famous Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room which offers family style dining on a first come first serve basis – this is a personal recommendation for first time visitors, if you can stretch the budget.

Some of the East Jones Street mansions have views over the neighborhood skyline featuring the Basilica!

Cathedral Basilica of St John The Baptist

The oldest Roman Catholic church in Georgia, Cathedral Basilica of St John The Baptist (222 E. Harris St) first settled by fleeing immigrants from Haiti and France. 

It has survived a fire, a civil war, an earthquake, and a few hurricanes.

Insider tip: sneak a peek inside the font before you leave to the see the Celtic symbol.

Self-Guided “Forrest Gump” Tour

Did you know that a number of Savannah locations were used in the Academy Award-winning film? 

A feather floats past the steeple of the Independent Presbyterian Church (at the corner of Bull and Oglethorpe) in the opening shots.

Chippewa Square is where Forrest sits on a bench, although the bench is now in the Savannah History Museum!

Love’s Seafood and Debi’s Restaurant (former location) were also used. 

Obviously, eating at the eateries is not free, but it is well worth the money for movie buffs.

You may also like our guide where to eat in Savannah.

Deb's Restaurant Sing Orange Wall in Savannah Georgia

City Market

City Market (219 W. Bryan St) is a mixed-use development in Savannah, Georgia’s largest National Historic Landmark Historic District.

This historic district of the city features a pedestrian promenade lined with intriguing shops, cafés, and boutiques. 

The four-block section was first rehabilitated in 1985. 

The outcome is a physical complex that could not be duplicated inexpensively today. 

In downtown Savannah, City Market has established itself as a destination for entertainment, food, art, and retail. 

Cafe at City Market Savannah Georgia

Forsyth Park

This magnificent 30-acre park, named after Georgia’s 33rd governor, has everything! 

Forsyth Park (2 W. Gaston St) has one of the most beautiful fountains within a park system.

Installed in 1858 and fashioned after the fountains at Paris’ Place de la Concorde, the city’s most famous fountain crowns the park’s northern edge, sparking contemplation and selfies, proposals and weddings. 

On busy days, the walk to the fountain is littered with local artisans working to the sounds of a lively trumpet, while on quieter days, it’s just people walking their dogs, ardent readers ensconced in their comfy hammocks, and art students drawing their surroundings from a nearby bench.

Secret gem: find the Garden of Fragrance for the park’s second fountain.

White Forsyth Park Fountain of Savannah Georgia

Broughton Street Window Shopping

If you don’t have much money, go to Savannah’s shopping district to see what they have. 

Make a mental list of everything you want to buy at The Paris Market and Brocante, enjoy the exquisite chocolate aroma at Chocolat by Adam Turoni, and look around Civvies for unique vintage finds.

This is one of the free attractions in Savannah that might have you putting your hand in your pocket, or alternatively, just enjoy the architecture.

Broughton Street is also home The Marshall Hotel, one of the most haunted in the city!

Broughton Street Blue Skies in Savannah

Ghost Coast Distillery

Do you want to learn how rum, whiskey, and vodka are made? 

Free 40-minute tours of the Ghost Coast Distillery provide information on Savannah’s history with spirits (the alcoholic kind). 

From Tuesday through Sunday, they happen every hour.

If you’re in the mood for a cocktail, they have a Cocktail Room where you may sample beverages produced with their ingredients.

This is one of the very few free Savannah tours.

Savannah African Art Museum

Savannah African Art Museum (201 E 37th St) has a collection of over 1000 objects that originate from West and Central Africa.

The museum is located in the Victorian district in a historic home and is one of the very few free museums in Savannah!

Savannah Belles Ferry

Going offshore provides a unique perspective of Savannah’s downtown.

The Savannah Belles Ferry system connects the riverwalk in downtown Savannah with Hutchinson Island, which is home to the Savannah Convention Center and the Westin, plus Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa.

The accessible ferries, which can carry bicycles and bags, run seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

There are three landings at the Trade Center on Hutchinson Island, City Hall and Waving Girl.

It also connects unique hotel, The Westin with the Historic District.

The Belles Ferry is a stop on the free DOT bus service.

See below for more details.

US Flag River Street Waterfront Savannah Georgia

Jekyll Island

Driftwood Beach, Horton House, and Georgia Sea Turtle Center are some of the must sees on this quiet, but popular island an hour south of Savannah.

You can surely accomplish all of this on a day trip or stay in nearby St. Simons Island overnight. 

Outdoor activities in Savannah are best enjoyed in spring through to July with the rainiest month usually being August.

Driftwood and sunset on Jekyll island, Georgia .

Fort Pulaski National Monument

Masonry fortifications were the United States’ major defense against foreign foes for much of the nineteenth century. 

During the Civil War, however, modern technology demonstrated its supremacy over these forts. 

With rifled artillery, the Union forces forced the Confederate garrison inside Fort Pulaski to surrender. 

In the history of military science and ingenuity, the siege was a watershed moment.

Battlefield Park

Battlefield Park, right next to the Visitors Information Center, is worth a quick stop if you are interested in Savannah’s Revolutionary War history.

The park is a recreated site commemorating the bloody and unsuccessful Siege of Savannah of 1779, in which combined American and French forces (including a large contingent of Haitian soldiers) attempted to recapture the city from the British.

The Spring Hill redoubt, part of defensive fortifications constructed to encircle Savannah, was discovered on the Battlefield Park site during recent archaeological investigations.

A replica of the redoubt and informational signs explain the history of the site and the Siege.

Bonaventure Cemetery

Bonaventure Cemetery (330 Bonaventure Road) was developed on the historically-significant site of Bonaventure Plantation. 

The setting rests on a scenic bluff of the Wilmington River, east of Savannah. 

The site was purchased for a private cemetery in 1846 and became a public cemetery in 1907. 

Citizens and others can still purchase interment rights in Bonaventure. 

This site has been of interest for over 150 years due to the old tree-lined roadways, the many notable persons interred, the unique cemetery sculpture and architecture, and the folklore associated with the site and the people.

Gracie Statue of Little Girl in Bonaventure Cemetery Savannah

McQueen’s Island Trail

The McQueen’s Island Trail, eastwards out of Savannah between it and Tybee Island, offers scenic views over the Savannah River and adjacent marshes, and plenty of opportunities for wildlife watching.

The trail is open for hiking or biking, but dogs are not allowed.

Free parking is available at the Cockspur Island bridge at the eastern end of the trail, and at the midpoint of the trail, both off US Highway 80.

Tybee Island

Tybee Island, as a beachside refuge, combines old and new – clapboard cottages and Bermuda. 

It is this gentle blend of natural marshes and Atlantic shoreline, modest heritage, and coastal playground that has made Tybee a popular family holiday destination. 

The pier and pavilion on the island’s south end reaches into the Atlantic, luring people watchers and fishermen looking for the day’s ‘fish story’ catch. 

The realistically restored lighthouse, as well as the five-acre grounds and outbuildings, remind us of her nearly 300-year duty in guiding ships to the Savannah River. 

Tybee is a popular family vacation resort because of its delicate blend of natural wetlands and Atlantic shoreline, modest history, and seaside playground.

We’ve rounded up a selection of oceanfront properties on Tybee Island for you to dream over.

Tybee Island Light Station at Tybee Island Georgia

Cheap Things To Do In Savannah

Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum Self-Guided Tour

The Ships of the Sea Museum will teach you about Savannah’s maritime heritage, from

sail to steam to nuclear power. 

Explore the William Scarbrough House’s exquisite Regency architecture and relax in the 

stunning natural beauty of the open and free grounds.

Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace

Savannah’s Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace is the city’s first National Historic Landmark. 

Enjoy a guided tour that follows Juliette Gordon Low’s life and the Movement she formed to develop girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.

Local tip: Low’s gravestone can be found at Laurel Grove North Cemetery (free) where you can see lots of stones left by Girl Scouts from all over the U.S and beyond.

Laurel Grove North Cemetery Juliette Low Gravestone and Decorated Stones Close Up Savannah Georgia_

Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum

The Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum is located in Savannah’s Historic area, on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, which was once the heart of the city’s black business community.

You can learn more about the city’s Jim Crow era and Civil Rights movement through artifacts, documentaries and photos displayed over three floors.

Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil Tour

This small group walking tour will give you a fresh perspective on Savannah’s gorgeous city. 

Discover the characters, places, and events described in John Berendt’s novel and film adaption Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Free Events/Festivals To Do In Savannah

Tybee Island Beach Bum Parade

Come participate in the world’s oldest, largest, and most entertaining water fight! 

Parade floats against parade spectators! 

Bring the whole family and your best squirt gun!

Tybee Island Pirate Fest

A parade every year of yes- PIRATES going down the main street of Tybee Island. 

Experience live music, food, and more on the streets surrounding Tybee Island Pier.

St. Patrick’s Day

Arguably, the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebration south of the Mason-Dixon line. 

Thousands of people watch the parade through the squares and celebrate suspended liquor rules with “To Go Cups”. 

River Street is the hotspot all day and all night long.

SCAD Film Festival 

At the end of October, The Savannah College of Art and Design, the city comes alive with its festival that brings in the brightest and best of Hollywood. 

Georgia as a state has seen the film industry flourish within the last decade, and the heavy industry participation in this event is a reflection of that.

SCAD Trustees Theater Sign in Savannah

Free Things To Do In Savannah in Winter

Savannah Holly Days

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Savannah comes to light in a whole new way. 

The Savannah Christmas market Plant Riverside District has a wide array of events, including the tree lighting ceremony, Boat Parade of Lights, and Tybee Island NYE. 

Enmarket Savannah Hockey Classic

An annual battle on the ice between several colleges in the southeast, including University of Georgia, University of Florida, Georgia Tech, and the University of Tennessee School spirit abounds.

Ice Skating

The Savannah Civic Center turns into one big rink for all of December and January.

Close up photo of a man's black and a child's yellow ice skate on ice.

Getting Around Savannah on a Budget

One the best ways to get around the Historic District is by taking a slow stroll but if you want to see other areas of the city consider cycling.

Savannah is Bronze Level Bicycle-Friendly Community.

The DOT is a free service with 18 stops around downtown Savannah which includes the Historic District and the Savannah Belles Ferry.

CAT offers 16 bus routes in Savannah and Chatham County and prices start at $1.50 for are for local one-way service.

CAT Also offers the 100x Airport Express for daily service from the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport to the Joe Murray Rivers, Jr. Intermodal Transit Center with stops at designated downtown hotels.

DOT Sign Savannah

Affordable Accommodation in Savannah

You can find a hotel room for just over $100 per night if you don’t mind traveling 6 miles into the center and if you can handle ‘passable’ reviews.

The next price range up at around $180 per night sees reviews improve, check out Cottonwood Suite as an example.

There’s a lot more choice if you can stretch to $250 per night, for example this private apartment rental or this hotel with a pool and breakfast.

Welcome to Savannah Mural Georgia

Did we miss anything from our things to do in Savannah for free guide? Tell us in the comments.

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