Why Savannah—”America’s Most Haunted City”—Should Be at the Top of Your Travel Bucket List

Travel Features Savannah
Why Savannah—”America’s Most Haunted City”—Should Be at the Top of Your Travel Bucket List

As we hurtle quickly towards Halloween, there is one city with quite a spooky reputation that deserves our attention more than most. Savannah is Georgia’s oldest and arguably most charming city and is known for its coastal landscapes, vibrant history, incredible antebellum architecture, and its many, many local ghosts. Known by some as America’s “Most Haunted City,” Savannah is an ideal destination for a Halloween getaway, especially for the history buffs among us or those that just love a good scare. Of course, Savannah has so much more to offer than just its haunted history; with exciting attractions, gorgeous parks, art museums, eclectic shopping, waterfront views and mouth watering cuisine, there has never been a better time to plan your visit to this all-American Southern Belle.

Any great trip to Savannah should revolve itself around the historic downtown areas and the riverfront. It’s a highly walkable city, so let yourself get lost in time as you wander through the old cobblestone streets. Don’t worry, though, as the United States’ first planned city, Savannah is a perfect grid, so it’s highly unlikely that you will actually get lost. Stroll down the famous Broughton Street, enjoy the shopping on Bull Street, and get your camera ready for Jones Street, known as the most beautiful street in Savannah. If there’s one street you absolutely cannot miss, though, it is the historic River Street, overlooking the Savannah River. From here, you can truly begin to understand the city, as you watch the riverboats or the immense cargo ships go by, enjoy street performances, and view the waterfront and the famous Talmadge Memorial Bridge. (It’s well past time to rename that bridge, btw.—Ed.)

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Explore the city’s 22 peaceful park squares, including the Chippewa Square, where the famous scene of Forrest Gump on the park bench was filmed, and find incredible mansions, monuments and museums on every corner. House museums are particularly popular here, so visit Mercer-Williams House Museum, Owens-Thomas House and Slave Quarters and the Andrew Low House, where Juliette Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts, lived. As expected, all three homes have their fair share of notable historic moments, and they’re all rumored to be haunted. For something a little different, visit the American Prohibition Museum, the only museum in the country dedicated to preserving the stories of the prohibition era. The Telfair Academy is another museum must, as it is the oldest public art museum in the South and the first art museum in the U.S to be founded by a woman. If contemporary art is more your style, then make your way to SCAD Museum of Art instead.

Make sure to also spend some time strolling through Forsyth Park, the city’s oldest and largest public park. Snap some photos in front of the park’s fountain, one of Savannah’s most well-known icons, and swoon over the giant oak trees covered in Spanish moss that make the city look like something out of a fairytale. If you happen to be in town on a Saturday, then make sure to check out the Farmers Market, held in the park.

If you’d like to lean into the eerie history of Savannah, then your first stop should be Bonaventure Cemetery. It was designed as a traditional Victorian Cemetery and is a labyrinthine maze of old oak trees and overgrown Gothic style headstones. So, as with many landmarks in Savannah, it is known to be one of the most beautiful of its kind in the country. There are also plenty of ghost tours available, for anyone hoping to meet the undead, including Hearse Ghost Tours, who, you guessed it, take their patrons around for a ghostly late night drive in one of their funerary vehicles. If that all seems a little too frightful, though, dial it down with the Haunted Savannah Pub Crawl, or the Boo Y’all Comedy Ghost Tour instead. If you really want a fright, check in to Marshall House, a hotel used as a hospital during yellow fever outbreaks and the Civil War.

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Rest assured, Savannah also has plenty of tour options that aren’t designed to scare you out of the city. Discover the city on foot with a myriad of various walking tours, or if you’re tired of walking, then definitely don’t miss the iconic “hop on, hop off” trolley tours. Sightseeing is thirsty work, but luckily, Savannah’s food and drink scene has everything you need to refuel or indulge. For breakfast, visit the adorable Mirabelle’s or the Australian style Collins Quarter at one of their two Savannah locations. For unbeatable Southern cuisine, like fried green tomatoes or shrimp and grits, try The Olde Pink House, a colonial mansion with live music and a romantic atmosphere, or for something more casual don’t miss The Public Kitchen and Bar. If you’ve got a sweet tooth then you absolutely need to go to Leopold’s Ice Cream Shop, the coolest place in town. People have been known to queue for up to an hour here, so you can be sure it’s worth the wait. Lastly, for dining, shopping, entertainment and all-round great vibes, you must visit Savannah’s City Market, an open air market that dates back to the 1700s. While you’re there, try a slice of New York style pizza from popular eatery Vinnie Van Go-Go.

With a population of less than 200,000, Savannah is a relatively small city; two or three days is the perfect amount of time to explore what this city has to offer. Maybe you’ll even have enough time to dash out of the city and enjoy one of the many nearby islands or stunning beaches, such as Hilton Head, Tybee, or Cockspur Island. Whatever you decide to do, a trip to Savannah, with all its delicious food and gorgeous sights to see, is never one that you’ll live to regret. Perhaps the reason so many of the dead have decided to stick around is just because of how much this charming city has to offer. So, don’t wait, give Savannah a go while you’re still alive and kicking.


Bryony Parker is a writer and artist currently living in São Paulo, Brazil and working on her Masters in International Affairs. You can find her at @par666ker on all social media.

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