Local Travel Tip: 5 Family Favorites in Savannah
We visited Savannah when Tiny Traveler was almost 2 years old. We liked taking a carriage ride around town, eating take-out BBQ from Angel’s in one of the city’s leafy squares, and sampling the pralines at Savannah’s Candy Kitchen. But touring genteel, antique-filled homes with a toddler seemed more trouble than it was worth and the dining options at the convenient but touristy River Street underwhelmed us. We felt we didn’t see or taste the best the city had to offer.
So I was delighted when Savannah native Stacy Aldrich offered a guest blog on her five favorite things to do in Savannah with her family. Here are her suggestions:
1. Forsyth Park
We started taking our son to big Forsyth Park as a newborn and walked many miles through it with him in the stroller. The mansions and homes surrounding the park are as beautiful as the overhanging trees inside.
The best times to visit Forsyth Park are during the SCAD Sidewalk Arts Festival in April or the Savannah Jazz Festival in September. As a toddler, Cameron enjoyed watching the artists cover the city’s sidewalks with amazing chalk drawing. And he happily danced to all that Jazz.
There are several playgrounds in the park for all age ranges and in the summer months kids love to cool off in the fountains.
2. Art and Culture
Savannah is home to a large number of galleries, museums and theaters that offer arts and culture in family friendly doses.
The Jepson Center, part of the Telfair Museum, has family programs that change every month and focus on things like photography, creating flipbooks or painting. Our 3-year-old loved the ArtZeum section with its made-for-kids interactive exhibits.
The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has a free monthly gallery hop showcasing four to six local galleries. The exhibits might include film, painting, photograph, or any other medium. Buses making a circuit of the galleries leave every 10 to 15 minutes. It’s a great way to see Savannah and take in some art in a low-risk way. Even if the inventive exhibits don’t wow your kids, hopping on and off the bus around town always kept our son happy.
Visit the FG Hotel Guide to Savannah
3. Tybee Island
Take a 45-minute drive from downtown Savannah and your family can have their toes in the sand, enjoying a day at the beach.
Consider the dolphin watching tours, fishing excursions and kayak and Jet Ski rentals you’ll pass on the way to Tybee Island. When our son was as young as 2, he would sit in the middle of a rented kayak while my husband and I paddled through marshes full of new sights and sounds. We’ would take short fishing tours (or just drop a line in the water from shore) when he was that young.
Once you reach the beach, rent bikes and beach gear or tour a lighthouse (be aware: it could be a lot of stairs for the under-5 crowd). Cameron was always happy enough with a pail and shovel while teens surf or flop in the sun.
4. The Marine Education Center and Aquarium
The University of Georgia Aquarium (MAREX) is 15 minutes from downtown Savannah on beautiful Skidway island. This public aquarium has 15 tanks bursting with marine life. Cameron’s favorite part of our trips here was always the touch tank. There is a small grocery store and a few restaurants on the Island where you can eat or pick up items for a picnic.
5. The Local Food Scene
Savannah is home to great coastal southern food and many of the best spots are both casual enough for kids to eat in and great for take-out.
Bypass crowded, pricey Paula Deen’s and head for the Mrs. Wilkes House http://mrswilkes.com/. Local kids and out-of-towners love the fried chicken, butter beans, mac and cheese and biscuits. It’s only open for lunch and lines form early. I used to call ahead for take out (make sure to ask about daily specials if you do the same).
Blowin’ Smoke BBQ http://www.blowinsmokebbq.com/ has laid back outdoor seating and games to play while you wait for your pulled pork and onion rings. In the warm weather they have music on some evenings (early!). Zunzi’s Take Out http://www.zunzis.com has a menu that’s a little South African and little everything else. My favorites are the portabella mushroom sub, lasagna and cottage pie. There are a few outdoor tables, but the line can be very long so it’s better to call in your order and take it to go. Oglethorpe Square, just around the corner, is a handy picnic spot.
Stacy Aldrich is the founder of the family travel website Travel Rink.