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Savor Savannah

Savannah has been charming visitors for centuries with its elegant architecture and the natural beauty of its coast and surrounding marshlands. 

Georgia’s oldest city was founded in 1733, making it home to some of the oldest historical sites in America. Here, groups will find opulent, centuries-old cathedrals and synagogues; antebellum mansions; marsh and island communities; and museums dedicated to exploring every aspect of Savannah’s history. From the Colonial period to the Gilded Age, every era of American life is represented by Savannah. 

These diverse attractions are Savannah staples that will let groups travel back in time to visit the city’s enthralling past.

Davenport House

A Federal-style home in Savannah, the Davenport House is open for visitors to tour. Built in 1820 by a prominent Savannah artisan, the home contains vintage furnishings and décor reflecting its period of origin. The museum tells the stories of its inhabitants, both freed and enslaved, and allows visitors to discover the past of this stately home and Savannah itself. While Savannah has no shortage of historic homes for groups to check out, the Davenport House has some unique offerings.

The museum strives to present groups with unique, compelling and educational experiences through docent guided tours of the expansive home and its garden. Groups can admire the home’s Federal-style architecture and antique furniture while they take in the rich history of the house and Savannah in the 19th century. Tours can be specialized to fit a variety of historical topics and events, from yellow fever to clothing and fashion to the lives of urban slaves in the 1800s. Another fun activity for groups is watching 19th century dance demonstrations performed by actors dressed in elegant, vintage attire. 

“It’s just a fun way to step back into the history of that time and enjoy the ambience with something more interactive,” said Tanvi Chauhan, communications manager at Visit Savannah. 

Pin Point Heritage Museum

The community of Pin Point can be found in the marshlands that stretch across the lands just south of Savannah. It was founded in the late 1800s by freed slaves and is still home to a thriving Gullah-Geechee community. The area is known as a fishing village, but it’s also noteworthy because of its preservation of West African cultural influences and the strong connection between its people and the land they occupy. 

“Pin Point Heritage Museum is a museum curated to the Gullah-Geechee culture,” said Chauhan.

The museum, located in what was once the A.S. Varn and Son Oyster and Crab Factory, is a place where groups can discover what it means to live in Pin Point. Community members lead the tours of the museum, which uses artifacts from previous residents and businesses, as well as photographs, to explore the area’s past and present. Exhibits cover topics such as Gullah-Geechee culture, the importance of the area’s environment to its residents and one of its most prominent industries: harvesting blue crab and oysters. Groups also get a showing of the award-winning documentary “Take Me to the Water,” as well as a tour of the oyster and crab factory buildings. Additionally, entrance to the Pin Point Heritage Museum is part of a package of other historical museums throughout Savannah. 

Historic Tybee Island

Tybee Island, technically a city unto itself, is also a travel staple for groups visiting Savannah. This small barrier island has a little over three square miles of land and is known for its sandy beaches, lighthouses and fresh seafood. Like the rest of Savannah, it has a rich history sure to enthrall groups that visit.

One of the main historic attractions to visit on Tybee Island is Fort Pulaski, a well-preserved Civil War fort and national monument. History comes alive at the fort, where historic weapon-firing demonstrations are staged weekly by performers in period costumes. Many of the fort’s interior rooms are still furnished with authentic antiques, while the exterior of the fort still harbors damage from Union cannon fire. Groups can take tours of the fort or explore at their leisure. The fort is surrounded by marshlands, beaches and walking trails, which give groups ample opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.

Another historic site for groups to check out while on the island is the Historic Tybee Island Light Station and Museum. The historic lighthouse, built in 1736, is one of seven remaining in the country from the Colonial era. Groups can tour the lighthouse and “enjoy amazing views of Savannah, of the beach and get to know one of the oldest light stations in America,” said Chauhan. 

The Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist

Open for tours every day but Sunday, when mass is held, the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist was completed in 1876. The French Gothic-style cathedral is one of Savannah’s architectural wonders, drawing visitors from near and far to see the towering 214-foot steeples. This church may be old, but the parish it houses is much older, having formed in 1799 when Catholics were first allowed to live in Georgia under the newly written Constitution. Following the Revolutionary War, the Catholic presence in the area only grew in strength; this church’s congregation became the cornerstone for the impressive structure’s creation, which took approximately three years and several additions to complete.

“It was one of the first Catholic Churches to be inaugurated in America,” said Chauhan. 

Groups can enter the church during regular visitor hours and request docent-guided tours in advance. Or they can simply wander at their leisure, taking in the stained glass, high ceilings and detailed architecture of the building. Docents can provide groups with trivia about the building and lead them through the 28,000 square feet of decadently designed space. This includes its 26 stained-glass windows, 16 terra cotta gargoyles and many other unique and noteworthy architectural features.