5 Ways to Experience This Historic City and Celebrate the Holiday Season
Georgia's oldest city is full of charm and wonder for visitors of all ages. The historic buildings and squares throughout downtown Savannah give it a quaint, timeless feel, yet at the same time, the town is undeniably modern and urban.
There's another layer of magic in Savannah in December, when much of the city is dressed up for the holiday season. It's an awe-inspiring experience for kids and adults alike. With so much to explore and so many ways to immerse yourself in holiday cheer, you'll have no trouble packing your days and nights with family fun.
1. Old Town Trolley Tours
There's no better way to get an encompassing look at this beautiful city—especially for children—than the Old Town Trolley Tour (board at the Visitors Center at 234 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Savannah, GA). The fun, informative guided tour takes you to more than 100 points of interest, all without making the kids walk for hours. Plus, you're sheltered from the chilly December air.
The unlimited hop-on-hop-off privilege for the day is a welcome feature of the tour. Get off at any stop, explore a particular site or the area at will; then get back on another trolley at any of the 15 stops, any time. Different tour packages are available, but the standard tour runs about $30 per ticket, and you get a slightly lower price if you buy online.
If you're looking for a Christmas-y experience, take the Old Town Trolley Holiday Sights Tour. Sing carols on the trolley while seeing the city, with special emphasis on a seasonal experience. Make two stops, first at the historic Davenport House (324 E. State St., Savannah, GA) for a look at a typical family Christmas in the 1820s, then at the Westin Resort's massive Gingerbread Village (1 Resort Drive, Savannah, GA). Reserve your seats in advance for this tour, which runs from late November to December 24.
2. The Savannah Children's Museum
This is a two-story outdoor museum. Yes, you read that right. The Savannah Children's Museum (655 Louisville Rd., Savannah, GA) has more than a dozen interactive exhibits, including an exploration maze, a sensory garden and playground equipment. It's simultaneously fun, educational, and mentally and physically stimulating.
Again, it is an outdoor experience. That means everyone should dress appropriately for the weather, with average highs in December in Savannah hovering in the low 60s. Keep in mind that the kids move around a lot, though.
Admission is under $10 per person, so it's not an expensive way to amuse the whole family for a couple of hours. As an added bonus, the children's museum is one of three museums clustered in Savannah's Tricentennial Park. It abuts the Georgia State Railroad Museum (655 Louisville Rd., Savannah, GA), which should appeal to kids who like trains. The Savannah History Museum (303 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Savannah, GA) is also there, though probably not something for the younger kids.
3. “A Christmas Tradition” at the Savannah Theatre
The historic Savannah Theatre (222 Bull St., Savannah, GA), in the heart of downtown, first opened to the public on December 4, 1818. A century later, it's a great place for your family to get into the holiday spirit with its production, “A Christmas Tradition.”
And it truly is a Christmas tradition in Savannah. The theater's most popular show during the year, since 2004, it's been an annual event. It's staged every day except Mondays from Thanksgiving Day to the final show on the afternoon of Christmas Eve; there are matinee and evening shows on Saturdays.
The two-hour, family-oriented show includes live performances of classic holiday songs and stories, as well as familiar pop music—and some amusing, unique blends of the two. You'll enjoy singing, dancing, humor, audience participation, and beautiful sets and costumes to engage the whole family.
Tickets run about $40 for adults and around half as much for children 17 and under.
4. Oatland Island Wildlife Center of Savannah
Kids love animals, and so do the staff and volunteers at the Oatland Island Wildlife Center of Savannah (711 Sandtown Rd., Savannah, GA). You'll see wolves, bobcats, cougars, red foxes, birds of prey, bison, deer, flying squirrels, snakes, alligators, lizards and more. Along with learning about the animals, guests also learn about animal care and conservation.
It's set up just like a typical zoo, so you'll be walking between habitats and exhibits and outdoors for the duration of the experience. Wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather.
The attraction is open every day in December except for the 24th and 25th. At only $5 per adult, $3 per child and free for kids 3 and under, admission is cheap.
5. Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens' “December Nights & Holiday Lights”
Treat your family to a stunning holiday spectacle at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens (2 Canebrake Rd., Savannah, GA). Its “December Nights & Holiday Lights” event has this amazing botanical attraction all decked out with a million holiday lights and other decorations. The kids can visit Santa, and they will enjoy a cool miniature train display and hot drinks and snacks available from Mrs. Claus's Kitchen.
This seasonal offering starts at the end of November and runs on select evenings through December 24. It's a walking tour, but unguided, and you proceed at your own pace. It closes if it's raining, so check the weather forecast when making your plans. It's likely to be cold too, so dress accordingly.
Go to the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens website at coastalgeorgiabg.org for the schedule and to find admission prices. Costs are higher at peak times, including Saturday nights and the last week of the event.
Eric Mohrman has been a freelance writer since 2007, focusing on travel, food and lifestyle stories. His creative writing is also widely published. He lives in Orlando, Florida.