Things to Do on River Street, Savannah

Savannah is a particularly family-friendly city
Savannah is a particularly family-friendly city | © Paul Brady / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Christy Taylor
22 July 2020

Running along the Savannah River, River Street is the foremost place to experience Savannah’s culture, history and haunted past.

Cruise the Savannah River

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Hop aboard the Georgia Queen or Savannah River Queen, old-fashioned paddlewheel riverboats, and enjoy the breeze while watching River Street go by. Along with harbor tours, there are brunch, dinner and sunset cruises with live entertainment. A highlight is the Monday evening Gospel Dinner Cruise, a perfect way to enjoy southern gospel music. There are sailings departing multiple times a day from River Street. Tours and tickets are booked online. Looking for a more affordable option? There is a free daily ferry between River Street and Hutchinson Island and the quick ride provides great views of River Street.

Visit a haunted site

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Savannah is known as America’s most haunted city and some consider River Street to be a haunted hub. The street has a dark past: servants and slaves were forced to load and unload heavy freight off the ships which caused many deaths. They were also kept in holding pens that some people didn’t make it out of, and allegedly those poor souls haunt the road to this day. Many restaurants and bars claim to be haunted and can be visited on their own, such as Tondee’s Tavern or Moon River Brewing Company, otherwise join one of several guided ghost tours or haunted pub crawls.

Sip cocktails on a rooftop

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Savannah is a busy port city and an airy rooftop is the perfect venue to watch the ships come sailing in. There are several rooftop bars on River Street. Check out Rocks on the Roof, a lounge inside the Bohemian Hotel that overlooks the river as well as the Talmadge Memorial Bridge. Savour handcrafted cocktails around the fire pit as the sun goes down. Top Deck Bar is above the Cotton Sail Hotel. Seats line the edge of the wooden deck facing outwards allowing customers to appreciate the skyline views while nibbling on small plates and charcuterie. Bear in mind – both of these places will have a tourist crowd.

Indulge in comfort food

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A visit to the South has to include devouring comfort food and the dozen or so restaurants that line River Street will be happy to provide, especially if you’re looking for seafood. The Shrimp Factory is housed in an old cotton warehouse and its specialty is, of course, shrimp. Huey’s serves breakfast all day – grits anyone? But is also famous for its beignets. Make a reservation at Vic’s on the River in the elegant dining room and try its fried green tomatoes or award-winning crawfish beignets. Finish off with hush puppies at Tubby’s Tank House.

Shop for souvenirs

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For more conventional souvenirs such as mugs, towels or hats, River Street is the place to find them. The quirkily named Bob’s Your Uncle, Fannie’s Your Aunt has all of this and more, including its own branded merchandise. Voted Savannah’s best candy store is River Street Sweets. Treat yourself to gourmet candy apples, homemade fudge and world-famous pralines. Behind River Street is historic Factors Walk, which in the 19th century was cotton warehouses and today contains cozy cafés, boutiques and antique stores.

Historic River Street

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While River Street in itself is historic, there are a few noteworthy sites to visit. The African-American Monument honors the contribution of Black citizens and acknowledges the city’s role in the institution of slavery. The Waving Girl Monument is for Florence Martus, who for 44 years waved in the ships entering the harbor, be it day or night. The WWII Monument also called the Cracked Earth, erected in 2010, is a huge bronze-colored globe split in two. Inside are all the names of those who served from Chatham County. Other monuments include the Anchor Monument, Olympic Cauldron and Washington’s Guns.

These recommendations were updated on July 22, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.