Savannah is one of the most charming cities in the South, thanks to an abundance of leafy streets, historical architecture, and of course, plenty of soul food.
The southern hospitality doesn’t end in Savannah. One of the best things about this city is its close proximity to other intriguing destinations, perfect for day trips. You’ll find beautiful islands, booming cities, and historic towns – all within a day’s drive from this southern city.
Read on to learn more about our 15 favorite day trips from Savannah.
Table of Contents
- 1. Savannah National Wildlife Refuge
- 2. Cockspur Island
- 3. Isle of Hope
- 4. Tybee Island
- 5. Bluffton, South Carolina
- 6. Golden Isles
- 7. Cumberland Island
- 8. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
- 9. Beaufort, South Carolina
- 10. Skidaway Island
- 11. Charleston, South Carolina
- 12. Amelia Island, Florida
- 13. Jacksonville, Florida
- 14. Atlanta
- 15. Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge
1. Savannah National Wildlife Refuge
Nature lovers won’t want to miss a memorable trip to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. It’s located just a few miles out of city center, making it a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for the day.
There are over 40 miles of trails to trek and an impressive array of biodiversity to be seen while you hike. Keep your eyes overhead for the chance to glimpse ospreys, bald eagles, owls, and 250 other bird species that call this place home. You may also spot otters, bobcats, or deer – and you’re almost guaranteed to see a host of alligators during your time here.
You can also opt to see the area via boat along the refuge’s waterways, or cycle along the scenic Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive.
2. Cockspur Island
Another fun day trip awaits just 20 minutes from Savannah on Cockspur Island. Located on the banks of the city’s namesake river, this is a great spot to get a dose of civil war history or simply enjoy some peace and quiet in a scenic environment.
The most iconic monument on the island is undoubtedly the Fort Pulaski National Monument. The old fort is well preserved and massive – so much so that there are hiking and biking trails inside of it. Take your time wandering over the old drawbridges and soaking in the stunning views of the surrounding marshland.
The lighthouse is also a must-see while you’re on the island and makes for a great photo-op.
3. Isle of Hope
The Isle of Hope is a neighborhood within Savannah, making it the perfect day trip when you’re visiting. You could spend an entire day wandering around this mesmerizing area.
You’ve likely seen pictures of the impressive oak-lined streets, the most popular leading up to the Wormsloe Plantation. Visit the plantation museum or take a stroll on the walking paths around the salt marsh.
The Isle of Hope is also home to some beautifully restored cottages and mouthwatering seafood restaurants.
4. Tybee Island
Located less than 20 miles from Savannah, Tybee Island gives you that island experience without having to step foot on a boat.
This chill beach town makes for a great day trip, especially for those looking for some fun in the sun. You can spend the day kayaking, surfing, sailing, or splashing around in the waves. There’s also a fishing pier and a scenic lighthouse at the north end of the beach.
There are plenty of outdoor dining options along the shore where you’ll find fresh seafood and beautiful coastal views.
5. Bluffton, South Carolina
Located about 25 miles from Savannah, just across the South Carolina border on the banks of the May River, Bluffton is simply a must for a day trip.
The proximity to the ocean has foodies from near and far coming to enjoy fresh seafood from an array of impeccable eateries. In between meals you can check out the Heyward House Museum or tour the lovely Church of the Cross. You could always ask a friendly local for more suggestions on things to do here, as they are the embodiment of southern hospitality.
6. Golden Isles
More island vibes await you at the Golden Isles, located about 1.5 hours south of Savannah. These isles are accessible by car, and although they’re further away than Tybee Island, you’ll be able to enjoy great coastal views for part of the way.
The most accessible of the isles – and therefore the most popular – include:
- Sea Island
- St Simons Island
- Jekyll Island
These coastal isles are considered to be among the most beautiful in the continental U.S., thanks to the pristine stretches of marshland, sandy beaches, and incredible sunsets.
7. Cumberland Island
What was once an exclusive destination for Georgia’s elite and well-to-do, Cumberland Island is now partially open to the public – so you can explore 17 miles of unspoiled coastline on a day trip from Savannah.
The island is located a few miles past the Golden Isles, and you’ll need a ferry to get to this well-preserved nature area. Ferries leave twice a day from the town of St. Mary from March through September. There are also campsites available on the island if you want to turn your day trip into a relaxing weekend getaway.
The island is home to some seriously cool flora and fauna, including maritime forests, sea turtles, and even wild horses. You can walk along forest trails, stick your bare feet in the sand, or explore some old ruins that still stand from long ago.
8. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
You will have to cross state lines to get to Hilton Head, but the drive is only around 45 minutes from downtown Savannah.
Created as an eco-tourism destination, the founder designed the area to celebrate nature first and foremost. There are sprawling white sand beaches and various nature preserves, as well as some upbeat activities including bike rentals and volleyball courts. There’s also plenty of beachfront bars and restaurants on this verdant island, making it a fan favorite day trip for anyone visiting Savannah.
Golf lovers shouldn’t miss their chance to experience one of the best places to tee off in the country. There are dozens of pristine courses on this one-of-a-kind island.
9. Beaufort, South Carolina
You’ll feel like you stepped back in time when you visit the historic town of Beaufort. It’s the second oldest town in South Carolina, and at just under an hour’s drive from Savannah, it makes for the perfect day trip.
The city is full of antebellum houses, restored 18th-century mansions, and civil war relics that are definitely worth checking out. Some people may even recognize the town from the slew of movies that we set here in the 90s.
We recommended seeing Beaufort with a guide so you can see as much as possible, but it’s still a beautiful place to spend the day if you prefer to do it alone.
10. Skidaway Island
Just 20 minutes from Savannah sits the verdant Skidaway Island. This is the perfect day trip for those looking for a dose of nature without heading too far out of the city.
The island is home to the Skidaway Island State Park, a well-loved escape that offers incredible wildlife viewing opportunities. Keep your eyes peeled for deer, crabs, egrets, and other varieties of waterfowl as you trek through this expansive green space.
There are over six miles of trails along the unique salt flat and marshland terrain, and if you don’t feel like walking, you can always rent bikes from the park office.
11. Charleston, South Carolina
Topping our list of the best day trips from Savannah is one of the most popular cities in South Carolina: Charleston. It’s about a two-hour drive, but the trip is well worth it.
Even if you’re not a history buff, it’ll be hard not to appreciate the historical importance in this city. From the well-preserved colonial architecture to the country’s oldest public marketplace, this place is what history books are made of.
Take a stroll downtown, and when you’re hungry, pop into pretty much any restaurant for a steaming bowl of she-crab soup – a creamy bisque, that is a rite-of-passage for anyone visiting Charleston.
Folly Beach is a must-stop on hot summer days; you can surf, swim, or grab a seat at one of the laid-back bars that dot the shoreline.
12. Amelia Island, Florida
Located just 13 miles over the Florida border, Amelia Island is a great place to visit if you want to check one more state off of your list during your trip to Savannah. It used to be a ritzy destination for the rich and famous, but is presently accessible to anyone who wishes to visit.
Although notably soaked in sun and sand, this island is more than just a cozy beach town. It’s known as the island of eight flags because it has flown eight different flags since being colonized, including the Mexican, French, Spanish, and Confederate flags.
The island’s past can be seen through the architecture of over 50 blocks of historic buildings in Fernandina Beach.
It’s been a popular vacation destination for over a century now. The unspoiled beaches are some of the best in the country, and the seafood alone is worth the trip.
13. Jacksonville, Florida
While you’re in Florida, don’t hesitate to check out the booming town of Jacksonville. This big city is brimming with fun activities, so you’ll likely need a full weekend to see all that the city has to offer.
If you only have one day here, be sure to plan accordingly. It’s one of the largest cities in terms of area, and you don’t want to waste any time figuring out how to get from place to place.
There are tons of walkable areas, including charming neighborhoods with cafes, restaurants, and boutiques on every corner. There are also lots of museums to check out in this sweeping city, along with a hip bar scene that might entice you to stay the night.
If you want to visit the capital of Georgia while you’re visiting Savannah, you’ll have to make the nearly four-hour trek north. Those that do make the trip will be rewarded with the exciting urban playground that is Atlanta.
The fabulous food scene, the art, and the eclectic music will keep you entertained for hours on end – and as long as you get an early start, there’s no reason that this bustling city shouldn’t be on your shortlist of day trips from Savannah.
15. Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge
Unspoiled nature awaits at the Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge. Those looking to really get off the grid and immerse themselves in nature during their trip to Savannah would be hard-pressed to find a better destination.
You’ll have to arrange a boat ride to reach the island, so it’s hard to get to, but once you’re there, you’ll have access to miles of hiking trails that wind their way through spectacular untouched nature and plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities.
Because the refuge is not exactly easy to access, it’s an uncrowded retreat for those who do decide to make the trek.