10 Best Ways to Explore Savannah: By Trolley, Kayak, Hearse and More
By Amy Pine
Savannah has dozens of tour companies, and finding the one that’s right for you can be overwhelming. The best starting point is to choose your desired mode of transportation: open-air trolley, air-conditioned bus, horse-drawn carriage, hearse, high-tech scooter, kayak, riverboat or your own two feet. Once you’ve decided how you want to see the city, determine the type of tour you want. Savannah offers tours of every variety and description, including daytime history tours, nighttime ghost tours, gourmet food tours, pub tours, architectural tours and even Paula Deen-themed tours.
Some of the most popular tours are offered by Old Savannah Tours and Old Town Trolley Tours. Both of these long-time tour companies offer guided on-off tours of the Historic District in which guests can choose to stay onboard and continue the tour or get off and explore the surrounding area, then catch the next trolley at their convenience.
Savannah has several highly regarded walking tours. Favorites include Savannah Dan Walking Tours, Explore Savannah! and Architectural Tours of Savannah. Carriage tours are another great way to explore the city, and there are several reputable companies, including Carriage Tours of Savannah and Historic Savannah Carriage Tours. Other enjoyable tour options include Savannah Movie Tours and More, Segway of Savannah, Shannon Scott Journeys, Hearse Ghost Tours, Oglethorpe Trolley Tours, Cobblestone Tours and Savvy Savannah. If you're looking for something all together different and want to become one with nature, book a tour of Savannah's waterways with Moon River Kayak.
Hearse Ghost Tours
Savannah offers some two dozen ghost tours, but only one transports passengers around town in an actual hearse. Hearse Ghost Tours take place in a real hearse--one that is guaranteed to have been in service for at least 15 years. With the bodies and caskets long gone, the hearse proves the perfect vehicle to tour Savannah's haunted Historic District. The hearse has been tricked out and converted into an open-air vehicle, complete with a canopy to protect tour-goers from the elements. Throughout the guided hour-and-a-half tour, guests pass by cemeteries and haunted buildings, learning about Savannah's grisly and eerie history. Reservations are required. (912-695-1578)
Segway of Savannah
Admit it. You've been wanting to try a Segway scooter since they burst onto the scene in 2001. At Segway of Savannah, not only do you have the opportunity to learn to operate these futuristic vehicles, you also have the chance to explore Savannah in a fun and unique way. The Segway PT is an eco-friendly, pedestrian device powered by lithium-ion batteries that can be operated anywhere someone can safely walk. Before hitting the pavement, participants are fitted for helmets, watch a safety video and participate in practice sessions. The training session is followed by a guided 90-minute tour of Downtown Savannah in which guests ride the Segways and see some of the city's best historic sites. (912-233-3554)
Shannon Scott Journeys
While a self-guided tour of Savannah's famed Bonaventure Cemetery is a worthwhile experience, there's no better way to learn about the cemetery and its haunted past than by booking a tour with Shannon Scott. Scott's Journeys tours include a Bonaventure By Day tour and a Bonaventure: After Hours tour. The latter is a truly unique experience, giving participants a rare opportunity to visit the cemetery when the gates are locked. Scott's engaging storytelling and detailed knowledge of Bonaventure and Savannah history make the spooky tour an unforgettable experience. For another one-of-a-kind experience, check out Scott's Paranormalist Tour, a customized haunted tour of the city. Reservations for all tours are required. (912-604-4423)
Old Savannah Tours
With more than a generation of experience, Old Savannah Tours has treated countless visitors to the inside story of Savannah's beauty and history. A variety of tours is available, depending on your interests, but Old Savannah is happy to accommodate. Tours include a 90-minute historic overview tour, a ghost tour, Girl Scouts tour, river cruise (with a buffet lunch), and even a Paula Deen tour that includes lunch and a gift bag. One of the company's most popular tours is a historic on-off tour in which guests can explore areas on their own time and hop on the next available trolley (trolleys come to designated points every 15-20 minutes). (912-234-8128, 800-517-9007)
Moon River Kayak Tours
One of the most unique ways to see Savannah is by kayak, and the experts at Moon River Kayak will have you paddling the city's waterways like a pro. Guided tours last approximately 2-1/2 hours, with experienced guides taking guests through the protected waters of Skidaway Narrows. Moon River Kayak provides the kayaks, paddles, lifejackets and even paddle pants; guests simply need to bring water, sunscreen, insect repellant, hats, sunglasses, water shoes and binoculars. Tickets can be purchased online, and the tours depart from the Rodney J. Hall Boat Ramp and Park on Skidaway Island. The company also offers kayak rentals, which are available at Hogan's Marina on Wilmington Island. (912-344-1310)
This popular walking tour, led by Savannah resident Bobby Davis, gives visitors an intimate glimpse into the city's history. The one-on-one tours can be scheduled for two hours or for half a day and feature themes such as Historic Savannah, Revolutionary and Civil Wars, Churches and Cemeteries of Savannah, Ornamental Iron Work and Hidden Fountains, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Great Photo Ops in the Historic District and more. The tours are private, and Davis can accommodate as few as two people, large groups and everything in between. The tour consistently receives rave reviews from travelers who praise Davis' knowledge, insight and lively demeanor. ((912) 507-9144)
Savannah Movie Tours and More
This popular tour company, founded by the late Ron Higgins--a local celebrity known for his contribution to Savannah filmmaking, offers several unique tours of the city. The company's original tour, the Savannah Movie Tour, offers a fascinating glimpse into the dozens of movies filmed in Savannah over the years, including Forrest Gump, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and the original Cape Fear. The tour, along with several others offered by the company, takes place in a luxury, climate-controlled minibus equipped with LCD screens. Walking tours are also available for those who prefer to explore the city on foot. Among the other tours offered by Savannah Movie Tours and More are the Foody Tour, a popular excursion that features samples of some of the city's best cuisine, and the Scary Ghost Tour, in which guests visit some of Savannah's most haunted locales. (912-234-3440)
Carriage Tours of Savannah
There's no better way to experience the old South than by horse-drawn carriage. Carriage Tours of Savannah, the city's first carriage tour company, offers 50-minute general tours of the Historic District, as well as evening ghost tours. Each carriage can comfortably hold six adults and is pulled by two well cared-for horses. Tours depart from the gazebo in the center of City Market at Jefferson and West St. Julian streets. Reservations can be made ahead of time online or by phone; the company suggests making reservations 48 hours in advance if you are booking online. If you are planning your carriage ride sooner than that, call for a reservation. (912-236-6756)
Savannah Dan Walking Tours
Who better to escort you around Downtown Savannah than an authentic Southern gentleman with a top hat and bow tie? Savannah Dan, a U.S. veteran, former deputy sheriff and photographer, gives visitors a unique glimpse into the city's history with his two daily walking tours, available Monday-Saturday (only one daily tour is offered in June, July and August). From Savannah's most stunning churches and mansions to the locales made famous in locally filmed movies such as Forrest Gump, Savannah Dan treats guests to an insider's view of the city. For those who prefer to travel the city by horse-drawn carriage, Savannah Dan now offers a private carriage ride that can accommodate up to four adults. (912-398-3777)
Architectural Tours of Savannah
Architectural Tours of Savannah offers several 90-minute walking tours of the city. The tour covers all major styles and periods, beginning with Savannah's oldest buildings and ending with the newest additions. Proprietor Jonathan Stalcup, an expert in the city's architectural history, received a B.F.A. and master of architecture degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design and is an author and REALTOR(R). His unique background gives him invaluable insight into Savannah's architecture. Standard tours visit landmarks such as the John Eppinger House, Owens-Thomas House, Kehoe House, federal courthouse and Jepson Center for the Arts. Customized group and private tours can also be arranged. Reservations are required. (912-604-6354)
About Amy Pine
Amy's thrilled to have the opportunity to share her love of Savannah with the world. A Savannah native, Amy has more than 15 years of experience as a writer and editor, and her work has appeared in numerous local, regional and national publications. Prior to launching a freelance career, she was executive editor at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she served as editor of the college’s alumni magazine. Amy received a B.A. in English and communications from the University of Pennsylvania. She's currently putting the finishing touches on her young adult novel, The Girl in a Picture Frame.
Read more about Amy Pine here.