This 19th-century fort, which was occupied by the Confederate Army during the Civil War, is a must-see for history buffs. Only a 15-minute drive from Downtown Savannah, Fort Pulaski was designed by Napoleon's engineer, and though it fell during the Civil War, it still remains intact, with moats, drawbridges, enormous ramparts and mysterious tunnels. After learning about the Fort's fascinating history, visitors can access one of the historic site's many walking trails, which feature magnificent views of the marsh and Savannah River. Be sure to keep your eyes out for one of the Fort's 11 protected species, including bald eagles, manatees, loggerhead sea turtles and peregrine falcons.
Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: Guests at Fort Pulaski's visitors center and museum can learn about the fort's construction and history before touring the impressive structure.
Amy's expert tip: Plan to visit on a Saturday to see one of three daily cannon firings at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. or 3 p.m.
People of all ages and races are moved by this museum's brilliantly composed exhibits detailing Savannah's role in the civil rights struggle. Housed in a structure that was built in 1914 as an African-American bank, the museum is named for Dr. Ralph Mark Gilbert, former NAACP president and dauntless hero of Savannah's civil rights movement. Today the three-story museum provides unparalleled insight into life during segregation, with highlights that include an exhibit dedicated to the NAACP, fiber optic map of 87 significant civil rights sites and events, a replica of a lunch counter where sit-ins occurred, and an extraordinary film with stirring first-hand accounts.
Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum brings the civil rights movement to life with moving exhibits that are appropriate for all ages.
Amy's expert tip: Be sure to seek out the museum's director, who is always happy to give a personal tour.
This fascinating museum pays homage to the tiny community of Pin Point, a century-old African-American community on the banks of Savannah's Moon River. Pin Point, best known as the birthplace of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, was founded in the 1890s by first generation freedmen, and has been a self-sustaining community ever since. The museum, located in the former home of the A.S. Varn & Son oyster and shrimp factory, explores the neighborhood's Gullah/Geechee culture through artwork, artifacts and interactive exhibits. The museum also regularly hosts live demonstrations in its outdoor covered pavilion, showing guests the art of skills such as net making.
Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: Learn the history of local Gullah culture at the Pin Point Heritage Museum. The fascinating exhibits and interactive displays make the museum enjoyable for everyone.
Amy's expert tip: After exploring the Pin Point Heritage Museum, continue over the bridge to Skidaway Island and hike one of the beautiful walking trails at Skidaway Island State Park.
Located in Pooler, a burgeoning area in Southwest Savannah, the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force is a must-see for those interested in learning more about aviation history. The museum tells the history of the Eighth Air Force Division, which was activated in Savannah in 1942, just 53 days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. More than 1 million men and women have served in the division, which played a pivotal role in World War II, flying bombing missions over Nazi Germany. The impressive museum pays homage to the division's service in that war and the ones that followed. Among the displays are retired aircraft including a B-47 Stratojet, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17A and F-4C Phantom, which are located on the museum's grounds. Other exhibits include a Prelude to World War II gallery, art gallery, POW exhibit, Post WWII exhibit and memorial gardens, among others.
Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: Kids will love the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force's magnificent aircraft, while adults will be moved by the division's role in WWII.
Amy's expert tip: Be sure to grab lunch at Miss Sophie's, the museum's cafe, which features authentic Southern and British cuisine.
Housed in the historic Scarborough House (circa 1819), this museum is a fantastic source of information about Savannah's seafaring history. The port city was a major player in the import and export trade, and the ships that sailed its waters were amazing vessels. Many of them are replicated here in models, including the City of Savannah, a 245-foot-long, 38-foot-wide iron hulled vessel that was powered by both sail and by steam. The Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum also features artwork, maritime artifacts, a gift shop, and lovely gardens that feature a variety of camellias, azaleas, magnolias and other native plants.
Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: Take an in-depth look at Savannah's seafaring history at the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum, which features intricate ship models, paintings and maritime antiques.
Amy's expert tip: Be sure to check out the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum's impressive model of the Titanic.
The Massie Common School opened its doors in 1856 and educated Savannahians until 1974. Today the Massie Heritage Center serves as an architecture and history museum, featuring engaging, state-of-the-art exhibits. A three-dimensional model of the city's National Landmark District gives visitors a unique glimpse of the city's historic areas, while a touch screen laser show tells the story of Savannah's history. In addition to architecture exhibits, guests can tour the original school facilities and see an authentic 19th-century classroom. The Massie Heritage Center also has an exhibit dedicated to local Native American history that includes artifacts dating from pre-history.
Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The Massie Heritage Center is one of the city's first schoolhouses and features fascinating exhibits, including an interactive 3-D model of Savannah's Landmark Historic District.
Amy's expert tip: Bring your kids. The Massie Heritage Center's interactive activities make it a good place for children.
Train-loving tots and railroad buffs alike adore the Georgia State Railroad Museum, considered the largest and most complete antebellum railroad repair facility still in existence. Guests can enjoy lunch in a restored dining car before heading across the street to the museum, where they will find beautifully restored antique locomotives and enchanting model trains, as well as a working roundhouse and old-fashioned repair shop. Visitors can tour the luxurious presidential cars, ride a 1913 steam locomotive or 1947 diesel locomotive and even operate a vintage handcar. Kids especially love the Baggage Car, an old railway car that's been transformed into a children's play space.
Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: Railroad buffs young and old will be intrigued by the historic steam locomotives and other trains on display at the Georgia State Railroad Museum.
Amy's expert tip: Don't leave the Georgia State Railroad Museum without letting your kids play at the adjacent Savannah Children's Museum. Tickets are cheaper if you buy them together.
The first National Historic Landmark in Savannah, this iconic gem is the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts of the USA. Built in 1821, the English Regency-style townhouse has been elegantly restored and is furnished with many original pieces from the Gordon family. Whether you're a lifelong Scout or clueless as to the difference between a Daisy and a Brownie, you'll be captivated by the home's lavish antiques, Gordon Low's original artwork and GSUSA memorabilia, such as a Thanks Badge presented to Mrs. Woodrow Wilson in 1917. The Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace welcomes more than 65,000 visitors a year, including Girl Scouts from around the country.
Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace is a must for Girl Scouts, who can learn more about the group's founder and tour her former home.
Amy's expert tip: Get your Girl Scout cookie fix. Troop members sell their famous treats outside the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace each year during cookie season.
This striking 64,000-square-foot modern art museum features an impressive permanent collection and hosts major traveling exhibitions from around the world. The Kirk Varnedoe Collection, the Jepson Center's permanent collection, includes works by renowned artists such as Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg , Chuck Close and Richard Avedon. The museum also boasts a 3,500-square-foot interactive gallery for children and families called ArtZeum. The Jepson Center itself is a work of art. Designed by architect Moshe Safdie, the museum's sleek design includes hung-glass ceilings and cantilevered walls. The Jepson Center is part of the Telfair Museums, a series of three unique art venues in Downtown Savannah that also includes the Telfair Academy and the Owens-Thomas House.
Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The Jepson Center for the Art's ArtZeum is two stories of interactive art games and activities fun for both kids and their parents.
Amy's expert tip: Stop by the Jepson Center's gift shop, which has a great selection of gifts for art lovers of all ages.
This two-level, outdoor museum, which opened in June 2012, encourages kids to use their hands, make noise and interact with their surroundings. The Savannah Children's Museum features more than a dozen exhibits in the Imagination Station, including an underground archeology table, imagination playground, giant building blocks and life-size games such as tic-tac-toe. Other unique exhibits include a maze that features a giant Lego panel, an interactive garden and a misting station to keep kids cool on hot days. The museum is located in the ruins of the old Central of Georgia Railroad station, which adds an element of historic charm to the unique play space.
Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The Savannah Children's Museum is the city's ultimate interactive play space. Kids will love the hands-on activities, and adults will dig the cool historic details.
Amy's expert tip: Take advantage of your location and plan a full, fun day for the kids. After exploring the Children's Museum, head to the nearby Georgia State Railroad Museum, then have lunch at Whistlestop Cafe, where you can dine in an authentic 1941 Pullman train car.