The Savannah College of Art and Design, which is located in downtown Savannah, Georgia, infuses this historic city with a young fresh face. Yet it’s the city’s mystery, secrets, ghosts, pirates, and a hip, creative vibe that make traveling to Savannah with teens so much fun.
Uncovering the Secrets of Savannah with Teens
Savannah GA is a mysterious city. It feels like the stately live oaks with their moss draped branches are hiding some profound secret, a secret locals are willing to share…to a point. The city welcomes visitors with open arms to enjoy true Southern hospitality, immerse themselves in the history, and contribute to the party. But Savannah always leaves you wanting a little bit more, looking to uncover another thin layer of the secret. It’s one of the things that make Savannah such an enticing city to visit, for adults and teens.
Where to Stay in Savannah
To really get the feel for Savannah, stay in the heart of the action in the historic district. The Hotel Indigo is located on W. Bay Street between the River Street and City Market tourist areas. You probably won’t find many locals on River Street, but still plan to at least walk along the river, and maybe stop at one of the two candy shops to get a free sample of traditional Savannah pralines. Hop aboard the Riverboat Cruise for a fun introduction to some of the working areas of the Port of Savannah, the fastest growing port on the East Coast. Note that River Street is very family friendly during the day and early evening hours, but can get quite rowdy as the night wears on, especially on weekends and holidays.
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Historical River Street
As you leave River Street, take one of the original stairways up to W. Bay Street. Stop for a moment on the bridge. As you look down upon the uneven cobblestone streets, consider the stories of the slave families who road below on crowded wagons, as traders, standing in your shoes, bargained with each other for your children. If only those stones could talk.
Savannah’s City Market
City Market is a hotbed for tourists and locals, and often has live bands and a street party atmosphere that teens will enjoy. There are lots of restaurants and shopping, plus you can also sample any flavor cookie made by Savannah’s famous Byrd Cookie Company. If there are younger children in your group, or silly teens, the spray fountains in City Market can be fun, and the Hotel Indigo is only one block away, making it easy to go change.
Take a Hop-on, Hop-off Carriage Tour
City Market is also where Savannah’s famous carriage tours start. Taking a hop-on, hop-off trolley tour is a great way to cover a lot of ground without hearing ‘I’m tired’. Take the whole tour to get your bearings, or use the trolley as transportation between stops. Along the way drivers give a history of the area, as well as share stories and local lore. To get beyond the surface tales, get off the trolley and visit one of the many historic houses in Savannah.
The Pirate House Restaurant
Beyond the genteel mansions of the historic district is a seeder side of Savannah, one that has its origins along the docks and in the bows of the ships that sail from the port.
In the shadows, physically imperfect, are the pirates of Savannah. Their stories live on at The Pirate House restaurant. Stories like the one told by Robert Louis Stevenson about a pirate named Captain Flint who supposedly died in an upstairs bedroom of the Pirate House, but not before he buried his treasure on Treasure Island.
In addition to fabulous stories, The Pirate House restaurant serves up really good food like crispy fried chicken for the teen that likes a more grown up version of kid-friendly foods or the flavorful spinach salad with candied nuts, strawberries, and goat cheese for a palate that has progressed beyond mac and cheese. Save a little time for shopping at the gift shop, which has great t-shirts and fun pirate merchandise.
Meet the Spirits of Savannah
As night descends, Savannah’s veil becomes a little more cryptic, and her famous squares and landmarks seem to tell a whole new story. Although you can take a trolley or car ghost tour of the city, it’s best to get out and walk among the spirits. As you do, you’re sure to find a few streets that are bright with marquee lights and full of Savannah College of Art and Design students on their way to a class, a show or to meet friends.
Leopold’s Ice Cream
End the evening the same way Savannah teenagers have since 1919 with a scoop of ice cream at Leopold’s on E Broughton St. In addition to ice cream, the teens might be interested in the photographs of movie stars posing with Leopold owner Stratton Leopold who is also a Hollywood producer. In a display case are also props from the movie Mission Impossible with Tom Cruise.
Hit the Beach
Every teen loves the beach. Tybee Island is known as Savannah’s Beach because it is located about 20 minutes from the historic downtown. Hit the sand, book a kayak tour, or view the island and Savannah from the top of the Tybee Island lighthouse. There’s lots for teens to do here too.