Christmas in Savannah
Updated: Jan 10, 2020
Savannah is my home. This is a destination that brings so many wondrous places all over the world into one single city. You will often find your seasoned globetrotters comparing some buildings, gardens and graveyards to the likes of those in France, England, Germany, Spain and even Thailand. The locals here are just as diverse and eclectic, filled with personality and friendliness. It has always reminded me of Neverland. Like Neverland, you find yourself feeling like a child in a magnificent and brilliant playground. And the children here find it just as magical as the adults. There are pirates, ghosts, mermaids and some of the most delectable food and drinks one can find in the state of Georgia! You can spend as much time or as little time in Savannah and still be touched by this city's beautiful spirit. Feel free to travel here anytime to fulfill your inner world traveler-foodie-cultured self and at reasonable prices too. But this is not about Savannah at just any ole time of year... This is your guide to Christmas in Savannah. An already shamanistic city made even more wondrous with it's historic street lamps and buildings trimmed out in evergreen and lights. And legend has it that the spirit of Ole Saint Nick, himself, actually resides in this enchanted city. In his off season, of course. Take a stroll with your friends and/or family, through this Neverland nestled quaintly on the coast of Georgia and make it a holiday you and yours will never forget.
The Ghost of Christmas Past, Present, AND Future Reside Here
Savannah is known for being the most haunted city in the country. It is as eerie as it is beautiful. There are several choices of tours to almost always ensure a paranormal experience. There are also many haunted places to stay during your visit, but we'll get to that in a minute.
*Ghost Tour #1 is Genteel & Bard: Though actual ghost sightings are not guaranteed, you are lead by a very knowledgable tour guide that speaks to you through a microphone and into souvenir ear buds that transmit up to 100 ft away. It can be quite eerie being lead through the chilly winter night, listening to ghost stories of the past and present. https://genteelandbard.com/
*Ghost Tour #2 is the Ghost Talk/Ghost Walk: This is the tour to convince you of the supernatural. Backed with research and studies, the guides of this tour are well equipped with history and facts. Looking for an early christmas gift? Two tickets to this tour with a copy of Margaret DeBolt's book https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0898652014 , which this tour is based off of, would be an excellent and unique gift for sure. http://ghosttalkghostwalk.com/
How the Dancing Grinch Stole Christams 2019: Come see this year's annual show of the Dancing Grinch! This year, the Coastal Performing Arts company is taking their show to the next level by making it a weekend event starting December 6th through December 8th. Bring the family out for just a glimpse of the show on Friday the 6th. Then come get some sneak peeks of the show at 11am on Saturday followed by the "Whoville Shoppe" where you and the family can get Grinch Hair, hot chocolate and some christmas shopping done while enjoying the full show at 1pm. Years ago I was privileged to perform some songs at this very show. I am thrilled to say that I will be doing this again for this year's 2019 event! Stick around for the lighted Christmas parade at 5:30pm on River Street. Its sure to be a Grinchy weekend for sure. https://www.grinchatcoastal.com/
Christmas Shopping Done Right
Speaking of tours... It's the holiday season and what do you do on your Savannah vacation? SHOP! The most perfect tour for such is definitely the Sip-n-Shop tour. http://sipnshopsavannahtours.com/ Enjoy this walking tour with your guide, Jami, through some amazing shops while sipping drinks from your souvenir wine tumbler! Complementary drinks, food/snacks, are included in your experience at some of the locations. The tour, itself, is roughly 2-3 hours. Also take advantage of 10-15% off at each shopping location! What??!! Cross off some of that shopping list for christmas while touring Savannah and some of its perfect and hidden gift and clothing boutiques. Use code SAV10 at check out to save on your tour.
Kick Off The Holidays With a Walk Down Broughton Street:
Located on Broughton Street and surrounded by eateries, (some that have christmas specials, holiday menus, and holiday cocktails and shopping on every corner) the magnificent Broughton Street tree is lit after Thanksgiving and kicks off the season in the best way possible. A good ole fashion countdown was heard throughout the city as adults and children celebrated another year of yuletide cheer while the tree began its glimmering season with hundreds of thousands of shimmering lights! Be sure to check it out while grabbing a bite and finishing up your Christmas shopping in downtown Savannah.
Watch a Chilly Sunrise on Tybee Island:
Looking for a more coastal Christmas? You can find it on Tybee Island. Only 18 miles from downtown Savannah, you find yourself in a colorful and unique town. The sandy beaches offer beautiful sunrises and seashell hunting for all ages to enjoy. I have heard that Ole Saint Nick vacations here often in the summer for a reason. Hotel Tybee, located directly on the beach, offers a comfortable and relaxing stay for the family. Dress warm, bundle up and get ready to cuddle! Before the sun comes up, either enjoy it from your hotel balcony or find a spot on the beach to watch a romantic sunrise. (Be sure to steer clear of turtle nests. Though winter is not necessarily nesting season, some Leatherbacks can nest during the winter months. You may even see "turtle teams" out working to preserve such nest areas, if there are any. So be sure to get those kiddos out of bed, they won't want to miss it.) Once you've seen the beautiful sunrise, head over to the The Breakfast Club at 1500 Butler Ave. The food is fantastic and famous. There is almost always a line out the door, but it's definitely worth the wait. (Large groups are hard to accommodate due to the facility's small size) Early birds who watch the sunrise, usually don't have a problem getting a seat fairly quick. After a delicious breakfast, take those tiny humans (aka the kids) over to the Tybee Island Marine Science center. With a quaint gift shop, several small exhibits (where expansion is in the near future), the current nautical residents will love watching you, humans, in your natural habitat. Needing an extra "pick me up" after that early morning? Head over to Tybean for some delicious coffee. Our kid's favorite caffein free option is always the cookies and cream frappe. YUM!
Davenport House Museum:
The Davenport House Museum has many different tours and events but the one I am most excited about is the first annual fund raising event, Wednesday, December 11, 2019 at
5:45 to 9 PM. At $95 a person, "Join the Davenport House Museum and the historic Marshall House Inn for a celebration of Holidays past in the spirit of Dickens and Mr. Fezziwig’s English Christmas." This event will start at the Kennedy pharmacy, incorporate caroling, and end at the Marshall house and include a catered dinner by 45 Bistro. What says holidays like a Dickens inspired night in a historical and magical city like Savannah? Another event not to be missed this holiday season is the Holiday Evening Tours by Candlelight at the Davenport House. Beginning Thursday, December 26th and running until December 30th, patrons may enter between 6 and 8pm. The tour lasts 50 minutes and feature shortbread, cider and period dancing demonstrations. A story of early 19th century holiday celebrations will be told by your costumed docent. This event is $15 for adults and $8 for children at the door. (Advanced purchases are $12 for adults and $6 for children, so call ahead for a great deal) For more information, visit: http://www.davenporthousemuseum.org/tour/
Savannah Riverboat Cruise
The Riverboat Cruise is a fantastic way to sight see off the banks of Savannah anytime of the year but if you will be in Savannah for Christmas Eve, there is a delightful treat you must try to reserve if possible. The Riverboat Cruise Christmas Eve dinner. At approximately $52 a person, the Christmas spirit is in the air and on the water as you watch scenic Savannah pass you by while dining with good company and delectable food. For more information, visit https://savannahriverboat.com/seasonal-cruises/
***Spoiler!! This event took place November 30th. I kept it in this post for people planning next year's trip!***
Boat Light Parade
Every year, dozens of locals decorate their boats with christmas lights and decor and ride their vessels down the Savannah river in a processional of nautical wonder. This is, after all, the coastal empire. Grab a sweet treat from Savannah Sweets on River Street and grab a seat over looking the river and enjoy the sites of all of the boats lit up and reflecting christmas lights on the water, it really is a site to behold. This year's boat parade is set for November 30th, 2019. PROTIP: If you happen to be planning your stay at The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort on the river, be sure to request a river view room and enjoy the most amazing bird's eye view of the parade itself. Every year, my husband's family books a room for this one night at the Westin to watch the twinkling lights from above reflect on the river. We enjoy watching the parade from our beautiful river view room and also the amazing gingerbread displays down in the lobby. Swing by the gift shop to purchase a Westin gingerbread ornament to remember your experience by and wonder around the grounds of the resort to see their stunning christmas tree on display.
The First Annual Trustees' Garden Christmas Festival, Saturday December 21st 11am-7:30pm
This year, located at 660 East Broughton Street, the newly renovated Kehoe Iron Works will be hosting a festival full of family fun! With snow tubing (with real snow), bouncy houses, rock wall climbing and more, your crew is sure to have a load of holiday fun! A family of four can purchase an all day pass for $45 or only $15 a person! Don't forget to enjoy the food trucks and to get your photo made with Santa, himself. Visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/christmas-festival-at-trustees-garden-tickets-70527949997 for ticket purchases and more info.
City Market's Christmas Celebration for Kids: December 7, 2019 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
At 219 W. Bryan St. bring the kiddos over to city market to decorate cookies and make ornaments. There will be face painting and hair make overs, grinch style! Enjoy this and more for a blast that the whole family can participate in. For more information, you can call (912) 232-4903 or go to www.savannahcitymarket.com.
The Santa Train Experience at the Georgia State Railroad Museum Dec 7th
Every year the Georgia state railroad museum in Savannah hosts this event for all ages. My family and I have been going to this event for years. Our kids come dressed in their christmas pajamas (usually bundled up if we go in a morning time slot) and enjoy a short train ride while sipping hot chocolate. We do crafts and meet Santa Claus himself! Once we are done, we head over to The Distillery ale house across the street for lunch. The faves in this family are definitely the shrimp po boy and the fried green tomato BLT. And don't forget to try their signature deep fried moon pie for dessert! Visit https://coastalheritagesociety-as.azurewebsites.net/Events.aspx for your tickets. You can also follow their page on Facebook for updates, tickets sell out fast so be sure to check often starting in November.
Old Town Trolley Tours
The best way to get around the "hostess city" is by far one of Savannah's trolley tours. For approximately $30 per adult, you have access to the entire historic district all day. Hop on and off at designated stops while exploring the city with an amazing native to Savannah conductor. Ours was Chris and he was exceptionally knowledgeable on Savannah's rich history. History in Savannah is anything but boring. Between the loyal friendships of Oglethorpe and Tomochichi and the strict prohibitions from earlier centuries, the lessons learned on the Old Town Trolley Tour are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat wanting to learn more. It's a delight for visitors AND natives combined. The tour is offering a special holiday tour this year that I am so excited about!
Visit https://www.trolleytours.com/savannah/christmas-holiday-tour to learn more.
Where To Stay
Whether its a romantic christmas trip with your partner or a fun holiday trip with the entire family, there are so many options for that perfect christmas setting to hit you right in the feels. Savannah is full of hotels for every single budget but this is, after all, Christmas. For the best experience, opt for the more unique and non-chain, boutique-style hotels and off the beaten path bnb's.
The Perry Lane Hotel will have you feeling like a VIG (Very Important Guest) for sure. I overheard the valet workers actually talking about how this is the best hotel in Savannah. With a lobby decked out in holiday cheer and rooms that you never want to leave, this hotel will give you an experience that you will not easily forget. Located on E Perry Street, enjoy shopping and a very merry night life or head over to the river (aka River Street) and enjoy 39 different places to dine! www.perrylanehotel.com Be sure to try Perry Lane Hotel's rooftop bar, Peregrine Savannah for breath taking city views and soul warming cocktails. Also ask your concierge about the complimentary bikes that are available to guest to tour the city with.
Eliza Thompson House will welcome you as if you were sent by Santa Claus, himself! This amazing bnb is located on one of the most beautiful streets in the country. So much so that it has been featured in a number of magazines and looks like something straight out of a dream! Stay here for a luxury old world feel and take a stroll down Jones street. https://www.elizathompsonhouse.com/
The Marshall House: Looking for a place to stay filled with an authentic luxurious Savannah experience but with a haunted history as well? My husband and I stayed at the Marshall House the night of our wedding and only experienced an unbelievably comfortable bed after a night filled with dancing. However, guests in the past have noted their encounters with friendly ghosts and such.
The Sugar House BNB in Effingham County: Looking for a more romantic cottage-in-the-country feel? Call (912)728-8150 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a private B&B, called The Sugar House. This gem is located only 20 minutes from downtown Savannah. Just off of I95, tucked away in a beautiful wooded paradise, you'll find a small and cozy B&B that is loved and personally ran by a kind and caring family. I myself have been to this adorable hideaway, surrounded by farms and pastures, its the perfect cozy, christmas experience. The cabin itself is a quaint little (think tiny house) home built in the 1800s and rich with history. At approximately $225 a night, you are met with fresh flowers and champagne and in the morning, a delicious breakfast prepared by a talented and seasoned chef. Enjoy a fire pit and walking trail for a true country Christmas feel or curl up on one of the sofas and watch Christmas movies all night while cuddled up next to your special someone. See images below from our time at the darling little bnb in the country.
Hotel Tybee: For a coastal holiday stay, you must book with Hotel Tybee. Visit their website for the full history of this outstanding hotel: https://www.hoteltybee.com/ According to Fare Finder, you can take an Uber from Tybee Island to Downtown Savannah for approximately $24. If you have a designated driver, the drive is approximately 15 minutes. Be sure to stop by the restaurant, Current, which is nestled perfectly between Tybee Island and Downtown Savannah, for an outstanding culinary experience.
Where to eat (and drink):
Six Pence Pub: This restaurant goes all out to make you feel cozy and joyful during the holidays. The stuffed flounder is savory and delicious on so many different levels. Be sure to try one of their irish coffees to go before getting the check. You won't be disappointed.
The Pirates' House: Arrrrr! This restaurant is a fantastic place to take the kids. The southern menu will speak to your soul and the Pirates that wonder around the building will delight in telling you and your mates the fascinating history and past of this iconic eatery. (Don't forget to visit the gift shop upstairs to purchase some gold doubloons and other treasures.)
Ordinary Pub: This downstairs pub is a dreamy backdrop to photos and the food is just as fantastic. The farmhouse burger is definitely one of the best burgers that I have ever tried. Visit http://www.theordinarypub.com/dinner for a look at the dinner menu!
Belford's: A bit more on the pricey side but if your trip is to include the most fantastic culinary experience with someone special, Belford's is a must. If you have a love for goat cheese then the Baked Goat Cheese & Arugula salad is going to blow your mind. Visit http://www.belfordssavannah.com/portfolio/dinner/ for a full dinner menu to browse and salivate over!
The Fitzroy: This restaurant is currently featuring a holiday cocktail called the "Holly Daze". It is a cranberry style cocktail that embodies christmas in a glass and garnished with rosemary. The steak is definitely one of the best in town. Absolutely phenomenal. Ask to sit on the terrace upstairs for a more private and intimate dining experience.
The Lost Square: Enjoy the views from this bar of the Savannah river and cozy seating at their outdoor fireplaces. This bar is located on the top floor of the Alida Hotel, a gorgeous and unique place to stay during the holidays. Also call and ask about their private New Years Eve event.
Speaking of the Alida...: Located on the first floor of the Alida Hotel, be sure to check out their Sippin Santa event that runs now until December 31st, 3pm to 11pm. Enjoy a "Tiki" style christmas while sipping cocktails from their Hawaiian themed glasses and try some of their tapas items from the menu. It truly gives you that "Mele Kalikimaka" vibe that we love so much! The Donn & Victor was a hot rum drink that I absolutely loved!
Did you know that in the historic district of Savannah (and only in this area), alcoholic beverages to-go are allowed? So get a bite and a spiked coffee to-go from Six Pence Pub (who actually goes all out for christmas decor) and dress for the weather all while braving a spooktacular evening ghost tour located just around the corner. OR enjoy sipping a spirit from Vic's on the River Coffee Bar located on River Street while enjoying the lighted boat parade.
So that's it y'all. A dazzling list of holiday magic in the city of wonder and mystery, Savannah Georgia. Come here and get lost amongst the Neverland of the East coast. Have a sweet tea and wonder the cobblestone streets as you Christmas shop and tour our beautiful city. I promise, you won't regret it."As Christmas draws near, I would just like to wish you all a Merry Christmas from my family to yours. May it be filled with love, laughter, and God's blessings."
The Adventurous Alfords