Experience Savannah, GA in January: A Guide to Winter Activities and Events

Savannah, GA, in January is a treasure trove of winter activities, events, and mouthwatering southern comfort foods. From exploring the historic district and wildlife to attending winter events and festivals, there’s something for everyone. Enjoy local seafood specialties, visit indoor museums on chilly days, and learn useful tips for your visit. Here are the key takeaways from our guide to experiencing Savannah, GA, in January.

Key Takeaways

  • Exploring the Historic District in Winter: Stroll through Forsyth Park, visit the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, and discover the Mercer Williams House Museum.
  • Savannah’s Winter Wildlife: Enjoy bird watching at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, take a dolphin tour on Tybee Island, or visit the Oatland Island Wildlife Center.
  • Winter Events and Festivals: Participate in Savannah’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade, the Savannah Book Festival, and the Savannah Black Heritage Festival.
  • Winter Comfort Food in Savannah: Try Savannah’s best southern comfort food restaurants, warm up with coffee from the best coffee shops, and enjoy Savannah’s seafood specialties.
  • Tips for Visiting Savannah in Winter: Learn what to pack for a winter trip to Savannah, how to navigate Savannah’s public transportation, and stay safe and healthy in winter.

Exploring the Historic District in Winter

Visit the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

A visit to Savannah’s Historic District wouldn’t be complete without stepping into the awe-inspiring Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. This architectural marvel, with its ornate details and rich history, offers a unique experience that is both spiritual and cultural.

Here are a few highlights of what you can expect during your visit:

  • The stunning stained glass windows that tell stories of faith and history.
  • The intricate woodwork and marble altars that showcase the craftsmanship of the past.
  • The peaceful atmosphere that provides a serene escape from the bustling city outside.

Tip: Don’t forget to check out the Cathedral’s event calendar. They often host special music events, like the ‘Brass Spectacular’ by the Cathedral Brass Ensemble.

Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply seeking a moment of tranquility, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is a must-visit during your winter trip to Savannah.

Discover the Mercer Williams House Museum

The Mercer Williams House, one of the most curious and haunted historic homes in Savannah, invites you to step inside and explore its rich history. However, it’s important to note that the tour won’t mention the events of its infamous past, including the murder trial of Jim Williams, or any other salacious details. The current owner, the sister of Jim Williams, understandably prefers to keep these stories private.

Here are a few things to keep in mind during your visit:

  • The house is not particularly ornate from the outside, but don’t let that fool you. Its history is as rich and intricate as any other in Savannah.

  • Be respectful of the current owner’s wishes and avoid discussing the more controversial aspects of the house’s history.

  • Despite its haunted reputation, the house tour focuses on the architectural and historical significance of the home.

Remember, the Mercer Williams House is a place of history and respect. Enjoy the tour, but be mindful of the stories that aren’t being told.

Savannah’s Winter Wildlife

Bird Watching at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge

The Savannah National Wildlife Refuge is a haven for bird enthusiasts, especially during the winter months. This is when the South Carolina coast, which the refuge is part of, offers some of the finest birding opportunities. The diversity of species found here is unparalleled, making it a must-visit for any bird watcher.

Here are some of the bird species you might encounter:

  • Bald Eagles
  • Red-tailed Hawks
  • Various species of ducks
  • Sparrows
  • Warblers

Tip: Remember to bring your binoculars and a bird guide to help identify the different species. Also, keep in mind that the best times for bird watching are early in the morning or late in the afternoon when birds are most active.

In addition to bird watching, the refuge offers a variety of other activities. You can explore the nature trails, go fishing, or even participate in a guided tour. Regardless of how you choose to spend your time, the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge is sure to provide an unforgettable experience.

Dolphin Tours on Tybee Island

A trip to Savannah, GA, in January wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Tybee Island for a dolphin tour. This coastal adventure offers a unique opportunity to spot bottle-nose dolphins in their natural habitat. The easiest way to visit Tybee Island is by taking a tour from Savannah. Many of these tours include a delicious lunch, a boat ride to spot dolphins, and a visit to three of Tybee’s scenic lighthouses.

Here are some key points to keep in mind for your dolphin tour:

  • Tours typically pick up and drop off in Savannah’s historic district.
  • Fresh seafood is often included in the tour.
  • You’ll have the chance to visit three of Tybee’s lighthouses.

Remember to bring your camera and binoculars for the best dolphin spotting experience!

After your dolphin tour, consider taking advantage of Tybee’s incredible kayaking opportunities or bike trails. A twilight stroll along River Street is the perfect end to a day of exploring Savannah and Tybee Island.

Visit the Oatland Island Wildlife Center

A visit to the Oatland Island Wildlife Center is a must for nature lovers. This 175-acre wildlife preserve is home to a variety of animals native to Georgia, including bobcats, bison, alligators, and wolves. The center offers a unique opportunity to learn about these animals in their natural habitats.

Here are some highlights of what you can expect:

  • A 2-mile nature trail that winds through maritime forest, salt marsh, and freshwater wetlands.
  • A ‘Wolf Wilderness’ exhibit featuring gray wolves.
  • A ‘Birds of Prey’ exhibit showcasing hawks, owls, and eagles.
  • Regular educational programs for visitors of all ages.

Remember to wear comfortable shoes for walking and bring a camera to capture the beautiful wildlife.

The Oatland Island Wildlife Center is a wonderful place to connect with nature and learn about Georgia’s native wildlife. It’s a perfect day trip for families or anyone with an interest in animals and conservation.

Winter Events and Festivals

Savannah’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade

Every January, the city of Savannah pays tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a grand parade. This event is a significant part of Savannah’s winter calendar, drawing both locals and visitors to celebrate and remember the civil rights leader’s contributions. The parade route typically winds through the city’s historic district, offering a unique opportunity to explore Savannah’s rich history while honoring Dr. King’s legacy.

The Savannah’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade features a variety of participants, including:

  • Local schools and universities
  • Community organizations
  • Churches
  • Businesses

These groups come together to create a vibrant display of unity and respect for Dr. King’s message of equality and justice. It’s not uncommon to see beautifully decorated floats, marching bands, and community leaders all taking part in the parade.

Tip: Arrive early to secure a good viewing spot along the parade route. Don’t forget to dress warmly!

After the parade, consider visiting the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum on East Macon Street. This museum offers a deeper look into Savannah’s role in the civil rights movement. Or, warm up with a meal at Rancho Alegre Cuban Restaurant, known for its authentic Cuban cuisine and live jazz music.

The Savannah Book Festival

The Savannah Book Festival is a must-visit event for all literature enthusiasts. Held annually in January, the festival offers an immersive celebration of literature, culture, and entertainment. It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet renowned authors, attend enlightening panel discussions, and discover new books.

The festival’s schedule is packed with a variety of events. Here’s a glimpse of what you can expect:

  • Meet The Authors sessions
  • Book signings
  • Panel discussions
  • Literary workshops

Tip: Tickets for the festival go on sale on January 11, 2024, at 10:00 a.m. Make sure to mark your calendar and buy your tickets early as the event often sells out quickly.

Whether you’re a local or a visitor, the Savannah Book Festival offers a unique opportunity to indulge in the rich tapestry of cultural traditions and the vibrant spirit of Savannah.

The Savannah Black Heritage Festival

The Savannah Black Heritage Festival is a vibrant celebration of culture, music, and entertainment that captivates both locals and visitors each year. This event is a reflection of Savannah’s diverse spirit and rich cultural traditions. It offers an immersive experience that goes beyond the usual festival fare.

Here are some highlights of the festival:

  • Music Performances: The festival features a mix of local and international artists, showcasing a variety of music genres.
  • Cultural Exhibitions: Attendees can indulge in a rich tapestry of cultural traditions through various exhibitions.
  • Food & Wine: The festival also showcases the region’s culinary excellence, offering a taste of Savannah’s best dishes.

Tip: Make sure to check the festival’s schedule ahead of time to make the most out of your visit.

In addition to the Savannah Black Heritage Festival, the city hosts a number of other events throughout the year. These include the Savannah Music Festival, the Savannah Food & Wine Festival, and the spirited Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Each event presents a unique opportunity to delve into the city’s vibrant culture and history.

Winter Comfort Food in Savannah

Savannah’s Best Southern Comfort Food Restaurants

When it comes to Southern comfort food, Savannah has a lot to offer. One of the must-visit places is The Public Kitchen and Bar. Here, the menu ranges from Savannah-style shrimp and grits to coconut curry served over rice. You’ll also find a wide selection of beer, including many locally-produced ones like the local favorite Southbound Brewing Company.

Another classic Savannah experience is Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room. This old-fashioned hot spot serves classic Southern comfort food family style at large community tables. So, come hungry and ready to meet other folks. This destination also sits right on Jones Street, one of the prettiest blocks in the country. After lunch, take a stroll to work off the heavy meal.

For a romantic dining experience with a stunning view of the water, Vic’s on the River is the place to be. Here, you can enjoy honey butter biscuits, She crab soup, fried green tomatoes, and shrimp & grits.

If you can’t decide what you’re in the mood for, head to Starland Yard, a fun food truck park with a bar and a rotating variety of options.

Remember, some of these places like Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room have specific operating hours and may require you to arrive early to secure a seat. Plan your visit accordingly.

Finally, for the freshest seafood and one of the best views in town, The Wyld is a dockside bar and restaurant that’s loved by locals. The vibe here is casual and the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, so grab a cocktail and enjoy the view while you wait.

Warm Up with Savannah’s Best Coffee Shops

When the winter chill sets in, there’s no better way to warm up than with a hot cup of coffee. Savannah, GA is home to a number of exceptional coffee shops that offer a cozy atmosphere and delicious brews. One such place is The Coffee Fox on Broughton Street. Known for their horchata latte and Mexican mocha, it’s a must-visit for any coffee lover. They also have two sister locations: Foxy Loxy Cafe and Henny Penny Cafe, each with their own unique charm.

Another noteworthy spot is the Collins Quarter Window in Forsyth Park. It’s the perfect place for a post-breakfast stroll with a coffee in hand. If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss out on Back In The Day Bakery. This award-winning bakeshop has been serving Savannah for over 20 years and is a legendary spot in the city.

Here’s a quick list of these top coffee spots:

  • The Coffee Fox, 102 W. Broughton St.
  • Foxy Loxy Cafe
  • Henny Penny Cafe
  • Collins Quarter Window in Forsyth Park
  • Back In The Day Bakery, 2403 Bull Street

Remember, each of these places has its own unique vibe and specialty drinks. So, take the time to visit each one and find your favorite!

Savannah’s Seafood Specialties

Savannah’s seafood scene is a culinary delight that reflects the city’s rich history and diverse cultural influences. From the iconic shrimp and grits to the unique low country boil, the city offers a tantalizing experience that embodies the essence of southern culinary traditions. The freshly-caught seafood contributes significantly to Savannah’s gastronomic treasures, offering authentic flavors that leave a lasting impression.

Here are some of the best places to enjoy Savannah’s seafood specialties:

  • Chive Sea Bar & Lounge: Known for its sophisticated ambiance and diverse seafood menu.
  • The Grey: A historic restaurant offering a modern take on Southern cuisine.
  • a.Lure: Offers a farm-to-table experience with a focus on local seafood.
  • Erica Davis Lowcountry: Famous for its low country boil, a Savannah staple.
  • The Wyld: A waterfront restaurant offering fresh seafood with a view.

Tip: When ordering a low country boil, consider paying the up-charge for pre-shelled and de-veined shrimp for a more convenient dining experience.

Savannah’s seafood is not just about the food, but also about the experience. Whether it’s sharing a meal with new friends at a community table or enjoying a locally-brewed beer with your seafood, Savannah offers a unique dining experience that is sure to be a highlight of your visit.

Indoor Activities for Chilly Days

Explore the Telfair Museums

When you visit Savannah, a trip to the Telfair Museums is a must. This unique museum complex comprises three distinct buildings, each offering a different perspective on art and history.

The Telfair Academy, a two-story mansion built in 1891, showcases a collection of nineteenth- and twentieth-century American and European art. Here, you can admire a variety of paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts.

The Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters takes you back to 1819. Through guided tours, you can explore this former family home and gain insights into the lives of the enslaved people who once worked there.

The Jepson Center and Telfair Children’s Art Museum is a modern building filled with art from around the world. It houses both historic and contemporary pieces, and also features a multi-level play space for children.

Tip: Your ticket to the Telfair Museums includes entrance to all three buildings. Make sure to allocate enough time to explore each one.

Here’s a quick overview of what each building offers:

Telfair AcademyNineteenth- and twentieth-century American and European art
Owens-Thomas House & Slave QuartersGuided tours exploring the lives of enslaved people
Jepson Center and Telfair Children’s Art MuseumHistoric and contemporary art from around the world, children’s play space

Visit the Savannah Children’s Museum

On a chilly day in Savannah, a visit to the Savannah Children’s Museum offers a warm and engaging indoor experience for visitors of all ages. This interactive museum is a treasure trove of fun and educational exhibits that spark the imagination and curiosity of children. It’s a place where learning and play go hand in hand, making it a must-visit destination for families.

Here are some of the highlights you can expect during your visit:

  • Interactive exhibits that encourage hands-on learning
  • Educational programs and activities
  • A safe and inclusive environment for children of all abilities

Tip: Check the museum’s website for any special events or programs happening during your visit. It’s also a good idea to arrive early, especially during peak times, to avoid the crowds and make the most of your visit.

The Savannah Children’s Museum is more than just a place to pass the time on a cold winter’s day. It’s a place where children can learn, grow, and create unforgettable memories. So, bundle up, brave the cold, and discover the magic that awaits at the Savannah Children’s Museum.

Discover the Savannah History Museum

The Savannah History Museum offers a unique opportunity to delve into the city’s rich and diverse past. Here, you’ll find exhibits that tell the stories of Savannah’s former residents, from wealthy homeowners to enslaved workers. The museum’s commitment to transparency and honesty about Savannah’s complex history is deeply appreciated.

Remember: Not all historic home tours are created equally. Choose those that represent the lives of EVERYONE who lived in the home – both wealthy and enslaved.

Here are two other museums you might want to visit:

  • Davenport Museum: The first home ever preserved and restored by the Savannah Historic Foundation. The tour focuses more on the historic architecture and elements of the home itself.

  • Pinpoint Heritage Museum: This museum, located in a former oyster & crab factory, tells the story of the Gullah Geechee community, founded in 1890 by freed slaves after the Civil War.

Exploring these museums is an excellent way to connect with and learn about Savannah’s diverse communities. So, don’t miss out on this enriching experience!

Tips for Visiting Savannah in Winter

What to Pack for a Winter Trip to Savannah

Packing for a winter trip to Savannah, Georgia, requires a balance of comfort and style. The city’s winter temperatures average in the 50s and 60s, making it a milder winter destination. However, mornings can be chillier, so it’s wise to pack a few warm items.

Here’s a basic packing list to help you prepare:

  • A warm jacket or scarf
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Layers for varying temperatures
  • An umbrella or raincoat (just in case)

Tip: Savannah’s beautiful greenery stays vibrant all year round, making it a picturesque destination even in winter. Don’t forget your camera!

Remember, the key to packing for Savannah in winter is layers. With the city’s mild winters, you’ll likely find yourself shedding a layer or two as the day warms up. Happy packing!

Navigating Savannah’s Public Transportation

Navigating public transportation in Savannah can be a breeze if you know your way around. The city’s main public transportation service is the Chatham Area Transit (CAT), which provides fixed-route service near numerous public and private schools throughout the county. This makes it a convenient option for parents and students alike.

Here are some key routes to keep in mind:

  • The Dot: A free downtown transportation service that operates in Savannah’s Historic District.
  • The Savannah Belles Ferry: A free service that offers stunning views of Savannah from the river. There are four different ferries, each named after the ‘Belles’ of Savannah – impactful women who contributed to Savannah’s history.
  • The CAT Bike: A bike share program that allows you to rent a bike and explore the city at your own pace.

Remember, the CAT also provides paratransit services for individuals with disabilities who are unable to use the fixed-route buses.

Whether you’re a local or a visitor, understanding Savannah’s public transportation system can help you get around the city efficiently and affordably.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, experiencing Savannah, GA in January is a delightful adventure filled with unique events, delicious food, and cozy accommodations. Whether you’re exploring the Providence Canyon, dining at the best spots, or immersing yourself in the vibrant festivals, there’s something for everyone. Don’t forget to check out the event calendar to stay updated on the happenings in this charming city. So pack your bags, sign up for our newsletter, and get ready for a memorable winter escape in Savannah!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some must-visit places in Savannah’s Historic District in winter?

During winter, you can stroll through Forsyth Park, visit the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, and discover the Mercer Williams House Museum in Savannah’s Historic District.

What wildlife can I see in Savannah in winter?

You can enjoy bird watching at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, take dolphin tours on Tybee Island, and visit the Oatland Island Wildlife Center.

What events and festivals take place in Savannah in winter?

Savannah hosts several events and festivals in winter, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade, the Savannah Book Festival, and the Savannah Black Heritage Festival.

What are some comfort food options in Savannah during winter?

You can enjoy southern comfort food at several restaurants in Savannah, warm up with coffee at the city’s best coffee shops, and try Savannah’s seafood specialties.

What indoor activities can I do in Savannah on chilly days?

You can explore the Telfair Museums, visit the Savannah Children’s Museum, and discover the Savannah History Museum.

What should I pack for a winter trip to Savannah?

Packing for a winter trip to Savannah should include warm clothing, comfortable shoes for exploring the city, and essentials like travel documents and personal care items.

How can I navigate Savannah’s public transportation in winter?

Savannah’s public transportation includes buses and ferries. It’s recommended to check the schedules and routes in advance, especially in winter when weather conditions might affect service.

How can I stay safe and healthy in Savannah during winter?

To stay safe and healthy in Savannah during winter, dress warmly, stay hydrated, and follow local guidelines and regulations, especially those related to COVID-19.

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