Planning a trip to Charleston and Savannah? There are several stops you should make near each town. You may have to consider driving so you will make visiting the surrounding areas much easier. That way, you can visit some incredible small towns from Charleston to Savannah, including Beaufort and Bluffton. For an incredible moment, a road trip is the best way to experience both cities. This trip will take you through some scenic places, activities, and times to visit.
Planning Your Trip
Table Of Contents
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Savannah is summer, and that is from March to July when warm temperatures coax the tree leaves. Festivals also fill this season, because the weather is ideal, although hotel rates may be pricey.
Length of the trip
Savannah and Charleston are over 106 miles apart. The Savannah to Charleston drive time takes about two hours if you drive straight through without detours.
Pay a visit to downtown Charleston, Cypress Gardens & Folly Beach, Boone Hall Plantation & Sullivan’s Island, Magnolia Plantation, Middleton Place, & Drayton Hall, Wadmalaw Island, then head to Hilton Head or Savannah and Hilton Head, or an extra day in Savannah.
You can stay at The Marshall House, Historic Inns of Savannah Collection, Bellwether House, Thompson Savannah, or The Present Hotel.
Car rental and driving tips
For Car rentals, compare prices at Avis, Budget, Easirent, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National, and Sunnycars. Always take your license to avoid inconveniences. Make use of tourism boards.See Full Map
The Historic District of Savannah is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with cobblestone streets, manicured gardens, and oak-shaded parks drizzling with silvery Spanish Moss. These attractions bring back Savannah’s history to life.
It is a perfect vacation destination for all ages filled with art, culture, festivals, concerts, live theater, outdoor cafes, gourmet restaurants, and hospitality. The largest National Historic Landmark District in the United States, Savannah contains more than twenty city squares filled with museums, churches, mansions, monuments, and famous forts of the Revolutionary & Civil War eras.
River Street is Savannah’s most fun destination for food, shopping, and nightlife. It features live music and a beautiful sunset. River Street Market Place offers a unique shopping experience in an outdoor market. You can find unique pieces of handmade art and beautiful jewelry that make perfect Savannah souvenirs. As you continue to explore River Street, you get to see Savannah’s Waterfront for a Savannah Riverboat Cruise. You can do sightseeing or simply enjoy a delicious meal. This riverboat cruise offers a variety of tours to fit everyone. Have a cool drink on a rooftop and visit a natural history museum, a hotel made from a power plant.
That is the city’s famous fountain modeled after the fountains at the Place de la Concorde in Paris . It features the northern edge, where you can take selfies, proposals, and weddings. Sometimes the fountain is dotted with local artisans working to the sounds of a lively trumpet.
On quieter days, you find the locals out with their dogs, readers nestled deep in their hammocks, and art students sketching their surroundings from a nearby bench. The park features two children’s playgrounds, one for littles and another for bigger kids. On the east side is a concert and event space packed on hot summer days.
The Bonaventure Historical Society Visitors Center is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. However, times change on occasion. Stop by and pick up a map from one of our friendly volunteers. Bonaventure Cemetery is beautiful, featuring old trees and lanes lined with azaleas and camellias. The monuments and vistas are part of the Bonaventure.
Tybee Island is an island and small city near Savannah. It is popular for its wide, sandy beaches, including South Beach, with a pier and pavilion. It features shopping, dining, and lodging opportunities, bike trails, white sand beaches, and sunset-crowned saltwater marshes. You can have breakfast at the classic diner-style Sunrise Restaurant, sunbathing at North Beach paddleboarding on the Back River, and toasting at The Deck Beach Bar.
North of Broad Street is known as Charleston’s Historic District, featuring multiple attractions from the city’s antebellum days. Many Charleston hotels and restaurants are in the North of the Broad area, and some of the best shopping spots.
It is a beautiful and colorful area of town to explore. The town is filled with southern charm, delicious food, great shops, stunning coastal beaches, and plenty of opportunities to enjoy a relaxing time in the summer sun. Visit the Charleston City Market, the African-American heritage, the Old Slave Mart, and the Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon.
Rainbow Row refers to the row of pastel-colored historic homes on East Bay Street, along the Battery. It is one of Charleston’s most iconic sites, which you can visit on any given day and see couples getting their photos taken for engagements or weddings, and tourists trying to get a good photograph of the stunning houses. The row of vibrant Georgian houses is beautiful. It attracts visitors for its aesthetic charm. These special homes have their own fascinating story to tell.
The Battery is a landmark defensive seawall and promenade in Charleston, known for its antebellum homes. It was named for a civil-war coastal defense artillery battery at the site. It stretches along the lower shores of the Charleston peninsula, bordered by the Ashley and Cooper Rivers. It extends from the beginning of the seawall at the site of the former Omar Shrine Temple to the intersection of Murray Boulevard and King Street. The higher part of the promenade, paralleling East Battery, the south of Water Street, to the intersection of Murray Boulevard, is known as High Battery.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is a historic house with gardens on the Ashley River at 3550 Ashley River Road west of Ashley, Charleston County, South Carolina. It is one of the oldest plantations in the South. The house and gardens are open daily, and admission fee is charged.
Magnolia Plantation is operated as a house museum and tourist attraction. It reconstructed and restored a plantation house that was built after the Civil War. The oldest section was built prior to the Revolutionary War near Summerville. This structure was transported down the Ashley River after the Civil War and added to the house during its rebuilding.
It is a barrier island where you can see loggerhead turtles nesting, dolphins playing, and bald eagles soaring in the sky. Explore surf fishing, a variety of restaurants and bars, live music, and some of the best surfing on the east coast. You can also drink in the Morris Island Lighthouse’s history. Explore a maritime forest, build sandcastles your kids have never seen, ride bikes, eat outside, catch the sunset, fish off the pier, and parasail.
Food and Drink
Must-try dishes in Savannah
- Shrimp and Grits
- Fried Green Tomatoes
- Green Truck Burger
- Crab Soup
- Peas and Carrots
- BBQ Brisket and Ribs
Best places for seafood in Charleston
- Hank’s Seafood Restaurant
- Hyman’s Seafood
- Oyster House Seafood Restaurant
Recommended bars and breweries
- World of Beer
- Moon River Brewing Company
- Two Tides Brewing Co.
- Charleston Beer Works
- Palmetto Brewing Co.
- Revelry Brewing Co
Unique culinary experiences in both cities
Charleston Culinary Tours combines the best of Charleston food, history, and drinks. Sip tea at the only tea garden in North America, visit POOGAN’S PORCH for homemade buttermilk biscuits and She Crab soup and the Husk Restaurant for the burger (Whatagirleats.com). You can also have an incredible experience by visiting Savannah Southern Flavors Food, Pub Crawl, and History Combo Walking, Savannah Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Tour, Savannah First Squares Culinary & Cultural Walking Food Tour, Savannah’s Off-The-Beaten-Path Secret East Side Historic Walking Food Tour and Private Scenic Siesta: Picnic Experience in Savannah
- Kayaking and paddleboarding
- Beaches and swimming
- Hiking and nature walks
- Golfing and tennis
Art galleries and museums
- Telfair Academy. 820
- SCAD Museum of Art. 348
- Savannah African Art Museum
- The Beach Institute. Historic Sites
- Grand Bohemian Art Gallery
- Gibbes Museum of Art
- The Charleston Museum
- Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston
- Old Slave Mart Museum
Performing arts venues
- Savannah Theatre
- Lucas Theatre For the Arts
- Johnny Mercer Civic Center
- Charleston Gaillard Center
- PURE Theatre
- Woolfe Street Playhouse
Historic sites and landmarks
- Savannah Historic District
- Wormsloe Historic Site
- Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters
- Heyward-Washington House
- Joseph Manigault House
- The Walled City of Charles Town
Festivals and events
- Savannah Music Festival
- Savannah Film Festival
- Savannah Jazz Festival
- The Savannah College of Art and Design
- Spoleto Festival USA
- Lowcountry Oyster Festival
- MOJA Arts Festival
- Southeastern Wildlife Exposition
Local markets and boutiques
- River Street Market Place
- City Market
- The Paris Market, Savannah
- Charleston City Market
- The Rainbow Market
- Queen Anne Market
Souvenirs and gifts to bring back home
Day Trips and Side Trips
Spend some time at Historic Downtown Tour, Arsenal Museum and Visitor’s Center, Carriage Tour, and have lunch at a local waterfront restaurant.
Hilton Head Island, SC
Places worth visiting include Dolphin & Nature Tour, Island Explorer Dolphin, and Nature Tours, and Dolphin Discoveries Hilton Head.
St. Simons Island, GA
St. Simons is an island off the Georgia coast. It is known for its salt marshes and sandy stretches like East Beach. It features oak neighborhoods, picturesque churches, beautiful beaches, and water views. The island also offers championship golf, plenty of shopping and dining, and a variety of housing options, from condos to oceanfront estates.
Jekyll Island, GA
Explore Cap Fendig’s Dolphin & Fishing Tours, String of Pearls, and Lighthouse Trolleys Land & Sea.
Budgeting and Expenses
Estimated costs for accommodation, food, activities, and transportation
A one-week vacation cost to Savannah is around $2,694.60.
Tips for saving money on a road trip
- Buy less
- Visit off-season
- Book activities ahead of time
Safety and Health
Tips for staying safe on the road
- Carry emergency items.
- Check your shocks, brakes, and tires.
- Stay alert, and avoid distractions.
- Stay aware of your surroundings.
- Drive safely at night.
Recommended vaccinations and travel insurance
- Travel Immunizations
- Yellow fever vaccine
- Influenza vaccination
Emergency contacts and resources
- American Red Cross: 1-800-448-3543 (toll-free)
- Emergency Help: 911 (area police and fire)
In conclusion, a trip from Savannah to Charleston is filled with endless activities, such as swimming, hiking, kayaking, biking, fishing, and birdwatching. If you have more time, it is worth slowing down and digging deeper into this fascinating region. Spending more time allows you to see some highlights in both cities without feeling rushed. If you like to break up the road trip, you can stop for the night in Beaufort, SC. You can also add these additional stops if you have more time in the Georgia and South Carolina coastal islands.
What is the best time to visit Savannah and Charleston?
The best time to visit Savannah and Charleston largely depends on your preferences. However, a highly favored time by many travelers is during the fall season, typically from late September to early November. Here’s why:
Fall (Late September – Early November):
- Pleasant Weather: Fall in both Savannah and Charleston brings mild temperatures, lower humidity, and fewer rain showers compared to the hot and humid summer months. It’s ideal for outdoor activities, sightseeing, and exploring historic districts.
- Scenic Foliage: The surrounding areas, including nearby plantations and parks, boast stunning fall foliage with vibrant autumn colors.
- Festivals and Events: Both cities host various cultural festivals and events in the fall, celebrating art, music, food, and history. You can check local event calendars for specific dates.
- Fewer Crowds: Although fall is a popular time to visit, it generally sees fewer tourists than the peak summer season. This means shorter lines at attractions and a more relaxed atmosphere.
Keep in mind that because fall is a sought-after time to visit, it’s wise to book accommodations and tours in advance, particularly if you have specific dates in mind.
If you prefer warmer weather and more outdoor activities, consider visiting in the spring when temperatures are comfortable, and gardens are in full bloom. Summers, while hot and humid, are popular for beach vacations along the coast. Winters are generally mild and suitable for those who want to avoid extreme cold.
How long does it take to drive from Savannah to Charleston?
It takes about 1 hour 53 minutes of driving from Savannah to Charleston via I95 and US 17.
Do I need a car to explore both cities?
No, you do not necessarily need a car to explore both cities. Here are alternatives to consider:
- Walking: Savannah’s Historic District is highly walkable, with most historic sites, squares, and restaurants within easy reach on foot.
- Trolley Tours: Hop-on, hop-off trolley tours provide narrated tours of the city’s history and access to historic areas.
- Biking: Savannah offers bike-friendly areas with bike lanes and rental options.
- Walking: Charleston’s historic district is also pedestrian-friendly, allowing for exploration on foot.
- Free Trolley Service: Charleston provides a free downtown area shuttle (DASH) to transport visitors to popular attractions.
- Biking: Charleston features bike-friendly areas with rentals and bike-sharing programs.
- Public Transportation: Both cities have comprehensive public bus systems for access to various parts of the city.
While traveling without a car can be convenient, consider your specific plans and the need to explore areas outside the city centers. Renting a car may still be practical for visiting nearby attractions or remote areas. Additionally, factor in hotel parking costs and the availability of rideshare services like Uber and Lyft, as mentioned in the original response.
What are the best places to stay in Savannah and Charleston?
Here are top accommodation options in both Savannah and Charleston:
- The Grey: A stylish boutique hotel housed in a restored 1938 Greyhound bus terminal, offering unique upscale rooms and acclaimed dining.
- Mansion on Forsyth Park: A luxury hotel near Forsyth Park with Victorian-inspired decor, an art gallery, spa, and fine dining.
- Perry Lane Hotel: A modern and chic hotel in the Historic District, featuring beautifully designed rooms, a rooftop bar, and various dining choices.
- The Marshall House: One of Savannah’s oldest hotels, this charming option provides historic charm with period decor, a cozy atmosphere, and a central location.
- The Vendue: Known as Charleston’s Art Hotel, it showcases rotating art exhibits, elegant rooms, and a rooftop bar with stunning city views.
- Wentworth Mansion: A luxurious boutique hotel in a historic mansion, offering opulent rooms, spa services, and a complimentary evening reception.
- The Dewberry: This mid-century modern hotel in downtown Charleston boasts stylish rooms, a rooftop terrace, and an upscale Southern brasserie.
- The Mills House Charleston: Located in the Historic District, this Hilton Curio Collection property combines history and modern amenities, including a lovely courtyard pool.
These options cater to various preferences and budgets, and both cities offer a wide range of accommodations, from boutique inns to upscale resorts. Consider your preferences, budget, and desired location when choosing the ideal place to stay in Savannah and Charleston.
What is the cost of a road trip from Savannah to Charleston?
The road trip from Savannah to Charleston, spanning 106 miles and about 1 hour and 53 minutes of driving, costs approximately $20.25 in fuel. This estimate is based on average fuel prices and efficiency. Actual costs may vary due to factors like your vehicle’s fuel efficiency, current gas prices, tolls, or additional stops.
What are the best outdoor activities in Savannah and Charleston?
Savannah and Charleston offer a range of outdoor activities to suit various interests. Here are some of the best options:
- Hiking: Both cities have scenic trails nearby. In Savannah, consider visiting Skidaway Island State Park, which offers beautiful nature trails through coastal habitats. In Charleston, explore the trails at the Francis Marion National Forest or hike the iconic Ravenel Bridge for panoramic city views.
- Camping: Camping enthusiasts can head to nearby campgrounds. Savannah’s Skidaway Island State Park and Charleston’s James Island County Park offer campsites for those looking to immerse themselves in nature.
- Sightseeing: Both cities are rich in history and architecture. Take walking tours to explore the historic districts, gardens, and waterfronts. In Charleston, don’t miss the historic homes along the Battery and the historic City Market. In Savannah, visit Forsyth Park and explore the squares and cobblestone streets.
- Parasailing: For a thrilling adventure, try parasailing over the scenic coastlines of Savannah or Charleston. You’ll enjoy breathtaking aerial views of the cities and the Atlantic Ocean.
- Swimming: Enjoy the coastal waters by taking a dip at local beaches. Tybee Island near Savannah and Folly Beach near Charleston are popular choices for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.
What are the must-try dishes in Savannah and Charleston?
When in Savannah and Charleston, try these iconic dishes:
- Fried Green Tomatoes: Slices of unripe green tomatoes, coated in cornmeal or breadcrumbs, fried to crispy perfection. Often served with tangy remoulade sauce.
- Shrimp & Grits: Plump shrimp atop creamy stone-ground grits, usually accompanied by a flavorful gravy with bacon, mushrooms, and green onions.
- Chatham Artillery Punch: An historic punch recipe featuring rum, brandy, bourbon, champagne, tea, and citrus, known for its potency and historical significance.
- Pralines: Sweet confections made of caramelized sugar, butter, and pecans. Find them in Savannah’s candy shops; they make for a delightful souvenir.
- She-Crab Soup: A Charleston specialty, this creamy soup boasts crab meat, crab roe, and a sherry-infused broth, often garnished with paprika or chives.
- Hoppin’ John: A traditional Lowcountry dish featuring black-eyed peas, rice, and smoked pork. Served with collard greens and cornbread, it symbolizes good luck and prosperity.
- Benne Wafers: Thin, crispy cookies made with toasted sesame seeds, offering a sweet, nutty flavor. A delightful snack or dessert in Charleston.
- Lowcountry Boil (or Frogmore Stew): A communal seafood feast featuring shrimp, crab, potatoes, corn, and sausage boiled with flavorful spices. Enjoyed on picnic tables for a fun, interactive dining experience.
These dishes encapsulate the essence of Southern and Lowcountry cuisine, providing a taste of the unique flavors and culinary heritage that define Savannah and Charleston. Savor your culinary journey!
What are some unique cultural experiences in both cities?
Here are recommendations for unique cultural experiences in both Savannah and Charleston:
- Historic Savannah Guided Walking Tour: Explore city streets with a knowledgeable guide, delving into history, architecture, and famous squares.
- Bonaventure Cemetery Walking Tour: Discover historic graves and monuments in this beautiful cemetery, and learn about notable individuals and local culture.
- The Olde Pink House: Dine in an 18th-century mansion, experiencing Southern cuisine amid preserved historic charm.
- Wormsloe Historic Site: Walk through an oak-lined avenue to Wormsloe’s colonial ruins, connecting with Georgia’s past amidst natural beauty.
- Charleston Historic District: Roam cobblestone streets and historic homes. Highlights include Rainbow Row, Waterfront Park, and the City Market.
- Boone Hall Plantation: Visit a historic plantation featuring an iconic oak-lined path, a historic mansion, and Gullah culture insights.
- Charleston Tea Garden: Explore America’s sole tea plantation, learning about tea production, processing, and sampling various blends.
- Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor: Immerse yourself in Gullah Geechee culture with deep African roots. Discover local art, music, and cuisine.
These experiences provide insights into the rich histories and distinctive cultures that have shaped Savannah and Charleston. Enjoy your exploration of these fascinating cities!
Are there any day trips or side trips from Savannah and Charleston?
Here’s a list of day trips and side trips from Savannah and Charleston:
- Tybee Island (from Savannah): A coastal town known for beaches, water activities, and a historic lighthouse.
- Fort Pulaski National Monument (from Savannah): Explore a well-preserved fort with Civil War history and nature trails.
- Beaufort (from both Savannah and Charleston): A picturesque town with antebellum architecture and a historic waterfront.
- Jekyll Island (from Savannah): Part of Georgia’s Golden Isles, offering beaches, bike trails, and a historic resort.
- Hilton Head Island (from Savannah): A resort destination with beaches, golf, and water sports.
- Bluffton (from both Savannah and Charleston): A quaint town known for art galleries, history, and culinary experiences.
- Skidaway Island State Park (from Savannah): Ideal for nature enthusiasts with hiking trails and marsh views.
Each destination has its unique charm, catering to history buffs, outdoor enthusiasts, and those seeking relaxation. You’ll find a perfect day trip or side trip option from Savannah and Charleston to suit your interests.
How do I stay safe on a Savannah to Charleston road trip?
When road tripping from Savannah to Charleston, prioritize safety. Here are key tips:
- Secure Valuables: Never leave them in your vehicle. Lock doors and stow items in the trunk.
- Plan Route: Use GPS or maps to avoid getting lost or taking detours.
- Stay Alert: Rest well before driving. Take breaks, stretch, snack, and hydrate. Consider napping if tired.
- Vehicle Maintenance: Ensure your vehicle’s good condition. Check tires, brakes, and oil.
- Emergency Kit: Pack essentials like a first-aid kit, flashlight, jumper cables, and tools.
- Stay Hydrated and Fed: Carry water and snacks. Avoid leaving drinks unattended.
- Weather and Traffic: Monitor forecasts and traffic updates, adjusting plans as needed.
- Seat Belts: Always wear them, and ensure passengers do too.
- Local Laws: Know local traffic regulations, like speed limits and seat belt rules.
- Accommodation: Book lodging in advance for a safe and comfortable stay.
- Communication: Share your plans with a trusted person, including route and ETA. Check in regularly.
Follow these tips for a safe and worry-free Savannah to Charleston road trip. Safe travels!