The city of Savannah has plenty of bars, restaurants, museums, parks, and other activities to keep visitors busy for several days—but if you want to explore the Low Country and other areas of the Southeast a bit more, there are also a number of nearby spots perfect for a day trip. Whether you're interested in a relaxing beach day at nearby Tybee Island or Hilton Head Island, want to experience the rich history and culture of Charleston, S.C., or eat and shop in nearby Bluffton, S.C., there are plenty of adventures waiting for you. Here's a list of the nine best day trips from Savannah.
Tybee Island: Beaches, Bikes, and Seafood
Just a 30-minute drive from downtown Savannah, Tybee Island offers sandy beaches, bike paths, fresh caught seafood, and a low-key vibe perfect for a day-long getaway. Book a private tour of the island's iconic lighthouse tower and on-site museum, rent a bike to pedal through the palm trees, or enjoy a fried oyster Po' Boy sandwich while watching the sunset on the back deck of A-J's dockside grill.
Getting There: By car, take I-40 East from downtown Savannah directly to the island. During the summer, shuttle service is available from the Savannah Visitor Information Center (301 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.) at 8 a.m., 1 p.m., and 6 p.m. every day except Sunday. The cost is $10, and shuttles stop at Tybrisa Street in downtown Tybee, the Tybee Island Lighthouse, and the North Beach area.
Travel Tip: Plan extra time for your visit during the summer months, as roads in and out of the island can get congested. And keep your clothing casual: It's a beach town, after all!
Charleston, S.C.: History, Art, and Food
Located about 100 miles northeast in neighboring South Carolina, Charleston is another 17th-century port city that offers stunning architecture, world-class dining, charm, and natural beauty. Stroll the streets of Waterfront Park or the Battery, browse shops and galleries on King Street, tour one of the historic churches or cemeteries, and eat at award-winning restaurants like Rodney Scott's Barbecue and Husk.
Getting There: By car, take I-95 north to I-17 North. The trip takes about two hours.
Travel Tip: From Civil War history to architecture and ghosts, Charleston Walking Tours offer free, self-guided audio tours perfect for an overview of the city.
Savannah National Wildlife Refuge: A Natural Escape
With over 30,000 acres of preserved and protected land, the National Wildlife Refuge spans Chatham and Effingham counties in Georgia and Jasper County in South Carolina. Highlights include over 40 miles of hiking and walking trails, a visitor's center with an exhibition hall and orientation video, and a four-mile photography and wildlife observation road.
Getting There: Only 15 miles from downtown, the refuge is located off US-17N, approximately seven miles north of the South Carolina state line.
Travel Tip: The visitor's center is open Monday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except federal holidays. Taking a ride share service is discouraged, as cell phone service is spotty in the area.
Bluffton, S.C.: Small Town Charm
Less than an hour from downtown Savannah, the quaint town of Bluffton is perched on the May River directly across from Hilton Head Island. Start your visit at the Heyward House Museum & Welcome Center, one of eight Antebellum homes remaining in the town. Then enjoy local craft beer at Salt Marsh Brewing or Southern Barrel Brewing Company Tavern, tour the Neo-Classical Church of the Cross, and stroll through local galleries. Finish up at the chef's counter at FARM, a 45-seat restaurant that focuses on local, seasonal Low Country cuisine.
Getting There: Bluffton is about 30 minutes northeast of Savannah via US-17 N, SC-315 N, and SC-46 E.
Travel Tip: Park your car for the day and rent a bike or take a cycling tour with Bluffton Bike Store.
Skidaway Island State Park: Hiking and Wildlife
With six miles of hiking trails, an observation tower, bike rentals, and a boardwalk overlooking the Georgia Intercoastal Waterway, Skidaway Island State Park offers several opportunities to view deer, egrets, crabs, and other animals in their natural habitat among the salt marsh and nearby forest.
Getting There: Skidaway is 15 miles and about a 25-minute drive via Harry S. Truman Parkway south and GA-204 Spur East.
Travel Tip: The park is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily and charges a $5 parking fee.
Beaufort, S.C.: Historic Waterfront Town
Take a boat tour to scout for local wildlife, tour historic Antebellum homes like the Robert Means House, and walk or bike along the Woods Memorial Bridge—made famous in the film "Forrest Gump." Cap your day with seafood at the Saltus River Grill in this second oldest town in South Carolina.
Getting There: Beaufort is an hour drive from Savannah via SC-170 E.
Travel Tip: Book a historic walking tour or van tour of local spots featured in films like "Forrest Gump" with Beaufort Tours.
Jacksonville, F.L.: Museums, Trails, and Breweries
Located about 25 miles south of the Georgia state line, Jacksonville is an easy two-hour trip from Savannah and offers beautiful gardens, several museums, and nature trails for visitors. Browse the contemporary art collection at MOCA Jacksonville, visit the family-friendly Museum of Science and History or Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, or hike the trails at the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens. For grown-ups only fun, hit the Jax Ax Trail, which includes a self-guided tour of 19 local breweries, including Ale Works and Veterans United.
Getting There: Take I-95 S, which goes directly to downtown Jacksonville.
Travel Tip: Check the city's calendar for a list of annual free festivals, like the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, the Jacksonville Science Festival, and the Seawalk Music Fest.
Hilton Head Island: Beach Getaway
This island resort town is about 30 miles over the South Carolina border and offers beach views, shopping, dining, and plenty of recreational activities like biking, golf, and more. Park your car for free at Coligny Beach, which has bike, umbrella, and chair rentals; plenty of walking paths; and a shopping plaza with over 60 restaurants and retailers.
Getting There: Located just 45 minutes from Savannah, Hilton Head Island is best reached by car, using I-17N to SC-46 E/May River Rd.
Travel Tip: Traffic jams can occur during the height of tourist season (spring and summer), so plan your trip accordingly.
Atlanta, G.A.: Big City Museums, Parks, and Culture
While it's a bit of a drive, Georgia's capital city of Atlanta is worth a trip. From world-class museums like the Georgia Aquarium and the Atlanta History Center, to outdoor activities at Piedmont Park and nearby trails, to cultural centers like the High Museum of Art and Center for Puppetry Arts, Atlanta is a family-friendly city that offers something for everyone.
Getting There: Take I-16 W to I-75 N, which goes directly to downtown Atlanta.
Travel Tip: Plan for Atlanta's notoriously bad rush hour, which lasts from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. in the morning and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the evening.