The Riverfront is a visually rich area. It is really great at evening dusk for scenics and for people. You can't go wrong with River Street - day and night. People for the most part are very friendly. If you ask them if you can take their pictures, they usually say yes.
You'll also see some of the street people performing on their instruments. A regular plays a mean sax, sometimes there is a drum group, sometimes singers playing their guitars.
Plenty of restaurants and bars along there, too. The River Street Sweets Shop has interesting scenes inside that you can shoot of the various hand-made candy displays. Great fudge and other sweet stuff. You might get lucky and see one of the employees making candy.
On River Street we like the Warehouse for live music and cheap beer and Huey's for good seafood in a casual environment at a reasonable price.
From River Street, you might want to take a water taxi or ferry (free) from City Landing (near the Hyatt Hotel) over to Hutchinson Island and explore inside the Conference Center. There's a Westin Hotel there, too. Shoot River Street from that perspective. It's especially spectacular at night. (Best at night to drive over the bridge rather than take the ferry. Take the first exit to the island. Plenty of parking spaces are available.)
From the island, take a ferry down to Waving Girl Landing at the Merriott Hotel and walk back towards City Landing, exploring all the shops and their wares along the way. Also along the way you may see container ships steaming up or down the river. Other much smaller boats, too, including tour boats, tugs and private boats.
Nice park area all along the waterfront where people rest, so you can get in some people shots, too.
Note: Most hotels and motels will have free Historic District maps. Highly recommended!
To get an overview of the Historic District, you may want to take one of the tours around the city. If you prefer to walk, a great way to get acquainted with the Historic District is to do a city hike from the corner of Bay Street and Bull Street (walking on Bull Street from Bay) all the way to Forsyth Park.
About two thirds of the way down there is a great place to eat lunch on the right hand side of the street called Six Pence Pub. It's hard to miss because there is a bright red, English style, old phone booth out front.
Right before you get to Forsyth Park you will cross Monterey Square which is the location of the Mercer Williams House Museum (it's on the right hand side of the square as you walk towards Forsyth Park) which was the house featured in "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil".
Forsyth Park is also a must. There is a beautiful fountain and a beautiful oak canopied walkway leading into the park.
To the east of Forsyth is the Colonial Park Cemetery, which, if you like historical cemeteries, is a great place to browse in and read the very informative plaques.
The Squares (22 of them) are beautiful! They are unique to Savannah and are what make it one of the world's most beautiful cities. Each square has a name and is uniquely landscaped.
Bull Street runs north and south. You can take any of the streets running east and west and walk the length of the historic district in the other direction.
Christ Church of Savannah is the "Mother Church" and is on 28 Bull Street on the east side of Johnson Square. The lovely whiteness of its exterior facade with the white columns makes for great shooting of people if you position them on its steps and front porch.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Ascension is a magnificent place in which to shoot stained glass windows. Its sanctuary is on the upper level, so you'd have to climb some stairs.
The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, with it’s lovely stained glass and murals, is a beautiful church established before the end of the 18th century.
The Telfair Museum of Art is also in Savannah just off Telfair Square.
The Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) is housed in buildings all over Savannah, some of them very old, and has a huge influence on entire community.
For the artists among us, go south for several blocks on Martin Luther King Blvd and find the Ex Libris Bookstore on the street's east side. Not just books, but art supplies, too, as this is apparently owned by the Savannah College of Arts & Design (SCAD). This store has several versions of color wheels of interest to photographers and artists alike.
There's also a Ships of the Sea - Maritime Museum on Martin Luther King Blvd. Look for this on the west side of the street before you get to the bookstore.
Restaurants in Historic District
In addition to the many restaurants and bars on River Street, there are others in the historic district that are very good. A favorite affordable restaurant in the city is the Olde Pink House and it's a little pricey (entrees average about $25.00) but if you are looking for a way to treat yourself this is it. I like sitting downstairs in the bar area. Its cozier down there, its easier to get seated and there is live piano music most nights. Its right downtown and anybody can tell you how to get there.
If you want a more casual and less expensive dinner try the City Market. If you like pizza, Vinnie Van Go-Go's is great, but there are a lot of great choices. Often there is live (free) music on the boulevard that cuts through the Market. There are lots of restaurants here -- Belford’s, Wild Wings, Tapas -- and lots of great shops and art galleries! City Market is downtown on the west side of the historic district a couple of streets southwest of the river. See the City Market link above for more info.
Along Bay Street you will find Churchill’s Restaurant and Moon River Brewing Company.
There is an active music scene in Savannah and you can find live music somewhere almost every night.
Right around the corner from City Market on Congress Street are great places for local, live music - The Retro on Congress (formerly the Mercury Lounge), as well as The Jinx and 51 Degrees. Marti's "Welcome to My View" blog post of January 4, 2009, features a Lensbaby photo she shot in this club (scroll down)!
Right around the other corner from City Market – formerly on Congress Street, but recently moved to River Street (spring 2014) -- Murphy’s Law (an Irish Pub) and which is one of Craig's and Marti's favorite bars, a beautiful interior and great live music. Still located on Congress St. is Molly MacPherson’s (a Scottish Pub) with a good, but limited menu, and a wonderful selection of great Scottish beers including a favorite, Innis and Gunn.
As far as hotels go there is a lot to choose from. If you are willing to spend $100.00 plus, you can get the Hyatt downtown a lot of times for a good price online. Its in an awesome location and is a pretty good hotel with some a great views. The Hilton Savannah DeSoto is in the same price range and is also in a great location (near the Six Pence Pub on Bull Street - one of Marti's favorite walking streets in the city).
The Promenade (Best Western) on West Bay Street is where we used to stay for our workshops. It is good value in a great location right on the northwest corner of the Historic District and just a stone's throw down to River Street. Be aware that The Promenade charges for parking, as do probably all the hotels now.
The Inn at Ellis Square is where Craig used to hold his photo workshops. Its location is closer to many of the areas where Craig likds to have us photograph. The Inn has its own parking garage and charges by the day.
Hotel rates in the Historic District are pricey. If you use Price Line http://www.priceline.com/, you can select the Historic District as your destination, ask for a 4-5 star hotel and you can often get some great deals.
There are some awesome B&Bs in Savannah but the good ones are very pricey.
Here's a link to an interactive map of the Historic District.
Great side trips from Savannah include:
Tybee Island and its lighthouse.
In Bonaventure Cemetery you can sign up for a tour.
Wormsloe Historic Site is well worth the trip from Savannah.
Fort Pulaski National Monument is on the way to Tybee Island.
Jekyll Island is about an hour and 45 minutes south of Savannah and is a beautiful place to shoot.