If you’re visiting the Southeastern USA, you’ve got to check out Savannah, Georgia and the surrounding coast! In this post, we’ll cover 9 of the best day trips from Savannah that you don’t want to miss!
With delicious southern food, historical town squares, lively nightlife, and a charming waterfront, it’s no wonder so many people visit Savannah, GA each year. Even though there is a ton to see and do in Savannah, you’ll also find some incredible destinations just a short drive away from the city.
Growing up outside of Atlanta, the Georgia coast was a premium destination for summers and spring break trips. Since the golden isles and surrounding areas are relatively compact, it’s possible to see quite a lot of this beautiful landscape in a short amount of time.
Savannah makes a nice jumping-off point for many attractions on the Georgia coast, in addition to offering travelers plenty to do. Here are some awesome things you can do within a short drive of Savannah, Georgia.
These days, operating hours, schedules, and prices can change suddenly. It’s always a good idea to contact the attraction directly and confirm open hours and other details before heading out!
Jekyll Island is one of the famous Georgia Golden Islands and a perfect getaway for beach-lovers! Renting bikes is a fun way to explore Jekyll island. There are maintained bike trails all over the island and you can rent a set of wheels at Beachside Bike Rentals or Jekyll Wheels.
- Great Dunes Beach Park is a popular 20-acre beach in the middle of the island with convenient amenities like showers and picnic tables.
- Driftwood Beach Park is in the northernmost part of the island and you can see the enormous pieces of driftwood that decorate the beach like sculptures.
- The Georgia Sea Turtle Center has educational events all day where you can learn about sea turtle rehabilitation. They are open daily from 9 am – 5 pm and the entrance fee is $7.49 for kids and $9.63 for adults.
How Far is Jekyll Island From Savannah?
Jekyll is about 80 miles south of savannah and you’ll take 1-95 most of the way. The drive from Savannah to Jekyll Island takes about 1.5 hours.
How much does it cost to go to Jekyll Island?
To enter Jekyll Island, you’ll need a parking pass. A day pass costs $8 per car and is valid until midnight. You can buy your parking pass online in advance or when you arrive on the island.
Savannah National Wildlife Refuge
The Savannah National Wildlife Refuge is more than 30,000 acres of protected wildlife in Georgia and South Carolina. The refuge has wildlife viewing opportunities, fishing, biking, and even a geocaching trail!
The Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive is perfect for animal enthusiasts and photographers! Walking and cycling trails run along the drive and you could see wading birds, marsh birds, and even alligators!
The scenic drive, visitor center, and most nature trails are located in the southern part of the refuge. Northern sections of the refuge are mostly swamps and marshes that are only accessible by boats and kayaks.
Opening Hours and Times
- Visitors Center: currently closed but normal hours are 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
- Reserve Hours: daylight hours, 7 days a week
How far is Savannah National Wildlife Refuge from Savannah?
The Savannah National Wildlife Refuge is about 17 minutes from Savannah on I-17 N.
Please note that the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge does not recommend taking Uber, Lyft, or other rideshare services to visit because there is no transportation available to take visitors to different areas of the park. Cell service can be spotty so it could be difficult calling for a pickup.
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Cumberland Island offers a totally unique experience in Georgia. The southernmost barrier island, Cumberland Island is totally off the grid. There are no amenities or infrastructure – it’s just largely untouched nature. Strong efforts have been made to preserve this National Park and today, it’s only accessible by boat.
Cumberland Island is a great way to get away from it all and enjoy nature. You’ll need to bring all your own supplies and you can expect to see live oak trees, Spanish moss, and even wild horses that have lived on the island for hundreds of years.
How far is Cumberland Island from Savannah?
Cumberland Island is about 2 hours away from Savannah. You can get there by driving south on 1-95.
How To Get To Cumberland Island From Savannah
Cumberland Island is challenging to get to but worth the trek. The only way to get to the island is by Ferry. The ferry terminal for Cumberland Island is in a town called St. Mary’s. Drive to the St. Mary’s Visitor Center and catch the Ferry from there.
The Ferry from St. Mary’s takes about forty-five minutes and it departs twice a day at 9:00 am and 11:45 am. Return ferries run at 10:15am, 2:45pm, and 4:45pm.
Tickets cost $15 for adults $10 for kids each way. Any visitors over the age of 16 must also pay a $10 park fee in addition to the ferry ticket.
- St. Mary’s Visitor Center: 113 St. Marys Street St Marys, GA 31558
- Ferry From St. Mary’s to Cumberland Island: 9:00 am, 11:45 am
- Return Ferry from Cumberland Island to St. Mary’s: 10:15 am, 2:45 pm, and 4:45 pm.
- Check the latest Ferry Schedule here!
St. Simons Island
St. Simons is the largest barrier island off the Georgia coast and it’s known for saltwater marshes, Spanish moss-covered oak trees, a historical lighthouse, and pet-friendly beaches.
Spend the day exploring East Beach where you can bike, relax on the beach, or even try kiteboarding! Check out the St. Simons Lighthouse Museum to see one of Georgia’s five remaining lighthouses and take in views of the neighboring islands. This lighthouse dates back to the 1800s and is still in use today.
If you’re looking for a bit more adventure, you can check out Cannon’s Point Reserve. This large wilderness space is open to the public from 9:00 am 3:00 pm every day. In the reserve, you can see plantation ruins from the 1800s and middens (archaeological shell piles) dating back to 2500 BCE. There are no public amenities, so make sure to bring water, food, sunscreen, and bug spray.
If you spend some time in St. Simons, you might notice a few oak trees with whimsical faces carved into them. The carvings, known as the St. Simons Spirit Trees, were done in the 1980s by artist Keith Jennings and are inspired by the mythology of sailors lost at sea. You can find a map of where to find the trees at The Golden Isles Welcome Center.
How Far Is St. Simons Island From Savannah?
Savannah is about 1 hour and 35 minutes by car if you take I-95. You can also get there by taking coastal highway US 17. Parking is free on St. Simons Island.
Hilton Head Island
Less than an hour north of Savannah, GA you can cross into South Carolina to visit Hilton Head Island. Hilton Head is famous for its golf courses and beaches which attract about 2.5 million tourists each year. The beaches are regularly ranked best in the country, so it’s no surprise this spot gets pretty popular.
When you’re finished enjoying the beaches, head out to sea on a guided dolphin boat tour! Bottlenose dolphins are common around Hilton Head and your tour guide will help you spot some new aquatic friends.
You can also learn about fascinating local Gullah culture by taking a guided Gullah Heritage Trail Tour.
Hilton Head Island is bike-friendly and my friends and I still laugh about that time we rented a four-person bike to make our way around the island. Sure, we looked ridiculous, but did we get where we needed to go? Absolutely. There are 60 miles of bike trails so you can get pretty much everywhere.
How Far Is Hilton Head Island From Savannah?
If you take SC-46 E, you can get from Savannah to Hilton Head Island in about 44 minutes. You can also take US-278 E (46 minutes) or US-17 N and US-278 E (50 minutes).
It’s free to visit the beaches on Hilton Head Island, but finding parking can be a bit of a challenge. Metered spots are available at most beaches for $0.25 per 15 minutes, but this might vary depending on the beach. Some free parking is available at Fish Haul Beach Park, Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park, and Coligny Beach Park.
Tybee Island is another fun Savannah GA day trip that you won’t want to miss. This small barrier island just a short drive from Savannah is known for having soft sand beaches and a generally laid-back atmosphere. You can visit shops and restaurants or explore the many beaches on the island.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even take a boat or a kayak to Little Tybee, a secluded nature preserve perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.
Things To Do On Tybee Island
- Eat fresh seafood at Crab Shack. I ate here with a group of friends on a weekend trip and years later, it’s still one of my most memorable meals!
- Rent kayaks, canoes, or SUPs and explore the surrounding waterways
- Visit the Tybee Island Light House
- Take a Tybee Island dolphin tour (this one includes transportation from Savannah)
How Far Is Tybee Island From Savannah?
Tybee Island is about half an hour away from Savannah and you can get there by taking US-80 East.
Parking on Tybee Island costs $3.50 per hour. There are metered spaces as well as parking lots where you can pay and get a voucher that you place in your car window. You can learn more about where to find parking on Tybee Island here.
Daufuskie Island is another opportunity to get close to nature. Daufuskie is only accessible by ferry, boat, or water taxi, but the unique journey is definitely worth it!
On Daufuskie Island, you can take a tour to explore the island’s rich Gullah history. Additionally, tours are available to experience Daufuskie’s ecological diversity. You can also rent paddleboards, kayaks, and golf carts to explore the island independently.
Getting to Daufuskie Island
There are a few different ways you can get to Daufuskie Island from Savannah.
- By Car and Ferry: Drive to the Ferry Visitors Center in Bluffton (The address is 1536 Fording Island Road, Bluffton, 29926). They offer free parking at the Visitors Center and a round-trip ferry ticket is $35. You can see the ferry schedule here.
- By Water Taxi: Head to the Bull River Marina where you’ll take a beautiful boat ride for about half an hour. Tickets are $45 per person round trip and you’ll need to make a reservation in advance. Learn more here.
If you’d like to get away for longer than a day, it’s possible to spend the night on Daufuskie Island too! You can check out Daufuskie Island Airbnb rentals here.
Located just 20 minutes from Savannah is another nature-lovers paradise! Skidaway Island is a Georgia State Park and offers impressive woodland scenery along the Intercoastal Waterway.
Here, you can have a picnic, hike, try geocaching, go bird watching, camp, or rent a cabin. There are natural campsites and RV campsites available, as well as playgrounds and group shelters. Just remember to call in advance if you’d like to book a camping space or group shelter.
How To Get To Skidaway Island From Savannah
To get to Skidaway Island from Savannah, take Truman Pkwy and GA-204 E.
- Park address: 52 Diamond Causeway, Savannah GA 31411
- The drive takes about 20 minutes.
- Parking passes cost $5 per day
Charleston is one of my favorite cities to visit in this region and it makes a great destination for weekend getaways, events, and day trips with friends. Recently, Charleston has grown as a travel destination after it was named one the best cities to visit in the United States by Travel and Leisure!
Day trips from Savannah to Charleston are quite popular because both are bigger cities with distinct flavors. It’s a fascinating city to simply walk around in, but if you’d like to plan out some activities in advance, here are some ideas!
- Visit the Fort Sumter National Monument: This tour includes your admission and transport by ferry
- Take a Historical Harbor Cruise: This one takes place on a replica of a 1920s steamer
- Discover local cuisine: On this food tour, you’ll sample Charleston classics with a knowledgeable guide
How Far Is Charleston From Savannah?
Charleston is a little less than 2 hours from Savannah. You can get there by taking I-95 N and US-17 N.
Click here to read my 1-Day Savannah to Charleston Road Trip Itinerary!
Final Thoughts: Best Day Trips From Savannah, GA
Savannah GA is an amazing spot to start your adventures in the Southeastern USA. With close proximity to a huge variety of activities in Georgia and South Carolina, spending some time in Savannah won’t disappoint.
What are your favorite day trips from Savannah, GA? Let me know below!
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