Photos won’t do - experiencing River Street face to face is a rite of passage. The first time you see the massive cargo ships, hear their horn blow down the Savannah River or walk the historic cobblestone streets that have lined the waterway for over 200 years, a nostalgic feeling washes over you.
For those who have never witnessed this historic landmark, we’ve created a first-time guide to give assurance that you won’t miss a thing.
The First Step is a Doozy
Charmingly known as the "Stone Stairs of Death", attempt the 33 historic steps on the western end of River Street to access the river's cobblestone street. There are several alternate access points to the lower level by way of Bay Street, Factor’s Walk, the ADA-accessible outdoor elevator between Hyatt Regency Savannah and City Hall, or by walking or driving on the ramps. Understandable that not everyone will take the leap, it’s still fun to see. These steep stairs are not for the faint of heart, but the view at the bottom is well worth the cardio.
Reflect on the Past
Did you know? River Street is over 300 years old. The port was once the primary location for incoming goods and was the leader in exporting cotton. Today’s shops, bars, galleries and restaurants that line River Street were once cotton warehouses. Initially, the stones that make up the 200-year-old cobblestone streets were ballast material on ships that sailed into the Savannah harbor. Pay homage to the African American and World War II Monuments to learn about our World War II history. Greet the historic Waving Girl Statue and view the Olympic Yachting Cauldron that was lit during the 1996 Summer Olympic that took place across Atlanta and Savannah. There is so much history to see here, carefully restored to preserve the past and adapt to the future.
Walk it Off
Take in the sights as you promenade up and down River Street. The water views, cargo ships, Talmadge Bridge, street performers and passing visitors of of all different backgrounds help bring the entire experience to life. Whether you head east or west, something is sure to catch your eye.
Retail is Therapy
Visit River Street’s various shops and boutiques for clothes, jewelry, art, ornaments or souvenirs. Shops such as Bob’s Your Uncle – Fannie’s Your Aunt, River Street Market Place and Savannah Bee Company River Street are a few notables with options for every type of shopper.
In With the New
To the west, you’ll find Plant Riverside District, one of the premier entertainment districts in Savannah. Here you’ll find dining, hospitality, shopping, bars and entertainment all in one. This innovative project called for a massive expansion of River Street, now allowing visitors to walk an additional 1300 square feet along the river. Admire dinosaur fossils, a giant rooftop slide, luxurious lofts and suites, and the original 1912 power plant smokestacks are a few highlights of this gorgeous space.
Of course, being near the water means access to some of the best seafood restaurants. The Shrimp Factory, Tubby’s Seafood River Street, Dockside Seafood Bar & Grill, Huey's Restaurant, Vic’s On the River and District Seafood all have exceptional menus – most notably, fantastic river views.
Savannah Candy Kitchen
Sweet Tooth? Reward yourself by stopping by the Savannah Candy Kitchen for a complimentary praline. These freshly made scoops of buttery, sugary pecan goodness will not disappoint. Be forewarned - you can’t eat just one.
Sometimes the best seat in the house is on the roof! Check out any of Savannah's glamorous rooftop bars and restaurants along the river. Electric Moon Skytop Lounge, Myrtle & Rose Rooftop Garden, Rocks on the Roof and Top Deck offers fantastic drinks and delicious menu items. Relax under the warm sun by day and watch as the city lights reflect on the water by night.
This first-time guide to River Street is sure to make exploring this historic Savannah landmark an experience you won’t soon forget! Dine, shop and explore everything River Street has to offer.