I read once, that Floridians were unlike the rest of country in one big way, we take more “mini vacays” than any other state. As a lover of quick getaways and basically any travel I believe it! Before kiddos travel was easy, required little planning and you had fun just about anywhere. But with kiddos in tow, we need to make a plan for where to go, how far to drive and what exactly can we do there.
One close, fun and family friendly place to visit is Savannah, Georgia. Savannah is about a two hour drive from Jacksonville Beach and is surrounded by large oaks, beautiful Victorian homes and tons of American history. Here is our top 10 favorite things we did while in Savannah.
Located next door to the Children’s Museum (and you can even get a combo ticket to save money on both), the Railroad Museum has large engines, old passenger cars and even a ride on an old steam engine. They have guided tours inside many of the cars allowing you to travel back in time to when travel by train was the only way to go.
Though they offer a variety of tours, including a Ghost Tour for those adventurous enough, I am more of a fan of the On/Off tour. One this tour you can hear Savannah History, see gorgeous parks, beautiful buildings and get on and off as much as you want throughout the day. A great way to see Savannah without having to hear your kiddos complain they are tired of walking.
Right across the street from the Georgia Railroad Museum is the Savannah History Museum. The day we went they had a deal for all three museums so we figured why not. I truthfully didn’t expect my girls to enjoy it really, but it was air conditioned (we went on a hot day). Then, the gift shop worker told my girls about the Museum Scavenger hunt for a “prize.”
That convinced both my girls to learn a little history as they filled out their Scavenger hunt cards answering questions from throughout the museum. The bench from “Forrest Gump”, period costumes from many of major wars fought in Savannah, information on Juliette Gordon Low all made the History very educational and my girls actually enjoyed it.
Any pirate loving kiddo will LOVE this place. While you wait, you can explore the gift shop filled with all things pirate and Savannah, BUT our fave is the animatronic pirate in the corner telling corny Pirate jokes. Once your table is ready you can head towards the oldest house in Savannah, eat well and a Pirate will even stop by the table to say Hi and tell you a little Pirate history. You can book a tour as well, given by a Pirate of course, but the ambiance and all things Pirate is enough to keep your kiddos happy.
If history is your thing, or you’re like me and take any chance to have a little bit of “educational” in with the fun, Fort Jackson is wonderful. My oldest is a fan of the National Park Junior Ranger Program and this Fort allowed her to add another badge to her hat. A National Monument located just outside of Savannah, the old fort has underground tunnels for kids to explore, old cannons, the bunkrooms and even the jail that was used when this Fort was being used years ago. While at the Fort, your kiddos can become a National Park Junior Ranger or even a Junior Civil War Historian.
Built into an old train carpentry shop this museum was easily a favorite stop for kids. They loved the maze, Sensory garden, dress up area and large foam blocks that could be used anything they imagined. The blocks were definitely their favorite and they joined in with a few other children in creating castles to defend from dragons. All outdoors, a cool fall day would be perfect to allow your children to learn, explore and use their imaginations till their hearts are content (or their stomachs growl).
Located in downtown Savannah, the birthplace and first home of Juliette Gordon Low has history, a Girl Scout shop (of course, as she is the Founder of the Girl Scouts), a beautiful garden, and even a children’s library. They offer tours through the house where you can see her room, hear her story and how she ended up finding the Girl Scouts years ago. The library is amazing, offering hands on activities, but the rest of the tour, though interesting, isn’t really for children under 5. You are not allowed to touch anything, so tiny hands that want to touch everything this isn’t really the place. But, if your kiddos are older and especially a Girl Scout it’s a great stop for even more history and to see how the wealthy of that day lived.
One of the stops on the Old Savannah Tour brings you right to the Jepson Center. This art museum is beautiful, BUT for Families the draw is the ArtZeum, an interactive Art Museum for kiddos. On their Free Family Days (once a month each month), everyone is FREE to create DIY masterpieces, play art detective or check out their new TechSpace featuring Technology-based artworks. Who knew an Art Museum could be fun for kids?
The history of The Waving Girl on Savannah’s historic Riverbank is actually a neat story (but I will save it for you when you go to Savannah). She stands at the East end of the Riverwalk “waving” and welcoming the ships as they come in. As you walk further down the Riverwalk you will find shops, restaurants galore with amazing food, hotels and everything you can picture on a cobblestone road on the river. A MUST STOP is the Savannah Sweets shop to grab ice cream or other sweets for yourself, I mean the kids.
Just a short drive over the bridge from Savannah is Tybee Island, GA. Your family can experience a Beach Walk or Marsh Trek with their guides where you can see the native animals up close in their natural habitat, or tour their Coastal Georgia Gallery, where they house animals for rehabilitation or learning before returning them to their natural home. The Marine Science educators deliver mini-programs throughout the day to help your kids learn even more.
Bonus Roadtrip Tip:
The first Friday of every month they shoot off Fireworks over the river. So if you have a firework loving kiddo, plan your trip for then.
Melody is a graduate of Jacksonville University, married a Jax Beach resident, moved away for 12 years, then returned to the area in 2016. Together they have two girls. Melody works as owner/photographer of Melody Coarsey Photography, she loves yoga, family, traveling, dining with a view and the ocean.