Best Museums in Savannah

Travellers are attracted to Savannah, Ga., for its Southern charm, gorgeous architecture and rich history. In fact, Savannah brought in a record-breaking 12 million tourists in 2011, and Travel + Leisure ranked it one of the “Top 10 Cities in the U.S. and Canada” the next year. Its diverse array of museums is another major attraction, and many are close enough to navigate by foot. Plan your next visit to Savannah and visit these must-see museums:

Mercer Williams House

museums in savannah

As one of the city’s most attractive tourist spots, the Mercer Williams House is the setting for the famous shooting scene in the novel, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” Designed in the 1800s by famed architect John S. Norris, it was initially the home of Gen. Hugh Mercer. It later became the home of Jim Williams, who is believed to have killed his wife in the same chair that he later died. Williams conducted an extensive renovation, and the home, which is open for tours, is filled with artwork and furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Beach Institute African-American Cultural Center

Located in Savannah’s Historic District, this building initially served as the first school house for Savannah’s African American children. It’s now a museum featuring artwork and artifacts from local and national African Americans. Stroll through the cultural center’s many exhibits - it’s most lauded permanent display features 230 wood carvings by the late Ulysses Davis, a distinguished folk artist from the area.

Owens-Thomas House and Museu

Many consider the Owens-Thomas House among the best examples of English Regency architecture in the nation. Erected in 1819, it features curved walls, half-moon arches and Greek-style moulding. It’s also ornamented with stained glass and 19th-century furniture by renowned designer Duncan Phyfe. Visit the carriage house for a rare look into the slave quarters of the home, which still has its original furnishings.

Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum

Originally the home of 19th-century merchant William Scarborough, this structure is one of several buildings designed by famed local architect William Jay. The Greek Revival mansion is now the location of the Ships of the Sea Museum, which celebrates maritime history with specialized exhibits and model ships. Step outside and you’ll find the largest garden in the city’s Historic District, where walking tours and concerts are often held.

Tricentennial Park and Battlefield

Spanning 25 acres, Tricentennial Park and Battlefield is a huge complex that houses four different museums. The Savannah History Museum shows off the city’s military and cultural history, while the Battlefield Memorial Park is a memorial to the 8,000 troops that fought in the Savannah battle of the American Revolution. The Savannah Children's Museum, the site’s newest addition, is an open-air museum where kids can learn while playing. At the Georgia State Railroad Museum, explore railcars, boxcars, a working railroad turntable and original homes from the city’s old railroad district, as well as functioning steam and diesel locomotives. If you get hungry, stop by the Whistle Stop Cafe for lunch.

Pinpoint Heritage Museum

Located on Pin Point Avenue, this museum preserves the culture of the community that surrounds it. These residents are descendants of the Gullah and Geechee people who were first-generation slaves of Ossabaw Island, which is about 20 miles south of Savannah. After being freed in the late 1800s, they established this community, many finding work at a local crab factory. That crab factory has since closed down, been revived and made open to the public as the Pin Point Heritage Museum.

By Nicole Martinez