29 Mar 2021
Plan a vacation with built-in coastal distancing when you visit Savannah this spring. A stay in the quintessential Southern city puts visitors close to the Great Outdoors.
Unplug and unwind at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, located on U.S. 17, just seven miles from downtown. The Refuge is 3,000 acres of freshwater impoundments, formerly rice fields of plantations that date to the mid or late 1700s. While some trails are closed for upgrades, several are still open for exploration, including those around Kingfisher Pond, the Solomon Tract, and the Visitor Center trails. The Refuge attracts thousands of migratory birds each year and is also a habitat for ducks, bald eagles, and swallow-tailed kites. You may even catch a glimpse of an alligator while scouting the tidal freshwater marsh and bottomland hardwoods.
Note: Don’t take an Uber or rideshare from Savannah, as you have to drive from the Visitor Center to the trails, and there is not transportation once you arrive at the Refuge.
Oatland Island Wildlife Center, once part of a cotton plantation, is now open to the public. Purchase tickets in advance to enter the Center, with more than 100 acres of maritime forest and a two-mile nature trail. It takes about two hours to meander the walking loop, which features five exhibit areas and more than 150 animals. Visitors get up close - but safe - views of wolves, possums, donkeys, snakes, and more. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children 4-17, and free for children up to age three.
Skidaway Island State Park has six miles of hiking trails meandering through forest and a salt marsh to a boardwalk and observation tower. Skidaway Island is also part of Georgia’s Colonial Coast Birding Trail, where birdwatchers can spot osprey, painted buntings, pileated woodpeckers, and maybe even a bald eagle. Spring is a perfect time for warbler watching. Look for ospreys nesting in spring and summer as well. While the interpretive is not in operation, the trails are open to visitors. There is a $5 parking fee for the Park, located about 15 miles from Savannah’s Historic District.
A little further east, discover the Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, open from sunrise to sunset each day. The barrier island is home to various birds, along with white-tailed deer, reptiles, and loggerhead sea turtles. With 20 miles of dirt roads on Wassaw Island and seven miles of beach, there is plenty of space to explore, hike, and bicycle. Saltwater fishing is permitted year-round in the estuarine waters adjacent to the Refuge, while freshwater fishing in ponds is off-limits. Savannah Coastal Ecotours offers a daylong guided, interpretive boat tour of the island.
For a memorable adventure, head to Little Tybee Island, an unspoiled, uninhabited nature preserve accessible only by boat. This unique wilderness preserve is abundant with rich coastal ecosystems and abundant wildlife. Bull River Cruises offers pontoon boat and kayak tours that get you to the island. If you want to spend more time on Little Tybee, Sundial Charter Tours takes visitors on a three-hour Little Tybee exploration trip. Or plan a specialty tour with Tybee Island Charters.
While you can enjoy all Savannah offers from your Historic District rental, you’re just a daytrip away from an outdoor adventure.