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Savannah Neighborhoods

Savannah sits on a bluff above the Savannah River, just across the river from South Carolina. Though there are more than 100 distinct Savannah neighborhoods, the majority of the city's sights fall inside the 2.5-square-mile Historic District, which lies along the river. The areas directly south of the Historic District are also historic and charming, while some of those to the west are a tad gritty. South Savannah is pure New South, a sprawl-y mix of giant malls and big-box stores. East of the city, the land grows marshy. Causeways lead across the water to a number of Sea Islands, including resort-friendly Tybee. These islands are where Savannah dwellers go when the weather gets disgustingly hot (and oh, does it ever!). Because it was built on a grid, downtown Savannah is incredibly easy to navigate. All you need is the ability to tell north from south and right from left, and you're golden. Outside of downtown, things get a bit trickier, but overall it's an incredibly accessible city for visitors. Be aware that some of Savannah's most upscale neighborhoods sit cheek to jowl with less wholesome areas. The entire vibe of a street can change within the space of a block, so pay attention to your surroundings.

Southside

Shoppers flock to this newer neighborhood, home to most of Savannah's shopping malls. Of these, Oglethorpe Mall is older and more upscale, while Savannah Mall has all your standard middle-American shops. Though it's not especially scenic (really, you could be anywhere in America), it's become popular with homeowners who want a more suburban vibe or can't afford Historic District prices. If the Historic District has given you an overdose of quaint, head to Southside to take in a movie or grab a slice of pizza. You'll find several of Savannah's better mid-range hotels here.

Midtown

Midtown Savannah is more residential and less dramatically quaint than the Historic District or the Victorian District, but it definitely has its own charm. With row upon row of cute 1920s bungalows, it has become the neighborhood of choice for artsy young Savannah families. Good restaurants and shops have followed accordingly. While you probably won't come out here just for a stroll, don't overlook Midtown when you're planning dinner reservations. We especially recommend Elizabeth on 37th.

Victorian District

Directly south of the Historic District, the Victorian District is increasingly popular with a slightly hipper breed of Savannah-ite. The beautiful gingerbread Victorian houses that give the area its name fell into disrepair in the early- to mid-20th century and have just now been restored to full luster. This is one of the nicest parts of town to stroll, as it's slightly less crowded than the Historic District. The area borders the south end of Forsyth Park, with its photogenic fountain and rows of oak trees.

Tybee Island

When 98 percent humidity in downtown Savannah makes you wilt like a gardenia blossom in a microwave, head to Tybee. One of Georgia's famed Sea Islands, it's been Savannah's getaway of choice for well over 100 years. With a population of less than 4,000, it's still got a sleepy mid-century resort town vibe, with few chain hotels or restaurants. There's not much to do here but lie on the beach and eat crab, but that's plenty. At less than half an hour from downtown, it's close enough for a quick afternoon trip. The main road into town is U.S. Highway 80, which becomes Butler Avenue.

Historic District

On the bluffs of the Savannah River, the historic downtown is Savannah at its most iconic. Postcard-pretty 19th-century rowhouses line cobblestone streets, antebellum mansions sit behind ornate wrought-iron gates, doves relax on carved marble fountains in lovely public parks. The area is small enough to walk on foot, yet large enough not to get too crowded even in high season. The exception is River Street, which is always jam-packed with sightseers. They're here for a reason—this is Savannah's prettiest vista, a quaint waterside lane packed with boutiques, cafes and gift shops. Farther south from the river, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) imparts an artier flavor.

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