Throughout history, rivers have helped shape cities. Settlers flocked to riverbanks as corridors of commerce, agriculture and daily life and built their communities along the riverfronts. Those same rivers today attract tourists with free water taxis and ferries, riverboat tours and sightseeing cruises, and the bustling waterfronts in these river cities are still destinations for shopping, entertainment, nightlife, cuisine and culture.
The picturesque historic district often gets much of the attention in Savannah, Georgia, but just blocks away is another famous stretch of the city: the Savannah River front.
River Street runs along the riverbanks for about a mile, and along the street, visitors will find nearly 100 shops and restaurants, mostly local and independent businesses, in historic converted warehouses, many with wood beams, exposed brickwork and original hardwood floors.
“Most were cotton warehouses at the time,” said Mindy Shea, director of tour, travel and international sales for Visit Savannah. “They really give you a sense of place.”
All the area’s open-air trolley tours take passengers to River Street, and a motorcoach drop-off about midway on the mile-long street is a good starting point for groups to explore, especially if they have free time, or lunch or dinner on their own.
“They can be literally feet away from the Savannah River and see the ships going by,” Shea said.
For rooftop dining, Rocks on the Roof at the Bohemian Hotel and Top Deck at the neighboring Cotton Sail Hotel have sweeping views of the Savannah River and the Talmadge Memorial Bridge.
Savannah Riverboat Cruises offers sightseeing, sunset, and lunch or dinner cruises that run the length of River Street. Passengers can also hop on and off the city’s free water taxi as they take it across the river to take in views of downtown Savannah’s skyline, including the gold dome of city hall.