Spend a day--not a fortune--exploring the charms of the historic district.

Bargains in Savannah
Skip the formal and more expensive dinner at The Olde Pink House and visit the Planters Tavern piano bar downstairs where you can craft a wonderful meal from the appetizer menu.

Savannah doesn't have to be expensive to be fun. Explore its oak-lined avenues, and taste its well-known restaurants--all on a comfortable budget that doesn't skimp on style. Here are some tips to make your stay more affordable.

Around the Squares
Leave your vehicle in the garage at the City Market or at the one on Bryan and Abercorn Streets ($1 an hour, $7 maximum). Or stop by the visitors center on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard to purchase a pass for $8 that enables you to use any meter all day. Next, with a free map from the visitors center in hand, spend several hours visiting the squares.

A Taste of the City
Instead of dropping cash on expensive snacks, find yourself in the City Market or along River Street where candy shops tempt visitors. Each one graciously provides free samples. Your challenge, of course, is to exit without purchasing a whole pound of the divine treats. Instead, buy just one candy apiece, and savor the indulgence.

Or for a more refined experience, try The Olde Pink House just a few blocks over. Its elegant dining rooms welcome guests who want to enjoy a lavish evening. Don't let this turn you away. Instead, check out the Planters Tavern in the basement. There, Gail Thurmond plays the piano while you relish a rich dinner of appetizers. Choose seared scallops with wild greens ($8.95) or shrimp with country ham and grits cake ($8.95), and don't forget the she-crab soup ($6.95).

At dinnertime, head for Vinnie Van Go-Go's at the casual City Market. Open only at night Monday through Friday and then from noon till late night on weekends, this wonderful pizzeria accepts cash only. But you won't need that much. A large pie starts at $13, or you can buy it by the slice for about $2.

Affordable Style
There's one simple truth about lodging in Savannah: Room rates go down Sunday through Tuesday nights. If you just have to stay at a historic inn, call at the last minute, and ask for a deal on unbooked rooms.

The Doubletree Hotel Historic Savannah on Bay Street offers one of the best deals on lodging. To make your reservations and get the lowest prices, visit www.doubletree.com, or call (912) 790-7000. Rates start at less than $100 a night (plus $13 for parking); inquire about the packages that include free breakfast and parking. This six-story modern hotel provides large rooms with antique reproduction rice beds and furnishings. Request a room on the third floor or higher. Some face the river; others face the historic district. Now that's a view that's worth your time and money.

For More Information
Savannah Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, 301 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Savannah, GA 31401; toll-free 1-877-728-2662 or www.savannahvisit.com.

This article is from the December 2004 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.