This past January, before the COVID-19 mess, my family went to Disney. On our way down, we overnighted in Savannah. We got there early enough to check out a few places, the Savannah Children's Museum, Savannah History Museum, and the Georgia State Railway Museum. All three locations are pretty much on the same block. If you have kids, the museums offer a combination ticket that allows you to visit all three locations at a discount and is valid over three days. If you do not have kids, or they are too old for the children's museum - the combination ticket may also be used at Old Fort Jackson, Pinpoint Heritage Museum, or the Harper Fowlkes House.
|The former Central of Georgia Roundhouse.
The Georgia State Railway Museum and Savannah Children's Museum are located within the former Central of Georgia Savannah Shops and Terminal Facilities. The Central of Georgia began as a railway and canal company in 1833. The Central was formed to build a rail link from Macon to Savannah and over time and through acquisitions expanded throughout Georgia and into Alabama. One of its more famous passenger rail routes was the Nancy Hanks & Nancy Hanks II, which ran from Atlanta to Savannah. The route lasted until 1971 with the creation of Amtrak when the line was not continued. Today, the Central of Georgia is a paper railroad that falls under the Norfolk Southern umbrella.
The Georgia State Railway Museum is open Thursday - Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. It is home to a roundhouse with an operating turntable, vintage railcars and engines, machine shop, boiler shop, and other remaining buildings within the yard.
|A steam engine display at the Georgia State Railway Museum.
There are several hands-on activities for children and adults. Also, a few of the cars are open for you to walk through and explore.
The Savannah Children's Museum is unique as nearly all of it is outdoors. The museum is located within the grounds of the former carpentry shop on the Savannah Shops Yard. The museum's hours are also the same as the Railway Museum's - Thursday through Saturday - 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
|The Savannah Children's Museums is almost entirely outdoors!
Being outdoors, the museum is subject to Savannah's weather - so before you go - check the forecast. We were fortunate to go on a Thursday morning.
|The Savannah Children's Museum has a maze, slide and other activities built into the old Central of Georgia carpentry shop.
The outdoor layout of the museum adds a new experience for kids. Plus, the historic architecture of the old carpentry shop makes it appealing to adults. The museum has an outdoor maze weaved through some of the shop's brick foundation work.
|The Savannah Children's Museum is very creative incorporating this existing and historic architecture into their exhibits.
Special sensory and discovery nooks are located in some of the old kilns of the shop as well. There are also some 'indoor' activities within an old Central of Georgia railcar.
Finally, across the street in the former Central of Georgia Passenger Station is the Savannah History Museum. The museum covers Savannah History from the Colonial Period to Forrest Gump. The park bench that Tom Hanks' Forest Gump sat in during scenes in the movie is located within the museum.
|The park bench used in the filming of Forest Gump.
One of the fun parts of the museum is the very interactive tour of the Battle of Savannah. Visitors take part in a discussion of the battle. At the end of the discussion, visitors are given wooden muskets and walk across the street to Battlefield Memorial Park to do their own re-enactment of the Battle of Savannah. The Battle of Savannah occurred on October 9, 1779. It was one of the bloodiest one-day battles for the American side during the American Revolution. 244 Americans were killed and nearly 600 wounded. Conversely, British forces only lost 40 men with another 63 wounded.
|Our guide for the Battle of Savannah tour. He was excellent!
The re-enactment is a lot of fun and gives a great first-hand experience of the battle. It was certainly one of my favorite battlefield tours, and my kids greatly enjoyed it. The tour guide, dressed as an American militiaman - was excellent and very engaging (not to mention very patient with kids.)
I would certainly recommend all three stops for anyone visiting Savannah with kids - either as a Florida way stop or visiting Savannah on its own. The Savannah History and the Georgia State Railway Museums are great for adults that don't need to go to the Children's Museum.
All photos taken by post author - January 23, 2020.
Things To Know:
The combination ticket can be purchased at any museum site. It is $20 for adults and $15 for children (2-12). The pass is valid for three days.
- Coastal Heritage Society ---Non-Profit Organization that operates all three sites featured
- Central of Georgia Railway Historical Society