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Interstate 95 slices north-south along the Eastern Seaboard, intersecting 10 miles west of town with east-west Interstate 16, which dead-ends in downtown Savannah. U.S. 17, the Coastal Highway, also runs north-south through town. U.S. 80 is another east-west route through Savannah.
This is one city where it is to your advantage not to rent a car unless you plan on leaving the immediate area of the Historic District. If you're sticking around the Historic District, you'll find an abundance of transportation options downtown and to the surrounding areas: buses, taxis, pedicabs (up to two persons can be pedaled in a cart attached to a bicyclist), horse carriages, trolley tours (some of which allow on-and-off privileges), free ferries, rental bikes, and rental scooters. This is a walking city, so you must remember to bring at least one pair of comfortable shoes.
In general, gas prices in Savannah hover around the national average. Gas stations are not difficult to find; there are several on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, the road that leads you to Interstate 16, and the route back to Interstate 95 and the airport.
Downtown parking can be a challenge, but it is often easier in the residential neighborhoods. Tourists may purchase one- and two-day parking passes for $7 and $12 from the Savannah Visitors Center, the Parking Services Department, and some hotels and inns (several properties give you this pass for free if you're staying with them). Rates vary at local parking garages, but in a City of Savannah–owned lot you should expect to pay at least $1 per hour during business hours weekdays, a $2 flat rate in the evenings, and a flat rate of $5–$10 on the weekends. Metered-parking costs vary depending on the location of the meter, from a low of 25¢ up to a maximum of about $1 per hour. You don't have to feed meters after 6 pm or on the weekends. Most downtown hotels have paid parking, and some B&Bs and inns have their own parking lots or advise guests on how to park on the street. Few restaurants have parking.
The major rental agencies can be found in town and at the airport. They include Avis, Budget, Hertz, and Enterprise, which provide pickup and delivery service (within limits); Thrifty is only at the airport. Almost all car-rental offices are closed on Sunday.
Budget (912/964–4600 Savannah location. www.budget.com.)
Enterprise (912/964–0171 Airport Location. www.enterprise.com.)
Hertz (800/654–3131. www.hertz.com.)
Thrifty (912/966–2277. www.thrifty.com.)
Everyone who rents a car wonders whether the insurance that the rental companies offer is worth the expense. No one—including us—has a simple answer. If you own a car, your personal auto insurance may cover a rental to some degree; always read your policy's fine print. If you don't have auto insurance, then seriously consider buying the collision- or loss-damage waiver (CDW or LDW) from the car-rental company, which eliminates your liability for damage to the car. Some credit cards offer CDW coverage, but it's usually supplemental to your own insurance and rarely covers SUVs, minivans, luxury models, and the like.
If your coverage is secondary, you may still be liable for loss-of-use costs from the car-rental company. But no credit-card insurance is valid unless you use that card for all transactions, from reserving to paying the final bill. It's sometimes cheaper to buy insurance as part of your general travel insurance policy.
Discuss with the car-rental agency what to do in the case of an emergency, as this sometimes differs from company to company. Make sure you understand what your insurance covers and what it doesn't, and it's a good rule of thumb to let someone at your accommodation know where you are heading and when you plan to return. Keep emergency numbers (car-rental agency and your accommodation) with you, just in case.
Roads in Savannah are a mixed bag. Certain streets in the Historic District are brick or cobblestone. In other areas—particularly in the Midtown and Southside neighborhoods—roads are paved and in good condition. Traffic can be tricky in the Historic District, with large numbers of pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles; you may encounter slow-moving trolleys and horse-drawn carriages, but please don't honk at the horses. There is heavy truck traffic on Interstate 95, where the speed limit is 70 mph.