The American Prohibition Museum in Savannah, Georgia is the first and only museum dedicated to the history of prohibition, a period where alcohol was banned from 1920-1933. The museum features artifacts, wax figures, info panels, and more to share the impact of this tumultuous period of American history.
A few exhibits even make you feel like you’re stepping back into time, as they recreate the setting of an abandoned bar, everyday street scene, or speakeasy during Prohibition.
The Prohibition Museum is a popular Savannah attraction, but is it worth the price? I’m a travel blogger who recently visited, and here’s my take (plus tips for saving money on tickets!).
Overview of the American Prohibition Museum
The American Prohibition Museum is located in the heart of Savannah, right in City Market, a historic shopping district. Near the museum, you’ll find a few blocks worth of restaurants and shops, ranging from gifts to local treats.
The Prohibition Museum is open every day from 10am-5pm. Tickets cost $16, but they’re $26 if you want a cocktail, and $34 if you want a guided tour and a cocktail. The museum actually has its own speakeasy, where you can get both alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks (it’s closed on Sundays though, so plan ahead if you do want a drink).
There are several exhibit rooms, but the museum is pretty small and it usually takes around 30-45 minutes to walk all the way through. The guided tour lasts 45 minutes.
Prohibition is a complicated period of American history, and the museum covers it in a comprehensive way. You’ll learn about:
- The drinking crisis and how it led to the Prohibition movement
- Key figures in Prohibition and the comment arguments made for/against it
- How mobsters made millions bootlegging and running speakeasies
- How the search for alcohol and entertainment were a springboard for the Roaring Twenties
- NASCAR’s surprising roots, where people modified their cars to transport alcohol and outpace the police
Is the American Prohibition Museum Worth Visiting?
I visited the Prohibition museum on a weekday afternoon and paid for the standard ticket with no guided tour or cocktail.
Overall, I enjoyed visiting and learned a lot. For example, did you know that:
- Income tax is a consequence of Prohibition. Before Prohibition, 40% of the government’s revenue came from alcohol taxes, and since alcohol was banned, they started taxing income to make up the difference.
- Walgreens became the giant drugstore chain it is today because Prohibition. They filled alcohol prescriptions and grew from 20 stores in 1919 to 529 locations in 1929.
- Public drinking fountains became more common during Prohibition since access to clean water was much more limited back then, and people often had alcohol instead to avoid getting sick.
There are many more interesting tidbits and stories to pick up as you walk through the exhibits.
That said, I’m not sure I can wholeheartedly recommend visiting the museum. The museum is small, and we got stuck behind a guided tour. This actually ended up being a perk since we got to listen to part of the tour; these are given by guides in period costumes and they’re super knowledgeable and energetic.
Based on Google reviews, it’s very common to get stuck behind tours, so be prepared to wait a bit. The tour guide eventually noticed the congestion and waved us through after a couple rooms.
I actually most enjoyed the guided tour part of my visit, as the museum isn’t the most interactive. There are a couple video/multimedia portions, but most of the information is presented on wall panels.
The standard ticket price isn’t super steep at $16, but I think I would’ve found the museum kind of boring if I hadn’t experienced part of the tour. The guided tour is double the price though at $34, and I’m not sure I would’ve been willing to pay that for a small museum (though this does include a drink as well, so it’s only $8 more than the drink ticket).
I can’t comment on the quality of the drinks, as I didn’t have one, but the speakeasy is well-decorated and has a cozy atmosphere.
To save money, I recommend looking for the coupons stapled to the Prohibition Museum brochures. They can save you $3 on the standard ticket and $5 on the tickets that include a cocktail. I found some of these brochures in Leopold’s Ice Cream while waiting in a long line (it’s super popular!), and my Airbnb had some as well.
All in all, the Prohibition Museum is a cool experience, but the exhibit setup isn’t the most engaging. I would recommend visiting if you’re particularly interested in American history.
For a more engaging experience, I’d recommend the guided tour, but only if you think you’d enjoy having a drink at the speakeasy. Otherwise, the guided tour doesn’t feel worth the cost. I wish they’d actually have a ticket option that’s the guided tour without the cocktail; based on the price difference, it’d be around $24 ($21 with the coupon) and I’d certainly say that’s worth it.
Let us know what you think in the comments if you end up visiting!