Aiken is one of South Carolina’s most popular cities, and with its many things to do, it’s easy to see why. The city if full of rich historical attractions and outdoor recreational activities. This is combined with several restaurants that offer delicious dishes and many unique shops. Aiken has a thriving downtown area in which visitors can find a variety of activities, and the city is also host to a number of events throughout the year that showcase some of the best concerts, food, and dance.
1. Aiken County Historical Museum, Aiken, SC
© Friends of the Aiken County Historical Museum
The Aiken County Historical Museum is located inside of a building that was formerly a winter colony mansion. The history museum showcases a wide variety of objects that are representative of the history of Aiken County, from its earliest resident to modern day. Among the numerous rooms in which visitors can view historical items are the Aiken County Room, the Winter Colony Room, the Circus Room, the Graniteville Room, the Agricultural Room, and Nature Room. There are also the Gardens, the Military Hall, a one-room schoolhouse, and a log house. Many other rooms and exhibits can also be seen at the museum.
433 Newberry St SW, Aiken, SC 29801, Phone: 803-642-2015
2. Aiken Center For the Arts
© Aiken Center For the Arts
The Aiken Center for the Arts today provides numerous awareness and educational outreach programs that include various opportunities for adults and children alike. The arts center is also host to many juried competitions and shows, classes, lectures, and an array of concert events. Visitors can watch a variety of film, dance, music, and other forms of the performing arts. Original works by local artisans are available for sale in the Gallery Store at the Aiken Center for the Arts. Artists from throughout the world are displayed at the center in year-round exhibitions, with a focus on regional and local artists.
122 Laurens St SW, Aiken, SC 29801, Phone: 803-641-9094
3. Aiken County Farmers Market
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The Aiken County Farmers Market, which is designated on the city’s Historic Register, offers a wide variety of fresh produce from farmers in the region, such as fruit, beans, tomatoes, and corn. Visitors can also find several vendors selling cheeses, meats, and different baked goods. The farmers market in Aiken, South Carolina first started more than fifty years ago, and is place where recipes and conversations are shared. The Aiken County Farmers Market is open throughout the whole year on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, from sunrise until noon. Several different activities and events take place on Saturdays during the year.
115 Williamsburg St, Aiken SC, 29801, Phone: 803-293-2214
4. Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum
© Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum
The Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum commemorates the long lasting tradition of thoroughbred racing, as well as the role the city of Aiken has played in it over the years. A total of forty Champion Thoroughbreds have been trained at the famous Aiken Training Track in Aiken, South Carolina. The Hall of Fame celebrates each one of these horses in the Iselin’s old and charming carriage house. The Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame includes both steeplechase horses and flat racers, dating back to 1942 and up to present day, showcasing trophies, photos, and other racing memorabilia.
135 Dupree Pl, Aiken, SC 29801, Phone: 803-642-7631
5. Cyndi's Sweet Shoppe
© Cyndi's Sweet Shoppe
Cyndi’s Sweet Shoppe, owned and operated by Dick and Cindy Rudisill, is conveniently situated within the heart of Aiken’s downtown district. Offering a deliciously sweet assortment of candy, fudge, and chocolates, the little candy and chocolate shop is a great place to stop in for a little pick-me-up while exploring the area. Cyndi’s Sweet Shoppe provides a little bit of something for anyone who visits the store, as well as customer service that is always friendly and helpful. Customers can find many of their favorite treats at the sweet shop, a friendly conversation, or a refreshing glass bottle of Coca-Cola.
146 Laurens St SW, Aiken, SC 29801, Phone: 803-226-0191
6. DuPont Planetarium
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The mission of the DuPont Planetarium is to inspire people to explore and learn more about the “majesty of the heavens.” Shows are presented for the public every Saturday throughout the year. Visitors to the planetarium are encouraged to reserve seats for these shows in advance, as well as to arrive at least twenty minutes prior to the shows starting time as unclaimed reservations are released ten minutes before the show starts. One show transports guests back to the past view the world’s seven ancient wonders, and another teaches younger children about different types of weather.
471 University Parkway, Aiken, SC 29801, Phone: 803-641-3654
7. Henderson Heritage Preserve, Aiken, SC
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The Henderson Heritage Preserve is made up of a series of unmarked firebreak trails. These trails loop around the natural and quiet preserve. Visitors can choose one of the two sections of unmarked, rugged, hilly trails to explore, along which they may see turtles among other wildlife as they walk down rutted roads and sandy paths past high vistas, lowland areas, and ponds. One of the rare plant species that can be seen is the bog spice bush. The trails in the preserve are only for foot traffic. Camping and hunting aren’t allowed in the Henderson Heritage Preserve, however, fishing is permitted.
309-337 Croft Mill Rd, Aiken, SC 29801, Phone: 803-734-3886
8. New Moon Cafe, Aiken, SC
© New Moon Cafe
The New Moon Cafe in Aiken, South Carolina first opened to the public in the year 1995. Throughout the years, the owners have kept the cafe local, funky, and fresh. New Moon serves an array of comfort foods with a creative twist and using local, fresh ingredients. Providing customers with authentic food is what the cafe is all about. The cafe roasts its own coffee, as well as in small batches, makes soups daily from scratch, and bakes its own pastries and breads in house. The menu at New Moon Cafe consists of breakfast items, panini sandwiches, salads, and soups.
116 Laurens St NW, Aiken, SC 29801, Phone: 803-643-7088
9. Richardson's Lake Water Park
© Richardson's Lake Water Park
The Richardson’s Lake Water Park provides opportunities for family and friends to have fun outside in the sun just outside of Aiken. The water park offer an ideal escape from the city, featuring lake activities, diving boards, slides, and much more. There is fun at the park for both adults and children alike. Along with the diving boards and slides, there is also a beach volleyball court. A concession stand offers food for visitors, and while coolers aren’t allowed within the park’s gates, guests can always keep one in their car. Richardson’s Lake Water Park is open Friday through Sunday.
919 Richardson's Lake Rd, Warrenville, South Carolina 29851, Phone: 803-663-3600
10. Things to Do Near Me: Tailored Tours of Aiken
© Tailored Tours of Aiken
Tailored Tours of Aiken has been the leading tour service in Aiken, South Carolina since 2013. Visitors can join one of the tours to discover the beauty of Aiken while they learn more about the history, gossip of yesteryear, and legends of the city. Marty Bailey, who moved to Aiken from Texas after falling in love with the history, owns and operates Tailored Tours of Aiken. She started the tour company out of a desire to share the love she feels for the city, as well as its interesting history. Most tours available are driving tours, with some walking tours available as well.
Aiken, SC 29801, Phone: 803-295-3870
11. Things to Do in Aiken, SC: Hitchcock Woods
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Hitchcock Woods lies in the heart of Aiken, where it is one of the country’s largest urban forests. Here hikers, walkers, bird-watchers and equestrians will find a marvelous network of sandy trails which cover more than 70 miles as they meander through the 2100 -acre forest. Visitors are encouraged to pick up a map at one of the kiosks to learn more about the many plant and animal species you may encounter as you explore the woods. This amazing urban treasure is privately owned and managed by the Hitchcock Foundation, which was formed to protect the forest and ensure that it will always be a recreational asset for the Aiken community. Entrance is free and the woods are open daily.
Dibble Rd, Aiken, 29801, 803-642-0528
12. Hopelands Gardens
The Hopelands Gardens were once the private gardens of Mrs. Hope Iselin. They were bequeathed to the city and opened to the public in 1969. Today visitors can enjoy the fruit of Mrs. Iselin’s labors as they explore this beautiful 14-acre estate which is more than 100 years old. The garden will appeal to nature lovers and garden enthusiast of all ages. There are shaded winding pathways, a reflection pool, several fountains and a pretty gazebo. There is also a wetland area and a lovely touch and scent trail for you to explore. The Aiken Garden Club has their headquarters in the Dollhouse.
135 Dupree Place, Aiken, SC 29801, 803-642-7650
13. Carolina Bay Nature Preserve
Carolina Bay Nature Preserve is another of Aiken’s treasured urban recreational green spaces. The preserve protects a natural wetland area which benefits from minimal development and offers visitors a tranquil place to escape the bustle of the city and enjoy nature. Camping and swimming are not allowed in the preserve but visitors can enjoy two walking trails, a climbing wall and an observation deck. The preserve attracts a wide variety of wildlife including small reptiles, raccoons, squirrels and many species of marine and land birds. There is also a wildflower meadow which adds color and additional beauty to the preserve.
Price Ave, Aiken, SC 29803, 803-642-7631
14. Things to Do in Aiken, SC: Unique Expressions
© Unique Expressions
Unique Expressions first opened to the Aiken community on July 27 of 2000 with a focus primarily on home decor. Over the years, however, the store has changed like everything else. Today, the shop has become quite unique and is the city of Aiken’s resident one-of-a-kind gift shop. Unique Expressions offers a wide assortment of gift ideas for nearly any occasion, or just a gift for someone to buy themself. The store also prides itself on its customer service that’s all about the customer, help customers find the first gift and striving to provide the best shopping experience around.
1521 Whiskey Rd, Aiken, SC 29803, Phone: 803-641-7906
15. Aiken Brewing Co
© Aiken Brewing CO
The Aiken Brewing Company produces some of the finest local brewed ale in the area. The brewery has become a popular local gathering spot in the city, and a place where visitors and locals alike can enjoy a meal either outdoors or indoors. During some evenings, guests can listen to live music or take advantage of daily specials. Aiken Brewing Company is a brewpub with a bit of a homey vibe that serves a pub-style food menu and a lineup of craft beer that changes weekly. Situated in the heart of downtown Aiken, it’s a great place to spend an evening.
140 Laurens St. SW, Aiken, SC 29801, Phone: 803-502-0707
16. Aiken State Park
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The Aiken State Park is located along the region’s South Edisto River and is an ideal destination for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. The scenic kayak and canoe 1.7-mile trail meanders its way along the southern fork of the river, drawing paddlers to the state park from all over the region. The state park in Aiken, South Carolina has a bit of a history as being well known for natural beauty. Along with the kayak and canoe trail, Aiken State Park also consists of four lakes where visitors can fish, three picnic shelters available for rental, and twenty-five campsites.
1145 State Park Rd, Windsor, SC 29856, Phone: 803-649-2857
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