10 Things to Do in Aiken SC – 2024 Ultimate Guide

Table of Contents


Welcome to Aiken, South Carolina, a charming destination brimming with a unique blend of history, culture, and outdoor adventures. Known for its picturesque landscapes and Southern hospitality, Aiken offers a plethora of things to do in Aiken SC that cater to every traveler’s interests. From exploring historic sites and strolling through vibrant gardens to indulging in equestrian activities and savoring delicious Southern cuisine, Aiken has something for everyone. Join us as we uncover the top attractions and hidden gems of this enchanting city, ensuring an unforgettable experience for all who visit.

Popular Experiences and Attractions

Hopelands Gardens:

Essential Information

– Address: 135 Dupree Pl, Aiken, SC 29801
– Opening Hours: Daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
– Fee: Free admission
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: Nature lovers, families, history enthusiasts


Hopelands Gardens in Aiken, SC, is a delightful oasis that offers visitors a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With its lush greenery, vibrant flowers, and peaceful ambiance, this historic garden is a must-see destination for those seeking a tranquil retreat. Strolling through the well-manicured pathways, visitors can admire the beauty of various plant species and enjoy the calming sounds of nature.

The gardens also boast a rich history, dating back to the early 20th century when they were originally part of a private estate. Today, Hopelands Gardens serves as a public park, inviting guests to explore its scenic beauty and learn about the area’s past. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history enthusiast, or simply looking for a peaceful place to unwind, Hopelands Gardens offers something for everyone. Don’t miss the chance to experience this hidden gem in the heart of Aiken.

Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame:

Essential Information

– Address: 135 Dupree Pl, Aiken, SC 29801
– Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am-4pm, Sunday Closed
– Fee: $5 for adults, $2 for children under 12
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: Horse racing enthusiasts and history buffs


Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame stands as a testament to the rich equestrian heritage of Aiken, South Carolina. This hidden gem offers a glimpse into the storied past of thoroughbred racing, showcasing the achievements of legendary horses and the individuals who shaped the sport. From vintage photographs capturing thrilling races to memorabilia honoring iconic jockeys, every corner of the hall exudes a sense of reverence for this timeless tradition.

Visitors can expect to be transported back in time as they explore the exhibits detailing the evolution of horse racing in Aiken. The Hall of Fame serves as a tribute to the resilience and grace of these majestic animals, highlighting the bond between horse and rider that has captivated audiences for generations. Whether you’re a seasoned racing aficionado or simply curious about the history behind the sport, a visit to this museum promises a fascinating journey through the annals of equestrian excellence.

Aiken County Historical Museum:

Essential Information

– Address: 433 Newberry St SW, Aiken, SC 29801
– Opening Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm
– Fee: Free admission
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: History enthusiasts and families


The Aiken County Historical Museum stands as a testament to the rich history and heritage of Aiken, South Carolina. Housed in a beautifully preserved historic building, this museum offers visitors a glimpse into the past through its diverse exhibits and collections. From Civil War artifacts to displays showcasing the evolution of Aiken’s economy, there is something here for everyone interested in the region’s history.

One of the highlights of a visit to the Aiken County Historical Museum is the opportunity to learn about the prominent figures who have shaped the area over the years. From influential politicians to renowned artists, the museum provides insight into the lives and contributions of these individuals. Additionally, the museum’s interactive displays and educational programs make it an ideal destination for families looking to engage with history in a meaningful way.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply curious about Aiken’s past, a visit to the Aiken County Historical Museum is a must-do experience that offers a fascinating journey through time.

Hitchcock Woods:

Essential Information

– Address: Aiken, SC
– Opening Hours: Daily from sunrise to sunset
– Fee: Free
– Visit Duration: 1-3 hours
– Ideal for: Nature lovers, hikers, birdwatchers


Hitchcock Woods in Aiken, SC, is a sprawling natural oasis that offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With over 2,100 acres of pristine woodlands, this hidden gem is a haven for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers alike. The extensive network of trails provides the perfect setting for a leisurely hike or a peaceful stroll amidst towering trees and chirping birds.

One of the main draws of Hitchcock Woods is its diverse ecosystem, which is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species. Visitors can expect to encounter native wildlife such as deer, squirrels, and a myriad of bird species along the way. The tranquil ambiance of the woods makes it an ideal spot for birdwatching, photography, or simply unwinding in nature’s embrace.

Whether you’re looking to reconnect with the great outdoors or simply seeking a tranquil retreat, Hitchcock Woods offers a refreshing escape that is sure to rejuvenate the mind, body, and soul. So, lace up your hiking boots, grab your binoculars, and embark on a memorable journey through this natural paradise.

Aiken Center for the Arts:

Essential Information

– Address: 122 Laurens St SW, Aiken, SC 29801
– Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday 10am-3pm
– Fee: Admission is free
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: Art enthusiasts, families, and those seeking cultural experiences


The Aiken Center for the Arts in Aiken, SC, is a vibrant hub of creativity and cultural expression. This must-see attraction offers a diverse range of art exhibitions, workshops, and events that showcase the talent and heritage of the region. Whether you’re a seasoned art enthusiast or simply looking to explore something new, the center provides a welcoming space for visitors of all ages to engage with the arts.

Step inside the Aiken Center for the Arts and you’ll be greeted by a dynamic mix of contemporary and traditional artworks, from paintings and sculptures to photography and mixed media pieces. The rotating exhibitions ensure there’s always something fresh to discover, making each visit a unique experience. Additionally, the center hosts regular workshops and classes led by local artists, offering visitors the opportunity to unleash their own creativity and learn new skills.

With its free admission and central location, the Aiken Center for the Arts is an accessible and enriching destination for both locals and tourists alike. Whether you’re admiring the latest exhibition, participating in a hands-on workshop, or simply soaking in the creative atmosphere, a visit to this cultural gem is sure to inspire and delight.

Aiken State Park:

Essential Information

– Address: 1145 State Park Road, Windsor, SC 29856
– Opening Hours: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm daily
– Fee: $5 for adults, $3.25 for SC seniors, $3 for children aged 6-15, free for children 5 and under
– Visit Duration: 2-4 hours
– Ideal for: Nature lovers, hikers, families


Aiken State Park in Aiken, South Carolina, offers a serene escape for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers alike. With its lush forests, tranquil lakes, and diverse wildlife, this park is a must-see destination for those seeking a peaceful retreat in the heart of nature. Whether you’re looking to hike along scenic trails, enjoy a leisurely picnic by the water, or simply unwind amidst the beauty of the great outdoors, Aiken State Park has something to offer for everyone.

The park’s well-maintained facilities and picturesque surroundings make it an ideal spot for a day trip or weekend getaway. Visitors can explore the park’s extensive trail system, which winds through pine forests and wetlands, providing ample opportunities to observe native flora and fauna. Birdwatchers will delight in the park’s avian residents, while anglers can try their luck at catching bass and bream in the park’s lakes.

Overall, Aiken State Park is a hidden gem that showcases the natural beauty of South Carolina and invites visitors to reconnect with the great outdoors. Whether you’re seeking adventure or simply a moment of tranquility, this park offers a peaceful retreat away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Aiken Railroad Depot:

Essential Information

– Address: 406 Park Ave SE, Aiken, SC 29801
– Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am-4pm, Sunday Closed
– Fee: Free admission
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: History enthusiasts, families, train aficionados


The Aiken Railroad Depot stands as a testament to the rich history of Aiken, South Carolina. This well-preserved historic site offers visitors a glimpse into the town’s past as a bustling railway hub. Built in the late 19th century, the depot served as a vital link connecting Aiken to major cities across the region. Today, it stands as a museum, showcasing exhibits that highlight the importance of rail transportation in shaping the town’s development.

Stepping inside the depot, visitors are transported back in time to an era when steam locomotives chugged along the tracks, carrying passengers and goods to distant destinations. The museum features interactive displays, artifacts, and photographs that tell the story of Aiken’s railway heritage. From the intricate details of the station’s architecture to the vintage railcars on display, every corner of the depot exudes a sense of nostalgia and charm.

For history enthusiasts and train aficionados alike, a visit to the Aiken Railroad Depot is a must. Whether you’re exploring the museum’s collection, learning about the impact of railroads on Aiken’s growth, or simply admiring the historic surroundings, this hidden gem offers a unique glimpse into the town’s past. So, next time you find yourself in Aiken, make sure to carve out some time to visit this iconic landmark and experience a piece of history that continues to captivate visitors of all ages.

The Willcox:

Essential Information

– Address: 100 Colleton Ave SW, Aiken, SC 29801
– Opening Hours: Open 24 hours
– Fee: Varies depending on services
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: History buffs, luxury travelers


The Willcox in Aiken, South Carolina, stands as a historic gem that seamlessly blends old-world charm with modern luxury. This iconic hotel has been a beloved destination for travelers seeking a taste of Southern hospitality since 1898. Renowned for its elegant architecture and impeccable service, The Willcox offers a unique glimpse into the past while providing all the comforts of a contemporary retreat.

Stepping into The Willcox is like stepping back in time, with its timeless decor and classic ambiance. The hotel’s rich history is palpable in every corner, from the grand lobby to the meticulously appointed guest rooms. Whether you’re savoring a gourmet meal at the award-winning restaurant or indulging in a relaxing spa treatment, every moment at The Willcox is a testament to refined elegance and exceptional service.

A visit to The Willcox is a must for those who appreciate the finer things in life and seek a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Whether you’re a history buff intrigued by the hotel’s storied past or a luxury traveler in search of a pampering retreat, The Willcox offers a truly unforgettable experience that captures the essence of Southern hospitality at its finest.

Aiken Golf Club:

Essential Information

– Address: 555 Highland Park Dr, Aiken, SC 29803
– Opening Hours: 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM
– Fee: Green fees start at $50
– Visit Duration: 4-5 hours
– Ideal for: Golf enthusiasts and outdoor lovers


Aiken Golf Club in Aiken, SC, is a premier destination for golf enthusiasts seeking a challenging yet picturesque course. With its well-manicured fairways and lush greens, this 18-hole course offers a rewarding experience for players of all skill levels. The club’s strategic layout, designed by renowned architect John LaFoy, provides a mix of open and wooded areas, creating a dynamic playing environment that keeps golfers engaged from start to finish.

Visitors to Aiken Golf Club can enjoy not only a round of golf but also stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The club’s friendly staff and welcoming atmosphere make it a popular choice for both locals and tourists looking to enjoy a day on the links. Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or just starting out, Aiken Golf Club offers a memorable experience that combines sport, nature, and relaxation in one scenic setting.

Aiken County Farmers Market:

Essential Information

– Address: 115 Williamsburg St SE, Aiken, SC 29801
– Opening Hours: Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
– Fee: Free entry
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: Foodies, families, and those looking for fresh local produce


Aiken County Farmers Market is a vibrant hub of local flavors and community spirit in the heart of Aiken, South Carolina. Open every Saturday morning, this market offers a delightful array of fresh produce, artisanal goods, and homemade treats that showcase the best of the region’s agricultural bounty. From juicy peaches and plump tomatoes to handcrafted jams and baked goods, visitors can savor the taste of the South while supporting local farmers and artisans.

Strolling through the market stalls, you’ll be greeted by friendly vendors eager to share their stories and passion for their products. Whether you’re a foodie seeking culinary inspiration or a family looking for a fun weekend outing, the Aiken County Farmers Market offers a laid-back atmosphere where you can connect with the community and enjoy the simple pleasures of farm-fresh fare. Don’t miss the chance to sample seasonal delights, pick up unique gifts, and experience the authentic charm of this local gem.

Food and Cuisine

Carolina Gold Rice Pilaf

Why is it so special:

Carolina Gold Rice Pilaf is a traditional dish that dates back to the 17th century when rice cultivation was at its peak in the region. This dish is made with Carolina Gold rice, a heirloom variety known for its delicate flavor and fluffy texture. The pilaf is typically cooked with a blend of aromatic herbs and spices, giving it a unique and savory taste that is hard to replicate. The dish perfectly captures the essence of Southern cuisine and is a must-try for anyone visiting Aiken SC.

Where to Try It:

For an authentic taste of Carolina Gold Rice Pilaf, head to The Willcox, a historic hotel in Aiken known for its upscale dining experience. Alternatively, you can also try this dish at Betsy’s on the Corner, a charming local restaurant that serves classic Southern dishes with a modern twist.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Why is it so special:

Fried Green Tomatoes are a beloved Southern classic that has become a staple in Aiken’s culinary scene. The dish features firm green tomatoes coated in a crispy cornmeal crust and fried to perfection. The tangy flavor of the green tomatoes pairs perfectly with the crunchy coating, creating a delightful contrast of textures and tastes. Fried Green Tomatoes are a true Southern comfort food that is both simple yet incredibly satisfying.

Where to Try It:

For a taste of authentic Fried Green Tomatoes, visit The Red Pepper, a local eatery known for its Southern hospitality and delicious homestyle cooking. Another great spot to try this dish is at The Bradley, a cozy restaurant that offers a modern twist on classic Southern dishes.

Events and Festivals

Aiken’s Makin’

Aiken’s Makin’ is a popular arts and crafts festival held annually in downtown Aiken, SC. Visitors can browse through a wide variety of handmade goods including jewelry, pottery, paintings, and more. The festival also features live music, food vendors, and activities for all ages, making it a fun and family-friendly event.

Aiken’s Hops & Hogs Festival

The Aiken’s Hops & Hogs Festival is a celebration of craft beer and barbecue held in the heart of Aiken. Attendees can sample a wide selection of craft beers from local and regional breweries, as well as enjoy delicious barbecue dishes from various vendors. Live music and entertainment add to the festive atmosphere of this popular event.

Aiken’s Triple Crown

Aiken’s Triple Crown is a series of equestrian events that take place throughout the year, showcasing the town’s rich equestrian heritage. The series includes the Aiken Trials, Aiken Steeplechase, and Aiken’s Pacers & Polo, attracting horse enthusiasts and spectators from near and far. These events offer a unique opportunity to witness thrilling horse races and polo matches in a picturesque setting.

Interesting Facts

– Aiken, SC is known as the “Winter Colony” due to its popularity as a winter retreat for wealthy northerners during the early 20th century.
– The city is home to the Aiken Polo Club, one of the oldest and most prestigious polo clubs in the United States, attracting polo enthusiasts from around the world.
– Aiken is famous for its equestrian culture and is often referred to as the “Horse Capital of the South,” hosting numerous equestrian events and competitions throughout the year.

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