DAYDREAM THIS WINTER ABOUT SPRING IN AIKEN, SOUTH CAROLINA
Envision a spring weekend exploring the elegant and enchanting southern city of Aiken, South Carolina.
Start your day off minutes from downtown, where horses have the right-of-way on the oaklined, soft dirt streets. It’s here in the golden morning glow where you’ll find the legendary Aiken Training Track. Walk uninterrupted up to the fence and feel the rush as Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes contenders gallop past on their misty morning runs. To see some of the most valuable horses in America even more up-close, sign-up for the behind the scenes Backstretch Experience.
Next, head towards the city to the oldest samelocation county farmers’ market in the state of South Carolina. On any given Saturday at the Aiken County Farmers’ Market you’re likely to find farmraised meats, perfectly ripened fruit, and an array of vegetables — all grown locally by the area’s family of generational farmers. Load up for a picnic and head to the expansive Hitchcock Woods, where 2,000 acres of forests and 70 miles of trails make finding the perfectly secluded lunch spot easy.
Venture over to the Aiken Visitors Center and Train Museum (where you’re likely to catch some local bluegrass on a Saturday morning) and hop on board the Aiken Trolley Tour for a captivating journey into the town’s opulent history. Let a true Aikenite dazzle you with stories from the city’s extravagant age when people like Fred Astaire danced on the steps of the post-office, and the $250 million-dollar Hope Diamond was famously worn around the collar of socialite, Evalyn Walsh McLean’s dog.
The tour ends near Aiken’s gem of a downtown, where equestrian goods, acclaimed local art and even Aiken’s own Hunt Pattern China line the windows of eclectic artisan shops. For a refreshment, choose between an award-winning Thoroughbred Red craft beer from Aiken Brewing Company, an old-fashioned peaches and cream milkshake at Betsy’s on the Corner or a freshly roasted coffee from New Moon Cafe.
A trip to Aiken isn’t complete without a good stomp on a Sunday. Watch along the boundary at Whitney Polo Field and take part in the halftime tradition of replacing the hoof-made divots. Complete your weekend in the serene Hopelands Gardens, where one-hundred year old cypress trees and manicured gardens provide a peaceful setting to ponder your next visit to The South’s most splendid city.