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Posts Tagged ‘Museums’

Day Trip Guide: 10+ Things to Do in Aiken, SC, Plus Dining!

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Are you looking for a day trip destination in South Carolina that offers a mix of outdoor adventure, delicious food, and charming attractions? You’ll find all of this with the abundant things to do in Aiken, SC!

This historic city is a great place to spend a day exploring. Aiken is known for its stunning horse farms, but it also boasts a thriving downtown area filled with local shops, museums, and restaurants. Whether you’re in the mood for a scenic hike, visiting a gopher tortoise, enjoying a delicious meal at a great restaurant, or a bit of all of the above, Aiken has something for everyone.

Looking for more awesome day trips? Be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Day Trips for tons of info and great ideas!

Read on for our guide to food, parks, and cultural attractions in Aiken, SC.

Where to Eat: Great Restaurants in Aiken, SC


This cozy bistro offers a menu of classic Southern American dishes. Make sure to save room for dessert, as they have a delicious dessert menu.

Malia’s Restaurant:
120 Laurens Street South West
Aiken, SC, 29801

The Willcox

For a fine dining experience, make a reservation at The Willcox. This elegant restaurant is located in a historic hotel and offers a menu of refined Southern cuisine.

The Willcox:
100 Colleton Avenue South West
Aiken, SC, 29801

New Moon Cafe

New Moon Cafe is a cozy eatery located in downtown Aiken. The menu features classic cafe-style food made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Guests can enjoy their meals inside the dining room or outside on the patio.

New Moon Cafe:
116 Laurens Street North West
Aiken, SC, 29801


MacK’s in Aiken, SC is a beloved local institution known for its delicious and satisfying sandwiches. The casual and friendly atmosphere of the restaurant makes it the perfect spot for a quick lunch or a leisurely meal with friends and family.

159 Laurens Street North West
Aiken, SC, 29801

Natural Attractions: Things to Do in Aiken, SC

Hitchcock Woods

One of the most popular hiking spots in Aiken is Hitchcock Woods. This 2,100-acre forest is home to more than 70 miles of trails. These trails are well-maintained, and visitors can enjoy a variety of hiking options, including easy strolls and more challenging hikes.

Along the way, you will see beautiful trees, flowers, and wildlife, and you can take in the tranquility of the forest. Although leashed dogs are generally welcome, visitors should be aware that during the Aiken Hounds Hunt Season (October 15th through March 15th), visitors are not permitted to bring dogs on Tuesdays from 1:30 pm – 5:00 pm and Saturdays from 8:30 am – 12:00 pm.

Hitchcock Woods
Admission: Free


  • 1700 Dibble Road, Aiken, SC, 29801
  • 1770 Dibble Road, Aiken, SC, 29801
  • 263 Rubin’s Cottage Lane, Aiken, SC, 29801
  • 444 South Boundary Avenue South West, Aiken, SC, 29801
  • 670 Coker Spring Road South West, Aiken, SC, 29801
  • 540 Berrie Road South West, Aiken, SC, 29801
  • 1120 Clark Road South West, Aiken, SC, 29801


Aiken State Park

Aiken State Park

This beautiful park is located about 20-minutes from downtown Aiken and offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, canoeing, and fishing. The park offers canoe rentals, access to the Edisto River, and has several campsites perfect for RV or rustic camping. Leashed pets are welcome in the park.

Aiken State Park


  • $3 adults 
  • $1.50 SC seniors
  • $1 for children aged 6-15
  • Free for ages 5 & younger

1145 State Park Road
Windsor, SC, 29856

Hopelands Gardens

Another great spot for a leisurely hike is Hopelands Gardens. This beautiful park features more than 14- acres of gardens, fountains, and walking paths. The paths are well-maintained and easy to navigate, making it a perfect spot for families with young children or for those who just want to take a relaxing stroll.

Along the way, you will see beautiful flowers, trees, and even a pond. The park is also the venue for special events, such as concerts, story times, and yoga classes!

Hopelands Gardens

Admission: Free

135 Dupree Plaza
Aiken, SC, 29801

Aiken Gopher Tortoise Heritage Preserve

The Aiken Gopher Tortoise Heritage Preserve is a unique natural area where visitors can observe and learn about the threatened gopher tortoise and its habitat. The preserve features hiking trails that wind through longleaf pine forests, sandhills, and other unique habitats that are home to a variety of plant and animal species. Along the trails, visitors can also see several gopher tortoise burrows and learn about the important role they play in the ecosystem. 

Aiken Gopher Tortoise Heritage Preserve

Admission: Free

State Highway 212
Williston, SC, 29853

Cultural Attractions

Aiken County Historical Museum

The Aiken County Historical Museum is located in a restored 1930’s winter colony mansion, and it provides a glimpse into the area’s history. The museum features exhibits on Aiken’s history, including the area’s Native American roots, the winter colony era, and the city’s equestrian heritage. Visitors can also view a collection of historic clothing, antique furniture, and historic artifacts. The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 10 am to 5 pm and Sundays from 2 pm to 5 pm.

Aiken County Historical Museum

Admission: Free

433 Newberry Street SouthWest
Aiken, SC, 29801

Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum

This museum, located inside Hopelands Gardens, celebrates Aiken’s thoroughbred racing history and has exhibits on Aiken’s thoroughbred racing history, including the famous Aiken Trials, which kicks off the Aiken Triple Crown.

Visitors can learn about famous horses and trainers and view racing artifacts. The museum also hosts special events and temporary exhibits, making every visit unique. The museum is open Sunday and Tuesday through Friday from 2 pm until 5 pm. On Saturdays, it is open from 10 am until 5 pm and it is closed on Mondays.

Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum:

Admission: Free

135 Dupree Place
Aiken, SC 29801

Aiken Center for the Arts

The Aiken Center for the Arts is a non-profit arts organization that provides arts education and exhibits throughout the city. The center hosts art exhibits throughout the year, featuring works by local and regional artists. Visitors can also participate in art classes and workshops, including painting, drawing, pottery, and music. The center is open from Monday to Saturday, from 10 am to 5 pm.

Aiken Center for the Arts

Admission: Free – Workshop Pricing Varies

122 Laurens Street, South West
Aiken, SC 29801

Travel to Aiken

Aiken, SC, offers a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages and interests. Whether you’re a history buff, outdoor enthusiast, or art lover, there’s something here for everyone. I hope this article has given you a taste of what Aiken has to offer, and we’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Have you visited Aiken, SC before? What was your favorite thing to do? Do you have any tips or recommendations for first-time visitors?