• Heritage Christian Jan 2024

Posts Tagged ‘State Parks’

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

Malia’s

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
803.643.3086

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
803.648.1898

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
803.643.7088

MacK’s

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.

MacK’s
159 Laurens Street North West
Aiken, SC, 29801
803.226.0841

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

Entrances:

  • 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

803.642.0528

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

Admission: 

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

1145 State Park Road
Windsor, SC, 29856
803.649.2857

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
803.642.7650

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
803.734.4080

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
803.642.1500

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
803.642.7631

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
803.641.9094

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? 

Sesquicentennial State Park: Gorgeous Splash Pad and $5 Kayak Rentals in Columbia, SC

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Have you visited Columbia, SC’s Sesquicentennial State Park? So close to downtown Columbia, this large park feels like a wooded retreat far away. Enjoy the outdoors, picnics, hiking, rent a kayak or pedal boat, and even have fun at a splash pad at Sesquicentennial State Park!

Sesqui State Park is a great place for a seriously budget-friendly day of adventure with your family!

Sesqui State Park
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Aiken State Park: An Outdoor Paradise for Camping, Hiking, and Water Activities

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Are you seeking an idyllic destination to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of South Carolina? Look no further than Aiken State Park! Nestled along the South Fork of the Edisto River, this picturesque park offers a serene getaway for anyone seeking an outdoor retreat.

This park, with historical roots tied to the Civilian Conservation Corps, is a haven for camping, hiking, fishing, and water activities. With both rustic and modern campsites, Aiken State Park is the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts seeking an unforgettable adventure.

Things to Do at Aiken State Park

Camping at Aiken State Park

Aiken State Park boasts 25 campsites, providing visitors with a comfortable and scenic place to spend the night. Whether you prefer tent camping or RV camping, the park has sites that will accommodate your stay & preference. Aiken State Park offers electrical hookups at campsites for added convenience. 

Immerse yourself in the peaceful ambiance of the park, surrounded by towering hardwood forests and spring-fed lakes. Set up your campsite, sit around a crackling fire, and relish the sounds of nature as you unwind under the starry night sky.

Picnic space at Aiken State Park

Hiking Trails

For those who crave adventure and exploration, Aiken State Park offers a network of hiking trails that consist of the nature jungle trail and spurs, which wind through the natural landscape. These trails take you on a journey through dense forests, providing glimpses of the abundant wildlife that calls the park home.

There are places to rest on the trails and the park is full of picnic tables. Whether you are an avid hiker or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll, the trails at Aiken State Park cater to all skill levels and interests.

Kids at Aiken State Park

Bring the Kids: Aiken State Park

When we visited, one of the trails was slightly flooded, which can happen in this ecosystem. However, our 10-month-old absolutely loved exploring the water as we walked the trail. So, while encountering unforeseen circumstances is unavoidable while engaging with the natural world, being prepared and receptive to new experiences can pave the way for exciting opportunities.

Aiken State Park picnic green space with playground

In addition to hiking, kids will also enjoy a playground, a children’s pond, fishing, and more. In fact, Aiken State Park participates in the Fishing Tackle Loaner Program, which means you can borrow everything you need for a day of fishing right at the park.

Water Activities

The park is also a paradise for water enthusiasts, with its four lakes available for fishing and an access point to the Edisto River. Canoeing and kayaking are popular activities, allowing visitors to paddle along the 1.7-mile South Fork Edisto River Trail for canoes and kayaks. Canoes are available to rent and are conveniently located at the access point. The serene waters offer a tranquil setting for exploring and connecting with nature.

A Journey into History

Aiken State Park has a rich history that dates back to the Great Depression era. The park was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a New Deal program aimed at providing employment during the economic downturn.

The CCC played a vital role in creating recreational areas across the country, including Aiken State Park. Today, visitors can witness the enduring legacy of the CCC through the park’s well-preserved infrastructure and natural beauty.

Of particular historical significance is the African American Detachment, a group of African American CCC workers who built and developed this park. Their contributions are commemorated, and their stories are an integral part of the park’s heritage.

Hiking trail at Aiken State Park

Visit Aiken State Park

Aiken State Park stands as a remarkable destination that seamlessly blends nature, history, and recreational activities. With its captivating landscapes, lakes, and trails, the park offers a retreat for outdoor enthusiasts seeking adventure and tranquility.

As you explore the hardwood forests, fish in the lakes, or paddle along the scenic river, you’ll find yourself immersed in the beauty of South Carolina’s natural wonders.

Admission: $3 adults; $1.50 SC seniors; $1 children age 6-15; age 5 & younger free

Aiken State Park
1145 State Park Road, Windsor
Open daily 9 am to sunset.

Have you and your family visited Aiken State Park? What are some of your favorite things to do there?

South Carolina State Parks

Love it? There’s more where that came from.

Here’s our guide to all 47 South Carolina State Parks!