Downtown Aiken is a lively cultural hub offering visitors a unique opportunity to explore the city’s rich history, dynamic arts scene, vibrant music culture, and equestrian life. Additionally, downtown is home to a thriving dining and shopping scene. You’re invited to experience our cultural and culinary amenities and discover why visitors can’t get enough of downtown Aiken!
Day 1 (Friday)
Start your trip off in “Aiken’s Living Room” and check in to either The Willcox Hotel or Carriage House Inn. The Willcox offers a perfect blend of comfort, luxury, and convenience, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere and unique culture of downtown Aiken. The Carriage House Inn, located on Laurens St. in downtown Aiken is also an excellent choice for first-time visitors to Aiken, looking to stay somewhere within close proximity to restaurants and attractions in downtown.
Next, take a leisurely stroll around downtown Aiken where you’ll find a variety of quaint boutiques, cafes and shops. Visit Aiken Center for the Arts, which is home to a variety of exhibits and galleries that showcase the work of local and regional artists.
Grab a drink and a bite to eat at Neon Fig, a trendy little restaurant and bar serving delicious cocktails and small plates. Whether you’re in the mood for a classic martini or something more adventurous like the “Jockey’s Lunch” cocktail, you will surely find something delicious there.
Continue your stroll through downtown and explore Aiken Dry Goods, Epona, and Equine Divine for equestrian-related products, Pitter-Patter for children’s items, Iron Gate Candles for homemade candles, Downtown Dog for pet purchases, and Plum Pudding and Cork and Cap for gourmet food to name a few of many.
To end your first day in downtown, head over to Malia’s for a delightful dinner. This cozy restaurant serves a variety of mouth-watering dishes made with the finest, freshest, and ethically produced ingredients. Make sure to catch a play or musical at the Amentum Center for the Performing Arts for an exciting end to your day.
Day 2 (Saturday)
Start your day off right with a delicious breakfast. If you’re staying at an inn, take advantage of their breakfast. Alternatively, you could head to the New Moon Café, a popular spot among locals and tourists.
Visit the Aiken County Farmers Market for the best local food and connect with local farmers and artisans who are happy to share their knowledge about the seasonal produce available. Next, take a tour of the Gaston Livery Stable, a historic brick barn close to the Aiken County Farmers Market that played a significant role in the city’s transportation industry during the turn of the century.
Stop by the Aiken Visitors Center and Train Museum to learn about the town’s growth and development, closely tied to the railroad and the Winter Colonists. These wealthy individuals from the Gilded Age brought with them a love for equestrian pursuits and gracious living, which still influence the city today.
In the evening, experience a culinary adventure in downtown Aiken at TAJ Aiken, and savor the delicious flavors of Indian cuisine. Their diverse menu features succulent tandoori chicken, buttery naan, creamy paneer tikka masala, and aromatic biryani rice.
Day 3 (Sunday)
After grabbing a bite to eat at your choice of cafes and brunch spots, explore Hitchcock Woods, a sprawling 2,100-acre urban forest in the heart of downtown Aiken. This natural oasis is home to a variety of wildlife and offers visitors a chance to connect with nature and enjoy the outdoors.
Then ride to Aiken’s horse district, a peaceful network of dirt roads just minutes from downtown. Horses have the right of way, and you can watch them in their natural habitat. Take a guided tour and see horses training at the renowned Aiken Training Track, which has a history of producing champions. After that, make your way to the Whitney Polo field, which is a picturesque location that offers the perfect opportunity to see more horses in action. Head to the Aiken Horse Park to catch the Winter Premier horse show or horses in training.
Check out the Alley Taproom for a cozy bar experience. This taproom has 48 taps and offers a wide selection of drinks including beer, cider, wine, kombucha, soda and coffee that you can try yourself. Grab dinner from a restaurant in the Alley, grab a rocking chair and enjoy the bliss!
Have you completed this itinerary? Let us know and tag us on social media @VisitAikenSC