Jumpstart your romantic weekend with a cocktail and a stroll through the fragrant gardens of gardenias, camellias, and glittering ginkos at Rose Hill Estate. Rose Hill is the quintessential Old Aiken “Winter Colony” estate and it’s where the Garden Club of South Carolina was created. After your stroll, sit down on the patio under the twinkling lights, listening to live music as you enjoy a delicious meal made with local ingredients. Or for a more casual dinner enjoy Takosushi, where the far-east meets the southwest and there’s always a crowd.
After dinner, grab a seat at the bar at The Willcox for a nightcap and swap stories with the bartender in beautiful setting that’s often referred to as “Aiken’s living room”. Or checkout what entertainment is on the docket at The Polo Tavern or challenge your date to a game of Connect Four or shuffleboard at The Alley Taproom.
Welcome the day with a cappuccino and croissant at Pardon My French Café, bonjour y’all! Then visit the oldest county farmers market (at the same location) in the state of South Carolina, the Aiken County Farmers Market and chat with the farmers about what’s in season. Now, it’s time to really sink in to the history of this charming place. 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. Be wowed with stories from Aiken’s golden age when people like Fred Astaire danced down the steps of the Aiken post-office, and the Hope Diamond was worn around the collar of socialite, Evalyn Walsh McLean’s dog.
Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, head downtown for some delicious food. Sit on the patio at The Aiken Brewing Company and enjoy some wings, a local brew, and people watching on Aiken’s busiest street. Another unique dining experience awaits at Magnolia Downtown where the motto is “Mostly Organic… 100% happy!”
After lunch, saunter hand in hand as you explore Aiken’s charming downtown shops and galleries. Some highlights you won’t want to miss include: Plum Pudding, an upscale kitchen and gourmet food store; Lionel Smith, a gentleman’s shop; Nandina Home and Design, “Best of Houzz 2015 Service Award Winner; Equine Divine, all-things equine—a true Aiken store; Threads, contemporary clothes that won’t break the bank; Re-fresh, Southern art and a jumble of artsy gifts; and the Aiken Center for the Arts with different exhibits of both local and national art along with a variety of classes available.
For dinner, follow your nose to Casa Bella Italian Restaurant where you dine in a converted house overlooking a garden filled with rosemary and sage—the ambiance and the food are tough to beat. Another delicious option is chef-owned restaurant, Malia’s, where you will enjoy an exceptional meal with a menu that changes monthly reflecting what’s in season.
After dinner, check out what’s playing at the AECOM Center for Performing Arts or the Etherredge Center where you’re likely to find anything from a local musical to a travelling Broadway show to a Julliard performance (if you’re here mid-March Joye in Aiken is a festival you won’t want to miss!).
Enjoy a hot cup of fresh coffee and a green monster smoothie from Aiken’s own coffee roaster and café, New Moon Café, where the eclectic atmosphere and quality food will make you wish you could come every day. Or if you want a traditional, Southern-style eggs and grits breakfast, or a pancake that’s the size of your head, Auten’s is the place for you.
Before you head home and back to the real world, treat yourselves to a side by side couples massage at The Willcox. Voted one of the Top 15 Hotel Spas in the US by Conde Naste, your romantic weekend will linger longer as you feel refreshed and rejuvenated on your trip home.
Starting point: Rose Hill Estate
221 Greenville St., NW
Aiken sc, 29801
Find it on Google Maps