Aiken, located near the middle of South Carolina’s border with Georgia, is considered one of the state’s hidden treasures. In the 19th century, it became a popular spot for wealthy northerners to spend their winters, and as a result, the equestrian industry became a major part of the town’s character, and it still is today. There are multiple races, polo tournaments and barns in the region, and Aiken is renowned as the home of many thoroughbred champions, with fox hunts and polo matches a way of life here. Even if you aren’t coming to participate in all things horse, you can enjoy strolling the charming downtown, as well as the rolling hills that surround it. Shop unique boutiques, dine at fabulous eateries and catch live music while wandering the quaint streets and gazing at the gorgeous oak canopy.
The town is also popular for its annual “Battle of Aiken,” when for three days in February, Civil War reenactors eat, sleep, live and fight in a painfully recreated version of the world in 1865. In addition to battle reenactments, it hosts authentic 19th-century military encampments, living history presentations, reproductions of medical facilities, an engineer and signal service, and civilian portrayals.