Hopelands Gardens is a 4-acre garden and former estate of the Aiken Winter Colony (a time period when wealthy northerners flocked to the area). The gardens are now city-owned and operated and are enjoyed for afternoon strolls and evening events by locals and visitors alike. Hopelands' water features, bridges and statues make it a popular photography location. On site is also a Sears & Roebuck Dollhouse (the original owner's playhouse and schoolroom for their children) and the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame.
Redcliffe State Historic Site
Completed in 1859, the Greek-Revival mansion was the home of James Henry Hammond and 3 generations of his descendants. Hammond, whose political career included terms as a U.S. Congressman, governor of South Carolina, and a U.S. Senator, was perhaps best known as an outspoken defender of slavery and states’ rights. It was Hammond who coined the phrase “Cotton is King” in an 1858 speech to the Senate. Today you can take a tour of the historic home or participate in educational programs focusing on the daily life of African Americans who worked and lived at Redcliffe, heirloom gardening and agriculture.
Aiken State Park
Four spring-fed lakes and the meandering South Fork Edisto River make Aiken State Park a popular destination to go birding, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, picnicking, campings and hiking. The park was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Aiken County Museum
Located within Banksia, an original winter colony mansion, the museum features both permanent and temporary exhibits, educational tours, children's programs. The museum highlights the unique history of the area including architecture, nature, pottery, military, and more. On the grounds you'll find a one-room schoolhouse and log cabin from the 1800s.
Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame
The Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum is located inside Hopelands Gardens and celebrates the great tradition of racing and Aiken's vital role in it. Thirty-nine Champion Thoroughbreds have trained at the famed Aiken Training Track and each has been immortalized in the Hall of Fame. Flat racers and steeplechase horses, from 1942 through the present are featured in the museum along with photos, trophies and other memorabilia that highlight the careers of these famous horses.
Beech Island Visitors Center
Built in the late 1800s as a country store, the Beech Island Visitor Center showcases the 300-plus years of history of Beech Island, a community which dates back to 1685 and was named for the beech trees growing along the wetlands and islands in the Savannah River. Housing a small museum as well as an archive research room, the center serves as the headquarters for the Beech Island Historical Society and also features a totally renovated historic barn with agriculture exhibits.
Langley Pond is a recreational venue for swimming, boating and rowing. Originally named Horse Creek Pond, as the Westos tribe favored the water source for their horses, the pond is the location for Pow Wows, triathlons and other events. Competitors come from all over the world to compete in national and regional regattas. It is the world’s largest pond, just inches short of a lake! On site, visitors will find a large picnic shelter and grills. There is also a playground, concession stand, bath house, boat ramp, special events area, swim area and sandy beach to enjoy.
North Augusta Living History Park
The Living History Park is a place to witness history first-hand. The park features a reproduction of a complete Colonial settlement including a Smoke House, Spring House Tavern, Willow Springs Meeting House, Blacksmith's Forge, a Colonial Slave Cabin, schoolhouse, barn, mercantile and more. A handicap-accessible sensory garden is also on the property, which hosts several popular living history events each year.
Silver Bluff Audubon Sanctuary
Silver Bluff is nestled along 2.5 miles of the Savannah River and is comprised of over 3,000 acres of forests, fields, lakes, ponds and streams that support a wide variety of wildlife, including over 200 species of birds such as Wood Storks and Bald Eagles. Visitors can enjoy a system of walking trails and special-event programming throughout the year, and learn of the rich history of the property that was once the site of visits by Spanish and English explorers, an 18th century trading post and a Revolutionary War skirmish.
The Wagener Museum contains artifacts from the prehistoric Indian era to present. The collection includes arrowheads, farm implements, a 1915 working gramophone with cylinder records, cotton gin sharpening machine, blacksmith tools and more.
North Augusta Arts & Heritage Center
Located on the banks of the Savannah River, the North Augusta Arts & Heritage Center has rotating exhibits focused on art, photography, pottery and history. The highlight is their railroad themed permanent exhibit on the history of the area. The center also has a gift shop and meeting room.
Aiken Center for the Arts
Experience historic Aiken through art! Here at the center there are exhibition galleries, art classes and workshops for all ages, cultural events and high quality original works of art in the Gallery Store. Aiken Center for the Arts offers a year-round calendar of activities, including a range of visual arts programs supplemented with periodic performing arts presentations and films.
Aiken County Farmers Market
Here's a farmers market with a historic twist! For over 50 years this market has been the place to go for local produce. Even the vendor tables are the same! Listed on the Aiken Historic Register, the Farmers Market is a place where produce is sold and conversation and recipes are shared with friends, old and new.
Gurosik's Berry Plantation
The leading producer of strawberries, hybrid blackberries, and related products in the Central Savannah River Area, the plantation allows visitors to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and discover a feast for their senses in this peaceful, relaxing atmosphere in rural America. Enjoy friendly service, gorgeous flowers and farm fresh fruits and vegetables!
Aiken Visitors Center & Train Museum
The Aiken Visitors Center & Train Museum is located in the rebuilt Aiken Railroad Depot, once a stop on the first designed steam powered commercial railroad in the United States and the longest railroad in the world! Stop in for visitor information all about the elegance and charm of historic Aiken, and then start your journey upstairs, where interactive displays and nine dioramas depict the towns along the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company as they were in 1916.