WALK..BIKE..RUN…NEVER A DULL MOMENT!
Aiken is the perfect setting for an outdoor escape, and with our mild year-round climate, we have the added benefit of enjoying the scenery 365 days each year. From nature preserves to lakes, hiking and biking trails to lush gardens, Aiken is a natural fit for anyone that loves the outdoors.
Bequeathed to the City of Aiken by Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin, this 14-acre estate was opened in 1969 as a public garden. Meandering throughout the gardens is a network of paths and trails shaded under 100-year-old live oaks. The Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame & Museum and concert stage used for live outdoor performances are both located in the gardens, and are sure to leave a lasting impression.
The Hitchcock Woods is among the largest urban forests in the nation, beating out even New York City’s Central Park, with about 2,100 acres of forest habitat. This longleaf pine forest provides 65 miles of sandy trails that provide access to the stunning variety of ecosystems in the Woods for equestrians, hikers, dog walkers, and runners.
Silver Bluff Audubon Nature Preserve and Sanctuary, about 15 minutes down the road from Woodside’s main gate, is a 3,250 acre wildlife sanctuary and education center owned by the National Audubon Society. The site boasts a varied habitat of forests, fields, lakes, ponds and streams, nestled along 2.6 miles of the Savannah River.
Set against the calm and winding South Edisto River, Aiken State Park is a popular destination for Aiken locals. This beautiful park offers canoeing in the river, peaceful picnicking, fishing in the river and in the park’s spring-fed lakes, campground and trailside camping and hiking trails. The 1,000-acre site offers a diverse combination of ecosystems, combining a blackwater river and swamp, bottomland forest and dry sandhill pine forest.
Get out and walk the trails, watch wildlife, or just enjoy the pleasure of the woods and water that are only a few yards from bustling Whiskey Road. This is a city facility with a difference: a natural wetland with minimal improvements and maximum tranquility.
With green space galore, weather that calls for you to spend time outdoors, and a community of passionate and welcoming people, Aiken has made itself a go-to location for a host of fun and family-friendly events year-round. Pick one out of our favorites below to plan your Discovery Tour package around!
There is always something going on to enjoy at Woodside! From Third Thursdays in The Village at Woodside, which feature local farmers and vendors and live music, to Dive-in Movies at The Reserve Club pool and cabana, we love giving our residents and members opportunities to get together. Be sure to visit our events calendar here for a full list of fun happenings worth planning your visit around.
Joye in Aiken (founded in 2009 as Juilliard in Aiken) brings world-class artists from The Juilliard School and elsewhere to the charming, historic city of Aiken. The week-long Festival features not just public and private performances but also outreach to area schools and master classes for students throughout the region. Since the organization’s founding, over 200 Juilliard artists have instructed and mentored some 20,000 local students. Joye in Aiken has quickly become a regional event with a reputation for offering performances of the very highest caliber in music, drama and dance. Presented in the intimate settings of Aiken’s historic Gilded-Age mansions and churches, the Festival has helped our special southern city become an important cultural destination.
The Aiken Steeplechase Association hosts two steeplechase racing events sanctioned by the National Steeplechase Association each year, the Imperial Cup in March and the Holiday Cup in October. These events strive to perpetuate the rich history of Steeplechasing in Aiken with the aid of the Aiken SERTOMA Club and other volunteers from the community. Profits from the races have aided Aiken charities such as Helping Hands, Inc., Hitchcock Woods Foundation, The Cumbee Center, Public Education Partners, CanHope, Aiken S.P.C.A., Aiken Rescue Squad, Aiken Public Safety Horse Rescue Squad, National Steeplechase Association Injured Jockey Fund and the Aiken Thoroughbred Hall of Fame.
Walk the red carpet at the 3rd Annual Southern City Film Festival in beautiful downtown Aiken, South Carolina. With an amazing line up of films, VIP parties, filmmaker breakfasts, sponsored lounges, Q&A’s, celebrity guests, after parties, and so much more Aiken’s Official Film Festival is the place to be February 22nd-23rd, 2019! Voted “Top 100 Best Reviewed Film Festivals” by Film Freeway.
This annual craft show has something for everyone. Casual and serious shoppers will find many unique pieces of art and handmade crafts available, ranging from pottery, glass art, and wood creations to children’s clothing and accessories. There is jewelry, baked goods, homemade candy, sweetgrass baskets, and yard art, as well as many other unique handcrafted items from around the Southeast.
Aiken goes German at this annual event. Come out to enjoy authentic German music, delicious German food, and real German beer and wine! Watch downtown transform into a community block party, with dancing and memory-making between old and new friends alike.
Join us in Aiken on Thanksgiving Day each year for One Table, a community-wide Thanksgiving meal hosted by and for all Aiken residents. Hundreds of Aiken locals donate their time, talents and resources, and on Thanksgiving Day more than 1,500 people sit down at tables that stretch across Aiken’s downtown for an unforgettable community-wide meal.
“Throughout the entire afternoon, I ate, and shook hands, and was hugged many times. I listened and clapped and laughed with new friends. And, with my heart filled to overflowing, the sun warm on my shoulders, and a breeze softly at my back, I fell in love all over again with this amazing town of Aiken.” -Local Author Marty Healy on her One Table experience
Christmas in Hopelands is an enchanting walk-through exhibit that features over 2 miles of lighted pathways and holiday displays in Aiken’s gorgeous Hopelands Gardens. There is no admission charge. Holiday entertainment is provided by local schools, community groups, and church choirs each evening. Spectators should bring a blanket or lawn chair to sit on to enjoy the show. Over 100,000 twinkling lights are a must-see during the Christmas season!
Christmas in Hopelands will run Saturdays and Sundays in December starting December 9, 2017.