I received a hosted stay, all expenses paid, to write this Thoroughbred Country Travel Guide. All opinions are my own.
While the Thoroughbred name is synonymous with equestrian sports, the area offers many reasons to visit that are beyond horses. Thoroughbred Country, South Carolina is a tourism region that consists of Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg and Barnwell Counties. While I agree with Southern Living magazine’s ranking of Aiken being ‘The South’s Best Small Town 2018’, visitors shouldn’t judge based off size.
I found the area to be rich in both history and art – to an extent that is far beyond your typical southern small town. Joye in Aiken is an annual festival of the arts, hosted by The Juilliard School each March, which showcases top-notch artists. If walls could talk, you’d want to hear details about the famous historical guests who’ve stayed at The Willcox.
Since Thoroughbred Country is only hours from big cities like Atlanta and Charleston, it’s the perfect weekend destination for couples. A hand-in-hand stroll under the live oaks offers a romantic backdrop unlike any other.
Thoroughbred Country Travel Guide
Where to Stay In Thoroughbred Country
The Carriage House Inn
Located in historic downtown Aiken, the Carriage House Inn offers a variety of suites that cater to both couples and families. My King Suite had an inviting jacuzzi soaking tub and French doors that opened to the patio. Don’t miss their homemade morning breakfast and afternoon chocolate chip cookies – included in your stay.
Rosemary Inn Bed & Breakfast
This turn-of-the-century mansion is a stones throw from the Georgia – South Carolina state line, in North Augusta. Originally built in 1902, but restored to a bed and breakfast in 1992, Rosemary Inn Bed & Breakfast guests can enjoy a relaxing stay. If you’re looking for a quiet couple’s escape, the Rosemary is the perfect choice.
Live the life of luxury when you check-in at The Willcox. The legendary hotel has hosted numerous diplomats, celebrities and presidents. It was voted one of the best hotels in the world, with fireplaces in each suite and custom turn-down service. Guests can dine at The Willcox Restaurant, rejuvenate at the spa or relax poolside. Pets are not only welcomed, but receive some pampering of their own too.
What To Do In Thoroughbred Country
Take a Guided Tour
Ride along with an expert who has the inside scoop, from the stories behind the Millionaire Row homes to ghost tours. Tailored Tours of Aiken offers custom tours of Aiken and gives you the backstory of every city attraction. Don’t miss a tour of the Hopelands Gardens.
Visit The Jim Harrison Gallery
Located in Denmark, South Carolina (a short drive from Aiken) is home to the Jim Harrison Gallery. The late artist is well-known for his work for the Coca-Cola Company. The gallery also has a rotating exhibit that features local artists.
Connect With Nature At Aiken State Park
Alongside the Edisto River, Aiken State Park offers fishing, camping grounds, swimming areas and kayaking. Built during the Great Depression, the park has a historical backdrop with plenty of ways to connect with nature. Become an ‘Ultimate Outsider’ when you explore all of South Carolina’s state parks – earn a stamp with each visit and collect all 47 to receive a commemorative t-shirt.
Step Back in Time
Watch colonial history come to life at The Living History Park. The park offers living exhibits of colonial life in a pseudo town. During one of their events, guests can view demonstrations in pottery, weaving and spinning, frontier trading, quilting, blacksmithing, meat curing, gold and silversmithing and candle making. Look for special fall and holiday events too.
Catch A Game
North Augusta’s home team are the Green Jackets and they’ve got a brand new stadium. They are a minor league baseball team of the South Atlantic League (Class A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants). The stadium is surrounded by an up-and-coming devolvement of retail shops, restaurants and upscale living spaces. Games start at $8 a ticket and it’s the perfect summer night out.
Where To Eat in Thoroughbred Country
Miller’s Bread Basket
Enjoy home cooking and comfort foods at Miller’s Bread Basket. It’s been family owned and operated since 1987 and serving Amish-Mennonite foods daily. Locals love to come for daily specials like fried chicken or meatloaf. The Shoofly Pie is old-fashioned classic and you can’t leave without getting a slice.
Betsy’s On The Corner
For hand-spun milkshakes and American diner classics, head to Betsy’s On The Corner. Guest favorites include chicken-n-dumplings and onion rings. They’re known for having a big lunchtime crowd – so arrive early.
The Hammond’s Ferry Larder
Go for the food and then take a stroll along the Savannah River. The Larder is a popular neighborhood bar and grill in North Augusta. Specials include Housemade Pickles and the $8 Bloody Mary Bar during brunch is a favorite. After dining, you can walk a few blocks to the North Augusta Greeneway Trail for a stroll along the river.
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