Downtown Aiken is the center of South Carolina‘s Thoroughbred Country, which also encompasses the surrounding counties of Allendale, Bamberg, and Barnwell. Its historic district is well-preserved and thoughtfully landscaped, with flowers, fountains, and sculptures both serious and fun. Unique shops, spas, and restaurants can be found throughout Aiken, and there are several nice inns and bed and breakfasts to enjoy.
Since Aiken is known for its close association with horses and equestrianism, its downtown area is dotted with unique statues like this one. It shows Limehouse, a stakes winner who trained at Aiken’s Dogwood Stable and came in fourth in the 2004 Kentucky Derby. (Note: This statue was damaged by a falling limb and removed.)
Flat racing, steeplechases, harness racing, and polo all have long traditions in Aiken. The “season” begins in March with the Aiken Triple Crown. The three jewels in the crown event include the Aiken Trials (flat racing), the Aiken Spring Steeplechase, and a polo match.
This photo, taken along Laurens Street, showcases the charm of Aiken’s historic downtown district. Here are some of Aiken’s most beloved landmarks:
Located at the corner of Laurens Street and Richland Avenue, Aiken‘s town clock was installed in 2007. Aiken got its start as a railroad town. In the 1830s, the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company established a route between Charleston and Hamburg to transport tobacco and cotton. William Aiken was president of the railroad and the fledgling town of Aiken took his name. Soon after, streets were arranged by an engineer, and the town was chartered in 1835.
William Aiken’s son, also named William Aiken, served as a US senator and congressman. He also served as governor of South Carolina from 1844 until 1846.
Visit the Aiken-Rhett House in Charleston, owned by both William Aiken, Sr. and his son.