Exploring the Outdoors: Top Things to Do in Aiken, South Carolina

Discover the best outdoor activities in Aiken, South Carolina. From hiking and biking to horseback riding and kayaking, there's something for everyone in this charming city.

Exploring the Outdoors: Top Things to Do in Aiken, South Carolina

Aiken, South Carolina is a charming city located in the heart of the Palmetto State. Known for its rich history, equestrian culture, and beautiful landscapes, Aiken is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you're a local or just passing through, there are plenty of things to do in Aiken, South Carolina that will allow you to experience the beauty of this city.

1. Hiking and Biking at Hitchcock Woods

Hitchcock Woods is a 2,100-acre forest located in the heart of Aiken. It is one of the largest urban forests in the United States and offers over 70 miles of trails for hiking and biking.

The trails are well-maintained and range from easy to moderate difficulty, making them suitable for all ages and skill levels. As you explore Hitchcock Woods, you'll be surrounded by towering pine trees, beautiful wildflowers, and an abundance of wildlife. Keep an eye out for deer, foxes, and various bird species as you make your way through the forest. You can also take a break at one of the picnic areas or enjoy a peaceful moment by one of the many ponds.

2. Horseback Riding at Hopeland Gardens

Aiken is known as the "Horse Capital of South Carolina" and it's no surprise that horseback riding is a popular outdoor activity here. One of the best places to go horseback riding in Aiken is at Hopeland Gardens.

This 14-acre garden features beautiful walking paths, ponds, and gardens that are perfect for a leisurely horseback ride. If you're new to horseback riding, don't worry! Hopeland Gardens offers guided tours for all levels of riders. You'll have the opportunity to learn about the history of Aiken and its equestrian culture while enjoying a peaceful ride through the gardens.

3. Kayaking and Canoeing at the Savannah River

The Savannah River runs through Aiken and offers a variety of outdoor activities, including kayaking and canoeing. The river is calm and peaceful, making it perfect for a relaxing day on the water. You can rent kayaks and canoes from local outfitters or bring your own and launch from one of the many public access points. As you paddle down the river, you'll be surrounded by beautiful scenery and may even spot some wildlife along the way.

The Savannah River is also a popular spot for fishing, so don't forget to bring your fishing gear if you're looking to catch some bass or catfish.

4. Golfing at One of Aiken's Many Courses

Aiken is home to several world-class golf courses, making it a popular destination for golfers. With over 30 courses in the area, there's no shortage of options for golf enthusiasts. Some of the most popular courses include Palmetto Golf Club, Aiken Golf Club, and Woodside Plantation Country Club. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced golfer, you'll find a course that suits your skill level in Aiken. Many of the courses also offer stunning views of the surrounding landscapes, making for a memorable golfing experience.

5. Picnicking at Hopelands Gardens

In addition to horseback riding, Hopeland Gardens is also a great spot for a picnic.

The gardens feature several picnic areas with tables and benches, as well as beautiful views of the gardens and ponds. Pack a picnic lunch and spend a relaxing afternoon surrounded by nature. If you're visiting Aiken during the summer, be sure to check out the "Music in the Gardens" series at Hopeland Gardens. This free event features live music, food trucks, and a beautiful setting for a picnic.

6. Birdwatching at Silver Bluff Audubon Center

The Silver Bluff Audubon Center is a 3,400-acre wildlife sanctuary located just outside of Aiken. It is home to over 200 species of birds, making it a popular spot for birdwatching.

The center offers guided bird walks and educational programs for those interested in learning more about the local bird population. Even if you're not an avid birdwatcher, the Silver Bluff Audubon Center is worth a visit for its beautiful landscapes and peaceful atmosphere. You can also explore the hiking trails and enjoy a picnic at one of the designated areas.

7. Camping at Aiken State Park

If you're looking to spend some time in the great outdoors, consider camping at Aiken State Park. This 1,000-acre park offers campsites for tents and RVs, as well as cabins for those who prefer a more comfortable camping experience. While camping at Aiken State Park, you can enjoy activities such as fishing, boating, and hiking. The park also has a swimming area and playground for kids, making it a great destination for families.

8. Exploring Downtown Aiken

While not technically an outdoor activity, exploring downtown Aiken is a must-do for anyone visiting the city.

The downtown area is filled with charming shops, restaurants, and historic buildings that are worth checking out. Take a stroll down Laurens Street and admire the beautiful architecture of the buildings, many of which date back to the 1800s. You can also stop by the Aiken County Historical Museum to learn more about the city's rich history.


Aiken, South Carolina offers a wide range of outdoor activities for visitors and locals alike. From hiking and biking to horseback riding and kayaking, there's something for everyone to enjoy in this charming city. So next time you're looking for things to do in Aiken, South Carolina, be sure to check out these top outdoor activities and experience the beauty of this city for yourself.

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