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About Aiken

HISTORY

Aiken, South Carolina’s rich history dates back to the 1830s when William Aiken, president of the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company and one of South Carolina’s leading cotton merchants, hired Horatio Allen, a distinguished engineer who would later build the Brooklyn Bridge, to construct a railroad from Charleston to Hamburg, South Carolina. Work began in 1830 and on October 2, 1833, the first train arrived in the newly established town of Aiken, named in honor of the first railroad president.

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Attracting visitors from the extreme heat of other wealthy Southern towns, particularly Charleston, SC, Aiken prospered and was quickly filled with stately mansions, awe-inspiring churches and a thriving social scene anchored by equestrian races. Over the years, Aiken became “The Original Winter Colony,” where families such as the Whitneys, Vanderbilts and Astors spent the colder months in the “place of retreat from the heat and malaria of unhealthier regions.” Today’s current restorations keep past traditions alive and well, from the beautiful parkways and shaded streets, to the double avenues, historic mansions and compelling folklore.

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“Aiken is a delightful town with great culture, restaurants, and amazing healthcare.”

– Don & Jennifer E.

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COLLEGE TOWN

More and more families considering relocation are choosing college towns as their destination, and it’s not difficult to see why. The nearby University of South Carolina Aiken, ranked #1 among top public regional colleges in the South in the 2016 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s guide “America’s Best Colleges,” offers learning opportunities, career services, activities and entertainment options galore, sporting events and much more. Buy your tickets for the next area concert at the USC Aiken Convocation Center, catch a play at the Etherredge Center, drop by the DuPont Planetarium at the Ruth Patrick Science Center for an out-of-this-world experience, cheer on the Pacer baseball team that sent two players this year to the Major Leagues, enroll in a business course, or pick up a part-time job teaching, tutoring and more. Whatever the next phase of your personal adventure holds for you, seize your opportunities here in Aiken, South Carolina.

ARTS

Downtown Aiken is a cultural hub of the city without question; however, Aiken’s passion for all things artistic extends even beyond those beautiful tree-lined streets and wooden bridges. For enjoying performances of all varieties, including live music and dramatic arts, be sure to stop by AECOM Center for the Performing Arts, Aiken Center for the Arts, Aiken Community Playhouse, the Etherredge Center, or the USC-Aiken Convocation Center. For a more hands-on artistic experience, stopping in for an afternoon at Bisquecuts and Glazy is an absolute must! Try your hand at pottery painting and glass fusing, or join in on a pottery, canvas or ladies’ night out party. Van Gogh to Go, a local business that offers painting instruction, is another big piece of Aiken’s artistic scene that helps keep our community not only enjoying art, but creating it as well.

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CULTURE

Be sure to mark your calendars for Aiken’s annual arts and cultural events as well- they’re great to include in an Adventure Awaits package! “Antiques in the Heart of Aiken,” Joye in Aiken, a partnership with the prestigious Juilliard School, Aiken’s Makin Craft and Art Festival, Southern City Film Festival and many more events are offered to appeal to all those that share an appreciation for artistic passions in a uniquely life-filled town.

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SHOPPING

We appreciate fine dining and boutique shopping here in Aiken, South Carolina, and the world-class eateries and awesome shops and boutiques scattered throughout the town are the figurative “proof in the pudding.” For national chains like Outback Steakhouse and Red Lobster among others, check out the Whiskey Road side of town, just outside Woodside’s East Gate. You’ll also find most of the national retailers here, like Hobby Lobby, Fresh Market, Target, TJ Maxx, Old Navy and Bed Bath and Beyond, to name a few.

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DINING

For the more eclectic locally-owned eateries and shops, check out downtown. For fine dining, stop by Prime Steakhouse, Malia’s or Casa Bella, though more casual options like the Aiken Brewing Co. and Grille and diner-inspired Betsy’s on the Corner are equally as charming for a night on the town. Though we don’t necessarily recommend shopping until you drop, the opportunity to do it is here as well in Aiken’s downtown. With antique shops, clothing boutiques, specialty stores, and a plethora of other home décor and miscellaneous shops, there are tons of charming and locally-inspired small businesses to support.

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