Aiken's history is deeply rooted in the railroad industry. Chartered in 1835, it is named after William Aiken, who was the President of the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company. In its early years, Aiken became a celebrated winter "retreat town," where the wealthy kept large homes, and participated in sporting activities. Today, many of the mansions remain, and are clustered in an area appropriately named The Winter Colony. A few are open to the public.
Downtown Aiken has retained its original layout, designed in 1834. You'll notice wide streets, huge trees, and southern staples such as crepe myrtle give downtown a charming appeal. In fact, the entire City of Aiken has been declared as an arboretum. Hitchcock Woods is a highlight of the downtown area. This tranquil 2,000-acre forest is open to the public, and frequently enjoyed by those on horseback.
Aiken's equestrian events are a focal point for the community, and draw thousands of visitors per year. Two of these popular events are the Aiken Triple Crown and the Blessing of the Hounds.
Aiken State Park is located 16 miles east of Aiken. The park provides an opportunity to enjoy fishing in the South Edisto River, or in one of its four spring fed lakes. The 1000-acre plus park also offers camping, canoe rental, a nice playground, and trails for hiking.
The performing arts interests are alive and well in Aiken. The newly formed Aiken Performing Arts Group attracts artists from all over the nation, and Hopeland Gardens is a lovely location to enjoy an outdoor summer concert.
Located in the southwest part of the state, Aiken is just 20 miles from the Georgia boarder. Just on the Georgia side of the boarder is Augusta, Georgia- home to the prestigious Masters Golf Tournament.
Aiken is located off of Interstate 20.