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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

MoS Travels: Aiken, SC

Ahhh….Aiken! Home to live oaks and camellias, foxhunters and polo ponies, and favorite stomping ground of the Winter Colonists since the late 1800s.

At the heart of Aiken is the Hitchcock Woods, one of the largest urban forests in the U.S., with over 70 miles of sandy trail…perfect for long hacks and dog walks, and home to the Aiken Hounds, one of the oldest drag hunts in this country. A long-standing tradition in Aiken is the Blessing of the Hounds on Thanksgiving Day at Memorial Gate, one of the entrances to the Woods.

Polo abounds, with over 40 polo fields attracting a slew of high-goal professionals. Sunday afternoon finds most of Aiken tailgating at the Whitney Polo Field, cheering on their favorite local ponies and players.

Come spring, the crowds gather at the Aiken Training Track for the Aiken Trials, first leg of the Aiken Triple Crown, where 2 year olds test their mettle before heading off to Kentucky.

But don’t put your hat away yet…the next week is Spring Steeplechase where crowds gather in the tens of thousands to watch this thrilling sport.

Another Spring tradition…Aiken Horse Show in the Woods, where foxhunters come out in full regalia to compete in the show ring.

Boyd and Silva Martin are Aiken’s newest celebrities…Boyd and his horse Neville are sure to be Olympic-bound eventers and Silva continues to leave crowds speechless in the dressage arena.

If horses are the heart of Aiken, history is its soul…Winston Churchill, President Roosevelt, Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Harold Vanderbilt, Elizabeth Arden all enjoyed the pleasure of a night at the lovely Willcox Hotel.

Stanford White of McKim, Mead, and White designed several of Aiken’s best…including the Palmetto Golf Club clubhouse and this private residence, Sandhurst (currently on the market- check it out here!)

Even the Hope Diamond resided in Aiken as part of the collection of Evalyn Walsh McLean!

Speaking of Palmetto Golf Club…Augusta National is just minutes away from Aiken and remains hallowed ground for golfers everywhere!

They say in Aiken it is not a good day unless you’ve played three sports.

But some of my less sporty friends have changed that to “…unless you’ve changed clothes three times!”

All true…I return to Manhattan to rest!! The social scene is relentless and full of southern hospitality (translation…stiff drinks and pimento cheese :). All the more reason to visit!

And when you do, come see us at Folly, one of Aiken’s newest additions, located at 116 Laurens Street, SW.

Can’t wait? Check out our website:


A huge thank you to Jane for her guest blog post about Aiken!  Aren't the pictures of her store, Folly, to die for?!  We can't get there fast enough!

We love sharing these world-class-but-off-the-beaten-path destinations with our readers.  If you have a chic locale you would like to share for our MoS Travels series, email us at!


Nancy said...

Love this post about Aiken. Im a horse lover, and would love to visit Folly, as well!

the Queen City Style said...

Love your foyer! Thanks for the great idea! And thanks for the tip on Folly! Aiken is sort of a home away from home for my family... I was married there. My parents are members at the Green Boundary and Palmetto Clubs, and Oh how I love to visit! One of the most charming little cities which appears to have just gotten a little bit more charming with Folly! Can't wait to visit!

Regards, Whitley Adkins Hamlin

Lara said...

My mom and I did the drive from Atlanta to Charleston several years ago and just happened upon Aiken. It was such a neat surprise! Thanks for posting!

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