The 3 weekends of horse racing in March that make up the Aiken Triple Crown are the highlight of the year. Call Thoroughbred Country (tel. 888/834-1654 or 803/649-7981; www.tbredcountry.org) to find out about the many sporting activities.
Even nonhorsy folks, however, will delight in the lovely old homes in the town's Historic District. The Aiken County Historical Museum, 433 Newberry St. SW (tel. 803/642-2015; www.aikencountysc.gov), occupies part of a former millionaire's estate. Of special interest are Native American artifacts, a 1930s drugstore from a little South Carolina town that no longer exists, a 19th-century schoolhouse, and a full miniature circus. Admission is by donation. Hours are Tuesday to Friday 10am to 5pm and Saturday and Sunday 2 to 5pm.
Hopeland Gardens, 100 Dupree Place (at the corner of Whiskey Rd.; tel. 803/642-7631), are the pride of Aiken, graced with weeping willows, fountains, and shimmering ponds. The grounds hold the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame (www.aikenracinghalloffame.com) in a restored carriage house. A touch-and-scent trail has plaques in both standard type and Braille to identify plants and to lead visitors, blind or sighted, to a performing-arts stage. Open-air concerts are given here Monday evenings in summer, and theatrical productions are offered periodically. Admission is free. The gardens are open daily from 10am to dusk; the Hall of Fame is open June to August Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 5pm.
The 2,200-acre Hitchcock Woods, 404 S. Boundary Ave., close to the center of town, is one of the best places to go riding in South Carolina. You'll even see some locals taking carriage drives. If you want to go riding, call one of the local centers and discuss your needs and requirements. The best outfitter is the Black Forest Equestrian Center, 4343 Bank Mill Rd. (tel. 803/642-0438; www.blackforestfarm.com).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.