On a recent trip to Aiken, South Carolina (just over an hour south of state capital Columbia and a half hour from Augusta, Georgia), I received as a gift a book titled When I think of Aiken, written by Michael Gibbons and illustrated by Betsy Wilson-Mahoney, two long-time residents of Aiken who shared in words and drawings their memories of growing up and living much of their lives in this beautiful southern charmer of a city.
The book gave me pause to try and remember what I thought of Aiken before visiting for the first time. I realized quite quickly, not much, other than erroneously thinking the city was named for the great southern writer Conrad Aiken for some mysterious reason. It’s actually named for William Aiken, a man who never visited the city named after hi -, but more on that later.
I can say that four days later, when our first of several visits was over, I knew a lot more. Aiken is a must-visit destination for so many wonderful and enlightening reasons. It’s blend of horse country and related annual events, railroad history, superb restaurants, shopping, all aspects of the sporting life, and history. Plus that ever present southern charm and gorgeous seasons.