Day one: First morning to remember
Check into The Willcox, a grand white-pillared 116-year-old hotel. Each of the lavishly appointed rooms boasts traditional colonial furnishings, comfy linens and luxe soaker tubs. A beautiful magnolia tree grows out front, giving shade to the rocking chairs that line the porch. Get settled in and then start your day here, relaxing and sipping coffee before enjoying a decadent brunch at the on-site restaurant. I had the Belgian waffle with mascarpone maple syrup – so, so good.
A must-see event
Plan your trip to coincide with the Aiken Horse Show. This April marks the 100th anniversary of the event, which takes place in the historic Hitchcock Woods. Aiken is an equestrian wonderland and has been since the 1880s, when wealthy Yankees discovered the place to have the ideal climate for riding – warm but not too hot – and thus dubbed it the Winter Colony. (You’ll find that horses are, quite literally, everywhere in Aiken!)
Keeping with the theme
Take in the prestigious equestrian show and be sure to explore the 2,100-acre woodland studded with paths for horse and carriage rides or walking. If you’re staying at The Willcox, ask the concierge to help arrange riding lessons or a horse-drawn carriage picnic in the woods.