7 Hidden Gems in Thoroughbred Country
Thoroughbred Country is known for many things: quaint small towns, rich history, unique shopping, delicious southern cuisine and an abundance of outdoor activities. But did you know there’s also a drive-in movie theater? Or an Aiken Winter Colony cottage you can go in for free? The following seven hidden gems are sure to whisk you off the beaten path.
Located at 5822 Columbia Hwy N, Monetta. Thoroughbred Country has one of three operating drive-in movie theaters in South Carolina. Drive-In theaters are such a rare, retro throwback to the golden age of cinema offering a one-of-a-kind experience to every patron. The Monetta Drive-In opened in 1951, closed in 1986 and then was revived in 1999. The Big Mo offers three screens, all with double features including new movies as well as old favorites. A night at the Big Mo is the perfect weekend family outing you’ve been looking for. Visitors who are lucky to enjoy this seasonal treasure from March to November will not be disappointed. Come watch movies under the stars.
Located at 433 Newberry St SW, Aiken. The museum is housed in a 1931 Winter Colony cottage also known as “Banksia”. This is one of only two cottages open to the public and it’s free. You’ll be charmed by the beauty of a proper Aiken cottage which was considered to consist of at least 22 rooms. The Aiken County Historical Museum will fascinate visitors with Aiken’s past, present and future. With three floors of exhibits that are always changing, the living museum includes special exhibits of donated private items to further tell the shared history of Aiken County. If you are looking for somewhere undiscovered to learn about our area, come see the Aiken County Historical Museum.
Located in the historic Dibble Library, 224 Laurens St SW, Aiken. After seven decades, the Savannah River Site (SRS) remains one of the most influential entities in the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA) and is one of the CSRA’s largest employers. But did you know there is a free museum dedicated to informing the public about the history of SRS in downtown Aiken? Visitors can experience life at SRS and learn more about South Carolina’s role in winning the Cold War through stories and artifacts from SRS. Among the several informational exhibits, “6,000 Stories” details life before the plant in surrounding communities of Dunbarton, Ellenton and Meyer’s Mill, whose residents relocated to make way for the plant. Discover the impact this plant has had on our community from its mid-20th century origins through today.
Located inside Hopelands Gardens, 135 Dupree Pl, Aiken. Aiken is known throughout the world as an equestrian training center, producing National Champions. Forty Champion Thoroughbred horses have trained at the Aiken Training Track and are enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Some of these Champions include Demonstrative, 2014 Eclipse Award Champion Steeplechase Horse, Pleasant Colony, 1981 Eclipse Award Champion 3 Year Old Male, and Kelso, Horse of the Year for five consecutive years in the 1960’s. Visitors can view trophies, photographs and other memorabilia highlighting these outstanding horses for free. Whether the esteemed horses brought you here or not, visitors will celebrate the great tradition of racing and Aiken’s vital role in it once they explore this gem.
Located on Springs Ct, Blackville. Legends surround several of the attractions throughout the region. One of the most unique is that of the God’s Acre Healing Springs. This story dates back to the 1700’s when Native Americans brought wounded Revolutionary War soldiers here to drink. Many natives of the area still claim the waters are a cure-all. In 1944, the acre of land the springs are on was legally deeded to GOD by LP “Lute” Boylston. If you’ve never heard of this historical attraction, you will want to add drinking from these springs to your bucket list. Can this water really heal you? Try it and decide for yourself.
Located in front of the Barnwell County Courthouse, 141 Main St, Barnwell. The unique vertical sundial was given to the town in 1858 by Joseph D. Allen, who was the state Senator from Barnwell at the time. Legend has it that this is the only vertical sundial in the United States and though erected two years prior to standard time, it keeps within two minutes of that. A fun challenge for when you stop here is to try and tell the time using it. It is harder than you think, but will be an interesting break from a road trip through the region.
Located inside the USC Salkehatchie Library, 465 James Brandt Blvd, Allendale. If you are looking for a chance to relive history and learn something, don’t miss stopping by the “Searching for our Beginnings: Public Archaeology at the Topper Site”. The exhibit got this name because it’s about looking for evidence of the first human beings to live here, in what we now call South Carolina. This is the only permanent collection of Clovis and pre-Clovis artifacts from the Topper Site. Photographs from the private dig site, stone tools and the other artifacts are something to see just off the beaten path in Thoroughbred Country.
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