A true breeding ground for championship – pedigree horses, Aiken mixes southern charm with an established equestrian legacy
Though there are many larger cities in South Carolina and the surrounding region, Aiken is an immensely popular destination for horseracing trainers, breeders, owners and fans. Aiken’s obsession with equestrian culture goes as far as to include a stoplight for horse riders to use in order to safely cross one of its busiest streets. The historic Aiken Training Track has trained a number of Kentucky Derby winners, including the legendary Lucky Debonair, Cannonade and Sea Hero.
Founded in 1835 after railroad magnate William Aiken when he built a new line to connect coastal Charleston to the Georgia border and the Savannah River, Aiken today is a thriving, beautiful city filled with meandering, quaint downtown streets, iconic oak trees and a strong passion for athletics, regardless of if the sporting participants have two legs or four. If you’re in town for a tournament or an event, consider a stay at any of Aiken’s fine lodging accommodations, including the Hilton Garden Inn Aiken, the Hampton Inn Aiken or The Inn at Houndslake.
Notable Recent/Upcoming Events
- Dixie Boys and Junior Boys World Series at Citizens Park August 3rd-7th, 2019
- USTA Adult League State Championship 18 and Older at Weeks Tennis Center May 17th-20th 2019
- NPC BORDER KLASH and IFBB PRO LEAGUE WORLD KLASH at the USC Aiken Convocation Center on MARCH 23, 2019 (annual)
- Palmetto Indoor Pickleball Invitational at the Weeks Center September 6th-8th (annual)
CVB/Sports Commissions Services Offered
- Event Planning Assistance
- Welcome Bags/Gifts
Click on tab to see more information about a specific facility
- Citizens Park
- H.O. Weeks Center
- Weeks Tennis Center
- Aiken Horse Park
- USC Aiken Convocation Center
- Hitchcock Woods
Aiken’s premier athletic facility features 15 lighted softball fields and eight AstroTurf batting cages, which are able to host a wide variety of leagues and tournaments throughout the year. The park is a familiar host for USSSA baseball and softball tournaments and also housed the Dixie Boys and Junior Boys World Series in August 2019. A championship soccer field, Banks Mill soccer field, 14 score towers, concession stands, a playground for kids aged 2-12, covered eating areas and more round out this spectacular 123.3-acre complex.
Sports: Softball, soccer, multipurpose outdoor
H.O. Weeks Center
Located at Virginia Acres Park, the H.O. Weeks Activities Center (HOW) is a versatile, multifaceted indoor facility with two gyms available for rental, including one with a stage. The center additionally features four meeting rooms and a multipurpose aerobics room, as well as a fitness room, indoor racquetball court, kitchen, restrooms, locker rooms and a canteen. The venue is the annual home of the Palmetto Indoor Pickleball Invitational in September.
Sports: Multipurpose indoor, racquetball, basketball, pickleball
Weeks Tennis Center
This state-of-the-art tennis center features six hard courts and 10 clay courts, as well as a gorgeous clubhouse complete with a wrap-around porch with Adirondack chairs, dining tables and ceiling fans. Located at Virginia Acres Park, the center also features a tennis pro shop with racket stringing available, and is the home to many USTA tournaments throughout the year.
Aiken Horse Park
Located in the heart of Aiken’s historic district, Bruce’s Field at the Aiken Horse Park provides premier facilities and a rich heritage for both horses and riders. The park has 224 permanent stalls, space for additional temporary stabling, five all-weather rings and two schooling areas, all featuring GGT footing. This gorgeous venue brings the iconic southern charm with easy access to Aiken’s downtown shopping, dining and nightlife attractions.
USC Aiken Convocation Center
Home to the University of South Carolina Aiken Pacers volleyball and basketball teams, this multipurpose indoor arena can seat between 3,500 to 4,100 spectators. The arena features a first-class VIP room with a capacity for 200 patrons and also features multiple electronic scoreboards with backlighting advertisement opportunities, rentable meeting space for any function and two additional practice courts. The center annually hosts the NPC Border Klash and IFBB Pro League World Klash in March.
Sports: Basketball, volleyball, multipurpose indoor
Among the largest urban forests in the country, Hitchcock Woods has nearly 2,100 acres of forest habitat available for your outdoor purposes, making it the perfect place for a run. The woods are also the home site for the rustic Aiken Horse Show in the spring.
Sports: Running, equestrian
What is There to Do in Aiken?
Discover the secrets of the first designed steam-powered commercial railroad in the United States when you explore the Aiken Visitors Center and Train Museum. The Train Museum features nine dioramas that depict the towns along the original South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company, including Aiken’s freight station and passenger depot as they were in 1916.
You’ll find an incredibly diverse collection of trees along the Aiken Arboretum Trail, which is located along Colleton Avenue. Oaks from around the world as well as rare tree species fill the parkways surrounding Aiken’s downtown, while curious visitors can dial a number on their mobile devices to label and identify each tree they’re viewing.
Celebrate the history of some of the world’s best racehorses with a trip to the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum. Guests will find a diverse collection of art, artifacts and memorabilia that document the important legacy of Thoroughbred racing in the United States since the 18th century, including the 1938 Agua Caliente Handicap trophy won by famed racehorse Seabiscuit.
The possibilities are endless when you explore the shopping and dining options in downtown Aiken, home to an eclectic mix shops like women’s clothier Fox and Lady, jewelry store Beyond Bijoux, equestrian wear at Equine Divine and plenty of fine dining options.
Walk and reflect in the tranquility offered by shaded paths under old oak trees at the Hopelands Gardens, a 14-acre estate open as a public garden. Try not to get lost while exploring the labyrinth, find three decorated “horseplay” statues or take a ride on the swing set in this peaceful place.
We love coming to Aiken, and the reason we do is they are always so on top of everything-they anticipate our needs. Aiken is a nice, quaint town that people love going to and experiencing. At a tournament a couple years back it rained the final day, but that didn’t stop the City of Aiken staff from helping out. They actually came out and dried the courts for us and we were back playing within 30 minutes!
-Mary Goins, USTA Director of Leagues
How to Get to Aiken?
Located just northeast of Augusta, Georgia, Aiken is accessible via U.S. Route 78, which runs directly through town, and has access to Interstate 20 to the north via U.S. Route 1. Augusta Regional Airport is around 24 miles to the west and offers daily flights through Delta, while Columbia Regional Airport is 50 miles east and offers nonstop flights to nine major U.S. cities, including Chicago, Houston and Washington.
Company Name: City of Aiken Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department
Sports Sales Manager: Pam Royal
Title: Athletics and Tourism Manager