Making plans and goals for the new year? South Carolina’s Old 96 District has so many unexpected wonders awaiting you! Featuring the counties of Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, and McCormick, this region is largely known for its small-town charm and outdoor adventures. Here are 23 things we are excited about in 2023—and we think you should try, too!
1. Attend a Local Festival
Road tripping through the Old 96 District? Thinking of a weekend getaway? Plan your 2023 travel around an Old 96 District festival and you will not be disappointed. Grab a plate of the best BBQ you’ve ever tasted, shop from local vendors, enjoy special attractions and music, take in the sights and smells like you just stepped into a small-town movie. Click here for a calendar of events including the many great local festivals we can’t wait to attend in 2023!
2. Visit a Revolutionary War Battlefield
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” There is so much historical value in the Old 96 District to explore and learn from! You’ll definitely want to visit our two Revolutionary War battlegrounds. Scenic, beginner-friendly trails run through each, winding their way across battlefields and historic markers. We’re especially excited about trying a candlelight tour at Ninety Six Historic Site, the location of the first southern land battle of the Revolutionary War.
3. See a Show at the Abbeville Opera House
The historic opera house in Abbeville, SC has been in operation for over 115 years! From stage productions to touring bands and comedians, variety shows and solo musicians, there’s something on the entertainment schedule for everyone. It’s even nestled in the heart of Abbeville, with plenty of local shops to explore and a historic inn next door to cozy up in when the evening is finished. (You can even save on food, lodging, shopping and tickets with the Abbeville #JustRight Travel Package.)
4. Camp Lakeside at Calhoun Falls State Park
Camping is fun but camping with a view is even MORE fun! This year, we’re excited to wake up and watch the sun rise over Lake Russell to a hot breakfast over a campfire, stay up late telling ghost stories and singing folk songs to an acoustic guitar, and take a break from the hustle and bustle of life for a few nights. We’d love to see you there! (Camping sites at Calhoun Falls State Park fill up quickly, so get your reservations in soon!)
5. Shoot Skeet at the Palmetto Shooting Complex
If you’ve never tried skeet shooting before, successfully hitting sporting clays as they whiz through the air is as exhilarating as it is satisfying! The Palmetto Shooting Complex is considered one of the premier shooting facilities in the Southeast, and instructors are there to show newcomers the ropes. Even if you’re a seasoned pro, the course and its targets are all adjusted regularly, so you won’t shoot the same course twice! All the gear you need is available to rent at the facility, so it’s the perfect stop on your next road trip.
6. Visit a Farm
Who doesn’t love breathing in the fresh air, picking your own blueberries and pumpkins, petting the goats and cows? In the Old 96 District, you can do just that. Get back to nature and enjoy the freshest produce available anywhere. There are plenty of local farms to explore—we can’t wait for blueberries to be in season to pick-our-own at Mixon Farm again, and we’re especially excited to go on a famous dairy farm tour at Hickory Hill Milk this year!
7. Practice Your Swing
While golf has always been a top attraction in the Old 96 District, one of the newest local additions to the sport is The Range at Cold Springs, where you can work on improving your game in a family-friendly environment with both Toptracer Bays and Grass Tees available.
8. Try the Gator and Grits
The Gator and Grits at Indigenous Underground in Abbeville, SC has become famous across the entire Southeast—and we’re going back for another helping in 2023! But even if you aren’t brave enough for the gator, the shrimp and grits is also the best we’ve tasted this side of the Mississippi.
9. Go Antiquing
There are several great antiquing spots in the Old 96 District, so the keen eye is sure to find a hidden gem. Half the fun of antiquing is the exploration, but we’ve also seen finds like vintage instruments, paintings, authentic Edgefield pottery, figurines, and more.
10. Visit the Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Historic Preservation Site
If you’ve never been to this landmark in Greenwood, SC, it’s an absolute must. Dr. Benjamin E. Mays was an intellectual leader of the American Civil Rights Movement and a mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The child of former slaves and the youngest of eight, his original childhood home still stands as a monument and museum to his life and legacy. The site also contains an old schoolhouse just like the one he would have gone to and a mini-museum filled with scholarly robes, photos, news articles, and books.
11. Stock Up for an At-Home Spa Day with Breezy Quarters
Specializing in scents, Breezy Quarters in Abbeville, SC handmakes all of their soaps, bath bombs, sugar scrubs, lotions, candles, and lip balms in-house. Their scents are all vibrant and unique, ranging from “Grandpa’s Pipe & Honey” to “Handpicked Wildflowers” and “Front Porch Sippin’.” Take time for some luxurious self-care and load up for an at-home spa day, picking a signature scent or mixing it up as you please!
12. Eat REAL South Carolina Bar-B-Que
Every good Southerner knows that not just any Bar-B-Que will do! Now travelers can eat their way through the Old 96 District on our BBQ Trail. Connoisseurs can also visit Greenwood, SC in July for the SC Festival of Discovery, a KCBS-sanctioned BBQ Competition where phenomenal cook teams descend on Uptown Greenwood to compete for the crown. There’s also live blues music and plenty of other treats to enjoy.
13. Find Crystals at Diamond Hill Mine
Diamond Hill Mine outside of Due West, SC is a real, unsalted gem mine (meaning everything you find actually comes from this mine.) Their large equipment often lets specimens slip through the cracks, so aspiring excavators can bring their own equipment and dig for as long as they like. Some of the best Amethyst, Smoky, Angle Plated, Aura, and other crystals are found here. Garnet and Epidote have also been recovered.
14. See the Topiaries
The South Carolina Festival of Flowers is one of the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Events for the month of June, over 10 years running now. It is one of the oldest festivals in South Carolina, having run for over 50 years! Watch Greenwood, SC bloom with topiaries, flower gardens, live music, local vendors, and more. The topiaries are especially famous, drawing people from all over the country! We can’t wait to see the designs they bring this year.
15. Visit the Trinity Episcopal Church
This pre-Civil war church is best known for its windows by William Gibson, the “father of stained glass painting in America.” This is a beautiful church both inside and outside—truly a piece of the old world right here in Abbeville, SC.
16. Cozy up at a Bed & Breakfast or Historic Inn
The Old 96 District has several historic inns and Bed & Breakfasts, each one with its unique brand of charm. Sharon Manor in Abbeville, SC has been described as a getaway to remember, and the Belmont Inn sits right next door to the Abbeville Opera House. Inn on the Square in Greenwood, SC is a full-service boutique hotel in the heart of Uptown Greenwood, walking distance from all the restaurants and shops. For a more unique stay, Veranda on Main is a beautiful bed and breakfast renovated to the exact specs of the original mid-1800s property and Azalea Inn is a quiet inn where visitors have the chance to relax in a 137 year old farmhouse. There are even travel deals and packages to cash in on to save money on lodging and local shops/restaurants/attractions!
17. Get a Massage & Facial at the Vault in Laurens
Can you tell we want to relax more in 2023? The Vault on Main Street Laurens, SC is a salon and spa offering facials, massages, mani-pedis, and even hairstyling! It’s a luxurious and affordable way to treat yourself while enjoying everything else Laurens has to offer! While downtown, check out everything else there is to do on Main Street Laurens!
18. Experience Live Music on the Patio at Christine’s Farm to Fork
Christine’s Farm to Fork in Edgefield, SC serves up a seasonal menu of gourmet delicacies with locally sourced ingredients, and we just can’t get enough. They also have a live music schedule for weekend nights throughout the year with a special “patio menu” that we think is a must-try in 2023.
19. Try a Seasonal Specialty Drink at Aromas Uptown Greenwood
While everything we’ve tried at Aromas Uptown in Greenwood, SC has always been delicious, there’s just something special about their seasonal specials. Last year we were a little obsessed with the Orange Nutella Iced Latte, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with for their menu this year! If you’re a coffee enthusiast, you’ll love the locally roasted coffee and selection of homemade syrups here.
20. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at a Local Bakery
We all deserve to indulge. The Old 96 District boasts a number of family-owned bakeries, specializing in everything from donuts to pound cakes, scones, and more. We’ve even laid out a sweets trail to help travelers try each delight efficiently! Which will be your favorite, the Maple Bacon Donut at Mama’s Sweet Shoppe in Due West, SC, or the Reese’s Cup Cake from Gather Bakery in Greenwood, SC?
21. Rent a Kayak
The winter temps have us longing for the warm summer days on the water, so renting a kayak is definitely making the list for must-dos in 2023. There are many types of boat rentals available in the Old 96 District, but we’re planning to kick things off with a guided kayak tour with Asbury Adventures.
22. Go Horseback Riding
We had a blast going horseback riding at J&A Riding Stables in 2022, and we’re excited to go back with friends in 2023! Just another great way to explore and enjoy the great outdoors in the Old 96 District.
23. Hike a New Trail
Last but certainly not least, there is an endless network of great trails in the Old 96 District that we’re looking forward to exploring more in 2023! So many great views and fresh air—we can’t stay away. Click here for a list of our Top 10 Favorite Hikes in the Old 96 District.