Are you thinking of exploring the Old 96 District in South Carolina? I’m here to show you what a good time you can have enjoying their beautiful outdoor spaces, learning at important historical sites, and eating delicious food.
When my mom told me just her and I were going on a three-day road trip to South Carolina from Raleigh I was excited. Our family travels together a lot, but I love it when I get to go on a trip just with my mom.
I knew we’d have a great time because Mom always tells me, “It’s up to us to go find the story and create a fun time.”
On our last day, I turned to my mom as we were walking through the beautiful trail at the Ninety-Six Historic District and said, “Well Mom, I think we found our story.”
Here it is for you.
Stop 1: Edgefield
We arrived in Edgefield for lunch and started by looking around this small town centered on a small square. The locals were very friendly and had some great suggestions.
We ate lunch at the Old Edgefield Grill, which is inside a historic house. I had a tasty fried chicken sandwich and mom had shrimp and grits – one of the best she’s ever had. The owner, Stan, told us that each dining room in the house has a different theme, like the Turkey room, which I thought was cool.
Mom made a quick stop at the Carolina Moon Distillery for a small tasting of their moonshine. I enjoyed listening to Martha’s stories about the different characters in Edgefield who some of the liquors are named after. Like Betty Cotton who liked to kill her husbands. I asked my mom the obvious question, “Why did the men in the town keep marrying her?”
The next treat was for me: the TLC Bakery Confections where I ate a delicious banana fosters cake and mum had her favorite coffee, a flat white (it’s what they drink in Australia)!
Stop 2: Hickory Knob State Resort Park
Next it was time for us to head on out to the place we would be spending our first night, Hickory Knob State Resort Park, located on the beautiful Lake Thurmond. It’s also near the Savannah River, which I was excited about as my name is Savannah!
We met with Ranger Griffin who led us through archery, skeet shooting and axe throwing.
Make sure you wear closed-in toes, as Mum didn’t have them and so couldn’t do the axe throwing. I was able to and even hit a bullseye!
Mom then stepped up to do the skeet shooting. Neither of us had done this before, but I was a little scared of the kickback from the gun, so I decided to sit out and watch mom hit a few of the clay pigeons flying out of a machine.
Lastly, we did archery, which was our favorite. It took a little bit for me to get the hang of it, but after a while we were both hitting the targets, including some bullseyes.
Overall, those activities were very good and the ranger there was super nice.
We had free time in the afternoon, so after checking into our spacious lodge room we decided to go paddleboarding on the lake. It was a very relaxing way to spend time together and enjoy the lake.
Our lodge room had a balcony with views of the lake, so we enjoyed that for a little bit before we went to dinner at the nearby River Grille.
This was one of my favorite dinners on our road trip.
I was happy that our first course was pork belly. I’ve been wanting to try it after seeing it on all the cooking shows mom and I like to watch together. Now I get why they rave about it. What made it more special was the peach sauce on top because, as we learned on this trip, South Carolina is the 2nd largest producer of peaches in the USA.
I think my favorite judges would say the pork belly dish was “cooked to perfection.”
We shared our mains: bourbon-glazed salmon and chicken under a brick, which I really enjoyed. It was the first time I’ve enjoyed having a sauce on my food!
It was a great first day in the Old 96 District and I had a very good night’s sleep.
In the morning, we went for a short hike in the state park, and we saw lots of wildlife including a family of deer who followed us through the forest! Could you start the day in a better way?
We enjoyed the state park, but we had more stories to uncover, so we packed up the car and drove to our next destination.
Stop 3: Abbeville
Abbeville was a lovely town to stop at for lunch and a little bit of shopping. I convinced mom to buy these cute stuffed Mr. and Mrs. Claus for Christmas decorations from the Divine Your Space store. I loved so many of the items here and many were made by local artists.
The thing I remember most about Abbeville was our tour of the Abbeville Opera House, where shows, plays and concerts are put on almost weekly for the community. The old, renovated theater is beautiful, and my mom said that it reminded her of the Ford Theater in Washington DC.
They were setting up a play on our visit and we met the director backstage. He told us a lot about life in the theater, how much fun they all had, and stories about the resident ghosts!
One night during rehearsal they heard cheering from the crowd, but there was nobody in the crowd. Apparently, they leave a chair on the third-floor balcony for a little girl ghost.
Stop 4: Uptown Greenwood
Next, we headed to Greenwood where we would spend our last two nights. It was bigger than the other places in Old 96 District and had a cute uptown, which we explored after we arrived.
If you’re a fan of art, you won’t want to miss the Arts Center of Greenwood. I really liked the paintings and sculptures they had inside, and it was a beautiful building with lots of light. We learned a little about the history of Greenwood at the free Greenwood Museum, and we bought some handmade soap at Main on Maxwell, which sells work from over 60 local artisans.
It’s nice to have time for a break when you’re exploring so we stopped at the family-friendly Good Times Brewery. My mom said, “breweries always tell a good story to our readers.”
We had a fun game of foosball together and she just beat me. I thought that was a fun part of our road trip story.
If you like coffee or hot chocolate, you won’t want to miss Aromas Uptown Coffee. Of course, all kids will want to stop at A Sweet Indulgence for a red velvet cupcake!
I was excited about our stay at the boutique Inn on the Square, mostly because we were eating at its newly opened fancy steakhouse, the Cambridge Chophouse.
My flat iron steak was delicious, and I even loved the madeira demi-glaze over it. Mum said her rib eye steak was perfectly cooked.
Since we were on a special road trip, I was allowed to have dessert treats. And how can you say no to fancy desserts?
Mine was a yummy ice cream sandwich that had churros flavors. Mom was so happy she had a flourless chocolate cake. We liked them both so much, we ordered them again the following night as we sat in the hotel’s Fox and Lounge listening to live music from local artist Ben Bagwell.
We met so many friendly people in the Old 96 District and Ben was one of them. He came up to us after the show to chat and thanked us for watching. He studies music at the local Lander University and plays gigs all around town.
Stop 5: South Carolina Festival of Flowers
If you want a great place to eat breakfast while at Greenwood, Eggs Up Grill is the place. I had apple waffles topped with cream and mom had an omelet with mushroom one morning and a Southwestern bowl the next. She was very happy with both.
One of my favorite things in Greenwood was learning about the South Carolina Festival of Flowers.
Every summer, the city decorates the streets with topiaries, which are animals and life-size objects made from flowers. As the festival was over, we toured the greenhouse where the topiaries are made every year – they even grow many of the plants they use.
The topiaries are insanely beautiful, and my favorite was the jeep, but they have gorillas and peacocks and even the Clemson tiger. It’s the only place in the country that has a festival like this.
You can reach out to the City of Greenwood’s Public Works Department and Horticulture Department to see if they are available for you to visit the greenhouse!
Stop 6: Ninety-Six Historic District
I’m not usually a fan of historic sites. (Well, I can be, but we’ve just done so many of them in our years of travel). But I really enjoyed walking around the Ninety-Six National Historic Site, which is when I told my mom, we had found our story!
What made it extra enjoyable was we did the Junior Ranger program. This is something we did at all the national and state parks we visited on our 11-month USA RV trip.
You get a booklet from the visitor’s center and inside are lots of activities. If you complete the required amount for your age level, you will get a Junior Ranger badge. The one here was cool as it was shaped like a star fort.
That’s because the Star Fort in the Ninety-Six National Historic Site is where the first Southern Battle of the Revolutionary War occurred.
We walked along a looped trail through a pretty forest to see the fort. It’s just a grassy field now with mounds in the shape of a star. There are also remains of the original Ninety-Six Village, and educational exhibits in the museum. I learned a lot here thanks to the Junior Ranger program.
Stop 7: Dr Benjamin E. Mays Museum
Another place I recommend you visit in Greenwood is the Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Museum, which I really loved. On the site is the home of his birth you can walk through to see how his family lived and a museum which tells you about his life.
The director, Reverend Chris Thomas, was nice and told us so much about the life of Dr. Benjamin E. Mays and how he was one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Museum. He was an advisor to several Presidents and a spiritual mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King who I do know a lot about as we’ve visited many of his historical sites in the South.
The Old 96 District in South Carolina is more than just a destination; it’s a treasure trove of memories waiting to be uncovered.
This special road trip with just my mom was a story of discovery, connection, and the joy of exploration. Mr. and Mrs. Claus will remind me of it every Christmas!
So, if you’re ever thinking about your next adventure, consider South Carolina’s Old 96 District—a place where the past meets the present, and the possibilities are as endless as the open road.
BIO: Savannah Makepeace is a 12-year-old global traveler and adventure seeker. She’s an avid country counter and has visited 17 countries (including her home country of Australia) and 30 states in the USA. She now lives in Raleigh and goes on trips in between school terms. She really misses the freedom she had traveling full time for seven years though! She’s also a content creator for her family’s travel blog and local site in Raleigh! When she’s not traveling, she’s playing soccer or spending time with friends.