Text and photos by Anna Cook of Stuck on the Go.
While many people may not think of a rural area as a great solo travel destination, I tend to disagree. You find the kindest people in small towns and there’s always plenty to do when you know where to look.
Not to mention getting outside in nature is one of my personal favorite ways to enjoy a solo trip. The Old 96 District is not short on natural beauty and great trails.
If you’re considering a solo trip in the near future, then I highly recommend adding Greenwood and Abbeville to your list. I recently made a solo trip to the area so here’s a guide to what I did, where I ate, and two places that I stayed.
What To Do
There are tons of things to do across the Old 96 District but this guide focuses on Greenwood and Abbeville.
Shopping in Downtown Abbeville or Greenwood
If you love shopping in locally owned stores then you will love downtown Abbeville and Greenwood. There are tons of local options in both of these towns.
Abbeville has one of the cutest old town squares that I’ve ever seen. All the shops are in walking distance so you can park on the square and not worry about moving the car.
Jessica’s Closet is right on the square and full of bright, cute clothes for women. Divine Your Space is a home decor shop located just off the main square. They also host craft workshops and sell beer and wine.
Down the street from Divine Your Space, you’ll find Breezy Quarters where you can pick up handmade soap, lotion, and other skincare items and bath products.
Greenwood is a bit more spread out but still walkable. Fenway’s Farmacy is all about local products with handmade pottery and locally made food items.
McCaslan’s Bookstore is the perfect stop if you’re a book lover as they have a great selection from new releases to local authors and young adult books.
Sugar Boutique is a popular women’s clothing store and Main & Maxwell is the perfect place to pick up unique gifts or items for your own home.
Spend time just walking around either town and you’ll be surprised at what you find!
If you’re a history buff, then you will love this. From the outside, The Museum looks a bit small but there are three levels in the building and it is packed with exhibits.
They have a rotating exhibit at the entrance and while I was there it was about Lander University which is located in Greenwood. The main level has information on the history of the area plus a replica of what the main street may have looked like back in the day.
I thought the lower level was very interesting as it had exhibits on different industries in the area as well as a replica of what a kitchen in rural South Carolina would have looked like in the mid-1900s.
On the top level, there was an exhibit on the local hospital and then a story told with shadow drawings.
The Museum is a great way to learn about the local history of Greenwood and the surrounding area. They’ve made it pretty fun, especially with the interactive Main Street replica.
This is another great spot for history buffs, but it’s an incredibly inspirational site for anyone. Dr. Benjamin E. Mays was born to tenant farmers near Greenwood and grew up to be an inspirational figure in the Civil Rights Movement.
He had a very large influence on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while King was a student at Morehouse College where Mays was President.
Visit this Historical Site to learn more about Mays’ life, see the house where he grew up, and a one-room schoolhouse that was built in the same fashion that Mays’ childhood school would have been.
To see where he was born and then what he went on to achieve is truly impressive.
I carry around the Passport to Your National Parks book to get cancellation stamps at the National Park Sites so I was very excited when I realized I would get to check one off on this trip.
At the Ninety Six National Historic Site you’ll learn about two Revolutionary War battles that were fought here and the Star Fort that was used. At the Visitor Center they have a small museum with historic artifacts and a video they play upon request.
Make sure you have plenty of time to walk the paved 1-mile trail around the battlefield to learn more about what happened leading up to and during the battle. You’ll also pass an old, worn down road bed that was used back in the 18th-Century for transportation – I always think those are interesting.
Hike at the State Parks
Hiking solo is a great way to clear your mind and reconnect with yourself. There are five different state parks with trails in the Old 96 District and countless other hiking opportunities.
The two state parks I was able to visit were Lake Greenwood and Calhoun Falls State Park. At Calhoun Falls you can hike the Cedar Bluff Nature Trail that’s a 1.75-mile loop hike.
Lake Greenwood also has a nice trail that starts near Campground #1. Half the trail is in the woods and half is down along the shoreline so you get some great water views.
Where to Eat
These small towns pack some big flavor. Don’t miss these amazing places to eat!
This funky dining spot down a side street in Abbeville is an absolute treat. Known for Chef Erica’s twist on southern soul food, some of their most popular dishes are Gator & Grits and Soul Rolls.
Soul Rolls are collard greens and black eyed peas in an egg roll. I tried the Gator & Grits and the hype is well worth it. They also have a great selection of wine and beer plus a wonderful cocktail list.
Follow their Facebook page to keep up with events hosted here like live music and special dinners.
The Village Grill
If you’re celebrating a special occasion or just want to go out for a nice dinner then The Village Grill in Abbeville is the perfect place.
They had such a great selection that I had a very hard time choosing what to order. I went with the half-rack of ribs and they were some of the best I’ve ever eaten. Very tender and the sauce was perfect.
They’re known for their specials board that changes weekly and their desserts. The Cashew Butter Pie is their most famous. Reservations are appreciated here.
Don’t let the name fool you, they offer dine-in service as well and the food will blow you away. They offer a variety of cuisines like Asian stir fry, Greek pita wraps, fajita chicken salads, and then traditional American cuisine.
The Cheese Fingers are the biggest mozzarella sticks that you’ve ever seen and some of the best too. For my entrée, I got the Greek Chicken Folds and it didn’t disappoint either. I was way too full for dessert but those looked amazing too.
The Mill House
When you’re in the mood for wood fired pizza, huge calzones, or pasta then head to The Mill House for your fix. Its sister company, Good Times Brewing, is right next door and what’s better than pizza and beer?
They have traditional pizzas like a meat lovers or supreme but also fun combinations like Fungus Amungus which has cheese and all kinds of mushrooms on top. The Jack Sparrow is also unique with cheese, chicken, mango, and bacon.
Where to Stay
You’ll want to stay a few days to experience what the Old 96 District has to offer and these are the perfect places to rest your head!
This impressive bed & breakfast was once a schoolhouse which is hard to believe when you first see it. There is an enormous great room that used to be the school auditorium where you can now sit and enjoy reading a book from their library or your coffee in the mornings.
The rooms are beautifully designed with comfortable beds and special touches like little bags of the coffee that’s roasted in-house and small containers of lotion from Breezy Quarters.
Make sure you eat at least one breakfast here as it’s a three course meal that you won’t soon forget.
Inn on the Square
If you want to stay in downtown Greenwood, then Inn on the Square is the perfect place. It’s a boutique hotel with forty-eight unique rooms and a quaint lobby.
There is an in-house restaurant and bar, Fox & Hound Lounge, that serves dinner with specials on the weekends. Breakfast is cooked to order and complimentary at the Carriage House Restaurant.
The location is fantastic as it puts you in walking distance to everything downtown Greenwood has to offer.