By Lisa Sokolowski, founder/blogger, DrugstoreDivas.net
Winter means colder temperatures. Yes, the Old 96 District is in the south … but not south enough to avoid all the frigid temperatures that Old Man Winter brings.
And so, there’s a tendency to make like a bear and hibernate during the winter. Which would be a shame, if you did it, because you’d be missing out on so many fun ways to warm up in the region this winter.
Sometimes a night away is all you need in the winter.
If you’re looking for a boutique hotel for a night away or a staycation, the Inn On The Square is it. You can book a room in the main hotel, but if there’s availability at The Studios @ 118, the hotel’s studios, book it. They’re gorgeous, roomy, and give you a bunch of privacy.
There’s also the brand-new Cambridge Chophouse steakhouse on site, so you don’t even need to leave the hotel (and go out into the cold) for an incredible dinner.
The historic Belmont Inn was built in 1901 with help from a construction worker-turned-bellhop named Abraham, who, if you believe the stories, never left the hotel – and haunts it to this day. But, in a nice Casper the friendly ghost sort of way.
(Fun fact: My mom actually got haunted at the Belmont Inn).
If you stay at the hotel to escape the cold, you may never leave either. And you don’t have to. You can get breakfast on the second floor of the hotel, then enjoy the rest of your meals at the in-house restaurant JP’s Food & Spirits (which has alcohol, not ghosts, on the menu).
If you’re looking for somewhere different to stay, check out Hickory Knob State Resort Park Lodge. No, no. I’m not recommending you go tent camping in the winter. I mean, you could, but you’re better off booking the Historic French Huguenot Guillebeau House: a two-bedroom cabin/villa at the park. It comes with bed linens, a coffee maker, and (most importantly for the winter) heat.
The park also has 70 lodge/motel rooms, which are a great alternative if the villa is booked.
Soup is a great way to warm up in the winter, and the Old 96 District area has it’s fair share of great places to dine.
You probably don’t want to be out swimming or boating on Lake Greenwood during the winter, but you can still enjoy the lake at Break On The Lake, a restaurant that sits right on the water. If you sit in the sunroom dining area, you get a beautiful view – plus heat.
Po’Boys, salads, and burgers are on the menu. Soup du jour is as well.
Christine’s Farm To Fork takes the concept of farm-to-table to a whole new level because the food comes from the Smith’s family farm in Johnson to the forks in their restaurant in Edgefield.
The menu has seasonality in mind, which means that the menu changes often. So if you haven’t been there yet this winter, definitely take a trip over.
Erica McCier, also known as Chef Trudy, is not only the brains behind Indigenous Underground, she was also recently chosen as one of three 2023 South Carolina Chef Ambassadors.
So many of the restaurant’s ingredients are locally sourced with a farm-to-table experience in mind. It’s a great spot that you wouldn’t expect to find in a small town.
The shrimp and grits is sure to warm you up on a cold day. And, if you’re lucky, you might be enjoying your meal with some live music inside the restaurant, too.
Shopping is a fun way to stay indoors while supporting the local community. And hey, if it gets cold, maybe you’ll find a knit hat to buy.
August + House is one of the nicest, calmest stores you’ll step into. It’s filled with really muted colors, which is a nice experience in itself.
There are a bunch of South Carolina-centric items for sale, like mugs and hats.
But wait, there’s more. August + House also hosts workshops. In January 2024, there was a pinch soup mug and saucer class, which sounds so fun.
Winter is a good time to catch up on all that self-care that you put off during the rest of the busy year. If you need some self-care items, like body scrubs and bath bombs, get yourself to Breezy Quarters.
The family-owned shop has been a staple in Abbeville for over a decade selling products for you and your furry friend (yes, the shop has a soap designed specifically for dogs!).
There’s something for everyone at Uptown Shoppers Market. The 12,000 square foot mall has over 20 independent vendors inside, which means there are so many unique items to find.
You’ll spend quite a bit of time there (which is a nice way to get out of the cold for a while). The vendors and wares change often, so definitely put it on your list.
From plays to firepits, you can find a lot of fun indoor experiences in the region.
Theater is such an amazing experience (and also winter-friendly because it happens indoors). If you’re looking for a play to see or a concert to groove to, check out the events calendar for the Abbeville Opera House.
The Abbeville Opera House (which, fun fact: is haunted) always has a full and diverse line up, bringing really great shows to your backyard.
Is there anything better than a warm firepit on a cold night? Not really. Unless you add a glass of wine in your hand. You can do just that at Greenwood’s only winery, South Bend Winery.
Come for the wine (there’s an opportunity to do a tasting of 10 wines). Stay for some food (there’s a kitchen menu, so you can grab a bite to eat). Stay even later to enjoy one of the events at the winery: live music or weekly trivia. And of course, enjoy the string lights and fire pits outside.
How much do you actually know about the history of any of the towns in the Old 96 District? The winter is a great time to do some learning.
Sure, you can Google some facts from home, but, while you’re looking for indoor activities anyway, check out local museums like the Discovery Center in Edgefield.
You can learn about the town, which was home to 10 South Carolina governors, see some of Strom Thurmond’s personal items, and more.