Staying Active in Aiken
If you live in Aiken, SC, there is no shortage of ways to participate in sports – or sit back and spectate. Aiken is uniquely associated with equestrian sports. Drawing on its equine history dating back to the 19th century, Aiken offers a variety of accessible activities for horse lovers. There are approximately 40 polo fields located in the Aiken area, and a large number of recognized polo players call Aiken home. Though the sport is played in some capacity year around, major tournaments are typically held in the spring or summer. Aiken is home to two major horse racing events – Imperial Cup in March and the Holiday Cup in October. Both of these events are hosted by the Aiken Steeplechase Association. There are also dressage events hosted in the Aiken area. If you’re interested in riding less competitively, consider visiting Hitchcock Woods. Located in Aiken, Hitchcock Woods is one of the largest urban forests in the nation, with more than 2000 acres and more than 70 miles of trails. In addition to pedestrian/hiking use, horses and their riders are welcome in the woods. (Horses uniquely have the right of way on downtown Aiken streets.)
Aiken is also closely associated with golfing. If you are looking for an opportunity to dust off your clubs, there are a number of public and private golf courses in the Aiken area. Area golf clubs – or clubs offering golf courses – include The Reserve Club, Woodside Plantation, Aiken Golf Club, Cedar Creek Golf Club, Houndslake Country Club and Palmetto Golf Club. Palmetto Golf Club, established in 1892, is considered to be the oldest continually operated golf course in the Southeast and suggested by some to be the second oldest in the United States. Aiken residents are also within quick driving distance of the Masters Golf Tournament, a prestigious golf event hosted each April at Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, GA. Augusta is approximately 20 miles from Aiken and a short 30-minute drive. Though it can be challenging to secure tickets to the tournament, many residents of Aiken and Augusta (and neighboring areas) work in a variety of temporary positions, allowing them on the course during the exciting week of activities.
Citizens Park, located in Aiken, includes 14 multi-purpose athletic fields, used for a number of recreational leagues as well as tournaments throughout the year. If you have a child interested in playing a sport, the city of Aiken offers leagues for basketball, baseball, softball, flag football, soccer, cheerleading, volleyball, and buddy sports. Aiken also offers several league programs for adults: softball, flag football, and basketball.
If team sports aren’t your first choice, workout enthusiasts will find a number of gyms available for use – including the Aiken YMCA, as well as a number of walking/running tracks and trails throughout the area.
For kayaking, canoeing and other water sports, Aiken is within easy driving distance of the Savannah River, as well as Clarks Hill Lake (Lake Thurmond) and Lake Murray. Get your kayak, canoe or boat in the water, and enjoy a day on the water, without spending a lot of your time in the car to get there.