Long before the advent of air conditioning, prosperous folks along the Atlantic Seaboard and from the Northern industrial belts sought a more temperate refuge from summer's oppressive humidity and winter's icy winds. They found their way to western South Carolina's thoroughbred country, where they challenged one another on the polo fields and the oval tracks.
Today, our communities are still friendly, welcoming places, and equestrian aficionados will still find beautiful horse farms and fields where some of the nation's best polo players compete, along with beautifully designed golf courses. Local schools have a well-earned reputation for excellence, and families have all the resources they need close to home.
Buying a home in Aiken County is more affordable than the Augusta area. For example, if you buy a $175,000 home in Aiken County, your yearly property taxes will be about $1,000. That same home would cost you about $1,900 per year for property taxes in Columbia County (Augusta). (These figures calculated using formulas available on Aiken County Government and Columbia County Government websites and do not include city taxes.)
Aiken County offers many types of homes. You can find high end low maintenance townhouses, budget friendly single family homes and neighborhoods that feature homes on 1+acre sites with amenities such as playgrounds, tennis courts and private lake access. Our premier gated community features over 3,200 homes, two country clubs and golf courses. We are a destination for equestrian events and have plenty of properties available to house you and your horses!
Aiken offers historic and art centers and a beautiful downtown area. When many downtowns in America today are in a downward decline, Aiken's downtown remains alive with successful specialty shops, restaurants, banks, offices, museums, a radio station, hotels, entertainment venues and residences. The vibrant Aiken Downtown includes an arts-based Ally neighborhood along with several boulevards lined with dogwoods and magnolia trees. Annual downtown events include a Beach Blast summer weekend; Aiken's Makin' arts and crafts festival; Christmas in July; and A Holly Day in December.
A moderate, four-season climate invites people outdoors. The area offers over a dozen golf courses, including the Palmetto Golf Club, established in 1892 and ranked among the top then oldest golf courses in America. Hitchcock Woods in Aiken, South Carolina, is among the largest urban forests in the nation, with about 2,100 acres of forestland resources. Once owned and enjoyed by Louise and Thomas Hitchcock, this longleaf pine forest has retained its natural character and cultural heritage. Today, equestrians, hikers, dog walkers, and joggers enjoy the 70 miles of sandy trails that provide access to the stunning variety of ecosystems in the Hitchcock Woods.
The Silver Bluff Audubon Center & Sanctuary, a 3,154-acre wildlife sanctuary owned by the National Audubon Society, showcases a varied habitat of forests, fields, lakes, ponds and streams along more than two miles of the Savannah River. The Aiken County Historical Museum is housed in a 1930's Winter Colony mansion named "Banksia." Also on its 3.5-acre grounds are a one-roomed schoolhouse, circa 1890, and a log cabin built in 1808.
Visual and performing arts thrive here, too. The Aiken Center for the Arts offers year-round activities at no or low cost through its five exhibition galleries, art classes and workshops for all ages. The Aiken Community Playhouse was founded in 1952. Performances are held in the URS Center for the Performing Arts.
Healthcare in Aiken County includes a wide range of specialty care as well as routine and emergency health care. Physicians attracted from around the world bring diverse professional backgrounds and specialties from neurosurgery and nuclear medicine to open heart surgery and many more. The campus of Aiken Regional Medical Centers provides word class treatment in 40 specialties such as cancer, cardiology, diabetes, pediatrics, stroke, women's services and wound healing. The Cardiovascular Institution of Carolina takes a team approach for a high level of individualized care. Aiken Regional Medical Center's expert brain attack teams are specially trained to treat urgent stroke symptoms 24-hours a day and offer advanced interventional treatment and diagnostic capabilities. Other centers include Palmetto Pediatric Center, Cancer Care Institute, Women's Life Center, The Wound Care Center and Aurora Pavilion Behavioral Health Center.
Aiken County offers opportunities for higher education. University of South Carolina Aiken was named the top baccalaureate college in the south for 2013 by U.S. News & World Report. USC Aiken provides a four-year curriculum to its 3,200 students, of which about 500 graduate each year. Students have access to the programs of a large university on a small, friendly campus with intimate class sizes.iken Technical College trains students for rewarding careers that will remain in demand for years to come.