For the past four years, I have had the privilege of traveling to Aiken in the early spring to escape the cold and snow of central Pennsylvania and to get in some excellent training rides and early competitions.
I am back home now catching up on all of the school work I missed and dreaming of Aiken’s sun, warmth and FOOD! Maybe it’s all the fresh air and exercise, but everything seems to taste better in Aiken. In addition, there really is something to that southern hospitality! Here are some of my favorite places to go eat:
Betsy’s On the Corner
Right in downtown Aiken, Betsy’s is a great place to go for soups, salads, burgers, grilled cheeses, ice cream, milkshakes and so much more! The workers are friendly and the food is good. Their spinach salad is a delicious and healthy option for lunch!
Dave’s Grill and Grocery
On Wagener Road, Dave’s is both a grill, gas station and small grocery store (hence the name). You can either pick up something you need for later or get fast, delicious food. There are many options: burgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs and AMAZING fries. Dave’s is a perfect place to pick up lunch between rides.
The New Moon Cafe
In downtown Aiken, The New Moon Cafe is an adorable little coffee shop with pastries, soups, sandwiches and shakes. A delicious and healthy option, the food is also fresh. The Green Monster shake (pictured above) is one of my favorite healthy options, made from kale and other nutritious ingredients.
Aiken Brewery is also located in downtown Aiken. The Aiken Brewery has a lot of tasty options; some of my favorites include the Brew Burger and the Chicken Sandwich. They also have yummy fries! Also, according to my parents and friends that are over 21, the beer is also good. I unfortunately did not get a picture of the food; we couldn’t wait to eat!
Takosushi is another restaurant located downtown. This unique restaurant offers an interesting mix of Asian and Mexican food. So, if you’re craving sushi, enchiladas or both, Takosushi is the place to go! Takosushi does get busy on weekends, so make a reservation if you want to decrease wait time!
Maria’s is also another fun Mexican restaurant! They offer many different options including quesadillas, enchiladas, salads and fajitas, all of which are very good and are presented in a creative way (the beautiful toppings can be seen in the picture).
The Willcox is a beautiful and historic hotel with very good food. If you’re looking for more of a fancy evening, definitely go here. The servers were friendly, and I went home very full and very happy!
Pizza around a bonfire with friends
One of my favorite nights in Aiken was spent at the barn, around a fire, eating food and talking to friends. The pizza was from Mellow Mushroom (a restaurant located downtown with very good pizza!) and everything else was homemade. Gather your friends together for a memorable night!
After you’re done eating … don’t forget to shop!
Downtown Aiken also has a lot of good stores … perfect for shopping on a rainy day or if you have some extra time. Whether you want to browse for riding clothes at Equine Divine or if you want “normal” people (non-horsey) clothes from a place like Threads, Aiken has it! Aiken also has some great tack stores out of town like Oak Manor and Boots, Bridles, & Britches. Warning: it’s easy to spend a lot of money … if you’re not careful :)
Pictured above from left to right is me on my mare Punky, August Torsilieri (my trainer) and Jane Jennings on her gelding Calvin. A huge thanks to Jane, August, Mary Clair and Emily Peairs for exploring Aiken with us; everyone else at the barn; and my parents, friends, and my high school teachers at home for the endless amounts of support and help! I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work hard as well as to make lasting memories with both old and new friends.