As expected, we ran into a town that was so cool, we wished we could stay longer. I guess that comes with travelling. On this trip, I realized that without Mr. Bunker, we would’ve never discovered Aiken, SC and all its artistic glory. Being so close to home, we never thought to visit it before. The downtown of Aiken is only a few blocks wide, but it’s filled with small businesses and activity centers, such as the Train Museum. What attracted us to travel to this tiny town was the Aiken Makin’ Festival. Throughout our excursions there, we found out that we weren’t the only out-of-towners. Many visitors came to town because of Aiken’s proximity to other big cities.
We drove to Aiken after work. It was a little after sunset when we got to our parking spot. The spot was tiny so if people with a bigger trailer than 16-feet long would want to reserve the campsites #6 and beyond. Our spot also had a box border for tent camping, and this box made the site even smaller. Luckily, we could fit Mr. Bunker and our car in the spot. The setup took longer because we had to do it in the dark. My advice: don’t setup or break down in the dark. Jason was such a trooper to setup all the outside stuff. You know, the stuff that gets you eaten by a gigantic spider. Good news, he wasn’t eaten by any spiders.
Moving along to the next day, it was a beautiful sunny day in Aiken, and we survived the night. We saw some of the biggest farm lands we’ve seen in South Carolina. There were cotton and hay bales for days! When we got to the festival, the downtown was packed and we were hungry for all the unhealthy junk food that was served. Yes, we got a corndog and some chili cheese fries. Mmmm.
After fueling up, we walked in front of the vendors’ booths to check out local talents. Jason liked walking away from the crowd. At some point, there were so many people around us that it was an elbow-to-elbow traffic. We checked out the Train Museum and walked over to the train displayed around the building. This was not part of the Aiken Makin’ festival, but it was conveniently opened to let a lot of people check it out.
After we were done visiting all the vendors, we went to a local yarn shop. Of course. We visited the store Barbara Sue. The collection of yarn was divided by colors. The store also sold needle point patterns. I grabbed some alpaca yarn (my favorite!) and grabbed Jason from the sitting area. We walked around the block and saw an art garage sale sign. We stopped to look at the building where local art residents sold their creations. The building was cool because it felt like the artists were in a community as they worked on their own piece. This place reminded me of a small area in the mall during our visit in Savannah, GA.
For lunch, we visited the Aiken Brewing Company. We got the flight/fleet of homebrewed beer. (Is it a flight or a fleet?) Surprisingly, I liked the root beer the best. I usually don’t like the taste of root beer. The cool part was that the owner’s twelve years old daughter made the root beer. We also liked their ale and darker beer. We should know by now that we usually don’t like the IPA or Pilsner. The food there was great and generous in portion. I was full from eating the Southern Fried Chicken Salad. We walked around the area some more, mainly because we saw a green water fountain. After getting enough walk, we worked our way back to base.
We sat around the campfire while preparing the usual dinner. This time, the caption fit. Jason’s makin’ bacon in Aiken. Now say that 5 times at super speed. We saw some cool teardrop campers in the campground. One of our weekend neighbors showed us the inside of their vintage trailer. It was so cute! They were with a group called Sisters on the Fly.
When the night arrived, we headed over to the Dupont Planetarium to checkout the telescopes. You didn’t think we weren’t gonna find science, did you? It was a bit of a drive from our campsite to the observatory, but there was no traffic at that hour so the drive was somewhat relaxing. We missed out on the presentations because we late, but once we got to the auditorium, people told us that the telescope upstairs were open to public. We went up to the observatory, where we looked at the moon and Saturn through the telescope. We were also in the observatory while the guy calibrated the telescope.
There were some people on the ground, outside the museum, with their own telescopes. We headed downstairs to through other telescropes. There was some kind of museum on the first floor. We found a periodic table cabinet. I was fixated on the noble gases while Jason was checking out how much radiation he’d get from staring at the bottom row. When we were outside, one of the astronomy club members showed us more of the moon with his own telescope. The night did not disappoint, for sure.
We wouldn’t think of visiting Aiken had there not been a state park for us to camp in. After a short weekend there, I’d recommend taking a side trip to visit if you’re around the area. When it comes to doing local business, this city got it right. From the quaint downtown, local arts and restaurants, to the Aiken branch of the college, everything would not disappoint.
I hope you enjoyed our story. If you know of another place with a fling of creative markets or a cool observatory, please let us know in the comment. We’d love to add your suggestion to our list.