Several travel writers spent this week in Aiken and seemed quite inspired by the experience.
The City of Aiken hosted seven writers from all around the Southeast and New York. The City worked with state Parks, Recreation and Tourism staff to locate these writers who write for national publications.
Elizabeth Harm, City tourism supervisor, said this was an opportunity to reach people who may have not heard of Aiken or knew very little about it and hopefully intrigue them to visit.
“It’s wanting to tell those wonderful stories of Aiken that we’re so proud of,” Harm said. “They haven’t put their pens down since they got here.”
The writers got an extensive tour of Aiken, enjoying local food, parks and learning the history of the area.
Lynne Brandon, a freelance writer from Greensboro, N.C., said that she has fallen in love with Aiken. She said she couldn’t think of many other places where she could spend the day meeting equestrians in their muddy boots, exploring historic landmarks while traveling down red clay roads and later attending a black tie affair. Brandon said Aiken is now on her top five places that she’s visited.
“I didn’t think such a place existed,” Brandon said.
Doc Lawrence, another writer hailing from Atlanta, said he has enjoyed the food, architecture and really, the experience as a whole. He said he plans to enthusiastically express his feelings about Aiken.
“I like to learn new things and meet new people,” Lawrence said. “I haven’t been disappointed. There’s a contagious friendliness here.”
The writers had a full agenda during their stay. They ate at a variety of local restaurants such as the Prime Steakhouse, enjoyed a tea tasting at La Dolce and picnicked at Hopelands Gardens.
They stayed at The Willcox, the Carriage House Inn and Houndslake’s Guest House.
The writers also explored Hitchcock Woods, Rose Hill Estate and other well-known Aiken places. They also experienced Juilliard Jazz at The Green Boundary Club.
On Thursday afternoon, the group of writers visited the Aiken County Historical Museum, and Executive Director Elliott Levy gave them a tour offering a wealth of information about the county as a whole and its history. Levy said he enjoyed the opportunity to share the museum with the writers, saying that knowing about the places that surround the city give them more of a complete story behind what they’re seeing during their visit.
Some of the writers were captivated by Aiken’s charm and plan to make another visit in the future.
“It’s great food, great culture,” Brandon said. “I didn’t have this expectation and this has been my greatest surprise.”