Aiken SC….its sorta a horsewoman’s paradise. The town was/is referred to as the “winter colony”, a place where the wealthy northerners like the Vanderbilts would come play- especially during that gilded age. Summers in Newport RI, winters in Aiken SC, what could be better? The trifecta of activities was polo in the morning, golf in the afternoon, and foxhunting at night….leisure activities only please.
This past weekend I headed down to Aiken with some friends from the barn I ride at for the 50th running of the spring Aiken Steeplechase (they have one in the fall too)! We got in Friday night for tempura asparagus & key lime martinis (the best) at Tako Sushi and then headed over to the The Willcox for dinner. The Willcox is a hotel with an amazing restaurant. The architecture of the building, decor, as well as the beautiful pool area makes you feel like you have been transported to a time when women carried parisols, and really dressed for dinner. You can almost hear the clip clop of hooves pulling well appointed carriages and their well appointed passengers for dinner. We ate in the lounge area with a piano player. We had wine, chicken liver pate & port wine gelee with toasted bread (which is amazing), the mystic melville cheese with cranberry preserves and crusty bread, sauteed brussel sprouts, and the pasta of the day which was a delicious pasta primavera with shaved parmesan. I can’t say enough good things about the food. Here are some pics from The Willcox!
From there we went out to Harry’s Local Oyster Bar, called ‘Locals’ by the locals. This place is a really fun sorta dive bar, really laid back, super fun staff. We stayed out way too late, but needed to get our Locals fix because Locals was closed Saturday for the Steeplechase and Sunday!
Saturday, we were off to the Steeplechase. We had such a fun day. We got tickets to be in the guarantor tent which included great parking, an awesome buffet lunch, a live band, a spot right at the second fence to watch, and an open bar! If you have never been to a steeplechase, it is a race ran on grass usually, and there are jumps! The buffet lunch included some southern comfort food like fried chicken and a cheesy hashbrown casserole, a great salad, fresh fruit and cheese, quiche, and grilled asparagus. It rained intermittently throughout the day so we were very thankful to have the tent to run under!
It was such a fun event despite the rain. Everyone was dressed smartly, I have never seen so much seersucker and Lilly in my life. Lots of brightly colored pants and fun bowties for the gentlemen, Lilly prints, bows, and hats for the ladies. We went to Malia’s for dinner that evening and then met other friends out at the Aiken Brewing Company for a drink before heading back to the farm. Malia’s was delicious, but I will say that Willcox was my favorite 🙂
Tune in for part 2 of my Aiken trip about the farm that my friend stayed at this winter AND our awesome polo lesson!