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Monday, July 17, 2023

Things To Do In The Old 96 District, SC part 1

If you are looking for a family friendly, history rich, festivals galore vacation and want plenty of things to do, see and eat, look no further than the Old 96 District, SC.

If you are traveling by car to this or another fun destination, read our post, Getting The Car Ready For A Road Trip, before you go.

I never knew about the Old 96 District until last year when my daughter, Lisa, asked if I wanted to go with her to attend the Festival of Discovery in Greenwood, SC. Greenwood is one of the five counties that make up the Old 96. We also spent time in the county of Abbeville on that first trip.

We had an opportunity to come back to Greenwood and Abbeville recently and thought it might be fun to also check out the other three counties while we were here. We were able to spend a full day in Edgefield and then a smaller amount of time in the other two counties, Laurens and McCormick. I can now say, yes, I know the Old 96 District!

Abbeville County

On our first visit to The Old 96 District, we stayed at The Belmont Inn in the town of Abbeville.

We didn't know anything about this hotel being haunted until we checked in. That's when we hear about Abraham The Bellhop. You can read all about my encounter with Abraham in Lisa's post, The Belmont Inn: Abbeville, SC's Haunted Hotel. This is the perfect hotel to stay if you are into ghosts like the members of the Paranormal Society of Savannah who spent the night here.

It's a wonderful hotel to stay in even if you are not interested in being haunted. You will feel like you stepped back in time the moment you step through the front doors. The decor in our room matched the rest of the hotel and was very comfortable. The complimentary continental breakfast was perfect. We sat in the dining area but we could have taken our breakfast outside and enjoyed it on the porch. 

On our second visit, we stayed at an Airbnb called The Loft On Court Square. It was conveniently located above one of the shops on Abbeville's Historic Square. 

The apartment had everything we needed to feel right at home. When we couldn't get the apartment door opened, the host, Melissa, sent her husband right over to help us. We only waited about 2 minutes for him to let us in. We never had any other issue after that.

Downtown Abbeville, or what locals know as Court Square, is where you will find historic structures, boutiques and restaurants. We loved being able to walk, rather than drive, to all the sights we wanted to see in this small town and a lot of them were within this square.

The Abbeville Opera House has been opened since 1904 and has regular performances year round.

On one of the corners of the square, you can find the McIlwain Building (ca. 1872).

We just had to walk around the corner to see this beautiful building, Trinity Episcopal Church.

If you are in Abbeville on a Friday from June through October, stop by The Livery Stable and check out the Abbeville Farmers Market. All the vendors were so friendly and were selling a wide variety of goods. We bought some sweet smelling handmade soaps.

If you get hungry after sightseeing, there are so many great choices for eating in Abbeville and we tried a number of them.

Theo's Deli and Seafood was the first restaurant we tried in Abbeville and it was by default as the restaurant we wanted to eat at across the street was closed. It worked in our favor as we were very pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed our lunch. The menu is placed on a large board behind the counter when you first walk in and is very extensive and includes salads, pizza, subs, pasta, seafood and more.

For dinner that night, we ate at Indigenous Underground. The chef/owner, Erica McCier, uses fresh produce, dairy and other goods from local South Carolina Certified farms to create her "Southern eclectic" food. I had the shrimp and grits, which was as pleasing to my eyes and it was to my taste buds. Lisa had the Island Sandwich, smoked chicken with a jerk honey BBQ sauce. We not only absolutely enjoyed our meals, we loved the atmosphere and the friendly service.

On our most recent trip to Abbeville, we tried a couple of restaurants that we had picked out for our first trip but were closed at that time.

The first was the restaurant across the street from Theo's Deli and Seafood, Off Tha Hook Seafood and Grill. To tell you the truth, I was a little disappointed when we first walked into the restaurant because the dining area looked more like one you would find at a fast food restaurant and didn't match the one I had pictured in my mind when I was looking at their menu online. Well, the quote, "you can't judge a book by its cover" really works here. The food was absolutely amazing and everyone was so friendly. I had the catfish, which was lightly breaded and cooked perfectly and Lisa had the crab cakes which she told me was delicious. 

For breakfast one morning we had the most delicious, creative donuts ever at Two Brews and, happily, it was only two doors down from our Airbnb located on Abbeville's Historic Square. Come here on Fridays from 7-2 to get a free donut with lunch!

We enjoyed our two visits here and can't wait to come back to see you again Abbeville!

Click here for more things to do, see and eat on your Abbeville County, SC vacation.

Greenwood County

We stayed overnight in Greenwood when we were here last year attending the Festival of Discovery at Inn on the Square. The hotel was very conveniently located only a couple of blocks from the attractions of the festival on Main Street. The 3 story lobby is impressive and gorgeous. We actually spent some time looking around. That's when we spotted the complimentary coffee and goodies. There's nothing that makes me love a hotel more than when they have coffee available 24/7!

We stayed in one of the hotel's cottages which was very spacious and comfortable and even had a small sitting area outside our room that we did take advantage of.

Greenfield hosts a couple of festivals every year. We attended the Festival of Discovery on our first visit to Greenfield in June of 2022.

One of the highlights of the festival is the BBQ competition. Competitors come from all across the country to compete here.

In addition to one of the competitors being named Grand Champion of the festival, there is a people's choice award. For every 5 sample tickets a person buys, they will receive one voting card that they will place at their favorite food truck. The votes are counted and the winner is announced. We took our role of judging very seriously and made notes as we tasted our samples.

It was hard to pick a favorite because they were all so good. In the end, our pick didn't win but Smokin' Sweetmeats from Monroe, GA cooked up some delicious BBQ and was definitely deserving of the trophy!

We had a schedule of events for the festival and circled some of the things we didn't want to miss. One event we circled was the hot dog eating contest. There were some fierce competitors in this group. We were very impressed.

And we made sure we got a chance to enjoy some of the Blues bands that were playing at different locations in and around the festival sight. I have never been a big fan of the Blues but I found myself loving it during Sir Rod & The Blues Doctors performance.

Before we called it a night, after enjoying a full, festive day, we helped ourselves to the complimentary coffee in our hotel's lobby then joined other festival goers in one of the hotel's event venues to listen to one more talented band.

This year we returned to Greenwood to attend the annual Festival of Flowers which happens annually in July.

We were excited to see the topiary sculptures that lined Main Street and a few others that were scattered around Uptown Greenwood. 

My favorite was this seahorse. I loved how the succulents were made the highlight of this sculpture.

Besides for the topiary displays, there was a schedule of events that had something for everyone. We circled a few things and made our plan for the weekend. We started out early on Friday to make sure we had time to do everything we had on our list. Our first stop was The Arts Center of Greenwood for the Juried Art Show.

This interesting piece of art spread out across the entire room.

Our next stop was the Juried Arts & Craft Show at Uptown Market. We stopped to listen to the music of the Upstate Brass Band who shared their upbeat music with the crowd of shoppers.

The Museum on Main Street was featuring Celestial Bodies - Exploring Our Galaxy Exhibit and invited festival goers to come take a look. We checked out some of their hands on displays.

The last stop of the day was the Greenwood Community Center. We had a great view of the stage but you could have a great view from any seat in this small theater. It was only as big as a movie theater. The price of our tickets, $25 adult, were (almost) only the price of a movie theater ticket. But sitting at a live performance is always a lot more special than sitting in front of a movie screen. The actors were all so talented and the musicians were amazing as well. We really enjoyed the music and all the performances in the romantic comedy, Guys and Dolls.

We had another full day planned for Saturday. The first event was the Emerald City Car Show. Neither of us are big car enthusiasts so we were surprised by how much fun we were having admiring these old cars. I was also surprised that one of these old cars was the exact same car I owned with my sister when we first learned how to drive. It made me feel like an antique!

Next stop was the first of four Garden Tours. Wesley Commons Community Garden was full of the prettiest flowers. I will be planting some of these beauties in my yard next year! Before we left the garden, we checked the time with Lisa's shadow on their huge sundial.

The Horticulture Gardens and Greenhouse at Piedmont Technical College had the most interesting and educational garden. We were able to go into the greenhouses, where students work on getting their Horticulture degrees, to see some of the things they were working on.

Next we learned about the importance of a rain garden at the Greenwood Extension Rain Garden. And then went to the last garden of the day, Dr. Benjamin E Mays Gardens. This garden is reminiscent of a garden you would find on a 1900's era sharecroppers homestead. (Read more about the Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Historic Site later in this post.)

Definitely come to Greenwood to enjoy the festivals but, if you have time, enjoy other things Greenwood has to offer. On our first visit, we went to Lake Greenwood State Park.

We took a slow and relaxing hike on the nature trail around the lake. 

Another place we visited on our first trip was Emerald Farm. It's a working dairy farm that welcomes visitors and "offers a chance to step back into the basic elements of life". 

We saw farm animals that we thought we would find on a farm but we were not expecting to see peacocks, especially so many of them, running around. It was the first time for both of us seeing peacocks outside a zoo!

There are a couple of little shops here too. The owner of the farm brought us into the shop where she sells her homemade soaps and other things. I bought some oatmeal soap for my grand baby who has eczema. If we had more time, after shopping, we would have climbed aboard the Emerald Farm Express that would have taken us around the farm and through the Village in the woods.

Also on our first visit to Greenwood, we went to the Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Historic Site. The first building we entered was the museum in a building made to look like a barn. We learned all about this great man, a civil rights leader who is credited with being "the principle founder of the Civil Rights Movement".

On these grounds you can see the childhood home of Dr. Mays. This house was actually moved from another town in Greenwood county and brought here and restored and furnished with circa 1900 furniture.

When you get hungry in Greenwood, you will have a choice of many restaurants. We ate at a couple that we can recommend. Fat Daddy BBQ is one if you have an urge for BBQ. I had the special of the day, a baked potato topped with delicious, smokey pulled pork.

If you like a nice view while you eat you might want to have a meal at Break on the Lake.

We had a great view of Lake Greenwood while we ate our lunch. I had the hamburger steak that was topped with a delicious brown gravy and caramelized onion. Lisa had the cobb salad that she said was very good.

We still have a few more restaurants we need to try in Greenwood. Guess we will have to plan another trip!

Click here for more things to do, see and eat on your Greenwood County, SC vacation.

Stay tuned for part 2 of our Old 96 District post.

                                Read our post about another great city in South Carolina: Charleston.

Have you been to The Old 96 District? Which county did you visit? We would love to hear about the time you spent there.



  1. That sounds like such a fun area to explore! My husband would be all over that BBQ competition and trying something from everyone he could.

    1. It was the first time we ever did something like that and it was fun and filling! Hope you and your husband get to go one day!

  2. The food looks delicious, I bet the trip was an interesting one too!

    1. We ate a little too much delicious food on both our trips to the Old 96!

  3. The Old 96 District looks like a great place to explore with the family or with your girl gang! The Inn looks so charming! :)

    1. You are right! It would be a perfect trip for families and friend get-togethers also!

  4. Wow that was an amazing place to spent the day. So beautyful church.

    1. A gorgeous church. Thank you for taking the virtual trip with us!

  5. Love this. I'm so happy you shared this virtual tour of Things To Do In The Old 96 District, SC part 1 with Sweet Tea & Friends this month sweet friends.

  6. Looks like a cool little town to spend time in. Thanks for sharing it. #seniorsalon

    1. Small towns are so much fun to visit. They have so many things to do and see in one compact, walkable area which we love.

  7. This looks like such a fun trip Cathy! The McIlwain Building reminds me of my hometown's downtown area, the buildings are a bit more vivacious, but the architecture look very similar. I cannot imagine staying in a haunted hotel! I need to add this area to our want to see someday list. Hope you are having a good weekend!

    1. I might have to visit your hometown one day! I hope you get a chance to visit The Old 96 District. I think you'll have a great time!

  8. What a fun trip Cathy. We are retired and love to travel and boat on the lake.

    1. I am very happy for you that you are retired and traveling!! I love to see and hear about people who are actively enjoying their golden years!

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