Enjoy inn-describable experiences
By Judy Garrison and MPD Electric Cooperative
Veteran travelers declare that every person should travel solo at least once in his life. Leave behind the travel partners, their agendas, and expectations and allow your wanderlust to dictate the destination and itinerary. Set out alone and discover opportunities that you would not have uncovered otherwise; the best part, no regrets. As loudly as Europe might be calling your name, it can be daunting. Start small by traveling local and indulging in a locale that you’ve always wanted to visit.
Make your first solo trip two-fold: exploration and rejuvenation. No better stay conforms to the traveler’s needs than an inn. Whether a large-scale property or an intimate three-bedroom colonial home, the charm is one-of-a-kind and the personal service, impeccable. Consider one of these seven inns that will provide a charming city for exploration and a cozy bed to relax.
A true culinary destination, Abingdon Manor regularly hosts snowbirds because of its convenient location – about halfway between New York and Florida just off I-95. Constructed in 1902, the manor boasts a Greek revival style home reminiscent of an English country estate and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There are seven distinct guest rooms each with a private bath and also offer pet sitting services in a nearby private home. The dining room is open nightly to a limited number of diners and the menu changes nightly. The gourmet, six-course, prix-fixe dinner service has one seating at 7:00 p.m., with pre-dinner drinks in one of their two beautiful parlors starting at 6:30 p.m. A selection of imported crystal and china, elegant tables, sterling silver, and soft jazz adds to the ambiance of the dining experience. A night spent in the Inn’s fine dining restaurant is one to remember and a true culinary journey that has guests returning for more. Pat McKeon purchased the Abingdon Manor this past July and after a hold with Covid, is returning weekly cooking classes for parties of 6 with their chef before Saturday night dinners.While in Latta, grab a to-go lunch from the Inn before touring other historic sites on the National Register and exploring area antique shops. Treasures from the Attic touts hundreds of antique clocks and other home accessories. History lovers and antique-ers will find plenty do to in Latta.
For more information, visit abingdonmanor.com.
Located about 20 miles off Interstate 95 is the Breeden Inn, a charming property on the National Register of Historic Places. The Breeden Inn serves as a favorite stay for locals and out of towners. It’s so beautiful that actress Liv Tyler chose the main house and grounds for a Glamour magazine photo shoot while filming a movie in the area! With four late 19th century houses and 13 bed and breakfast guest rooms, visitors have a wonderful variety of options for the perfect stay. The guest rooms at the Inn’s Bed and Breakfast are lavish in design and rich in history, with antiques, seemingly endless architectural features, interesting artwork and furniture dating back to the 1700s. The beautiful grounds and lush gardens are certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a Wildlife Habitat. Even a prayer walk on the grounds provides a unique resting bench for quiet time. Guests may also be found deep into a good book or napping on the swing under the old magnolia. There’s even a large in ground swimming pool for afternoon or evening swims. The old joggling board adorns the porch and is more than 150 years old. One of the original owners recalled its original place on the back porch where her “mother joggled the children to sleep.”
While enjoying your stay, don’t neglect to take a ride to downtown Bennettsville, an area of the state with rich history. Simply borrow a bike from the Inn’s bike house and hit the road. Founded in 1819, Bennettsville was occupied by Union troops in March of 1865. Sherman spared the courthouse, making it one of South Carolina’s few county seats with records accessible for genealogical research dating back to 1785. The Bennettsville Visitor’s Center offers a walking tour featuring 31 locations rich with architecture and vital to the history of the town. And, don’t miss stopping by Breeden Grocery, in business for more than six decades, where you can dare to sip a Blenheim Ginger Ale and browse locally grown and homemade items.
For more information, visit breedeninn.com.
Oak Manor Inn
Built by a paper fiber millionaire in 1892 as a single-family estate, the Oak Manor Inn is the perfect getaway to explore Hartsville’s charming downtown. With five guest rooms, the Inn is situated on three acres surrounded by century-old live oaks, magnolias, azaleas, and towering cedar trees. With five spacious guest rooms, Oak Manor provides comfort for business and leisure travelers alike. Guests often relax on the screened-in porch, sunny outdoor terrace or with cocktails in the cozy library bar. Guests also enjoy a home cooked southern breakfast each morning.
Hartsville is a true hidden gem of South Carolina, and the Inn provides the perfect location for exploration. Just a pleasant stroll through the campus of Coker University and visitors will find themselves in the heart of downtown, with charming shops and unique restaurants. Pop into Minnie’s Giftique, offering the very best brands of women’s and children’s clothing, fine gifts, china, home, and seasonal decor. A few doors down, the Rooster, a Hartsville staple, offers home grown coffee, salads, and sandwiches on homemade bread.
Just a short drive away is Kalmia Gardens, a public botanical garden with woods, trails, and diverse plant and animal life. Kalmia Gardens boasts a wide array of rhododendrons, camellias, azaleas, tea-olives, dogwoods, and the Gardens’ namesake — Kalmia latifolia, the Mountain Laurel. Built in 1820, the Thomas Hart House adorns the grounds and was built with timber from the property in 1820. Its surrounding gardens are on the National Register of Historic Places.
For more information, visit oakmanorinn.com.
Four Oaks Inn
A Southern masterpiece, Four Oaks Inn offers charm and personal service as soon as you open the front door. Built in 1860, the white-columned, two-story home features grounds that offer shaded areas for relaxation, a pool to slip into, and porches to while away the hours.
Inside, natural light leads guests into the living room where lovely white furnishings welcome the weary and artifacts perched on bookshelves speak to the history of Camden. The king-sized upstairs suites pay homage to the area’s history—Steeplechase Suite, Civil War Suite and Mint Julep Mini-Suite.
Owners Steve and Janet Ellerman have thought of every luxury including a candlelight breakfast. They offer a full sit-down breakfast for six or for one featuring fruit, muffins, and a homemade chef’s choice entrée.
If you can pry yourself away from peace and quiet, explore Camden. One of the most unique tours is The Thoroughbred Racehorse Experience; get up early and interact with jockeys, walk the paddock, and learn the behind-the-scenes antics of the racing world.
Take your evening meal at the historic Mill Pond Steakhouse in Boykin for an unexpected culinary experience created by Chef Clyde Grant.
For more information, visit fouroaksinn.com.
Inn on the Square
Located in Uptown Greenwood, Inn on the Square is the perfect location to leave your car in the parking lot and never touch it until you’re ready to head home. Their 46-room boutique hotel provides the comforts of home while making your dinner reservations, tee times, or arranging transportation. The rooms and suites are spacious, but if you’re looking for unique with more space and privacy, opt for The Studios@118. If you’re bringing along a furry friend, he’s welcome, too.
The Fox and Hound Lounge located in the lobby is one of the best places to gather. Enjoy a meal or a pint with the locals.
The main strip of Uptown Greenwood is but a short walk away and offers many shopping boutiques, museums, and art galleries. Don’t miss The Spa on Maxwell for some me-time. If you’re in the mood for pizza, head to Good Times Brewing for the most authentic Italian pie in the neighborhood.
For more information, visit innonthesquare.net.
The Red Horse Inn
Steer toward the mountains and immerse yourself in solitude. The Red Horse Inn in Landrum is tucked away deep within the mystical Blue Ridge Mountains. An adult-only bed and breakfast and known as one of the most romantic getaways in the state, the inn can easily accommodate a solo traveler. After all, luxury draws everyone. There’s no front desk; self-check-in is after 4 p.m. Stay in the main house or in one of six cottages.
In the morning, you’ll open the refrigerator and find your freshly made breakfast to enjoy in your own room or cottage. Press the brew button on the coffee maker; it doesn’t get more enjoyable than that. Enjoy breakfast in the comfort of your pajamas, in front of your fireplace, or in bed. Extravagancies like this should be enjoyed on your own terms.
Landrum is the closest city to the inn; however, one of the state’s most beautiful drives is too close to ignore. Forgetting the interstate and taking to the roads less traveled, Scenic 11 showcases waterfalls, historic towns, parks, covered bridges, battlefields and state parks. Honestly, there are so many sites on this roadway to discover, that you’ll have to return to The Red Horse Inn and the upcountry to complete your adventure.
For more information, visit redhorseinn.com.
The Willcox Inn
When the wealthy winter colonists from the north arrived in Aiken at the turn of the 19th century, they chose wisely. In order to accommodate their rich tastes, The Willcox Inn was born and established a tradition of service, atmosphere, and the finest of cuisine. Presidents, celebrities, and notables have stayed at this iconic place, and today, you don’t have to be a president to be treated like one.
Affectionally called Aiken’s Living Room, locals are as abundant as guests. Sit at the lobby bar; order a chocolate martini and feel the stress slip away. From intimate rooms to spacious suites, comfort links each room. Fancy a fire? Even in the heat of summer, opt for an in-room fireplace for added ambience. If the sky is the limit, the Roosevelt Suite is the ultimate luxury.
Dine at the in-house restaurant which offers a variety of classics in an elegant setting. Daily serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the restaurant’s Sunday Brunch is a local favorite.
Book a spa treatment from one a multitude of services. Facials, massages, and body treatments cater to your well-being and relaxation and are all lit by firelight. In-room treatments are also available. Appointments are required.
Exploring downtown Aiken is a short walk from the Inn with tons of shopping and dining options. Check out La Parisienne, a tiny white cottage around the corner from the Inn; French pastries make the walk more enjoyable. Trolley Tours are also available. Don’t miss the Aiken’s Visitors Center and Train Museum, plus the SRS Museum, Hopeland Gardens, and Redcliffe Plantation Historic Site.
For more information, visit thewillcox.com.
Tips for Solo Travel
- Research and plan before you go. Do your homework. Book accommodations and transportation, and let someone know your itinerary.
- Look for the deals for traveling solo – plus those that charge extra for one person.
- Pack light. Update to luggage with wheels. A backpack is great for personal items and to secure valuables.
- Meet new people and strike up conversations.
- Experience activities (dining, movies, tours, etc.) alone.
- Trust your instincts and use your common sense. Be aware of your surroundings.
- Enjoy every second: start early, eat lots, take photos, be happy.