Small Town Charm for the Holidays: South Carolina’s Old 96 District

by Janean Flowe
interior of Sharon Manor

When it comes to celebrating and enjoying the Holidays in a big way, it’s hard to top small towns and rural landscapes. That’s especially true in South Carolina’s Old 96 District, which is conveniently located in the northwestern part of the Palmetto State, making it easy to reach from anywhere in the Carolinas and beyond.

aerial view of a sunset overlooking Lake Thurmond

Lake Thurmond

Comprised of five counties (Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, and McCormick) and a half-dozen or so varied small towns, the Old 96 District has something for everyone for the Holidays. The possibilities include: a full slate of Holidays-oriented events; non-stop shopping; tasty dining and imbibing options; specific Holidays getaway deals and packages; and even an Old 96 Holidays giveaway. The folks from the Old 96 District have also put together a great Holiday Guide to make it easy to make plans.

Christmas trees and decorations on display

Festival of Trees

Put It on Your Holidays Calendar

Those in the Old 96 District know how to celebrate year-round, but the calendar for the Holidays is especially full. Ranging from good old-fashioned tree lightings to more modern celebrations, though there are many other Holidays-oriented events options, the possibilities include: McCormick’s popular Festival of Trees and Holiday Market at the historic Dorn Mill Complex grist mill and cotton gin; Uptown Greenwood’s Santa on Main, including photo opps and a PJ Party with Santa, a tree lighting, the Holiday Market, and a Christmas Parade; Abbeville’s Christmas on the Square (with a Christmas Market at Crate & Quill, Holidays food and wine pairings at Indigenous Underground, Paint Night with Tommy, and more), the town’s Annual Christmas Parade and Annual Christmas Tree Lighting, a Cookie Walk, Handmade for the Holidays, a Card Making Workshop, Ugly Christmas Sweater Trivia Night, 12th Annual Reindeer Run 5k, and much more; and Breakfast with Santa & Story Time with Santa’s Helper, plus a Sunday Brunch Christmas Show, at Abbeville’s quaint Belmont Inn.

items for sale in a store

Southern Succotash

Shop ‘til You Drop

There’s one-stop shopping for the Holidays in the Old 96 District, thanks to a wide range of options to find that perfect present. The list of possibilities is almost endless, but has to include: several antiques stores, for which Old 96 District is well-known (like Bottletree Antiques, Southern Succotash, The House Next Door, Carnousie Antiques, Granny K, Rainbow Antiques, Nancy Roth Antiques and Joe Ewing Silver); Pendleton Farms (from gourmet treats in the front to antiques in the back); Breezy Quarters (hand-made scented soaps and more); Divine Your Space, Thayer’s Gifts, and August + Home (creative home goods); 105 West and Sugar Boutique (for the southern belles on your list); and Wolftracks Gallery & Gifts (featuring Native American works and more).

man making pottery with his hands

Edgefield Pottery

Shopping options continue at The Artist’s Coop; The Village Blacksmith; The Phoenix Factory’s Old Edgefield Pottery (half-museum and half-working studio); The Alcoves; Cosmic Goddess (African imports, magical candles, and more); Emerald Farms (goat’s mile soaps and lotions); Main & Maxwell (handmade jewelry); Granny Said Keep It; Uptown Shoppers Market (a 12,000-square-foot mall with 65-plus varied vendors); the MACK Artisans Guild & Gift shop at McCormick Arts Center at the Keturah; and, last but not least, The Vintage Vault – Marketplace and Salon (shopping up front and a hair and nail salon in the back).

cone of peppermint ice cream

Edgefield Creamery’s Peppermint Ice Cream

A Taste of the Old 96 District

With lots of restaurants, bakeries, and shops serving up local, regional, and international delicacies, there are at least 96 tasty ways to take a bite out of the Old 96 District. Restaurant options are too many to list, but visitors will definitely want to check out farm-to-table fare at several area restaurants, including recently-opened Christine’s Farm to Fork in Edgefield, the barbecue at Fat Daddy’s BBQ, seafood at Break on the Lake on Lake Greenwood (Old 96 District is part of South Carolina’s “Freshwater Coast”), very popular pizza and beer at Good Times Brewery & Millhouse Pizza, and so many other dining choices.

Those with a Holidays sweet tooth will want to head to one of several area bakeries, including Mama’s Sweet Shoppe in Due West, Greenwood’s Gather Bakery and Sweet Treats Bakery, and Abbeville’s Daily Bread Bakery or Swartzentruber’s Bakery, a Mennonite-owned German bakery specializing in pound cakes and other old-fashioned treats that are especially popular during the Holidays. In addition, 96 Pecan Company remains very popular for Holidays gifts (and their legendary tastings), thanks to fresh pecans and a wide variety of flavored ones. There’s also Holidays-appropriate peppermint ice cream at Edgefield Creamery, cookies and more at TLC Confections & Gifts, and tasty tres leches cake at Buenavista Latin Café. Those who want to toast the Holidays will want to head to South Bend Winery or Three Star Vineyard, Carolina Moon Distillery, and aforementioned Good Times Brewery.

lobby of a hotel decorated for Christmas

Inn on the Square

Book an Old 96 Getaway

Though Old 96 District getaway deals and packages are available year-round, they’re especially popular during the Holidays, including money-saving offers on lodging, restaurants, attractions, and shopping. For example, the “Abbeville #JustRight Travel Package” includes a discounted choice of lodging at an historic inn or bed and breakfast, as well as more than $100 in savings at local restaurants, shops, and tickets for events at the Abbeville Opera House. Over in Greenwood, the “Greenwood Girlfriend Getaway” features a suggested itinerary that includes shopping, spa treatments, and other activities for gal pals, plus discounted lodging at beloved Inn on the Square and various deals and more around town for guests. Inn on the Square, Greenwood’s only full-service boutique hotel, is also offering a “Stay-and-Play Golf” package, with discounts on a one-, two-, or three-night stays, two to four rounds of golf at Savannah Lakes Village, shuttle service, complimentary gourmet breakfasts, and 10% off dinner. Golfers will also love the “Play Hickory Hill Package,” which includes 15% off accommodations at Hickory Hill State Resort Park (the only “resort” in South Carolina’s great state park system) and golf for just $28 per 18 holes (including cart).

interior of Sharon Manor

Sharon Manor Bed and Breakfast


The Holidays are for Giving…and a Great Old 96 District Giveaway

The Old 96 District is holding a Holiday Sweepstakes giveaway that runs through November 30, 2021. It includes two nights of accommodations and sumptuous breakfasts at Sharon Manor Bed and Breakfast, just outside Abbeville, plus a $250 gift card. It’s easy to enter the Old 96 District Holiday Sweepstakes by heading here.

For more information about South Carolina’s Old 96 District, click here.

by Lynn & Cele Seldon (Seldon Ink)

(Go Magazine Sponsored Content November 2021)

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