Unless you just want to enjoy the backroads, Anderson, SC is only a four and a half hour drive from most areas around Birmingham via I-20 East and I-85 North. Known as "The Friendliest City in South Carolina," this adorable little burg was named an "All-America City" in the year 2000. Anderson is also called "The Electric City" because it had electricity as early as 1895.
Incorporated in 1833, the town was named for Revolutionary War hero General Robert Anderson who also helped to survey the land for the community. On November 14, 1931, famous female aviator Amelia Earhart landed at Anderson Airport as part of her promotion of Beechnut products. More recently, some of the scenes for the 2008 movie Leathernecks were filmed in Anderson.
The Anderson County Museum gives visitors a look into the early life of Anderson and its citizens. Unique about its location is the fact that the site was the 1865 encampment of the First Maine, 33rd Regiment, United States Colored Troops (USCT), a military unit composed of African-Americans.
DOWN ON THE FARM. Split Creek Farm is a working goat dairy where you can take a tour or pick up some of the farm's products such as milk, cheese, fudge, yogurt, and even goat meat. Other South Carolina products they sell: eggs, honey, grits, corn meal, rice, and more. The work of folk artist Pat Bell is also available at the farm.
Lucky Acres Farm in Townville introduces guests to their resident alpacas and sells alpaca fleece, along with scarves, sweaters, blankets, and more. The Happy Cow Creamery is an on-the-farm milk bottling operation in Pelzer. You can schedule a tour or stop by to buy their products, including whole milk, chocolate milk, buttermilk, butter, local honey, fresh whole hog sausage, and free range chickens and eggs.
GOLF. Three Anderson courses and four other area ones guarantee golfers a "hole" lot of fun during their visit: Three Springs, Pine Lake, and Stone Creek Cove in Anderson; and Saluda Valley Country Club in Williamston; Southern Oaks in Easley; Starrwood in Starr; and Woodhaven in Pendleton.
ART. There are plenty of galleries around town, including North Main's Gallery 313, with art and vintage and handcrafted items and Strickland Fine Art, offering prints, original artwork, and custom framing. On Sharpe Street, Pixel Point features a variety of art forms, including pottery and woodcarving, plus bookbinding and framing services.
UPCOMING EVENTS. November promises plenty of special happenings, a couple of which are the Electric City Playhouse presentation of "August Flight" November 1-3 and the Anderson Arts Center 31st Annual Art Auction on November 9. Split Creek Farm hosts Arts & Crafts in the Barnyard on November 23. To see more November events and Christmas doings in the area, see their calendar.
Now's the time to plan for October, 2014's Balloons Over Anderson Hot Air Balloon Festival. This extravaganza promises plenty of gorgeous balloons, tethered rides, a cruise-in, live music, games for the kiddies, and much, much more.
SHOPPING. Specialty shops abound in Anderson. For the record buff, a don't-miss stop is Rainbow Records on North Main. This store carries an impressive selection of used and new LPs, CDs, DVDs, and posters.
A sampling of other North Main businesses: Pazzazz Consignment, carrying contemporary and vintage ladies' clothing and accessories; Romancing the Range Western Wear, a store after any cowboy or cowgirl's heart; Blake & Brady, an affordable boutique packed with goodies for guys and gals; and Apple Dumplin' Antique Mall, a 14,000 square foot smorgasbord of antiques and collectibles.
More shops around Anderson: Bill Owings Custom Clothing on South Main, the ultimate in men's custom finery; Grady's Great Outdoors on Clemson Boulevard, offering everything for the hunter, fisherman, camper, or pretty much any outdoor enthusiast; and Bay 3 Artisan Gallery on Federal Street.
Anderson Jockey Lot & Farmers Market proclaims itself the "South's biggest and world's best flea market." Every Saturday and Sunday more than 1,500 sellers spread their ware over 65 acres, hawking everything from art to automotives and jewelry to junk. You just might find the treasure of a lifetime.
DINING. Anderson's eateries run the gamut, with J. Peters Grill & Bar on South Main as a favorite for traditional American food and seafood. Regulars tout their prime rib sandwich as the best in the state. J. Peters has a second Anderson location on Interstate Boulevard.
Tucker's Restaurant & Bar on Clemson Boulevard is known for its Sunday brunch buffet, as well as a mouthwatering assortment of sandwiches and signature items like their bourbon sirloin, sesame ahi tuna, and kahlua chocolate cheesecake.
Summa Joe's on North Main serves lunch and dinner, including sandwiches, fab dishes such as chicken picatta, and a very impressive selection of pizzas, like the Carolina BBQ and the Bob Marley.
Fill your sweet tooth with a visit to the Russell Stover Candies Outlet on Destination Boulevard.
ACCOMMODATIONS. If variety's the spice of life, Anderson is certainly well seasoned. In addition to plenty of popular chain hotels, three bed and breakfasts offer guests their down home hospitality:
The Red Shutter Bed and Breakfast is an elegantly maintained historic farmhouse less than ten miles southwest in a tiny railroad town called Starr. Three beautifully appointed rooms - the Savannah, the Charleston and the Palmetto - plus The Loft with its own kitchenette and dining area are available for guests. Each stay includes a sumptious Southern breakfast; complimentary coffee, tea, hot chocolate and snacks; fresh-baked treats every evening; and use of the family room, courtyard hot tub and outdoor hammock and sitting area. Phone (864) 352-6771.
Thirty miles north The Inn at Table Rock in Pickens is located just off the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway. A newly built Victorian style two-story, this truly exceptional inn includes five guest rooms, all with private baths; a full breakfast with every stay; and complimentary beverages and snacks 24/7. A look at the website's breakfast menu sampling is enough to have most folks making reservations. Phone: (877) 226-3210.
In Pendleton, less than fifteen miles northwest, Liberty Hall Inn dates back to the 1840s and encompasses both a bed and breakfast and a fine dining restaurant, Brandini's Cuisine. The inn's seven suites include six rooms with king beds and one room with a double bed, all with private baths complemented by luxurious homemade soaps and shampoos. Wraparound verandas lend a welcoming charm to this lovely home away from home. Phone: (864) 502-2228.
For a stay smack in the middle of historic downtown, the Bleckley Inn, a 14-room luxury boutique hotel on East Church Street is unbeatable. Each room is impeccably and uniquely appointed. Suites offer separate bedrooms, full kitchens and more. Breakfast for two is included with each night's stay and complimentary milk and cookies are served each evening. Restaurants, shops, a spa and more are all within walking distance. Phone: (864) 225-7203.
If tents, RVs or cabins are more to your liking, there are plenty of spots to scratch that itch:
Minutes away in Townville, Lake Hartwell Camping & Cabins has it all: pool, kiddie pool, mini-golf, tennis court, basketball court, volleyball court, playground, horseshoe pit, game room and boat rentals from canoes to pontoons. Phone: (888) 427-8935.
MORE INFO. Learn more about Anderson and the surrounding area by visiting the website of the Anderson Convention & Visitors Bureau or phoning them at (877) 282-4650. Also check out www.DowntownAnderson.com.