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10 Fun Things to Do When You Visit Camden, SC

The oldest inland town in South Carolina has more than a few amazing things to do with a weekend getaway.

By Jason Barnette | Travel writer and photographer with 15+ years of road tripping experience

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my Affiliate Disclosure here.

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Camden was precisely the peaceful escape I needed in South Carolina. After two weeks of road tripping across the state, I needed a quiet town with easy driving to spend a couple of days. But I didn’t know I was driving into a historic town with an incredible variety of things to do.

The small city is located about an hour northeast of Columbia, the state capital, along U.S. Highway 1. Established in 1730, Camden is the oldest remaining inland town in South Carolina. Originally called Fredericksburg, the town was renamed in honor of Lord Camden, a member of the British Parliament who fought for colonial rights, incidentally, foreshadowing a significant event in the town.

With two nights at a comfortable hotel, I was able to sample the local food, find a favorite coffee shop, do some clay target shooting, and learn a lot of history. Here is a list, in no particular order, of fantastic things to do when you visit Camden.

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Map of Things to Do in Camden

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No. 1

Learn History at Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site

The Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site is one of the most well-preserved Revolutionary War sites in South Carolina. The collection of historic buildings with a knowledgeable staff tells the pivotal story of the British occupation of Camden. British General Lord Cornwallis took up residence in a large house that is now open to the public for guided tours.

READ MORE: Road Trip to Discover the Revolutionary War Across South Carolina

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About fifteen minutes from Historic Camden on Flat Rock Road is the Battle of Camden Historic Site. Just three months after the British captured Charleston, Patriot General Horatio Gates was sent to counter the British invasion of South Carolina. General Lord Cornwallis met Gates at the Battle of Camden in 1780 on the site that is preserved today. Still in development, the site contains a single interpretative trail winding through the longleaf pine forest near a small parking lot.

Don’t Miss: The annual Revolutionary War Field Days is an event that draws hundreds of reenactors to the Historic Camden site for demonstrations and reenactments.

222 Broad Street, Camden, SC | 803-432-9841 | www.historiccamden.org

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No. 2

Visit the Camden Archives and Museum

By the late 1800s, steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie was one of the wealthiest men in the world. He was also one of the most generous philanthropists in history, with his most significant contribution to society being the Carnegie Library System.

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From 1883-1929, a total of 1,689 Carnegie Libraries were built across the United States, mostly in rural areas where no library existed before. Carnegie provided only the funds for building the library, usually around $5,000. At the same time, the local government had to contribute the remaining funds for the library’s assets. One of those libraries was built in Camden, and today it is the home of the Camden Archives and Museum.

The Archives houses one of the best genealogical research facilities in the state. But my favorite section was the museum where I found hundreds of artifacts dating back to the very beginning of Camden. The museum is home to the Ross E. Beard Jr. Collection, one of the most impressive collections of antique firearms I have ever seen.

1314 Broad Street, Camden, SC | 803-425-6050 | www.classicallycarolina.com/what-do/museums/camden-archives-museum

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Image courtesy of Julie Pricket.

No. 3

Attend a Horse Race at Springdale Race Course

Before visiting Camden, I had no idea steeplechase horse racing was still a thing! At the National Steeplechase Museum, I learned the old sport was still very much alive across the country. The museum featured a history of the horse racing sport in America, antique scales and old racing uniforms, and a fantastic trophy room.

READ MORE: 9 Small Towns (and 1 Small City) You Need to Visit in South Carolina’s Olde English District

The Carolina Cup is an annual race held at the Springdale Race Course in Camden. Thousands of spectators descend on the small city for a day of luncheons in tents, meeting riders in colorful uniforms, and culminating in the thrilling race for the cup.

200 Knights Hill Road, Camden, SC | 803-432-6513 | www.carolina-cup.org

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No. 4

Shoot Sporting Clays at Hermitage Farm Shooting Sports

After discovering a passion for shooting clay pigeons at the Palmetto Shooting Complex in Edgefield, I decided to make it a point to visit as many sporting clays shooting ranges as possible. The very next one I came across was Hermitage Farm Shooting Sports.

READ MORE: Discovering a Passion for Shooting Sporting Clays at the Palmetto Shooting Complex in Edgefield, SC

The 1,500-acre shooting range is locally owned and operated. A skeet shooting field on a small plateau is an excellent place to warm up for a day of shooting. But my passion is clay pigeons, small round discs launched into arcs over a field. The course was heavily wooded, and off-road golf carts made access simple. After picking up a rental shotgun and box of ammo, I was ready to see if my previous lessons were still fresh on my mind.

2362 Tickle Hill Road, Camden, SC | 803-432-0210 | www.hfsporting.com

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No. 5

Explore the 9 Historic Districts of Camden

A lot of towns have a historic district and maybe a specific downtown district, and that’s about it. But not in Camden. The fourth oldest city in the state has more than a few stories to tell. So the city has designated nine historic districts throughout the various neighborhoods.

The Kershaw County Visitor Center has a wonderful self-guided walking and driving tour map of the districts. With the map in hand, I learned about early settlers in the Colonial District, the history of Log Town in the Monument Square District, and viewed lavish homes in the Hobkirk’s Hill District.

READ MORE: 40 Travel Photos to Inspire You to Visit the Olde English District in South Carolina

Did You Know?

In 1900, banker Alexander White was walking to his home in Spartanburg when he noticed a small stray dog following him. White took the dog in and quickly realized he had an aptitude as a hunting dog.

White sent the dog, Dumpy, to his hunting friend Lemuel Boykin in Camden. Boykin began experimenting with crossbreeding Dumpy to create the perfect hunting dog with small body size and powerful stature. The result was the Boykin Spaniel, the state dog of South Carolina.

The Boykin Spaniel Society was created as a way of connecting owners of the famous hunting dogs and providing information on breeding, healthcare, and history. The annual National Field Trial is held in Camden, bringing hundreds of Boykin spaniel owners from across the country to the small city.

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Books on Broad was more than just a bookstore; it was a place to relax and escape from anything outside the doors.

No. 6

Go Shopping for Books and Antiques

There are two things I always search for in a new destination: coffee shops and bookstores. Can you imagine how happy I was to find both in the same location? Books on Broad was a charming locally-owned shop with home-style bookcases filled with new books. At the very back of the shop, I found the coffee shop and my morning mocha latte, delicious to the last drop.

Menagerie was my favorite antique shop to explore in Camden with antiques spread throughout a two-story warehouse. Just off Broad Street, the main street through downtown, was the Rutledge Street Gallery. The gallery hosts several local artisans, mostly specializing in painting.

But my favorite place to shop in town was Littlefield Growers. Usually, I would not include a local plant nursery on a list of places to shop, but I couldn’t resist this time. Every day I drove into Camden, I was treated to a gorgeous display of hanging baskets in front of the small brick building on Broad Street.

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Favorite Coffee Shop in Camden

It’s almost not necessary to pick a favorite coffee shop in Camden because there was only one. Still, it was fantastic, so I want to draw special attention to it. Books on Broad was a charming locally owned bookstore with an almost hidden coffee shop in the back. The mocha latte I ordered was fresh and savory, and there were a few chairs and tables in the small shop to enjoy it.

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No. 7

Satisfy Your Need for Speed at Carolina Motorsports Park

What happens when a couple of local racing enthusiasts buy an old airport? Carolina Motorsports Park was opened to the public in 1999 with a 2.7-mile road racing course that anyone can enjoy in their car. But if you’re unsure about taking the family minivan onto a road racing course, in 2010 a 0.7-mile kart racing course was completed!

Racing enthusiasts with their car can enjoy several ways of getting on the track, including “Taste of the Track” with a gentle introduction and “Turn One Track Days” with the pedal to the floor racing. The goal at Carolina Motorsports Park is to educate and train people to handle their vehicles so they can have the most fun!

READ MORE: Road Trip Through the Olde English District of South Carolina

But I think the most fun was to be had on the kart racing course. The fleet of Birel N-35 karts won’t take the flag at Daytona, but you’ll feel the speed going into the hairpin curves. A single race of 10 laps around the 16 turns will run you about $25, but you can get three races for just $60. Where do I sign up?

3662 Kershaw Highway, Kershaw, SC | 803-475-2448 | www.carolinamotorsportspark.com

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No. 8

Cast a Line or Take a Picture at Goodale State Park

Goodale State Park is a small park, and it’s not even the largest lake in Camden. But the 140-acre Adams Grist Mill Lake is excellent for fishing, kayaking, or enjoying from the shoreline. The park offers kayak and canoe rentals for just $10 for half a day or twice the price for a full day. A blue water trail winds along Big Pine Tree Creek leading into the lake.

Bring a picnic, or even better a meal from a local restaurant in town and enjoy the view from the tiny dam at the end of the lake. From a small parking area, it’s less than a minute to a great view of the lake covered in tupelo trees.

650 Park Road, Camden, SC | 803-432-2772 | southcarolinaparks.com/goodale

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No. 9

Spend a Night at Old McCaskill’s Farm

Kathy and Lee McCaskill own a gorgeous farmhouse just outside of Camden, and they welcome overnight guests! The bed & breakfast is one of the most charming places to spend a night in the state. Can you imagine spending a night on a working farm in the peaceful countryside?

Guest rooms include hardwood floors, antique furniture mixed with modern décor, and private bathrooms. A farm-to-table breakfast is served each day in the “country kitchen.” But the best part is guests are welcome to roam the farm and see all the animals!

377 Cantey Lane, Rembert, SC | 803-432-9537 | www.oldmccaskillfarm.com

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Little Midget was a cozy place with fantastic hotdogs, Broad Street Lunch served burgers on toasted bread, and the ice cream at Sweet Lili’s Desserts was so savory!

No. 10

Devour All the Local Food

If you’re ever indecisive about where to eat, Camden will be a difficult place to visit. The small city has a variety of amazing local restaurants to try. I never had a bad meal in Camden and had one that I’ll always remember.

For lunch, head over to Blackmon’s Little Midget Drive-In. The small restaurant got its start as a hot dog stand in 1954, built by a local who also owned a brewery nearby. In 1958, Ira and Evelyn Blackmon bought the restaurant. Three generations later, the family-owned restaurant is known for savory hotdogs and made from scratch pimento cheese.

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Broad Street Lunch is another excellent midday stop for food. This locally owned gem is the only restaurant I’ve ever visited that makes their cheeseburgers on toasted bread, just like I had growing up. I’ll never forget the delicious burger and crispy fries.

I would also recommend the Camden House of Pizza, a family-owned eatery specializing in pizzas served in a charming country setting. Salud Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Loungewas an excellent place to enjoy a massive burrito, cold Mexican beer, and the view from a second-story balcony overlooking the dining floor. The premier place to eat in town is Sam Kendall’s, located inside a rusting building with brick walls, hardwood flooring, and a tin metal roof. The owners put just as much thought into the menu as they did the building with savory appetizers, grilled steaks, and specialty dinners.

Of course, no lunch or dinner is complete without dessert! Sweet Lil’s Desserts on Broad Street was within walking distance of all the restaurants so you can earn that sweet finish to the day. Cupcakes baked fresh every day, and ice cream served in homemade waffle bowls certainly kept me coming back.

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Where to Stay in Camden

I already mentioned spending a night at Old McCaskill’s Farm in their lovely bed and breakfast, and I think that’s an excellent choice. But if you want to be closer to town for shopping, dining, and attractions, here are two more suggestions.

Bloomsbury Inn is a bed and breakfast located inside an 1849 historic home in downtown Camden. Each bedroom features unique furnishings and décor and includes an ensuite bathroom. The wrap around porch was my favorite feature, and of course, there are plenty of places to sit!

The hotel I recommend in Camden is Hampton Inn, my favorite corporate hotel chain. Hampton Inn has a variety of rooms with one or two queen or king beds. My favorite amenity at these hotels is the complimentary hot breakfast in the mornings, served buffet-style with a wide selection of options.

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Do you have a question about travel or road trips? Are you a CVB or DMO interested in working with me? I typically respond to emails within 24 hours. Quicker if you include a good riddle.
Do you have a question about travel or road trips? Are you a CVB or DMO interested in working with me? I typically respond to emails within 24 hours. Quicker if you include a good riddle.
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