Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Orangeburg, SC

  • Published 2023/03/17

Also known as “The Garden City,” Orangeburg has so much to offer to visitors of its namesake county, Orangeburg, South Carolina.

This city is the seat of Orangeburg County, covering an area of 23.35 square kilometers.

The North Fork Edisto River meanders on the western side of Orangeburg City.

This riverine environment with fertile soil and abundant wildlife proved attractive for Orangeburg’s pioneers who came in starting in 1730.

The river also drove growth in Orangeburg in its early years, opening access to the port of Charleston on the Atlantic coast for its agriculture and lumber products.

Two higher education institutions—Claflin University and South Carolina State University—also helped grow Orangeburg as the county’s principal city.

You can best appreciate the many points of interest the city has developed over its long history in the following list of the best things to do in Orangeburg, SC.

Catch Bass at Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery

Scenic view of the Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery

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Established in 1911, this fish hatchery on Lakeview Street SW boasts a 100-acre reservoir hosted sports fishing events for visitors.

The typical catch includes largemouth bass, channel catfish, and bluegill sunfish.

Cranes at Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery

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The hatchery’s special events include the handicap/special needs fishing in May, National Fishing Week in June, and Senior Citizens fishing days in May.

Admission is free in this hatchery which also features a display aquarium highlighting its objectives to conserve, protect, and enhance the population growth of endangered and recreational fish species.

Crane flying over the swamps at Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery

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The Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery propagates various warm-water freshwater fish, including South Carolina’s state fish, the striped bass.

The fish from the hatchery are stocked annually in lakes, rivers, reservoirs, and coastal streams across the Southeast US.

Stunning view of the Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery

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Enjoy the Horne Wetlands Park

This park was added to the Edisto Memorial Gardens in 1992, featuring a 2,600-foot boardwalk alongside the beautiful natural setting of the North Fork Edisto River.

On the southern part of the Gardens, the boardwalk offers visitors a close-up look of a typical Tupelo-Cypress wetland.

It also provides a cypress display case sharing information about the ecosystem around the river.

Near this park is Orangeburg Landing, a boat dock where boaters from the river can pull up to enjoy its gazebo.

This park is accessible via Andrew Dibble Street.

The Orangeburg Disc Golf Course, likewise an extension of the Gardens, is another exciting destination in this area.

Visit I.P. Stanback Museum & Planetarium

This unique facility integrating the arts and sciences is on College Avenue on South Carolina State University campus.

Diverse forms of cultural expressions happen through this facility’s engagement with the humanities.

These displays include African art and cultural artifacts, like sculptures, paintings, prints,

Besides these traditional fine arts collections, the museum features historical photographs, including those taken during the Civil Rights Era.

This South Carolina State University attraction covers the cosmos in its 40-foot planetarium dome.

It is inside an 82-seat auditorium equipped with a Minolta II planetarium projection system.

The planetarium also boasts an exhibit of meteor fragments and gemstones.

Smell the Roses at the Edisto Memorial Gardens

Lovely pink roses in Edisto Memorial Gardens

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This attraction on Riverside Street explains why Orangeburg earned its Garden City title.

The Edisto Memorial Gardens flaunts 79 beds of roses on its 175-acre site adjacent to the North Fork Edisto River.

These beds feature 4,800 rose plants representing at least 120 rose varieties, including winners in the All-America Rose Selections.

Geese swimming on a lake at Edisto Memorial Gardens

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The Gardens host the Orangeburg Festival of Roses on the weekend before Mother’s Day.

Orangeburg also holds the Children’s Garden Christmas here starting from the Monday before Thanksgiving Day up to New Year.

Unique lavender colored roses at Edisto Memorial Gardens

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This Yuletide event features a half-mile trail with 111 lighted cherry trees, 28 animated displays, and 20 still displays.

The Edisto Memorial Gardens also boasts a serenity garden, terrace garden, butterfly garden, and sensory garden.

Wooden pedestrian bridge at Edisto Memorial Gardens

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Visit the Orangeburg Fine Arts Center

Orangeburg’s hub for creative talents is on Riverside Drive Southwest amid a park-like setting.

The Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center displays local art creations and offers different types of creative programs and events.

The creative talents meeting at the center regularly includes the local woodcarving club and quilt club members.

The art center’s campus near the picturesque Edisto River nestles amid trees draped with Spanish moss.

The facilities on the campus include a picnic shelter with tables and seating, plus two lighted tennis courts and a ball field.

Watch Dogs Run a Raccoon up a Tree

Time your Orangeburg visit around the first week of January for a chance to watch “The Grand American Coon Hunt.”

This competition of the United Kennel Club features some 300 dogs competing to see which pooch is best at running a raccoon up a tree.

This competition is traditionally held at the Orange County Fairgrounds off Magnolia Street.

Visiting Orangeburg sometime in early October promises another excitement in the fairgrounds, coming alive with the Orangeburg County Fair.

Starting in 1871, this event is one of South Carolina’s oldest continuous running fairs.

Besides carnival rides, exhibits, and culinary delights, the other highlights of this fair include music, pageants, and magic shows.

Go Boating on the Edisto River

Picturesque view of the Edisto River during autumn

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Within the city limits of Orangeburg, several boat ramps are accessible for boating trips on the North Fork Edisto River.

One of these is the Baughman’s Boat Ramp, conveniently located on Shillings Bridge Road.

Landscape of Edisto River

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However, parking here is limited, so this may be a good place only for small groups to launch a boat.

An alternative to access the Edisto River is the Orangeburg Landing on Andrew Dibble Street.

Boardwalk in Edisto River

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Make a Splash at Orangeburg County Aquatic Park

This 1.2-acre outdoor water park is a well-designed facility from the drawing boards of Texas and Montana-based pool specialists.

This water park features a lazy river, a children’s activity pool, two-family fun slides, and a toddler pool with a slide.

The park’s signature feature is its “Bowl Slide,” which sends you careening down a 35-foot curving ramp into a larger bowl.

Centrifugal force will keep you swirling around the slide before plummeting to a central hole below.

The Columbia YMCA operates this water park and a hydrotherapy/spa pool, and a year-round natatorium.

The other facilities here include concessions, a gymnasium, and a fitness center with a community room and lockers.

Swing Woods and Irons at the Hillcrest Golf Course

A municipal course, Hillcrest Golf Club, is one of the top public golf links in the Carolinas.

Located off State A & M Road, the Hillcrest Golf Course opened in 1973.

Its builders designed its 18-hole championship layout to test golfers of all skill levels.

The design offers par 72 play over 6,722 yards from the longest tees.

The Hillcrest Golf Club’s course has a rating of 70.5 and a 119 slope rating on Bluegrass.

Open year-round, the club provides complimentary golf facilities, such as practice areas for driving, chipping, and putting.

It also has a clubhouse grill and locker rooms.

In addition, four lighted hard-surface tennis courts available for public use are adjacent to the Hillcrest Golf Club.

Shop and Dine at the Prince of Orange Mall

Entrance of Prince of Orange Mall

Attitude2000, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This enclosed regional shopping mall is on Chestnut Street Northeast on the city’s northern end.

It was built in 1984 and named after William IV, Prince of Orange, who also lent its name to the city.

Department store at Prince of Orange Mall

Attitude2000, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Prince of Orange Mall’s anchor retailer is the department store, Belk, offering a variety of items like shoes and apparel.

Tenants in the mall’s 336,000 square feet of commercial space also include gifts and specialty shops, entertainment and electronic stores, health and beauty shops, jewelers, and restaurants.

Play Old School Games at Nostalgic Nerd

This unique video arcade focuses on retro gaming systems.

It offers more than a dozen gaming stations operating different popular consoles, which helped shape gaming history.

Players at Nostalgic Nerd can pick from more than 200 games loaded on PlayStation, Nintendo, Atari, Sega, and Xbox 1 consoles.

Besides retro gaming, this fun center also features tabletop games and card games, plus an extensive collection of comics for a genuinely nostalgic getaway.

Dine at the House of Pizza on Sims Street

This restaurant is a family-friendly spot that has served Orangeburg locals and visitors for about 30 years.

Besides the pizza on its marquee, it has also become famous for its American and Greek menu items.

Diners’ picks in this restaurant include build-your-own pizza, Angus hamburger steak, Greek marinated chicken, and Tortellini pasta topped with Alfredo.

House of Pizza on Sims Street also offers its barrel-themed sports bar, where you can order beer, cocktails, and wine by the glass or bottle.

Treat Yourself at the Inside the 4 Way Seafood & Soul-Food Restaurant

Ruby Tuesday restaurant in Orangeburg

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The intersecting corridors of Magnolia Street and Chestnut Street host several homegrown Orangeburg restaurants that stand out among the city’s fast-food chains.

For mouth-watering seafood choices, you’re likely to fall in love with the menu of Inside the 4 Way Seafood & Soul-food Restaurant on Magnolia Street.

All servings are cook-to-order and revolve around fried fish, stone stew, field peas and snaps, and broccoli casserole.

On Chestnut Street, grills work double-time at Duke’s Bar-B-Q, which thrives on a long-time family recipe.

Go Skating at Jammer’s Skate-N-Fun Center

This family entertainment has welcomed skaters since 1948.

Skate-N-Fun Center takes pride as the oldest skating rink in the southeastern US.

Attesting to its superb maintenance, this hub for family entertainment still features its original 9,000-square-foot maple floor skating rink.

It has also added dazzling new lighting and a great sound system to present itself as a complete family fun center.

A complete pro shop can make onsite repairs and assist patrons in picking the pair of skates suitable for their ability and skating style.

Aside from its flagship skating rink, Jammer’s Skate-N-Fun Center also provides an arcade with over 30 games.

Besides a snack bar, it also features an indoor playground with a 12-foot slide, an obstacle maze, a bounce room, and a rope swing.

Rev It up at Bowman Dragway

This small-town, family-friendly dragstrip is on Berrywood Road on the southeastern edge of Orangeburg.

Conveniently accessible from Interstates 95 and 26, it features a one-eighth mile, all-concrete track.

Even as Bowman Dragway is on the city’s outskirts, good food is available here while you watch drag racers burn rubber on the track.

Check this track’s event schedule; it’s also an emerging venue for music concerts.

Watch a Live Show at the BlueBird Theatre

The BlueBird Theatre is your one-stop indoor entertainment center for live performances in Orangeburg.

Its first opening was in 1916 during the height of the old show theaters and film viewings.

However, with many management changes, this theater didn’t last.

It was not until 1998 that it reopened in its current location.

Several years later, this performing arts venue paved the way for local plays to reach a wider range of audience.

From fun musicals to horror plays, you’ve got several performances to choose from.

The BlueBird Theatre is on Russell Street.

Ride the Mechanical Bull at the Annual Day of Hope

The annual Day of Hope is not only a recreational festival but also an event that celebrates life.

Started in 2021, this event operates under the leadership of Palmetto Palace.

It serves to shed a spotlight on healthy living and the relevance of community resources.

Some of its usual event attractions include free health screenings and vaccinations.

There’s also a mechanical bull and a large inflatable for kids to explore and play on.

Munch on barbecue servings as you explore the free sites and stalls within the area.

Celebrated every July, Day of Hope takes place within Orangeburg County Fairgrounds on Magnolia Street.

Study the Architecture at The Pink Palace

The Pink Palace is one of the sites included in the National Register of Historic Places.

Built in 1860, this is the building for the old Orangeburg County Jail.

Its architectural design came from the genius minds of architects, Edward C. Jones and Francis D. Lee.

In fact, the building is one example of a Gothic castellated architectural style that takes inspiration from the English neo-Gothic design.

In the 1950s, it got its name The Pink Palace after the then South Carolina senator’s wife had the building painted pink.

Today, the palace is void of occupants.

Though the Pink Palace is not open for tours within its interiors, just stopping by and admiring its exterior is already visit-worthy.

You can find this historic building on Meeting Street.

Host a Party at the Max Family Entertainment

Looking for an all-around center where you and your family can have fun together?

Say no more at Max Family Entertainment.

This indoor facility offers the best of wall-to-wall adventures and age-friendly attractions.

Get lost in the nostalgia that the arcade machines offer.

Challenge your loved ones and friends with a round of Laser Tag or Bumper Cars.

And if you prefer mind exercises over physical ones, try beating the clock at the center’s Escape Rooms.

Max Family Entertainment is on Red Bank Road with open doors for you and your group’s entertainment preferences.

Admire the Beautiful Roses at the Orangeburg Festival of Roses

You are not fully experiencing Orangeburg without a visit to its iconic Orangeburg Festival of Roses.

This annual event started in 1972.

Over the years, it has become a city staple and takes pride in being one of the most attractive and beautiful events within the area.

It takes place in the Edisto Memorial Gardens every spring.

Aside from the colorful displays of flowers, the event also features arts and crafts and carnival rides.

Be sure not to miss the Orangeburg Festival of Roses!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Explore Santee State Park

Trees growing on a lake in Santee State Park

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This 2,500-acre state park is in the town of Santee, about 27 miles east of the city of Orangeburg.

Meanwhile, the Santee State Park is on the south shore of the 10,000-acre Lake Marion, contributing much to the park’s popularity as a recreation area.

A turtle climbing up on a log submerged in water at Santee State Park

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The park draws visitors who love boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, camping, and birding.

It has two campgrounds: Cypress View with 50 sites and Lakeshore Campground with 108 locations.

A narrow wooden bridge in Santee State Park

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Visitors can choose one of its 30 cabins, with 10 of them on piers over the lake.

Watch a Race at the South Carolina Motorplex

Catch the action on the tracks of the South Carolina Motorplex on Dragstrip Road in the town of Neeses, about 9 miles west of Orangeburg.

This family-friendly facility, which draws thousands of spectators for its drag racing events, has also emerged as a venue for music concerts and rodeos.

The cowboys and cowgirls of the Outlaw Rodeo Company have shown their wares at the Carolina Motorplex.

The “Friday Night Front Porch” concert series that debuted here also regularly sells out.

At the same time, many more fans await the monster trucks and tractors to take on the tracks of the South Carolina Motorplex.

Hunt Quails in Branchville

Some 26 miles south of Orangeburg, Branchville is home to Williams Quail Hunting.

You can jump off for upland bird hunting with experienced handlers from its base on the town’s Goodland Road.

Well-trained dogs will also join your party at Branchville’s hunting preserve in a foray.

During this trip, you’ll explore woodlands of mature pine timber for an old-school plantation quail hunting experience.

Final Thoughts

Myriads of activities await visitors of Orangeburg, with its great parks and gardens plus the city’s urban amenities.

This city stands out for Orangeburg County, which you shouldn’t miss during your South Carolina trip.

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