Battlefield cannon, siege trenches and mounds at Ninety Six National Historic Site. (©Zack Frank/Shutterstock)
By Jennifer McKee
About an hour due north of Augusta lies Ninety Six, South Carolina, home to a historic site that proved a strategic location in the Revolutionary War.
Named by Charleston traders for the estimated number of miles from the site to the Cherokee village of Keowee, Ninety Six was the first land battle south of New England in 1775. Later in the war, the frontier town was fortified by the British, and in 1781, General Nathanael Greene, with 1,000 patriot troops, staged the war’s longest field siege. Its earthen Star Fort remains as one of the best-preserved examples of an original 18th century fortification.
Ninety Six’s level, easy-to-navigate trail is perfect for all ages and skill levels. Its points of interest are well documented, and there’s plenty of shade and benches for taking a rest. Even when traveling through at a leisurely pace, the site can be seen in 1.5 to two hours, provided you don’t take one of the ancillary trails. This leaves you plenty of time to explore the surrounding towns of Greenwood and Abbeville, and you should.
Fourteen miles west of Ninety Six, Greenwood is the perfect spot to grab lunch and do some shopping—a drive along Main Street has everything you need. You’ll find delicious and authentic Cuban cuisine at the Buenavista Latin Grill, where the lunch specials are plentiful. Don’t leave without trying the ham and cheese croquetas, and if you have room for dessert, tres leches cake and flan beckon.
Next, it’s time for some retail therapy. Just down from Buenavista is McCaslan’s Book Store, Sugar Boutique and Blossom Shoes & Such. Need a pick-me-up? There are also many spas and salons to fit your every need.
Another 13 miles west is Abbeville, known as the “birthplace and deathbed of the Confederacy.” Much of the architecture dates back to the Civil War, and in the Burt-Stark Mansion, the war finally came to an end—it was here, in 1865, that Jefferson Davis held the Confederacy’s last council and admitted “all is indeed lost.” The home is open for tours, but be sure to bring cash.
You also won’t want to miss the Abbeville Opera House, known for its musical and comedy acts. The opera house is a city landmark and recently reopened after being closed due to the pandemic. Learn more about the opera house and upcoming acts here.