Things to see at Hopelands Gardens

Things To See at Hopelands Gardens

Behind the serpentine brick wall, through an allée of ancient Live Oaks, 14 acres of stunningly beautiful nature await. Hopelands Gardens is a masterpiece that delights the eye, quiets the mind, and fills the heart. Follow the curving brick walkways towards the former winter colony home, Rye Patch, that sits on 10 more acres of history and tranquility.

Hopelands Gardens is located at 135 Dupree Place, just off Whiskey Road. The park is open from 10 a.m. until sunset. Parking is available at the Dupree Place entrance to the Gardens. Event parking for Concerts in Hopelands is available at the Green Boundary Club across Whiskey Road from the Gardens.

The Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum

The Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum celebrates the great tradition of Thoroughbred horse racing and the vital role that Aiken has played in horse racing history. Forty champion Thoroughbreds have trained at the famed Aiken Training Track, and each has been immortalized in the Hall of Fame. Featured in the museum are photos, trophies and other memorabilia that highlight the careers of these famous racehorses. Special exhibits and events happen throughout the year. Learn more by visiting the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum website.

Hours of Operation
Tuesday – Friday from 2 pm – 5 pm
Saturday from 10 am – 5 pm
Sunday from 2 pm – 5 pm
Closed on Mondays and major holidays.

Aiken's Citywide Arboretum i

Arboretum Trail

Hopelands Gardens and Rye Patch are part of the Aiken Citywide Arboretum. Valuable, rare, and unusual species from all over the world are found on these properties. Of these approximately 1,000 valuable trees, the most expensive is worth more than $70,000: the Deodar Cedar Cedrus Deodara, located by the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum. Bring your cell phone either call in or scan the QR codes on the tree identification plaques to get more information about each tree.



The Bird and Butterfly Garden

Located a short walk south of the Dupree Place parking lot, the Bird and Butterfly Garden features bird feeding stations, a bird bath, and plants that attract birds and butterflies. A gazebo and benches are there from which to observe the grounds, birds, and butterflies. This garden, donated by Edward S. Hallman and the Friends of Hopelands and Rye Patch, and dedicated in memory of Walter C. Plunkett, Jr., provides a meditative and reflective setting for Garden visitors.
Aiken's Citywide Arboretum i

Bluebird Houses

Bluebirds’ nest boxes in Hopelands Gardens and Rye Patch are part of the Bluebird Trail across South Carolina. The boxes are positioned to take advantage of the ideal bird habitat that the properties provide while offering a source of enjoyment for visitors. The boxes are monitored by South Carolina Bluebird Society volunteer trail monitors, and all activity is recorded weekly and given to the Cornell University School of Ornithology as part of a national research database.

Camellia Trail Gardens

Hopelands Gardens is part of The American Camellia Trail sponsored by the American Camellia Society. Camellias, planted by Hope Goddard Iselin dating back to the 1940s, can be found along the pathways. There are eighty different Camellia plants, 60 identified varieties, and 20 distinct cultivars or species. Camellias donated by the Aiken Camellia Society line the walkway inside the serpentine wall on Dupree Place. The Aiken Council of Garden Clubs provides a beautiful Camellia garden surrounding the courtyard in front of the Doll House. Pictures and descriptions of many traditional and unusual Camellias in Hopelands Gardens can be found on the American Camellia Society website.

Camellia Trail Gardens

The Doll House

The Doll House at Hopelands Gardens is the home of the Aiken Council of Garden Clubs. It is open to the public on Sundays for visits from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m., spring, summer, and fall, as well as during the evenings of Christmas in Hopelands. The Doll House contains antique toys and furniture. The building is an example of a one-room, wood frame, prefabricated modular structure designed by the Hodgson Company in 1903 and ordered through the mail.

Beside the Doll House is a Little Free Library. In back of the Doll House is a Blue Star marker, which memorializes the men and women who have served in the U.S. armed services.
Surrounding the courtyard in front of the Doll House is a Camellia garden.

The Aiken Council of Garden Clubs has been involved with Hopelands Gardens since the late 1970s. They maintain the Doll House and the plants and flowers surrounding it.

Iselin and McNair Sculptures

Located adjacent to the walkway near one of the reflecting pools is a sculpted bronze portrait bust of Hope Goddard Iselin, whose home Hopelands became Hopelands Gardens. Nearby is a sculpted bronze portrait bas-relief of James D. McNair, President of the Farmers and Merchants Bank of Aiken and first President of the Friends of Hopelands and Rye Patch. The bust and bas-relief were created by sculptor Maria Kirby-Smith and were given to Hopelands Gardens and Rye Patch in memory of James D. McNair by People’s Community Bank of South Carolina, First Citizens Bank and the Friends of Hopelands and Rye Patch.
Aiken's Citywide Arboretum i

Joan B. Tower Gazebo

The Joan B. Tower Gazebo, which stands on the bank of one lake, is an 18th century Italian design rotunda, the model of which was found in Florida. It is a popular photo setting.

The Labyrinth

The Labyrinth in Hopelands is an octagonal brick path, 45 feet in diameter, with a polished granite center. This spiritual pathway is patterned after a 13th century design at Amiens Cathedral, France, and offers a meditative walk, following the centuries-long tradition of labyrinths.
The Labyrinth
Oak Allee

Oak Allée

The Oak Allée is a beautiful oak-lined pathway entrance to Hopelands Gardens from the parking area off Dupree Place. This pathway was created in l974 by Robert Marvin, the landscape architect who designed Hopelands Gardens, and joined Hopelands Gardens with Rye Patch when it was given to the City of Aiken.

Pet Cemetery

Hope Iselin, though internationally known in Thoroughbred horse racing, was also devoted to small animals. Near the reflecting pools on the Whiskey Road side of Hopelands is her pet cemetery where six of her beloved dogs are buried.
Promenade Overlook

Promenade Overlook – Reflecting Pool

A frequent setting for weddings, the Promenade Overlook is a site from which to view the expanse of the Gardens – the large Oaks and huge Magnolias. The reflecting pools, which lead to the Overlook, were built on the foundation of the Hopelands’ residence. These areas were designed by SC landscape architect Robert Marvin.

Roland H. Windham Performing Arts Stage

The site for spring and summer concerts and weddings, the Roland H. Windham Performing Arts Stage sits across a lake in Hopelands Gardens. It was designed specially to resemble the historic buildings and equestrian theme of Hopelands. The earlier Performance Arts Isle, now the Performing Arts Stage, was part of the original 1974 plans for Hopelands to draw the community together for special events.
Roland Windham Performing Arts Stage

Sand Patios

There are sand patios that lead up to the reflecting pools from the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum. They are covered by a large Oak and Deodar Cedar, and the visitor will find outdoor tables and chairs for a picnic at Hopelands.

Water Rill

A water rill runs from its source near the serpentine wall on Whiskey Road, under a wooden bridge, toward the Wetlands. This water feature was a part of the 1974 plans of Robert Marvin, a landscape architect.
Water RILL
The Wetlands


The Wetlands, an area between Hopelands Gardens and Rye Patch, provide a natural filtration system. The Wetlands collect water that runs-off the streets and filter that water in the Wetlands pond to feed the lakes at Hopelands Gardens. The Wetlands provide a home to turtles, fish, Irises, and Bald Cypress. There is a wooden bridge that offers a place to view the Wetlands.