By far the main attraction in Orangeburg  is Edisto Memorial Gardens (200 Riverside Dr., 800/545-6153, www.orangeburg.sc.us/gardens , daily dawn–dusk, free). The “memorial” aspect is because they’re dedicated to the memory of local veterans who died in both world wars. But other than the nice sculpture at the Gardens’ entrance, there is little else remotely military about this wonderful, free sight right next to Orangeburg’s downtown.
As a nod to the city’s annual, popular Festival of Roses , the keynotes here are the vast fields of heirloom roses in a dazzling variety of colors, which you’ll be able to see about from April to November, with May being the best single month. You can’t pick the roses, but you can just about get lost wandering among the rows. A scenic duck pond provides a relaxing backdrop.
My favorite part of the Gardens is a relaxing walk on the elevated boardwalk along the banks of the north fork of the Edisto River, which meanders through the site. This blackwater river originates not far from town, and looking at it takes you right back into the old South—down to the old water-powered mill, still churning away at one bend.
Edisto Memorial Gardens is owned and operated by the city of Orangeburg , and while free of charge, occasionally some maintenance is overdue. Just pay attention—any unsafe section is clearly marked. The site takes on added brilliance—literally—in November and December, as Christmas-themed light displays occupy seemingly every corner of the Gardens.