"Maybe it's the Training Track on a Saturday morning as the fog is rising up..."

By Perri Ormont Blumberg
Aiken, South Carolina
Credit: Peter Frank Edwards/Redux

Sing it proudly through the branches of those Boundary Avenue Oaks: Aiken, South Carolina has been crowned the number one small town in Southern Living's South's Best awards for 2018.

Our survey included more than 32,000 responses, and Aiken certainly deserves the accolade. From year-round equestrian events and wonderful inns (the Inn at Rose Hill is a beaut) to a vibrant downtown and Hitchcock Woods, a sprawling 2,100-acre urban forest, it's no surprise so many Southerners are passionate fans of Aiken.

Many of Aiken's residents are excited by the honor, and yesterday, town Mayor Risk Osbon debuted Southern Living's April cover featuring those signature oaks. At the conference, Osbon shared some heartfelt words about his beloved town.

"Maybe it's the Training Track on a Saturday morning as the fog is rising up, and you see those first horses out there running," Osbon said to a crowd that had assembled at the Municipal Building, " Osbon said in his speech, as reported by the Aiken Standard. "Maybe it's the Boundary oaks that we have that are so picturesque and certainly represent our city. Or maybe it's the charm and character of our downtown that we all treasure so much. Those are just a few of the things that make Aiken special."

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Of course, what's a great town without great people? Head to a funky bistro or inviting gallery on Laurens Street, and you'll quickly see that Aiken gets the gold for that, too.