Formed when two small towns consolidated in 1992, Batesburg-Leesville is an outer suburb of Columbia just a 40-minute drive from the South Carolina State Capital Building. With all the creature comforts that city dogs might want, the community still keeps its friendly Southern charm.
You can find a veterinary hospital right in town, but you’ll drive into nearby Lexington for most of your shopping and dining needs. Don’t worry: your pups have five pet supply stores to sniff out in Lexington, which is 17 miles east. Locally-owned Animal Supply House on Augusta Highway is the closest and a pawpular source for raw diets. Your own dining options are plentiful, too: Lexington has 22 pet-friendly restaurants with outdoor seating.
For a weekend adventure, Aiken State Park is less than 40 minutes south, and the Jungle Nature Trail takes you on boardwalks over the wetlands and through dense forest for an easy 3-mile journey. Your fur family can get in a good workout closer to home, too. Summit Park on W Hampton St in Leesville has a rubberized walking track and natural paths to explore on-leash, and Gilbert Community Park in the adjacent town of Gilbert has a peaceful trail system ideal for a walking off a long workday with your BFFs.
The highlight of any trip into Lexington is a stop by the Paw Park, the nearest off-leash play place from Batesburg-Leesville, located on the eastern edge of Lexington, right outside the Gibson Forest neighborhood. Proof of vaccination and a reasonable yearly registration fee apply. Membership gets your pooches access to three acres of pure freedom! If you’ve both been very good boys at the park, consider a different kind of fun at Maurice’s BBQ Piggy Park just to your north, where you’ll all want to chow down at the pet-friendly outdoor tables. A mile or so south, Gibson Pond Park is a 15-acre haven with a walking trail along the creek and pond. The pond’s dam took damage in South Carolina’s devastating 2015 flooding and is still being rebuilt, so water levels are low during the transition. The peace and occasional wildlife sightings are worth a visit regardless.
Just a block from Lexington's Main Street, scenic Virginia Hylton Park is ideal for a weekend walk. Though your pups must stay on-leash, this peaceful spot with a butterfly garden also has nature trails that lead to an overlook along the creek. Extend your walk down Main Street, past the County Courthouse and traditional brick storefronts. Well-maintained sidewalks throughout downtown make it easy on the paws. Three blocks east on Main, dinner awaits at The Old Mill Brew Pub; gnaw some upscale pub grub on their massive covered patio, and the staff will welcome your pups with open arms, bowls of water, and plenty of pats.
The 460-acre Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve is 23 miles south of Batesburg-Leesville. It has a Lexington postal address but is located between Pelion and Edmond. This hiker's paradise is worth every inch of the journey. The park is run by the Nature Conservancy nonprofit, and on-leash dogs are welcome. The Heritage Preserve offers 7.5 miles of trails through pine forest and past some interesting geological features: the eponymous Peachtree Rock is a limestone pyramid on its side, while the upright Little Peachtree Rock seems to defy gravity. If you like an extra challenge, download plant- and bird-spotting checklists from the Nature Conservancy website ahead of time. Be sure to clean up after your pet and protect the trails for the next guy.
About 25 miles from Batesburg-Leesville, the town of Edgefield is steeped in history. You can soak up the local lore while stretching the old paws, and Main Street is the place to be. Start in Courthouse Square; the beautiful Edgefield County Courthouse was built in 1809 with additions in the 1820s and 1830s, and the brick-front downtown shopping district and gracious 19th century homes that extend for several blocks down Main Street have wide, safe sidewalks for enjoying the view. At the intersection of Main Street and Mims Street, catch the Ten Governors Rail Trail. This smooth, easily-accessible converted railway runs for a mile. It is dotted with historical markers that feature the lives of 10 governors who called Edgefield home, so you can bone up on your South Carolina history while getting a good doggy workout.