In the northeastern corner of South Carolina, Darlington is the county seat and a popular destination for NASCAR fans. Whether you’re just in town for the races or settling in Darlington for good, this dog-loving city will welcome your fur family with open paws.
Darlington’s history predates the automobile; it was originally built as a cotton trading post for surrounding plantations. A courthouse town since 1785, Darlington is dotted with historic homes and landmarks — an ideal city to enjoy on foot. There are five separate districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
These days, Darlington is best known as home to Darlington Raceway, nicknamed “the Lady in Black” by some NASCAR fans and famous for its difficult asymmetrical track. The raceway’s official campgrounds welcome well-behaved dogs, although pups can’t join you for the actual race. (Hey, sounds like a great reason to book a walk.) If camping isn't your thing — not everyone wants to ruff it — you can also check in at the pet-friendly Raceway Inn.
Williamston Park is the dog-walking destination of choice in Darlington. This leafy nature preserve has one main trail with additional boardwalks over the creek and wetlands. You’ll spot hawks and songbirds while your pups sniff out turtles, lizards, and snakes; most species are harmless, but keep dogs on-leash for everyone’s protection.
Take a walking tour of Downtown Darlington and bone up on your local lore. Start at the St. John Elementary in the north of town and walk through the St. John’s Historic District, where Spanish moss drapes the trees around gracious Victorian homes. Head a couple of blocks east to Main Street and Courthouse Square, built in all brick thanks to an 1825 anti-fire law passed after the first courthouse burned down. Continue south down Main and veer off onto Broad Street: head east for the Darlington Industrial Historic District, and pause in the shade at Frank and Mary Sue Wells Park after viewing the old cotton warehouses. Or, head west for the West Broad Street Historic District: note the historical marker at the Lawrence Reese House and admire the other nineteenth-century mansions.