Sometimes you just need to get out of the heart of the city and explore. Rock Hill, South Carolina, is just across the state border from Charlotte and got its name in 1852 during construction of the Charlotte/Columbia/Augusta Railroad line. Rail workers came across “a small, flinty hill” and named the location “Rock Hill.”
Here are the top 10 things to do when you arrive:
575 Herrons Ferry Road, Rock Hill, SC
Towering over the Catawba River, The Pump House is the latest iteration of a building that once operated as an industrial pump house. The plant used to pump about five million gallons of water each day to supply the Celanese textile and chemical plant. Now, visitors come here to enjoy a fine dining experience from the comfort of inside or from the exciting rooftop bar. The menu features beers, cocktails and wines, as well as small bites, salads and “entrees from the land and free, river and sea.”
Pro tip: You must have at least one drink on the rooftop deck.
River Park is located at 1782 Quality Circle
The Riverwalk: Piedmont Medical Center Trail is linked to River Park by a connector and stretches 3.35 miles from the park entrance. While the trail does not loop, it is dotted with benches, garbage cans and pet stations, with terrain ranging from paved surfaces to bridges. Restrooms can be found in the parking lot.
Pro tip: Bring your dog! Pets are allowed on the paths with a 3-foot leash.
(3) Drift down the Catawba River
Canoe, kayak or tube on the Catawba River. Bring your own equipment or rent from Twisted Beaver River Adventures, Rocking River Adventures or Kayaking 4 H2O. Two suggestions: Start at the Fort Mill Dam (2541 New Gray Rock Road, Fort Mill, SC) and travel 3.5 miles to Riverwalk with two small Class I rapids, or start at Riverwalk’s trailhead (575 Herrons Ferry Road, Rock Hill, SC) and travel 2.75 miles to River Park with a Class I/II rapid and another Class I rapid near the end.
Pro tip: Pack a small cooler for the optimal floating experience.
1912 Mt Gallant Road, Rock Hill, SC
Venture inside The Yolk for a warm, hospitable and hipster vibe and some fresh, breakfast-focused dishes by chef Gregory Collier. Think sweet potato waffles, eggs with cheesy grits and toast, and eggs benedict varieties.
Pro tip: Don’t overlook the board of daily specials around the kitchen entrance.
1000 Riverwalk Parkway, Rock Hill, SC
The Rock Hill Outdoor Center offers a collection of recreation amenities across about 250 acres. Dust off your bike for a whirl around the Rock Hill Outdoor Center, which includes three bike facilities: Giordano Veladrome, Criterium Course or Novant Health BMX Supercross Track. You can also check out the Rock Hill Outdoor Center Greens, an open green space intended for recreational activities. The Piedmont Medical Center Trail is part of the Center as well.
Pro tip: Be on the lookout for special events at the three bike facilities.
300 East Main St.
This small park is worth checking out for the 100-foot fountain that is its centerpiece. The park is the site for many of the city’s festivals, as well as Food Truck Friday and Old Town Farmers Market held Thursday evenings.
Pro tip: There’s a sign that says if you connect to Comporium Wifi you can control the fountain jets.
725 Crest St.
The 11-acre manicured garden features a creek, pond, walkways, a multitude of flowers and a veteran’s memorial. The garden was once the backyard garden of David and Hazel Bigger in 1928. Features include the Founders Federal Relaxation Garden, the Vernon Grant Wall of Whimsy and the Japanese Bridge. The garden is open daily, dawn until dusk, and admission is free.
Pro tip: While plants are blooming year-round, peak blooming season is generally late March and early April.
1536 Tom Steven Road, Rock Hill, SC
Did you know the Catawba Nation is the only federally recognized tribe in South Carolina? Learn about the history and culture of the Catawba Indian Nation while checking out exhibits, following walking trails (features include a Catawba dwelling, bark house and dugout trees) and browsing the craft store filled with crafts by native artisans.
Pro tip: Visitors can schedule an on-site program with drumming, dancing, pottery demonstration, storytelling, language and history information.
258 East White St., Rock Hill, SC.
The restored White Home was built in 1839 in the historic East Town District and was one of the first homes in the city. Today, it sits on three acres and serves as a start and finish point for Old Town Historic Walking Tours, as well as a an opportunity for visitors to see a collection of historical photographs and documents detailing 175 years of Rock Hill development.
Prices for a self-guided tour, guided tour and walking tour vary.
829 Terrace Park, Suite 104, Rock Hill, SC
Enjoy coffee, wine by the glass and craft beer on draft at one of the patio tables at Grapevine Wine Shop|Wine Bar. Add artisan cheese or a charcuterie plate, or choose a cigar from over 15 types in the cabinet.
Pro tip: This spot is only a short walk from the Riverwalk trailhead, if you find yourself needing a rest after your outdoor trek.
Reporting contributed by Jody Mace, Vanessa Infanzon and Katie Toussaint
Photos: Katie Toussaint, Riverwalk Carolinas, Jody Mace