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20 Best Things to Do in Rock Hill, South Carolina

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Located in York County, the South Carolina city of Rock Hill lies along the beautiful Catawba River and is just 75 miles from the Blue Ridge Mountains. Though the city was founded in 1852 after a major railroad company decided to build a line through the area, it was not incorporated until long after the Civil War in 1892.

Rock Hill played several important roles in the Confederate United States during the Civil War. The railroad that ran through the city provided a place for troops and supplies to be transferred to and from the front lines of the battle.

It was also a place where the sick and wounded were cared for and where a temporary Confederate headquarters was set up to prevent General Sherman from marching his troops through the city.

Rock Hill was also a prominent location during the Civil Rights Movement, where sit-in protests, Freedom Riders, and Civil Rights acts of resistance garnered attention from the entire nation.

In addition to Rock Hill’s rich history and historical sites, the city is a hub of culture, nature, education, and the arts. Numerous outdoor activities such as horseback riding, hiking, biking, water attractions, and even ziplines provide fun for the entire family.

Museums, historical buildings, gardens, art, and nature centers are some other amazing things to do in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

TL;DR

  • Most significant landmark – Catawba Indian Cultural Center
  • Best park – Ebenezer Park
  • Free activity – Glencairn Gardens
  • Activity for kids – Main Street Children’s Museum
  • Activity for adults – Museum of York County
  • Place to eat – The Flipside Restaurant
  • Nightlife – Downtown Rock Hill
  • Place to stayFairfield Inn & Suites by Marriot Rock Hill

Things to do in Rock Hill, South Carolina

1. Downtown Rock Hill

Downtown Rock Hill
Image by Hashtag youre itCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Downtown Rock Hill, also known as Old Town Rock Hill, encompasses the city’s original town center and neighborhoods. Some of the buildings in the area date back to 1840, and many of the historic homes have been renovated to reflect their early beginnings.

In addition to the city’s past, Downtown Rock Hill also features unique shops, stores, and restaurants that provide hours of happy distraction for everyone who visits, with the Flipside Restaurant being a favorite of locals and tourists!

The downtown environment is also home to other family-friendly activities such as concerts, festivals, parades, and races. Those looking to stay within walking distance of this lovely historical area should consider staying at the well-appointed Boho Bliss rental.

See Related: Day Trips from Charleston, South Carolina

2. Main Street Children’s Museum

Main Street Children's Museum
Image from TripAdvisor

Address: 133 E Main St, Rock Hill, SC 29730, United States

The Main Street Children’s Museum is located in Rock Hill’s downtown area and is part of the Culture & Heritage Museums of York County. It is best suited for children ages six and under. This fun museum turns well-known nursery rhymes into full-scale play areas and interactive exhibits.

It provides engaging learning spaces and educational opportunities to help children learn about the world around them. It’s a great place for families with younger kids to spend a few hours before beginning the day’s adventures. The museum requires online ticket purchasing, with tickets only good for the date selected.

See Related: Best Museums in Charleston, South Carolina, to Visit

3. Glencairn Gardens

Glencairn Gardens
Image by Mike Kalasnikused under CC BY-SA 2.0

Address: 725 Crest St, Rock Hill, SC 29730, USA

Though the peak season for the flowers in this beautiful downtown garden is late March through early April, it is filled with lovely blossoms and greenery year-round. The Glencairn Gardens began in 1928 as David and Hazel Bigger’s backyard garden.

Today, this once private area now encompasses 11 acres in Downtown Rock Hill and is home to South Carolina’s largest event, the annual Come-See-Me Festival.

Some of the garden’s interesting attractions include the picturesque Come-See-Me tiered fountain, the Vernon Grant Wall of Whimsy, and the Veterans Garden. This charming location is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Rock Hill.

See Related: Things to Do in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

4. Comporium Telephone Museum

Comporium Telephone Museum building exterior
Comporium Telephone Museum / Facebook

Address: 117 Elk Avenue, Rock Hill, SC 29730, United States

The Comporium Telephone Museum sits in the heart of the downtown area and shows the early days of phone communication through displays and interactive exhibits.

The museum also shares the history and technology of early telephones, including topics such as phone operators, switchboards, phone line repair, and tools of the trade.

Featured exhibits include the first phone in Rock Hill, a 1927 Mack truck used by the early phone company, and an up-close look at how electromechanical switches forever changed phone calls.

The museum is free for all guests and is open four days a week. Please check the website for the most current information on days and hours of operation.

5. Fountain Park

Fountain Park
Image by Kydavis5CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 300 E Main St, Rock Hill, SC 29730, United States

Fountain Park is one of Downtown Rock Hill’s newer features. The land it sits on was once known as the ugliest parking lot in the city. However, now it’s known as a beautiful community space with a huge interactive water fountain, a lovely open green area, and an intimate performance stage.

In addition to providing a relaxing space to read and meditate, Fountain Park hosts festivals and events, including Movies at the Park, Oktoberfest, Halloween celebrations, Christmas and holiday festivities, and more. Its central downtown location is perfect for city activities, a quick lunch break, or relaxing in a restful outdoor venue.

See Related: Best South Carolina Beaches

6. Museum of York County

Museum of York County
Image From TripAdvisor

Address: 4621 Mt Gallant Rd, Rock Hill, SC 29732, United States

The Museum of York County provides a variety of learning opportunities for visitors of all ages. As a part of the Culture & Heritage Museums family, this natural history museum offers more than 2,000 specimens to view, as well as exhibits that range from art and nature to space and dinosaurs.

The Settlemyre Planetarium features show and programs focused on the solar system and beyond. The Tot Town is perfect for younger visitors, and the museum’s picnic tables and nature trail are great for the whole family.

The Museum of York County also has a Smithsonian-style education center, an interactive Ice Age exhibit, and a museum store. The museum is open six days a week, and tickets should be purchased online in advance. The website has the most current information on days and hours of operation.

See Related: Best Walking Tours in Charleston

7. Rock Hill Fire Department Museum

Rock Hill Fire Department Museum
Image from TripAdvisor

Address: 214 S Elizabeth Ln, Rock Hill, SC 29730, United States

Built and designed entirely by the Rock Hill Fire Department, the museum provides fire education, history, and a detailed glimpse into the life of firefighters to everyone who visits. The Rock Hill Fire Department Museum is one of the best fun activities in the city, especially for younger children.

It features a life-size fire truck, a mockup of a two-story home and fire station, a real ambulance with medical equipment, an antique fire truck, and many other hands-on experiences to help visitors of all ages learn about fire safety and firefighter’s responsibilities.

The museum also has a gift shop, snack area, and a real fire pole, which is always a favorite among visitors! Reservations for the museum are currently required and can be made through the museum’s website.

See Related: Things to Do in Travelers Rest, South Carolina

8. Ebenezer Park

Ebenezer Park
Image from TripAdvisor

Address: 4490 Boatshore Rd, Rock Hill, SC 29732, United States

Located on the shores of Lake Wylie, Ebenezer Park provides 26 acres of recreational activities and overnight camping. The beautiful 13,443-acre Lake Wylie borders North and South Carolina, allowing visitors to enjoy boating, fishing, swimming, and other water sports.

Ebenezer Park amenities include walking trails, picnic areas, green spaces, and plenty of places to sit and relax while enjoying the waterfront views. The 66 campsites in the park can accommodate RVs, trailers, and tents and provide full hookups for electricity, water, and sewer.

Picnic tables and fire rings are also available at each site. The campground is open year-round, and reservations are required in advance. Ebenezer Park is perfect for a relaxing family trip surrounded by the lovely South Carolina scenery.

9. Gettys Art Center

Gettys Art Center
Image by Bill Fitzpatrick used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Address: 201 E Main St, Rock Hill, SC 29730, United States

Managed by the Arts Council of York County and located in the Downtown Rock Hill Cultural District, the Gettys Art Center provides a place for local artists to work, perform, and share their love of the arts.

It is home to several organizations, including Downtown Artistry, the Rock Hill Pottery Center, Friday Arts Project, the Arts Council of York County, Concerts at the Courtroom, and individual artist studios.

The Gettys Art Center is housed in one of Rock Hill’s historic buildings and serves as a venue for community events, activities, and art-related gatherings.

Visitors will enjoy attending the concerts held in the renovated historic courtroom of the building and exploring the many different styles of art the center houses.

See Related: Best Restaurants in Charleston, South Carolina

10. The Catawba Indian Cultural Center

The Catawba Indian Cultural Center
Image from TripAdvisor

Address: 1536 Tom Steven Rd, Rock Hill, SC 29730, United States

The Catawba Indian Cultural Center provides an in-depth look at the Catawba Indian Nation, the only tribe in South Carolina recognized by the federal government. The tribe has lived along the Catawba River for at least 6,000 years and today recognizes their modern tribal lands as within York County.

The cultural center contains interactive exhibits, displays, and art that showcase the rich history of the Catawba people. The center also has walking trails and an artisan shop with crafts, jewelry, and pottery made by native artists.

The Yehasuri Trail, located on the grounds of the cultural center, dates back to 1810 and currently serves as a nature trail, a living exhibit, and a timeline of the Catawba tribe. Some exhibits include a heritage garden, a replica of a 19th-century historic home, and a 19th-century archaeology site.

At the end of the easy trail, visitors will be rewarded with an amazing view of the Catawba River and the peaceful sounds of the rushing water. This amazing site offers an intimate and compelling education on the Catawba Indian Nation and its history in South Carolina.

11. Anne Springs Close Greenway

Anne Spring Close Greenway
SSE Photography / Shutterstock.com

Address: 104 Adventure Rd, Fort Mill, SC 29715, United States

Located less than 20 minutes from Rock Hill, the lovely nature preserve of Anne Springs Close Greenway is well worth the drive! Found in Fort Mill, South Carolina, the preserve takes up 2,100 acres, making it twice the size of Central Park.

The Greenway has several historical buildings, 40 miles of trails, and several lakes. Visitors can enjoy hiking and biking trails, nature walks, kayaking, swimming, fishing, horseback riding, camping, and many more activities at the preserve.

They can also learn about the site’s historical link with the Catawba Indians and the Civil War. The Anne Springs Close Greenway is ideal for enjoying a peaceful nature outing when you visit York County and its beautiful countryside.

See Related: Best South Carolina Beaches

12. McCrory’s Civil Rights Site

McCrory's Civil Rights Site
Image from nps.gov

In February of 1960, nine black students from Friendship Jr. College refused to leave the lunch counter after being denied service at McCrory’s Five and Dime. Their bold move was one of the first of many sit-in protests that became vital to the Civil Rights Movement.

The students were arrested for not leaving the premises, but their actions garnered nationwide attention. They set the stage for similar protests that would continue nationwide for over a year.

Visiting this historic site allows current residents and tourists to honor the Friendship Nine and their significant contribution to civil rights.

13. Freedom Walkway

Freedom Walkway, Rock Hill, South Carolina
Freedom Walkway / Freedom Walkway

Address: 139 E Main St, Rock Hill, SC 29730, United States

As a continuing effort to honor equality, liberty, and justice for all, Rock Hill has erected a stunning mural and walkway just off Main Street. The Freedom Walkway, as it is called, celebrates the individuals, both past and present, who have worked to achieve these three essential rights.

The mural portrays many elements of freedom, the civil rights movement, and the quest for justice. It also contains educational panels that detail parts of civil rights history as well as modern examples of those who strive for equality and justice today.

Exploring the symbolism and creativity of the Freedom Walkway is one of the best things to do in Rock Hill, SC, to learn more about the city’s history.

See Related: Best Breweries in Charleston, South Carolina

14. Historic Brattonsville

Historic Brattonsville
Image by Bill FitzpatrickCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 1444 Brattonsville Rd, McConnells, SC 29726, United States

Situated a half hour from Rock Hill, Historic Brattonsville provides a glimpse of a frontier farming plantation as well as early American history that encompasses the experiences of the Scots-Irish and African-American peoples.

The historic site also covers the Revolutionary War and life in 18th-century South Carolina. The 800-acre site contains more than 30 historic buildings from the colonial and antebellum eras, as well as a plantation house, a number of museums, and more than eight miles of biking, hiking, and equestrian trails.

Historic Brattonsville has an award-winning Heritage Farm Program that highlights frontier farming and features animals that would have been present on an old frontier farming plantation.

In addition to these opportunities, the site is home to a Revolutionary War re-enactment that portrays the Battle of Huck’s Defeat.

This annual battle re-plays the pivotal encounter between the British and Patriot soldiers. The fascinating history of this amazing location makes it one of the best things to do in Rock Hill.

15. Canaan Zipline Canopy Tour

Canaan Zipline Canopy Tour

Address: 3111 Sand Island Rd, Rock Hill, SC 29732, United States

The Canaan Zipline Canopy Tour is part of Camp Canaan, an organization devoted to helping others discover their purpose and find hope as they grow in faith. The camp offers retreats and adventure programs to the greater Charlotte area.

The Canaan Zipline Canopy Tour features nine different ziplines and challenge elements, with the longest zipline being 900 feet long. The Full Tour is the longest, taking about three hours, while the Bootleg Tour offers a smaller sampling with only five ziplines included.

A nighttime zipline tour is also available. All experiences take guests through the trees and over the Catawba River for views of the lovely scenery, native wildlife, and lush vegetation.

Visitors will have such a great time that they’ll want to come back and do it all again! If you’re looking for someplace to stay close to the ziplines, consider this lovely rental.

See Related: Friend Vacation Ideas

16. Rock Hill Outdoor Center

Family games at Rock Hill Outdoor Center
Rock Hill Outdoor Center / cityofrockhill.com

Address: 1159 Riverwalk Parkway, Rock Hill, SC 29730, United States

The Rock Hill Outdoor Center is located in the outdoor community of Riverwalk. Its position along the Catawba River makes it the perfect place to enjoy activities such as walking, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, field games, and bicycling.

It also features lovely green spaces, wildlife viewing, fishing opportunities, and many places to sit and relax. The Velodrome, the Novant Health BMX Supercross Track, and the Rock Hill Criterium Course are also located nearby, giving visitors even more options.

The Rock Hill Outdoor Center is open year-round and provides countless ways to enjoy the river and outdoor amenities.

17. Carowinds Amusement Park

Carowinds Amusement Park
Image by Dough4872CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: North Carolina, United States

The Carowinds Amusement Park is a great place to spend a fun day in South Carolina! Located just 30 minutes from Rock Hill, the park features roller coasters, a waterpark, plenty of live entertainment, and many special events that are fun for the whole family!

Popular rides include everything from carnival-style attractions to massive, high-speed roller coasters. The waterpark allows guests to unwind while drifting along a lazy river, practice their boogie-boarding skills on a fun racer, and speed down a huge 6-story waterslide.

Younger visitors will love the Camp Snoopy rides, attractions, and many of fun opportunities at the waterpark. A hotel and campground are also located on the property for anyone wishing to extend their amusement park visit to more than one day.

18. Manchester Meadows Park

Manchester Meadows Park
Image by Mx. Granger used under CC0 via wikipedia

Address: 337 E Mt Gallant Rd, Rock Hill, SC 29730, United States

Manchester Meadows is a lovely park and recreation area in Rock Hill. Park amenities include eight soccer fields with outdoor stadium seating, a playground, walking and biking trails, and lovely picnic areas and pavilions.

The trails on this 70-acre park offer paved and lighted paths, a wetlands trail, and a 1.1-mile loop that connects to additional trails throughout the park. There are several picnic pavilions, including the Lake Pavilion and the Playground Pavilion.

While some of the sites have access to bathrooms and come with power outlets, others do not. Be sure to check which pavilions offer these amenities before making a reservation. For a great place to stay near Manchester Meadows, try the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriot Rock Hill.

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19. Piedmont Medical Center Trail

Piedmont Medical Center Trail
Image from TripAdvisor

Address: Piedmont Medical Center Trail Rock Hill, SC 29730, USA

The Piedmont Medical Center Trail runs through the Riverwalk community and provides space for walking, jogging, or biking along the Catawba River. The trail is an easy paved path that runs 2.5 miles one way.

As part of Rock Hill’s Trail and Greenway System, the Piedmont Trail connects to an extended network that branches off River Park and the Waterford Golf Course Trail, among others.

Benches are provided periodically along the path, allowing visitors to sit and enjoy their surroundings while resting. Pets are welcome as long as they remain on a leash.

20. Winthrop University

Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC.
Image by Jason A G used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Address: 701 Oakland Ave, Rock Hill, SC 29733, USA

Founded in 1886, Winthrop University has a rich history of academic excellence. The beautiful campus is located not far from Downtown Rock Hill and features a variety of educational programs and degrees.

The university is also home to the Winthrop Galleries, where exhibits feature local artists, faculty, and student art. Exhibits and events center around many different art and artistic expression styles and often include discussions with the artists themselves.

The galleries are open to visitors Monday through Friday. Tours of the whole campus can also be scheduled by visiting the Winthrop University website.

Places to Stay in Rock Hill

1. Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Rock Hill Top Recommendation

The Fairfield Inn & Suites Rock Hill is located off of Interstate 77, just 10 minutes from Charlotte Douglas International Airport. This hotel in Rock Hill, SC offers easy access to the best of the city. Guests can enjoy a swim in the pool or work out at the fitness center. Each room includes free WiFi and flat-screen TVs with cable channels. A daily breakfast buffet is also provided for guests.

2. La Quinta by Wyndham Rock Hill

La Quinta by Wyndham Rock Hill is located in Rock Hill. It offers an outdoor seasonal swimming pool and rooms with free WiFi. The hotel serves a daily continental or buffet breakfast. The guest rooms are equipped with cable TV, work desks and coffee/tea makers. Rooms also provide guests with private bathrooms, heating and air conditioning facilities.

3. Home2 Suites By Hilton Rock Hill

Home2 Suites By Hilton Rock Hill is a pet-friendly hotel located in Rock Hill. Free WiFi access is available in the entire hotel and guests can relax on garden views. Guests will find an indoor pool at the property, as well as an outdoor swimming pool. The accommodation offers spacious suites equipped with a kitchenette and sofa bed. A flat-screen TV, en suite bathroom with bathrobes and a hairdryer are included at all units.

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