Discover Adorable Olde English District Small Towns: Insiders-in-the-Know Recommend  These Places  | Olde English District

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Discover Adorable Olde English District Small Towns: Insiders-in-the-Know Recommend  These Places 

Discover Adorable Olde English District Small Towns: Insiders-in-the-Know Recommend  These Places 

Rock Hill may be the best known adorable downtown in the Olde English District. The city is only 30 minutes south of Charlotte  on I-77 in York County, South Carolina. This downtown offers Amelie’s Bakery, Legal Remedy Brewing along with  B&B’s, hotels, shopping and independent restaurants.  Explore the River District in the Riverwalk Community  ( and dine at The Pump House with a view of the water. The nearby 2,100-acre Anne Springs Close Greenway provides an urban oasis of trails, hiking, paddling, horseback riding.


About Fort Mill, S. C.

If you’re looking for a lesser known adorable downtown, seek out Fort Mill, South Carolina, just north of Rock Hill.  About four blocks surround Main Street with merchants and restaurants. The Fort Mill History Museum, just off Main Street, tells the story of how Samuel Elliot White returned from fighting in the Civil War and started the Fort Mill Manufacturing Company in 1887. His son-in-law, Leroy Springs and his Grandson, Elliott White Springs would grow the business  and create what became Springs Industries and the Springmaid brand. At one time, the operation was the largest producer of fabric for bed sheets in the world. Due to textile operations moving off-shore in the 1980s and 1990s, the company is no longer the largest industrial employer in South Carolina, but the textile giant's influence remains across York, Lancaster, Chester, and Union counties.. 

Fort Mill’s downtown prospers again, today. Plan for a stop or stroll by these welcoming businesses.


  • Have lunch at The Improper Pig—a global approach to BBQ: This isn’t your everyday barbecue joint. Find pork rolls and Chow Bao Sliders, here, or indulge your vegetarian leanings with a notable “No Pig” sandwich of grilled portobello mushrooms. 
  • Buy hot sauce and more at PuckerButt Pepper Company— Owner Ed Currie bred the world’s hottest chili pepper, The Reaper. It received Guinness World Record certification. Today, Currie licenses his peppers for use in a variety of nationally known products. He also created  his own line of mouthwatering, spicy-hot specialty foods. Shop their only retail outlet (their online site enjoys a global reputation) and enjoy the tasting station, sampling a wide array of sauces.
  • Amor Artis is a family-owned craft brewery that embraces tradition while pushing the boundaries a bit, too.
  • If you’re traveling in December, be sure to look up the Fort Mill History Museum HistoricHomes Tour. Enjoy the decorating, history and background of the lovely homes and churches and public spaces here.


Downtown Lancaster


Head east from Rock Hill, S. C. and hit US Highway 521 to discover the surprising cultural stop and emerging, adorable downtown of Lancaster, S.C. where the University of South Carolina located their Native American Studies Center: The Center sparked a revitalization of nearby businesses and streets. 

Established in August of 2012, this comprehensive center for the study of South Carolina’s Native American peoples showcases Native American history and culture. The center and its museum are open to visitors (check the website for times and changes due to Covid-19). It highlights the single largest collection of Catawba Indian pottery in existence. 

Plan your time in Lancaster around your visit to the Museum (you might even catch a free lecture!) and continue to explore: 

  •  Bob Doster’s Backstreet Studio is just around the corner from Native American Studies Center.  This public studio, gallery, garden and rental gathering space reflects the eclectic and sublime tastes of its owner, Bob Doster. The engaging and infinitely creative Doster is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed South Carolina artist. He has worked with stainless steel sculptures and taught classes for more than fifty years.  Works by Doster can be found in museums, galleries, public art, corporate and private collections worldwide. 
  • Find a great collection of beer, including lots of local ones at at The Craft Stand .  Plan for lunch or dinner at 521 BBQ & Grill ( You know it’s good if you spot the local firefighters  eating here. Try the hushpuppies!




Downtown Ridgeway/ Downtown Winnsboro


If you’re a shopper who loves unique boutiques, Ridgeway, S.C. might win your vote for adorable downtown. Just a few blocks long, you will miss it if you blink. However,  fashionable folks  in-the-know from Columbia and Charlotte eagerly head to Ridgeway. (Make sure you check hours and facebook pages before you visit. This town does not keep traditional merchant hours.)

Favorite clothing shops include Over The Top Boutique (also home to the FCAC Art Gallery), Bella & Blue Boutique, or the cute t-shirt and gift shop, Palmer Street Market

After shopping, schedule your reservation at Laura’s Tea Room, a cafe, retail space and vintage shop--also featured in  USA Today.

Originally a cotton mill stop on the railroad, this small town also hosts Ruff Hardware, an old-fashioned hardware store complete with cast iron and every bolt or nail you might need. You’ll also find the world’s smallest police station, a furniture store, jewelry shop and more.



Tea lovers will be thrilled to know the journey is not yet complete. Just 20 minutes from Ridgeway is Winnsboro, complete with the longest continually running clock in the USA. Winnsboro is also home to Revolutionary War history. British Gen. Cornwallis is said to have lived in here for a time during the war. Today, a tea house and tea blender bears his name. Visit Cornwallis House Tea Company its soothing yet sophisticated beige and white decor and enchanting window displays, mouthwatering lunch menu(check their hours before you travel), a tea tasting, or to restock your favorite English-style teas. In the last year, Bella & Blue Boutique in Ridgeway opened a second location, Shades of Blue Boutique, right beside the tea company. It seems tea and boutiques are winning combinations in this part of South Carolina. Take time to browse local vintage shops and the Fairfield County Museum Stop in at The Donut Guy (they also operate a food truck, so check their facebook page to see where the donuts are: for a blissful selection of donuts. The  Restaurant Next Door offers Southern food favorites as well as low-carb Keto-friendly entrees and homemade desserts.


Downtown Camden, South Carolina


 Established in 1732, Camden South Carolina's oldest inland city. Home of the world-renowned Carolina Cup, steeped in history, and situated just twenty minutes from the Columbia metropolitan area, Camden offers adorable downtown shopping at independently owned shops and unique dining.

Consider staying at Select Registry’s Bloomsbury Inn or the elegant Four Oaks Inn which showcases the history of both Union and Confederate perspectives on the Civil War. 

To understand Camden, your first stop must be Historic Camden https://www.historiccamden.orga 107-acre interpretive site for the Battle of Camden, where the colonists suffered a pivotal loss that caused its generals to rethink their strategy thereby changing the direction of the Revolutionary War. The site includes the historic Cornwallis House and extensive trails. The site sets the stage for more storytelling each Novemeber for the not to be missed Rev War Field Days.


Just a few minutes away in Rembert, this small historic town is hiding one of  South Carolina’s best restaurants, the Mill Pond Steakhouse Overlooking the Boykin Mill Pond, this restaurant features a full menu of fine dining where certified angus prime and choice steaks are aged for 40 days.

Another option is the Broadstreet Lunch, the oldest restaurant in Camden. They’re best known for the Old Fashioned, a hamburger on grilled bread with a secret-recipe chili, onions and mustard.  They also offer a hearty breakfast. Salud Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Lounge  is a foodie favorite that also features more than 100 tequilas.


Bonus Stops You Shouldn’t Miss

Every town has its hidden gems, and these are shined up and ready for you to enjoy. 

In Union, South Carolina, Dine in  the “Hash and Chicken Stew Capital of the World”

Touted as one of Southern Living’s Legendary Barbecue Joints, Midway BBQ is also known as “811 Hash Boulevard” and “Hash and Chicken Stew Capital of the World.”  Yes, it’s that memorable and well worth the drive to Union.  So is Historic Downtown Union. It’s filled with specialty shops, friendly people, and beautiful architecture. ((NOTE: I could not find anything with a recent date, and the website is no longer functioning for Boogaloo)). Union is also the home of Boogaloo Folk Life Productions, an annual community effort wherein recollections of historical events are collected by local residents and presented in a play. The county's Carnegie Library was named Best Small Library in America by Library Journal for 2009. 



Chester, SC--You’ll Feel Like You’re on a Movie Set


Chester's distinctive downtown area features many handsome structures in a number of architectural styles with their still-standing, original Victorian-era facades. A park area, Monument Square, features a Confederate monument, a Civil War cannon, the Aaron Burr Rock and a 19th century cistern housed in the 1914 Chester County Jail. The Chester County Historical Society Museum and Archives or houses Catawba Pottery, one of the largest and finest Native American Projectile Point collections in the Southeast, more than 80 long rifles and 35 handguns, a Coca-Cola Bottle collection and more. It also contains an historic bench Aaron Burr (remembered as the man who shot Alexander Hamilton) slept on as he was being transported for trial after being charged with treason.  And if you get hungry make sure to try the local favorite, The Varisty for some great home cooking.



Honor Jazz Great Dizzy Gillespie

Cheraw, SC  is home to jazz great Dizzy Gillespie. The annual South Carolina Jazz Festival ( celebrates Cheraw native near his birthday.  Dizzy Gillespie's 103rd birthday will be celebrated Oct. 16-18, 2020  with jazz performances and art exhibits in Cheraw's historic downtown. Cheraw’s Spring Festival is a celebration of spring is held the first weekend in April with arts and crafts, Jubilation, Civil War reenactment, lantern tours, trolley rides, canoe floats, children's fair, petting zoo, Sunday car show and all day entertainment. Downtown dining finds include The River’s Edge Restaurant. 


Wrapping Up the Olde English District

You don’t have to be a history lover to enjoy traveling through South Carolina's Olde English District, but you will certainly learn about some of America’s earliest events along the way.

Made up of seven counties in the north central area of the state along I-77 from Charlotte to Columbia, the district received its name because of the region’s early settlement by the English in the mid 1770s. There were a number of Revolutionary War battles fought in the area as well (you could hyperlink “Revolutionary War battles fought in the area” to Jason’s great story here:, and historical sites, markers, parks, buildings, and monuments offer hundreds of ways to enjoy and explore history.

The Olde English District takes you off the Interstate and down the back roads into charming small towns and places where family farms still flourish. Museums and homes reveal the past; art and music and local businesses fuel the future; parks and outdoor attractions provide fun for all ages.

Need help booking a hotel or making driving plans? 

Call the Olde English Distrist Tourism Commission Visitor Center on I-77 North at the Gateway Conference Center in Richburg, SC:  (803) 385-6800. It’s a great place to stop for a leg stretch, bathroom break, and to get help with bookings, directions and more. Taste locally roasted coffee and shop for souvenirs, too. Choose from the work of local artists, handmade jewelry, locally made teas, grits, cider and more.