South Carolina Road Trip Through the SC Midlands

A South Carolina road trip through the SC Midlands offers small towns, organic farms, and great restaurants. These Palmetto State gems include fun places to visit in Greenwood, Edgefield, Rock Hill, and other towns in the South Carolina Midlands region.

While Old 96 District and Olde English District tourism offices—and various properties, attractions, and restaurants—hosted McCool Travel and picked up the tab for much of this glorious trip, please be certain that my message is carefully crafted for my awesome audience so that you can make informed decisions in order to Travel Happy on future trips.

See also these fun road trip articles:

map of SC Midlands from SCDOT.org
map of SC Midlands from SCDOT.org

Places to Visit in South Carolina Midlands

Things to Do in Greenwood SC

Greenwood hosts two huge annual events: SC Festival of Discovery is a bbq and blues music focus festival, bringing 35,000 people to town every July. South Carolina Festival of Flowers runs an entire month and is actually 30 events.

McCool Travel tip: visit the Topiary Greenhouse any day of the year to see magnificent floral creations in all stages of development.

 

The Greenwood Museum hosts rotating exhibits, including Greenwood police history and items upstairs and wild animals, gemstones, kitchen history downstairs. An interesting visible storage theme is in the basement. The nearby Railroad Historical Center is part of the Greenwood Museum.

Greenwood Community Theatre produces 60-70 performances per year and was the first South Carolina theater to do the Penguin Project (for children with special needs). Future community outreach programs are slated with the women’s prison and senior center.

The Arts Center of Greenwood took over a former post office and federal building. The Arts Center serves the Greenwood community with studio space, conference rooms, and office space (including the Greenwood Visitor Center). A recent exhibit displayed 900 Instagram photos of Greenwood.

Check out the all natural skin care products at Emerald Farm. Their goat milk soap is made courtesy of the 15 goats on property. Also visit the extensive model train room.

As one of nine South Carolina locations on the US Civil Rights trail and only one of three literary landmarks in South Carolina, the Benjamin Mays Historic Site should be on your radar. Dr. Benjamin Mays (he was awarded a staggering 67 honorary doctorates) was the principal Developer of Civil Rights movement. He mentored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Civil Rights leaders. In 1936 Dr Mays met with Gandhi to learn nonviolent methods, then taught these methods to students (including MLK in 1944) at Morehouse College (where he was president for 27 years). At the Benjamin Mays Historic Site, learn more about the above, his remarkable life, and his impact on Civil Rights and the world. A new 150 seat auditorium and research library are on the way.

Where to Stay in Greenwood SC

Inn on the Square is the number one ranked TripAdvisor hotel in Greenwood SC and the only place to stay in historic uptown Greenwood. There are 46 luxury boutique guest rooms in the main building. All stays come with complimentary cooked breakfast each morning. A great start to the day.

Inn on the Square in Greenwood SC
Inn on the Square in Greenwood SC

The lobby of the Inn on the Square reminds me of New Orleans. See that big pumpkin? When checking in, I was chatting to the desk agent and she said guess the weight. I did not pick it up or touch it, just said a number. She said, “what did you say?” in surprise. I was within a few ounces. My superpower is guessing large pumpkin weights. Who knew?

lobby of Inn on the Square in Greenwood SC
lobby of Inn on the Square in Greenwood SC

See this nice review Nine Great Things about Inn on the Square in Greenwood.

Things to Do in Edgefield SC

Edgefield Pottery

Learn about the Edgefield pottery style at The Phoenix Factory’s Old Edgefield Pottery operated by Justin Guy Pottery. “Southern pottery” began in Edgefield over 200 years ago (1809) with Abner Landrum—called the Benjamin Franklin of Edgefield pottery. The Edgefield Pottery style is best described as British pottery with Chinese glaze. Early Edgefield pottery pieces were mostly jars and jugs (cider and moonshine), then food and calorie storage containers appeared in the later 1800s. Other prominent Edgefield potters include Dave Drake, Collin Rhodes, John Landrum, and Thomas Chandler.

The Winchester Museum at National Wild Turkey Federation

Wild turkeys are native to North America, mostly USA but some can be found in Mexico and Canada. The National Wild Turkey Foundation started in 1973 (in Fredericksburg Virginia) with a focus on conservation and controlled and safe hunting. The foundation begun as a result of the wild turkey population becoming nearly extinct—from an estimated 10 million turkeys in Colonial times to 30,000 in 1930s (estimated 6 million today).

At The Winchester Museum, learn about the five wild turkey subspecies, their habitats (every US state except Alaska, plus Canada and Mexico), and facts like they can fly at 55 MPH and habitat is 10-12 square miles for life. NWTF offers mentored hunts 700 for beginners (on their 700 acres) and they opened Palmetto Shooting Complex in 2014. It is known as one of nicest shooting facilities in southeast US, with trap, skeet, sporting clays and a 3D archery range. Planning pistol and rifle range.

Carolina Moon Distillery

In historic downtown Edgefield, Carolina Moon Distillery provides tours and tastings of whiskey, rum, moonshine, and other spirits. Their handcrafted, small batch spirits are amazing; I loved the peach rum. Carolina Moon Distillery is part of the Old 96 District Quench Your Thirst tour. 

Edgefield General Store

Step way back in time when you enter the Edgefield General Store, across the historic town square from Carolina Moon Distillery. Edgefield General Store retains an original Edgefield soda fountain for an authentic 1950s style milkshake, fountain drink, or ice cream scoop (or several).

Pleasant Acres Bed & Breakfast

Built in the early 1800s, Pleasant Acres B&B in Edgefield SC, recently underwent Inn a 10 year renovation project. Drive along the oak lined driveway to enter the 50 acre property and let your troubles melt away. Guests can enjoy a six course dinner is provided, complimentary full bar, onsite laundry, and fishing in the pond.

Hickory Hill

In 2009, Hickory Hill Milk decided to sell non homogenized milk directly to the public. The homogenization of “regular” milk kills the good stuff (said the owner). Hickory Hill milk is OK for people that are lactose intolerant and suffer from acid reflux. NOTE: Europe does not homogenize. Hickory Hill now sells to Greenville schools, Publix, Whole Foods, Cisco, and US Foods. They also have a cooler on their front porch and sell milk on an honor system. Nice!

More Places to Visit in SC Midlands

Five & Dine, Rock Hill SC

Absorb the poignant and incredible history at Five & Dine in Rock Hill, SC. Students chose to sit in for racial equality so that parents did not lose jobs. Called the Friendship Nine, because nine students decided to stay jail rather than pay the bail amount (“jail over bail”). One student from the group opted to pay his bail in order to retain a football scholarship. In addition there were dozens of other sit ins and supporters. NOTE: Five & Dine closed in January 2019 but hopefully that is a temporary situation.

Native American Studies Center, Lancaster SC

13 recognized South Carolina tribes and 15,500 years of Native presence are represented at the Native American Studies Center in Lancaster SC. View the largest Catawba pottery collection in the world with over 200 pieces. The collection and museum were formerly at USC-Lancaster but have been at this location since 2012. “Cannot make a gumbo without a Catawba pot” is a Charlotte saying.

Bob Doster’s Backstreet Studio, Lancaster SC

A couple of blocks from the Native American Studies Center is Bob Doster’s Backstreet Studio, home to internationally acclaimed sculptor and contemporary artist Bob Doster and an event space. He has worked in metal for over 50 years and taught more than 150,000 students.

Bob Doster's art studio Lancaster SC
Bob Doster’s art studio Lancaster SC

Windy Hill Orchard in York, SC

One of the highlights of visiting upstate South Carolina is an apple cider doughnut (or several) from Windy Hill Orchard. Machine makes 182 dozen donuts per hour and there is typically a 45 minute wait in September and October. But doughnuts is not all. They press apple cider and hard cider; Ginger Gold is their flagship hard cider and it is delicious.

 

Historic Brattonsville, McConnells SC

Explore over 25 historic structures from pre-Colonial America to the late 1800s on the 775 acre Historic Brattonsville plantation. The animals, though, might be the most memorable attraction, as they were for our group.

 

Places to Eat in South Carolina Midlands

A highlight of visiting the South Carolina Midlands is definitely the amazing food. Here are some places to try but also get out there and explore and let us know what other gems you discover.

Fat Daddy’s BBQ, Greenwood SC

The Mill House, Uptown Greenwood SC

Fantastic pizzas and on site produced craft beer (from Good Times Brewing).

pizza at The Mill House in Greenwood SC
pizza at The Mill House in Greenwood SC
craft beer at The Mill House in Greenwood SC
craft beer at The Mill House in Greenwood SC

Montague’s Restaurant , Greenwood SC

Looking for a casual environment but with better than casual new American cuisine? Head for Montague’s Restaurant in Greenwood SC. I was fortunate to visit on Taco Tuesday with delicious and elegant $2 tacos.

West End Cafe, Greenwood SC

Flipside Restaurant, Rock Hill SC

Flipside Restaurant in Rock Hill SC is co-owned by Amy and Jon Fortes, both chefs. Amy served as the local SC chef ambassador in 2017—named by Nikki Haley as one of four to go to James Beard House and promote events. Flipside prepares simple comfort food, local as much as possible, some fusion. The pineapple infused rum when I visited was amazing.

house infused pineapple rum at Flipside Restaurant Rock Hill SC
house infused pineapple rum at Flipside Restaurant Rock Hill SC

Cornwallis House Tea Company, Winnsboro SC

In the winter of 1781, General Cornwallis headquartered for the winter in a house in the center of Winnsboro, SC. That house now serves as headquarters for the Cornwallis House Tea Company, a certified SC vendor, offering custom blended tea, tea pots, accessories, sweets, and soups and sandwiches. The proprietor, Christina, did not like the taste of tea growing up but wanted to because she admired the elegant ladies in New York City. She drank tea through high school to learn to like and understand it. Now Laura orders source tea—like from Hunan China—and prepares, creates, and blends tea here in the South Carolina Midlands.

Laura’s Tearoom, Ridgeway SC

Selected by USA Today as one of the top 10 teahouses in the United States, Laura’s Tea Room hosts a popular afternoon tea service but also stop in for lunch (as my group did). One highlight of the tea service is selecting a vintage hat and then a tea cup.

Midway BBQ, Buffalo SC

At Midway BBQ in Buffalo SC, they are proud of their hash. I sampled many BBQ items and rolled away from the table impressed.

The Pump House, Rock Hill SC

Rock Hill’s The Pump House was voted as having one of the best dining views in the United States. They serve scrumptious Southern-inspired American cuisine, featuring the freshest possible ingredients.

superb filet mignon at The Pump House, Rock Hill SC
superb filet mignon at The Pump House, Rock Hill SC

Amelie’s French Bakery and Cafe

The salted caramel brownie is by far the most popular item at the six Amelie’s French Bakery and Cafe locations in the South Carolina Midlands. They make and sell well over 1 million per year. Unique chandeliers adorn each store, handmade by owners. The seasonal menu changes every three months. Everything is made from scratch, including their soups.

 

Have you explored and discovered the SC Midlands region? Leave a comment below with your suggestions of places I should try on my next South Carolina road trip adventure.

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4 thoughts on “South Carolina Road Trip Through the SC Midlands”

  1. Wow Charles. I love SC.I had only been to the coast though; Charleston is my fave area and Hilton Head was fun too.

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