Before I officially moved to Charlotte proper I spent a year just 30 minutes south of the city in Rock Hill, South Carolina. I was working on my masters at Winthrop University and figured proximity to campus trumped my desire to be in a bigger city so I rented a townhome in what I referred to at the time as my “suburban nightmare” and proceeded to drive to Charlotte every single day to find things to do.
In defense of my uppity self, pickings were pretty slim at the time. But Rock Hill and I have both grown up since I was there and now when I visit my brother and his family there I see a whole lot more charm than I did when I was buried in schoolwork and wasting endless hours on I-77 in search of something better.
Here’s what I missed in Rock Hill while I was driving to Charlotte every day and some new things that have popped up since I left. Oh, and they’re all within about a three block radius downtown. This doesn’t even touch on Glencairn Gardens, Winthrop University and the new Riverwalk.
Eat & Drink
This Main Street staple is popular with the college crowd with $2 beer, $3 liquor and $4 wine during happy hour and live music Fridays and Saturdays.
Mom and Pop shop serving breakfast and lunch (and one random dinner Wednesdays from 5-7pm). Best known for its fried chicken. Price’s Chicken Coop lovers, please evaluate and report back.
Every third Friday at the new Fountain Park from May through September. First of all, Fountain Park didn’t even exist when I was there nor did any food trucks. This is a great addition all around.
Classic American diner complete with handmade sodas and egg creams. (What is an egg cream??) They’ve added a more modern twist with some tacos and a handful of vegetarian options too.
Our beloved French bakery has made it south of the border. The Rock Hill bakery isn’t open 24 hours but it’s got a couple advantages over our flagship location, including a beer and wine bar downstairs (WHAT?!) and its own Pont des Arts padlock love bridge.
You’ll find local eggs, dairy and meat along with bulk grains and spices in this market. The dessert case is also a wonder to behold.
A sneaky back alley entrance leads to this popular new-to-me restaurant. They actually do have a street-facing facade but made the back alley entrance a requirement for access. I like anything a little off the beaten path.
Yes to this! 30 different flavors in portable little personal sizes. I’ll take one of each. Oh, and the owner is a real New Yorker so you know it’s legit.
This was hands down my favorite place in Rock Hill when I lived there. Family-run joint with authentic Vietnamese food.
See & Do
Three galleries featuring exhibits from local, national and international artists. I found the cheese poof painting by Monika Malewska particularly awesome.
Weird regulations in South Carolina make it difficult to make this a true arcade so Joe just repairs and sells the classic games to other venues. In fact, he sold several to Abari, Charlotte’s forthcoming bar + arcade.
SBR sells all the swimming, cycling and running gear you could ever need and also hosts weekly runs on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
This new green space, opened in January of this year, is a beautiful addition to downtown Rock Hill. Future phases of development around the park will include a 100-room hotel, a proposed performing arts center, and retail, residential and business space.
Educational activities for kids ages birth through 6. My 18-month-old niece loves it and is an annual member.
Honorable Mention: Legal Remedy Brewery
Rock Hill’s first brewery is on its way. Right now they’re brewing limited batches for distribution to local restaurants and are working on all the permitting required to open their tap room and kitchen to the public. From their blog: “The 2,500 sq foot brewpub will have a heavy bar menu with an emphasis on house-cured and smoked meats and locally fueled small plates.”
— Legal Remedy Brewing (@LegalRemedyBrew) June 8, 2015