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 also 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 of the other amazing things to do in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
- Most significant landmark – Catawba Indian Cultural Center
- Best park – Ebenezer Park
- Best free activity – Glencairn Gardens
- Best activity for kids – Main Street Children’s Museum
- Best activity for adults – Museum of York County
- Best food – The Flipside Restaurant
- Best nightlife – Downtown Rock Hill
- Best all-around accommodation – Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriot Rock Hill
Best and Fun Things to do in Rock Hill, South Carolina
1. Downtown Rock Hill
Address: Main Street, Rock Hill, SC 29730
Downtown Rock Hill, also known as Old Town Rock Hill, encompasses the original town center and neighborhoods of the city. 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 both 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.
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2. Main Street Children’s Museum
Address: 133 E. Main St, Rock Hill, SC 29730
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.
3. Glencairn Gardens
Address: 725 Crest St., Rock Hill, SC 29730
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.
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4. Comporium Telephone Museum
Address: 117 Elk Avenue, Rock Hill, SC 29730 (between Main Street and Black Street)
The Comporium Telephone Museum sits in the heart of the downtown area and shows the early days of phone communication through a series of 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 very 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 the way phone calls were made.
The museum is free for all guests, and it is open four days a week. Please check the website for the most current information on days and hours of operation.
5. Fountain Park
Address: 300 E. Main St., Rock Hill, SC 29730
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, lovely open green area, and intimate performance stage. In addition to providing a relaxing space to read and meditate, Fountain Park also hosts festivals and events including Movies at the Park, Oktoberfest, Halloween celebrations, Christmas and holiday festivities, and more.
Its central downtown location makes it the perfect place for city activities, a quick lunch break, or just relaxing in a restful outdoor venue.
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6. Museum of York County
Address: 4621 Mt. Gallant Rd., Rock Hill, SC 29732
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 shows 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.
7. Rock Hill Fire Department Museum
Address: 214 S. Elizabeth Ln., Rock Hill, SC 29730
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 the responsibilities that come with being a firefighter.
The museum also has a gift shop, snack area, and, of course, a real fire pole that is always a favorite amongst visitors! Reservations for the museum are currently required and can be made through the museum’s website.
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8. Ebenezer Park
Address: 4490 Boatshore Rd., Rock Hill, SC 29732
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 both North and South Carolina and gives visitors the chance 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 taking in the waterfront views. The 66 campsites in the park can accommodate RVs, trailers, and tents and provide full hookups for electric, 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 the perfect place for a relaxing family trip surrounded by the lovely South Carolina scenery.
9. Gettys Art Center
Address: 201 E. Main St., Rock Hill, SC 29730
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 also 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.
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10. The Catawba Indian Cultural Center
Address: 1536 Tom Steven Rd., Rock Hill, SC 29730
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 being 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 that are all 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 of the 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
Address: 104 Adventure Rd., Fort Mill, SC 29715
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 is home to 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 during their time at the preserve.
They can also learn about the historical link the site shares with the Catawba Indians and the Civil War. The Anne Springs Close Greenway is an ideal location for enjoying a peaceful nature outing when you visit York County and its beautiful countryside.
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12. McCrory’s Civil Rights Site
Address: 135 E. Main St., # 101, Rock Hill, SC 29730
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 soon became a vital part of the Civil Rights Movement.
Though the students were arrested for not leaving the premises, their actions garnered nationwide attention and set the stage for similar protests that would continue throughout the nation for more than 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
Address: 139 E. Main St., Rock Hill, SC 29730
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 different elements of freedom, the civil rights movement, and the quest for justice for all. 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.
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14. Historic Brattonsville
Address: 1444 Brattonsville Rd., McConnells, SC 29726
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 also 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 on display at this amazing location makes it one of the best things to do in Rock Hill.
15. Canaan Zipline Canopy Tour
Address: 3111 Sand Island Rd., Rock Hill, SC 29732
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.
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16. Rock Hill Outdoor Center
Address: 998 Riverwalk Parkway, Rock Hill, SC 29730
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 and hiking, canoeing, kayaking, field games, and bicycling.
It also features lovely green spaces, wildlife viewing, fishing opportunities, and many places to simply 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 to choose from.
The Rock Hill Outdoor Center is open year-round and always provides countless ways to enjoy the river and outdoor amenities.
17. Carowinds Amusement Park
Address: 14523 Carowinds Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28273
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 a multitude of 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 provides guests with a chance 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 and attractions and many of the fun opportunities at the waterpark. For anyone wishing to extend their amusement park visit to more than just one day, a hotel and campground are also located on the property.
18. Manchester Meadows Park
Address: 337 E. Mt. Gallant Rd., Rock Hill, SC 29730
Manchester Meadows is a lovely park and recreation area in Rock Hill, SC. Park amenities include eight soccer fields with stadium outdoor 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 to choose from, 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
Address: 575 Herrons Ferry Rd., Rock Hill, SC 29730
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 from River Park and the Waterford Golf Course Trail, among others.
Benches are provided periodically along the path and allow visitors to sit and enjoy their surroundings while they rest. Pets are welcome as long as they remain on a leash.
20. Winthrop University
Address: 701 Oakland Ave., Rock Hill, SC 29733
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 art, and student art. Exhibits and events center around many different styles of art and artistic expression 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.
What are some of the best things to do in Rock Hill, SC with kids?
The Main Street Children’s Museum, the Catawba Indian Cultural Center, the Rock Hill Fire Department Museum, and Carowinds Amusement Park are all great places to take the kids!
What are the best tourist attractions in Rock Hill?
Ebenezer Park, Fountain Park, Glencairn Gardens, and Anne Springs Close Greenway in Fort Mill are beautiful outdoor areas to explore. For some great Rock Hill history, be sure to check out Historic Brattonsville, the Comporium Telephone Museum, and stop by McCrory’s Five and Dime site and the Freedom Walkway.
What are some fun things to do in Rock Hill, South Carolina?
The Canaan Zipline Canopy Tour is definitely top of the activities list. The Carowinds Amusement Park and Ebenezer Park also provide adventure fun, though in two different ways.