Nature, adventure, food: Why York County has it all
Get you a county that can do it all!
York County, just over an hour away from the Upstate, is one of the fastest growing counties in the state. From rural to urban, historic to small town nostalgic, it has something for everyone. With all of the social distancing guidelines, we have all been looking for socially-distanced outdoor activites that keep us moving and filled with a sense of adventure. It’s been years since I have trekked to the area and Visit York County has an amazing itinerary set it to cover all the bases.
King’s Mountain National Military Park
After a short jaunt up Interstate 85 to Blacksburg, SC, I am stopping at King’s Mountain National Military Park. If you have any history lovers on your travel squad, they will enjoy the national military park and learning about its important role in our country’s history.
In 1780, The Battle of Kings Mountain changed the tide of the Revolutionary War. The battlefield is the site of one of the most important American victories. I am taking the short 1.5 mile paved path to the monument honoring the lives that were lost at Kings Mountain. There are markers along the path filled with facts and figures about the battle; the tranquil trail setting juxtaposed with a violent past of what happened at this site. Constructed in 1909, the Kings Mountain battle monument is 83 feet of white granite.
During non-Covid times, the visitors center welcomes guests with a 26-minute film historical film, period artifacts and access to the gift store. While the visitors center is closed, the restrooms are open for those enjoying the trails. Adjoining Kings Mountain National Military Park is Kings Mountain State Park, with more than 7000 acres for hiking, biking and equestrian enjoyment. The military/state parks combo could be an easy day trip option from the 864.
Papa Doc’s Shore Club
After some time on the trail, it’s time to refuel and I have just what the doc ordered. I am checking out the only restaurant on Lake Wyle (South Carolina side of the lake). Papa Doc’s Shore Club is a tiki lover’s dream come true with festive decor and actual bars themed like tiki huts.
The outdoor patio overlooking Lake Wylie is obviously the star of this show; It’s pretty typical to see a boat roll up for some dockside service. There is also a bar outside for those wanting to enjoy an island-themed beverage….and you will. The cold crab dip and sesame tuna were sensational seafood starters. I also ordered their white fish sandwich and realized that I was in some serious trouble….this was literally one of the most monstrous sanwiches I had ever eaten.
Papa Doc’s menu is approachable with the expected seafood favorites alongside burgers, quesadillas and more. You can tell they don’t take themselves too seriously and enjoy a good time. Grab yourself a Paradise Pouch (think adult Capri Sun) or The Leprechaun, a milkshake that will bring all the adventurers to the dock. Your Instagram feed thanks you in advance. As you perch in pure YOCO foodie heaven, don’t forget to wave to those pulling up for a bite.
Canaan Zipline Canopy Tour
Burning some calories is definitely next on the list! I am checking out Rock Hill’s Canaan Zipline Canopy Tour, a truly one-of-a-kind vantage point to take in the beauty of York County. This is a completely guided experience (shout-out to my amazing guides Mackenzie and Jonathan).
Nestled on an island (for real) on lush protected land, imagine three hours flying alongside the birds as your feet dangle above the Catawba River! You may want to back out after climbing the 105 steps of the 70-foot tower that starts your journey, but once you see your guides having so much fun, you are all in. If you aren’t ready for the full three-hour tour, they offer a five zipline bootleg tour, as well. Be sure to check out the website for more information on other outdoor adventures offered on the property.
Warehouses on White
As if I needed to be any more hyped…I am heading to downtown Rock Hill’s Warehouses on White to grab some caffeine and explore the downtown area. Before I go wandering, I check out the “original hometown roasting company”, Knowledge Perk.
Knowledge Perk is to coffee what Cheers was to beer and camaraderie. The super-friendly owners know your name and your order. Hot or iced….syrups galore….a cool textile feel with a warm welcoming vibe, it’s a great place to serve as home base as you recharge your body and probably your phones from snapping so many pictures. Knowledge Perk has cute nooks for you to get lost in, and even a co-workspace that overlooks the bustling shop and row of roasters. Grab some swag and a bag of their beans before you hit your next spot.
You don’t have to walk far to see Rock Hill spelled out and in full color. Pull out your Visit York County app and log onto their mural trail and you realize you are just steps away from an incredible piece by artist Osiris Rain. At 130 West White Street, the letters leap from the building, as the faces and hearts lets us know that all stories are a fabric of this community. Osiris Rain is quoted as saying the mural is “to be a bold, welcoming beacon for the town.”
Before we leave The Warehouses on White, we must get our shop on at indie shop, The Mercantile, 5000 square feet of independent artisan goodness. Owner Brittany Kelley is devoted to supporting indie artists by showcasing their wares and being proud of the brands represented in her store. From face masks to t-shirts, home decor, the DIY flower bar, or any other Southern surcy you could possibly imagine can be found at The Mercantile.
Talking with Brittany, you can feel that Rock Hill is not just a place she lives, it’s a place that she loves to live and a place she feels a certain responsibility to. The Mercantile recently started The Rock Hill Community Fridge, a fridge full of free food available to anyone at anytime, no questions asked. Patrons also can donate items to the grassroots effort. Concerned with the rising need during Covid-19 and also focused on eliminating food waste, The Mercantile wanted to do something to help the community. I am a lover of a place where you can shop and really feel good about spending all of your money….The Mercantile checks all the boxes.
Historic downtown Rock Hill
Keep you cameras handy as we walk deeper into Rock Hill’s historic downtown. Journey past a unique and mesmerizing fountain which rubs elbows (In my opinion) to the Bellagio fountains of Las Vegas and you will find a quaint and charming downtown district with eateries and plenty of places to browse.
I didn’t know about York County’s crucial role in the Civil Rights movement. Also on the mural trail, Freedom Walkway stops you in your tracks with the words from The Pledge of Allegiance ‘ Liberty and Justice For All.’ In 1961, that was far from the truth for African-Americans and Rock Hill was an important part of the fight toward equality.
Students from nearby Friendship College staged a sit in at the local lunch counter to demand justice. Later, nine of them were arrested, but they opted to not post bail. The “jail, no bail” philosophy shifted the financial burden off of the civil rights organizations that were working so hard to support the cause. Rock Hill’s heroes, both the Friendship 9 and the City Girls are honored with this mural and information about their struggle and mission. The mural is just steps away from the site of the historic lunch counter sit-in.
YOCO Brew Trail
Well, would you look at the time. It appears to be beer-thirty! Let’s follow the YOCO Brew Trail (also found on the Visit York County app) to Slow Play Brewing. Don’t forget to check in the app. There is a t-shirt waiting after you hit all eight spots on the trail. Slow Play Brewing’s motto is “life moves fast…play slow.”
Just steps away from the owners’ alma mater, Winthrop University, the spot known as Rock Hill’s neighborhood brewery is the perfect place to slow it down, with everything from seltzers to stouts. Don’t be surprised if the owners pull up a chair and chat you up like they’ve known you their entire life. It’s that type of place. Bright, clean and colorful describes the brewery inside, with art displayed throughout the space. We hear that there occasionally a live band/karaoke situation that rivals any of your carpool sing-a-long attempts. The brewery’s outdoor patio is perfectly spaced and just steps way from the truck, the myth, the legend.
The Cibi Cibi food truck is a Rock Hill food legend. No matter how you say it…it means food (their line) and it means business! Their Cibi Cibi burger is a fresh double-patty burger, dripping with cheese and tasty caramelized onions. Their fries are perfectly seasoned and piping hot. The Cibi Cibi chicken-sando has quite the following on its own. Be sure to ask about the spice scale. Apparently, there is a level that is not suggested that you try, but if you are feeling froggy! While their burgers and sanwiches have set social media ablaze, don’t sleep on their bowls and sprouts. There is a reason why people will follow this truck no matter where it goes. Aye Cibi Cibi, I am a believer.
It’s been an adventure- filled day, so it’s time to rest my body. If you are looking for a place to stay that puts you in the middle of all the action, I have the perfect spot. The Courtyard Marriott Kingsley in Fort Mill is a perfect home base because once you check into their spacious rooms, you can walk everywhere else. Kingsley Town Center has tacos, fine dining, wine bars, yoga, coffee, juice and plenty of outdoor dining options. The Courtyard Kingsley and surrounding areas also tip their hats to the Springs textile past with old photos from the mills and murals on the period facades.