Read Now, Travel Later
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Please verify current operations of any places you want to visit mentioned in these articles, and contact me if a business has permanently closed so I can update the article. Thank you and stay safe out there!
“Did you know more battles were fought in South Carolina during the Revolutionary War than any other colony?” When the docent as a museum in Charleston asked this question, I had no idea. The simple question sent me on a year-long mission to learn if it was true, and to discover all the places I could visit across the state.
I started with several museums in Charleston, where I picked up a few books, brochures, and maps to help along the way. I began a three-week road trip through the Old 96 District and Olde English District searching out more sites and information. Every day I learned something new, and gradually the “big picture” for a road trip came into focus.
When I began the arduous process of creating a road trip route, I decided I only wanted to include places to visit where you could learn something. Although historical markers and empty battlefields are neat to visit, you would not learn anything about the significance without outside help.
This 450-mile road trip itinerary connects the most exciting museums, state historic sites, and national park sites where you can learn about the Revolutionary War across South Carolina. Along the way, you’ll pass through charming small towns, discover hidden attractions, and by the end, you can say you have traveled the Palmetto State.
Brief History of the Southern Campaign
The Revolutionary War had been fought to a stalemate in the North between the British army under the command of General Henry Clinton and the Continental Army under the command of General George Washington. The British decided to change tactics and quickly refocused their efforts on the South where they felt colonists were more sympathetic to the crown.
In December 1778, British Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Campbell captured Savannah, officially beginning the Southern Campaign. Over a year later, in February 1780, General Henry Clinton sailed from New York and captured Charleston. The Fall of Charleston was the worst Patriot defeat of the Revolutionary War, with Clinton capturing over 5,000 soldiers and dozens of influential political figures.
In August 1780, British General Charles Cornwallis took his army inland to occupy Camden. With this foothold, he was now confident he could strike deep into North Carolina and even as far as Virginia. When Cornwallis defeated Patriot General Horatio Gates, in command of the Second Continental Army, at the Battle of Camden, British control of the South seemed inevitable.
But several key factors worked against the British, chief among them the disreputation of British Colonel Banastre Tarleton. Colonists fled to the Patriot cause and joined militias under the command of Francis Marion, Andrew Pickens, and Thomas Sumter. Slowly but surely, their guerilla warfare campaign began to weaken Cornwallis’ hold on the South.
In October 1780, the Overmountain Men defeated British Major Patrick Ferguson at the Battle of Kings Mountain, widely considered to be the most important battle of the Southern Campaign, if not the entire Revolutionary War. Riding high on morale, a few months later, Patriot Colonel Daniel Morgan defeated Colonel Banstre Tarleton at the Battle of Cowpens.
When General Cornwallis realized he could not secure South Carolina until the flow of supplies and men from Virginia was cut off, he ill-fatedly moved his army north. A few months later, General George Washington and the French navy surrounded Cornwallis as Yorktown.
Patriot General Nathaniel Greene, the new commander of the Second Continental Army, returned to South Carolina. With quick victories at Ninety Six and Eutaw Springs, he descended on Charleston, where he pinned the last British forces until the end of the Revolutionary War.
Stop No. 1
At the time of the Revolutionary War, Charleston was the fourth largest city in the colonies after New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. Resentment to British taxes was high. The opposition was growing. On October 19, 1775, Lord William Campbell wrote, “Charles Town is the fountainhead from which all violence flows. Stop that, and the rebellion in this part of the continent will, I trust, soon be at an end.”
Although Charleston was captured by the British early in the war in 1780, the city played an important role leading up to South Carolina declaring independence. The best place to learn about this vital role is The Charleston Museum, the oldest museum in the country. The second floor is a chronological history of Charleston from its founding in 1680 to modern times, including an excellent section on the Revolutionary War.
The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon is another excellent place to learn about the Revolutionary War in Charleston. Built in 1771, the Old Exchange Building was the first customs house in the city. After the British took control of Charleston, the basement was converted into a prison, or provost, for local Patriots. Guided tours of the provost dungeon are offered throughout the week, and the rest of the building can be explored at your own pace.
Built in 1712, The Powder Magazine is the oldest remaining public building in the state. With 36” thick walls topped with several tons of sand, the building was used to store gunpowder and munitions for Charleston’s defeat. Guided tours of the small museum are offered throughout the week.
A final stop to learn about the Revolutionary War in Charleston is to take a guided tour of the Heyward-Washington House. Built in 1772 by Daniel Heyward, the three-story brick double house was the childhood home of Thomas Heyward, one of four Charlestonians to sign the Declaration of Independence.
Outside Charleston in nearby Mount Pleasant, Charles Pinckney National Historic Site is located on the site of the former Snee Farm plantation where Charles Cotesworth Pinckney spent much of his childhood. Known as the “forgotten founder,” Pinckney served in the Continental Army during the defense of Charleston in 1780 and after the Revolutionary War represented South Carolina at the Constitutional Convention. The historic site recounts the achievements of the entire Pinckney family and includes a short walking trail around the property.
Charleston Visitor Center 375 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC | 800-868-8118 | www.charlestoncvb.com/
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Food, Shopping, and Attractions in Charleston
Charleston is a big city to explore. To keep in line with the theme of the Revolutionary War, spend your time exploring the French Quarter that would have existed during this time.
Begin with a stroll through Waterfront Park past the infamous Pineapple Fountain and enjoy the views of the Cooper River. At the north end of the park, turn up Vendue Range and get something to eat at The Griffon where, ironically, you’ll find the best fish and chips in town. There are several more restaurants along East Bay Street for an alternative.
The Charleston City Market is one of the best destinations in the country to find locally made arts and crafts. Clothing, jewelry, home décor, paintings, and photography are just a few of the items that fill the halls of the historic market.
Where to Stay in Charleston
Hotels in downtown Charleston are pricey. Sometimes it’s worth the expenditure because of the location and amenities. I have always recommended Belmond Charleston Place, HarbourView Inn, and Embassy Suites because it’s a pink castle (seriously). The Hotel Bennett is the latest addition to the Charleston skyline overlooking Marion Square.
Just fifteen minutes from downtown, Mt. Pleasant hotels are within easy striking distance and will save considerable money. I recommend the Best Western, Hotel Indigo, and Holiday Inn Express. Each of these is located along Highway 17 near the end of the Ravenel Bridge.
In North Charleston, you’ll find lots of great hotels around the Tanger Outlet shopping center. North Charleston still has a pretty good size military population with a naval training center and Air Force base at the airport, so there are plenty of rooms. The Aloft, Quality Inn, and Hilton Garden are great places to stay.
Stop No. 2
Drayton Hall is the only surviving original plantation on the Ashley River and considered to be one of the greatest examples of Georgian Palladian architecture in the country. Built by John Drayton, in 1742, William Henry Drayton was born in the house. After receiving a proper English education, Drayton served as a Royal privy councilor in Charleston until he was unceremoniously replaced by an Englishman. This drove Drayton to support independence, and when South Carolina created its own government in 1775, he was appointed the first chief justice.
Visitors to Drayton Hall can freely walk the gorgeous grounds surrounding the plantation house. Guided tours are offered inside the home that becomes even more spectacular when you learn it has never been restored or altered in any way.
Stop No. 3
Established in 1705, Middleton Place was the plantation home of the Middleton family. In 1742, Arthur Middleton was born in Middleton Place and grew up on the plantation outside Charleston. In 1776, Arthur succeeded his father as a delegate to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, where he became one of our Charlestonians to sign the Declaration of Independence.
Visitors to Middleton Place can take a guided tour of the plantation house, freely explore the oldest landscaped gardens in the country, and learn about the history of the Middletons through centuries of influence.
Stop No. 4
Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site
In the early 1700s, the only powder magazine in the Low Country region was located in Charleston. Fearful of the age-old saying of not putting all your eggs in one basket, the colonial government decided to establish a second powder magazine outside the city.
Fort Dorchester was established along the Ashley River at the site of a small but thriving settlement. With a location on the river, it would be easy to resupply Charleston if the need ever arose. The fort was still in use during the Revolutionary War and was manned by British soldiers after the fall of Charleston in 1780.
Today, visitors to Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site can take a self-guided tour through the ruins of the tabby fort, explore the foundations of homes that were once part of the settlement, and walk inside the bell tower, the only remains of St. George Anglican Church.
Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site 300 State Park Road, Summerville, SC | 843-873-1740 | southcarolinaparks.com/colonial-dorchester
Summerville was established in the late 1700s as an inland escape from the heat and humidity of Charleston for elite plantation owners. Throughout the Revolutionary War, the small town kept a relatively low profile. But that would change in the late 1800s when the International Congress of Physicians declared Summerville as one of the best places in the world for the treatment and recovery from lung disorders.
At the Summerville-Dorchester Museum, visitors can learn about this early history of the town and explore artifacts inside a building that used to function as the police station. Walk across the charming Hutchinson Square to Cuppa Manna for coffee in a local shop. Accent on Wine & More is one of my favorite types of shops to discover in small towns. Inside the one-room store, you’ll find an enormous selection of wine from around the world. The “& More” in the store’s name means you can also order wine by the glass and sit outside to sip the day away.
Looking for lunch? Montreux Bar and Grill is my favorite place to eat in Summerville for all sorts of reasons. The restaurant is located inside an old building with creaky hardwood flooring, comfortable seating, and enormous picture windows at the front where I usually sit. My first visit to the restaurant was for brunch, where I found The Hangover to be the perfect meal even without a hangover. During my next visit, I discovered their crab cakes, which seriously raised the bar for any restaurant I visit in the future.
Did you know?
Summerville claims the title of “Birthplace of Sweet Tea.” In 2016, the city also claimed the title “World’s Largest Iced Tea” from Guinness World Records. A 2,524-gallon container behind town hall was filled with 210 pounds of loose leaf tea, 1,700 pounds of sugar, and several hundred pounds of ice.
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Stop No. 5
Battle of Eutaw Springs Park
When British General Charles Cornwallis left the Carolinas behind, marching his army north into Virginia, he left an opportunity for the Patriots. In September 1781, General Nathaniel Greene, in command of the Second Continental Army, faced a pivotal fight during the Battle of Eutaw Springs. Although the Patriot victory was costly, it was enough to drive the last remaining British army in the South back into Charleston, where they were stuck for the rest of the war.
Admittedly, there isn’t much to see at the Battle of Eutaw Springs Park today. Only 14 acres have been preserved through the Battlefield Trust. Visitors to the remote park can read about the battle on information displays and take a walk through the wooded site to the shore of Lake Marion, named after Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion.
Stop No. 6
Before the Revolutionary War, Columbia was little more than a small settlement with a ferry across the Congaree River. It wasn’t until 1786 that State Senator John Gervais introduced a bill to establish Columbia and make it the capital of the newly created state of South Carolina.
Although Columbia has a lack of Revolutionary War battle sites to visit, the city does have two of the best museums in the state for military history and artifacts related to the war. South Carolina Military Museum is specifically dedicated to preserving and sharing military history in the state. Their expansive exhibits cover the Revolutionary War as well as the Civil War and both World Wars.
The South Carolina State Museum has four floors of permanent exhibits exploring the history, art, and culture of South Carolina. The museum includes several artifacts dating to the Revolutionary War, along with descriptions of key battles across the state. While visiting the museum, plan some extra time for the traveling exhibits, planetarium, and a show at the 4D Theater.
Experience Columbia, SC 1010 Lincoln Street, Columbia, SC | 803-545-0102 | www.experiencecolumbiasc.com
Food, Shopping, and Attractions in Columbia
There are many beautiful places to visit in Columbia. Still, it would be entirely possible to spend an entire day on Gervais and Main Streets in downtown. The South Carolina State House operates guided tours through the state park system, where visitors can learn the history of the state and building. It’s a great starting point.
For some fantastic food, try Grill Marks for the burgers and “Freakshakes,” then head next door for a flight of craft beer at Twisted Spur Brewing. Kaminsky’s is a “dessert bar” with the most extensive menu of desserts you’ll find at a sit-down restaurant.
On Main Street, Bourbon and Cantina 76 are excellent places to grab lunch or dinner. The Columbia Museum of Art has one of the largest collections of art available for public viewing in the state. Just down the street, hop inside Mast General Store for outdoor clothing and gear, or stop by Main Street on a Saturday to enjoy the outdoor Soda City Market.
Where to Stay in Columbia
My top recommendation for where to stay in Columbia is Hyatt Place. The hotel is conveniently located downtown on Gervais Street and walking distance to many restaurants, breweries, and attractions. The full-service bar and restaurant in the lobby are an added amenity.
Aloft is one of the newer hotel chains that makes an affordable place to spend a night or two. The hotel is located downtown within walking distance to the restaurants and shops on Gervais Street and Main Street.
Stop No. 7
Ninety Six National Historic Site
From November 19-21, 1775, the first southern land battle of the Revolutionary War was fought at an improvised fort in Ninety Six, South Carolina. Although the backcountry town had fewer than a dozen buildings and barely a hundred residents, it was an essential hub for recruiting citizens to the Loyalist and Patriot causes. That initial battle resulted in a truce, but tensions would remain.
In 1781, General Nathaniel Greene fought General Lord Cornwallis to a bloody standstill at Guilford Courthouse. When Cornwallis moves north to Yorktown, Greene is free to sweep across South Carolina. After a siege by Greene’s army at the Star Fort, the British surrender the last outpost in the South Carolina backcountry.
Today, visitors to Ninety Six National Historic Site can walk a 1.25-mile loop trail around the battlefield, past a recreation of an early fort, and past the original Star Fort. That fort is considered to be the greatest remaining example of an 18th century earthen fort in the country.
Ninety Six National Historical Site 1103 Highway 248 South, Ninety Six, SC | 864-543-4068 | www.nps.gov/nisi/index.htm
When Uptown Greenwood was initially designed, it boasted the world’s widest main street measuring more than 300’ wide with railroad tracks down the middle. The tracks and multiple lanes of the highway have been replaced with an avenue of trees and wide sidewalks, making it one of the most beautiful downtown areas in South Carolina.
As you roll into town, make a stop at the Visitor Center located inside the Arts Center of Greenwood. Get an introduction to the history of the city at the Greenwood Museum next door or head to the other end of town to explore the expansive collection of railroad and electric streetcars at the Railroad Historical Center. Pay a visit to Dr. Benjamin Mays Historic Site to learn about the local civil rights activist while exploring his childhood home, a one-room schoolhouse, and a small museum.
Ready for some shopping? Greenwood’s shopping district features several local retail shops along Main Street and Maxwell Street, leading to the weekly farmers’ market. Main & Maxwell has a vast collection of local arts and crafts inside a beautifully restored historic building. David Lindsey Clothier is the perfect place to find men’s and women’s clothing and outdoor accessories while Sweet Teas Children’s Boutique has clothing for the little ones.
When you get around to acknowledging that grumble in your tummy head over to Kickers Takeout for a local spin on Cajun food or make a stop at The Mill House for delicious brick oven pizza. If you have a hankering for barbecue, try Fat Daddy’s BBQ. The red and white checkered tabletops, hardwood floors, and country décor will make your meal feel like a family picnic.
Where to Stay in Greenwood
Inn on the Square is a locally owned boutique hotel within walking distance of shopping, dining, and entertainment in Uptown Greenwood. The cavernous lobby and trickling indoor water fountain welcome visitors into the cozy hotel. Book a room in the main building or choose one of the suites in a separate building with private patios.
Stop No. 8
Battle of Musgrove’s Mill State Historic Site
It’s easy to miss this state historic site that preserves one of the most unique battles of the Revolutionary War. Battle of Musgrove’s Mill State Historic Site has a wonderful visitor center with a 3D interactive map that replays the pivotal battle.
On August 18, 1780, a small group of Patriots under the command of Colonel Isaac Shelby and Colonel Elijah Clarke were moving through the South Carolina countryside on their way to attack a nearby British fort. However, they only made it as far as Horseshoe Falls near the Enoree River before they were discovered by redcoat sentries.
Outnumbered and outgunned, Shelby and Clarke quickly improvised a plan to lure the British into battle on their terms. Captain Shadrack Inman led 25 men across the Enoree River to feign an attack, and then strategically retreat with the full British force closely behind. The resulting battle left nearly half the British soldiers dead, wounded, or captured. In comparison, only four Patriots were killed in action and seven wounded.
Begin at the visitor center where you’ll learn the details of the battle and pick up a park map. Go for a hike along the British Trail that winds through the area where the British camped before the battle. Drive across the river toa small parking area and go for a hike to Horseshoe Falls, a small waterfall above the Enoree River. The Battlefield Trail loops through a large field where a portion of the battle took place.
Battle of Musgrove’s Mill State Historic Site 398 State Park Road, Clinton, SC | 864-938-0100 | southcarolinaparks.com/musgrove-mill
Point of Interest
Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway
Stretching 118 miles between Lake Hartwell and Gaffney, the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway is one of the most stunning road trip routes in South Carolina. Tracing the route of SC Highway 11, the scenic byway cuts across the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, past several of the best state parks, and ends near the Peachoid in Gaffney.
On this road trip, take Exit 5 on Interstate 26 onto the scenic byway to begin a short jaunt to Cowpens National Battlefield and one of the best places you could ever stop for breakfast or lunch.
Strawberry Hill USA
James Cooley was the third generation of his family to farm the land in the upstate of South Carolina along Highway 11. It had started as a cotton farm with his grandfather, transitioned to peaches with his father, and in 1978 James took over the farm.
In 1995 James plowed over 6 acres of peach trees in favor of strawberry plants. Within just a few years, his farm earned the nickname “Strawberry Hill USA” from his loyal customers. Today the farm has nearly 1,000 acres of peach trees and over 100 acres of strawberry plants.
Stop at Strawberry Hill USA Café for a delicious, made-to-order breakfast. There’s plenty of seating, so you won’t have to wait long. Grab an ice cream on the way out. Walk across the road to browse through the fresh produce from the farm at the roadside market. You’re almost sure to take something home with you.
Strawberry Hill USA (864) 461-5353 | 3097 SC Hwy 11, Chesnee, SC | www.strawberryhillusa.com/
Stop No. 9
Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
After British General Charles Cornwallis captured Camden in 1780, he assigned Major Patrick Ferguson the task of seeking out more loyalists to join their cause in the South Carolina backcountry. During that assignment, Ferguson issued a threat for the frontier settlers west of the Appalachian Mountains to lay down their arms and surrender.
In late 1780, Patriots from Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina marched across the mountains into the South Carolina backcountry in search of Ferguson. They found him, along with a small detachment of Loyalist militia, on Kings Mountain. The Patriot victory at the Battle of Kings Mountain was one of the most important battles in the Revolutionary War.
Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail is a 330-mile Commemorative Motor Route designated by the National Park Service. The route closely follows the trail hiked by the Overmountain Men in 1780 on their way to Kings Mountain. Along the way, there are several historic structures, camps, and museums to visit to learn more.
There are three places along the trail visitors can explore in South Carolina. Before Cowpens National Battlefield became a significant Patriot victory, it was the place the Overmountain Men made camp the night before they attacked Kings Mountain. The 7.5-mile Lake Whelchel Trail follows a section of the original trail hiked by the Overmountain Men. Finally, in Gaffney, visitors can see the Colonel Williams Grave, the final resting place of a Patriot who died during the Battle of Kings Mountain.
Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail 864-461-2828 | www.nps.gov/ovvi
Stop No. 10
Cowpens National Battlefield
In 1781, Colonel Daniel Morgan took a detachment of Continentals and militiamen. He marched across the Carolinas to a small place known as the Cowpens, named because of the cattle that would graze there before being sent to slaughter. General Lord Cornwallis dispatched Colonel Banastre Tarleton to meet Morgan at Cowpens.
Morgan displayed a brilliant strategy facing a sizeable opposing force. The battle was a resounding defeat for Tarleton. It was one of three critical victories in the Carolinas that led to a seismic shift in the Revolutionary War.
At the visitors center, a short introductory film replays the critical battle and draws attention to Morgan’s tactics. Outside, a look trail along a concrete path leads through the remarkably preserved battlefield. Along the way exhibits detail key moments in the battle and how Morgan defeated the dreaded dragoons of Tarleton.
Cowpens National Battlefield (864) 461-2828 | 4001 Chesnee Highway, Gaffney, SC | www.nps.gov/cowp
Stop No. 11
Cherokee County History & Arts Museum
Located inside the historic Central School in Gaffney, the Cherokee County History & Arts Museumis the best source for exploring the Revolutionary War in this area of South Carolina. Operated by the Cherokee Historical & Preservation Society, the museum includes several exhibits about the War for Independence and information on local battles.
Also, the museum explores the history of local Native Americans, the establishment of Cherokee County, and the development of the area. Expect to spend about an hour exploring all the exhibits before hitting the road again.
Cherokee County History & Arts Museum 301 College Drive, Gaffney, SC | www.cherokeecountyhistory.org
Stop No. 12
Kings Mountain National Military Park
Responding to a direct threat from Scottish-born Colonel Patrick Ferguson, a large number of colonists from west of the Appalachian Mountains formed a detachment and marched into the South Carolina backcountry. Later in history, these men would become known as the Overmountain Men.
In late 1780, the Overmountain Men caught up to Ferguson on Kings Mountain. Ferguson secured the top of the gentle mountain peak, but it was not enough to keep him or his men alive. It was the only battle in the Revolutionary War that did not involve any regular British soldiers. It was one of three Patriot victories in the South that led to independence.
The visitor center at Kings Mountain National Military Park has one of the best reenactment films of the Revolutionary War. Along with a large museum and 3D interactive map replaying the battle, visitors will get a sense of the battle before heading outside. A paved loop trail circles the mountain where the battle took place with several exhibits and monuments along the way to explain what happened.
Kings Mountain State Park
Directly beside the national military park, the 6,885-acre Kings Mountain State Park was developed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. While the NPS property next door was to preserve the Battle of Kings Mountain site, the state park preserves the outdoor recreation opportunities.
At the Living History Farm, a 19th-century farm has been preserved with a house, barn, cotton gin, blacksmith shop, and a rustic garden. A lake is open for non-motorized boats, kayaks, and canoes. Hiking and horseback riding trails wind through the forest around the rather nice campground.
Kings Mountain State Park 1277 Park Road, Blacksburg, SC | 803-222-3209 | southcarolinaparks.com/kings-mountain
The York Historic District is a wonderful place to take a break from driving. The town was once an important stagecoach hub in the South Carolina Upcountry, but today it’s one of the best off-the-beaten-path destinations in the Olde English District.
The Garden Café features some of the best food you’ll eat on this road trip. Open for lunch and dinner, reservations are highly recommended after 5 p.m. because of the popularity of the local restaurant. For dessert, head over to Rainbow Donuts for a wide selection of donuts baked fresh every day.
For a quick and easy stop along the road trip, Windy Hill Orchard and Cider Mill is a locally owned apple orchard with all sorts of amazing products. Get a flight of their hard apple cider and enjoy at a covered shelter beside the orchard, and when you’re ready to leave, take an apple pie or apple cider doughnuts on the road with you!
Stop No. 13
In 1780 with the fall of Charleston to British General Howe and the occupation of Camden by General Lord Cornwallis, South Carolina Governor John Rutledge fled to North Carolina, leaving the state without any real leadership.
Captain Christian Huck was a British officer under the command of Colonel Banastre Tarleton. In July, Huck was ordered to sweep through the backcountry in search of new militia members to bolster their ranks. Huck’s detachment of 120 soldiers and dragoons spent a night at Williamson’s Plantation near the home of Patriot Colonel William Bratton.
Bratton was currently moving his own detachment of 150 soldiers through the backcountry nearby when he learned of Huck’s location. On the morning of July 11, 1780, Bratton caught up with Huck in a spectacular battle that left Huck and nearly all the British soldiers dead on the battlefield.
Each year the annual Battle of Huck’s Defeat event at Historic Brattonsville is one of the most impressive Revolutionary War reenactments in South Carolina. Visitors can learn about 18th-century frontier life with living history reenactors and then watch the battle reenacted in a grassy field nearby. The event is held around mid-July each year.
On a “normal” day, visitors to Historic Brattonsville can visit the preserved home of William Bratton, the McConnel House, and several other historic structures on the working farm.
Historic Brattonsville 1444 Brattonsville Road, McConnells, SC | 803-684-2327 | www.chmuseums.org/brattonsville/
Rock Hill is the only city in the Olde English District, but at heart is a hidden charming southern town. The Old Town district is full of great local shopping, dining, and exciting events throughout the year. This is a great place to spend a night or two on this road trip to discover the Revolutionary War across South Carolina.
Newsstand Record & Books is one of the few vinyl record shops I have come across in my travels. Just down the street is Friends Books on Main, a used bookstore selling books from the local library. The Main Street Bottle Company was a wonderful place to get a drink and then shop for some local craft beer in six-packs.
Legal Remedy Brewing is my favorite place to eat in Rock Hill. The craft brewery also includes a full-service restaurant with lots of comfortable indoor and outdoor seating. During my first visit, I tried the Southern Poutine, a plate of crispy fries topped with smoked jalapeno pimento cheese, pepper jelly, and crumbled bacon! Alternatives include wood-fired pizza at Millstone Pizza and Taproom or gourmet burgers from Flipside Restaurant; they are next door to each other if that makes the decision easier. For dessert, head over to Amelie’s French Bakery & Cafe for a fantastic sweet treat made fresh every day.
Visit York County 130 East Main Street, Rock Hill, SC | 803-329-5200 | www.visityorkcounty.com
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Where to Stay in Rock Hill
My top recommendation for staying in Rock Hill is Hampton Inn. Comfortable rooms, excellent customer service, and they have one of the best free breakfast spreads of any hotel chain I’ve ever visited.
Holiday Inn is another excellent option for staying in Rock Hill. Along with comfortable rooms, this hotel has an indoor swimming pool and special amenities. You’ll have to fork over $20 for breakfast, though.
La Quinta is another hotel I recommend in Rock Hill. Their comfortable rooms include a full suite with either two queen beds or a king bed with a sleeper sofa, perfect for traveling families.
Favorite Coffee in Rock Hill, SC
There weren’t as many coffee shops in Rock Hill as I would have expected for an up and coming city. But despite that, I’m pretty sure Knowledge Perk would have been my favorite coffee shop even among a mile-long list of contenders. Owners Ryan Sanderson and Jonathan Taylor are passionate about finding the best beans, grinding as needed, and making the freshest coffee possible.
Landsford Canal State Park
The biggest attraction to Landsford Canal State Park is the annual blooming of thousands of rocky shoals spider lilies in the Catawba River. But long before the state park was established, this shallow section of the river was a popular place for Patriot and British armies to cross during the Revolutionary War. After suffering defeats in North Carolina, British General Lord Cornwallis retreated across Land’s Ford in 1780 on his way to Winnsboro, where he would set up a winter encampment.
Visitors to the state park can enjoy hiking trails along the Catawba River and past the remains of an old canal once used for commercial traffic.
Landsford Canal State Park 2051 Park Drive, Catawba, SC | 803-789-5800 | southcarolinaparks.com/landsford-canal
Stop No. 14
Andrew Jackson State Park
Andrew Jackson was born in 1767, but nobody really knows where. Everyone agrees he was born in The Waxhaws, a region straddling the border between North Carolina and South Carolina. Andrew Jackson State Park is located on the site of the Crawford Plantation, where Jackson spent time as a child.
In 1779, Jackson’s oldest brother, Hugh, died from heat exhaustion after the Battle of Stono River. Jackson was still too young to enlist, so instead, he joined the militia as a courier. While spending a night at the Crawford Plantation, Jackson was captured by British forces under the command of Major Coffin. That event would alter Jackson’s life forever, a story that is wonderfully told at the museum in the state park.
The museum has several exhibits spanning Jackson’s early childhood, involvement with the Revolutionary War, and political career. A statue created by Anna Hyatt Huntington on display near the museum, called A Boy of the Waxhaws, depicts a young Jackson on horseback riding through the plantation.
Andrew Jackson State Park 196 Andrew Jackson Park Road, Lancaster, SC | 803-285-3344 | southcarolinaparks.com/andrew-jackson
Lancaster is one of two towns on this road trip featuring a courthouse designed by architect Robert Mills, the Charlestonian who also designed the Washington Monument (the other Mills courthouse is in Camden). Today, the bottom floor of the restored courthouse is the Lancaster County Museum, an excellent place to begin the exploration of this small town.
While driving through town, you might notice several names revolving around red roses, including Red Rose Park on Main Street. During the mid-1400s, the War of the Roses was a series of civil wars fought in England between the House of Lancaster and the House of York. The symbol for the House of Lancaster was a red rose. When settlements in the colonies were named after the noble house, the red rose would become a symbol of the town.
Stop No. 15
Bufford Battleground Monument
In May 1780, British Colonel Banastre Tarleton, with 100 soldiers and 170 dragoons, attacked the 350 Virginia Continentals under the command of Colonel Abraham Buford. To this day, accounts of the battle vary, but at the time, it was considered a massacre. A Patriot surgeon named Brownfield told the story of how Buford attempted to surrender, but Tarleton gave the order to kill everyone with no desire to take prisoners back to Camden.
Referred to as the Waxhaws Massacre, the event was used to drum up Patriot support in the South Carolina backcountry. A few months later, the massacre was still fresh on Patriot minds during their victory at the Battle of Kings Mountain.
Today, visitors can explore the small 51-acre park in Lancaster County. A battlefield monument details the story of the massacre, along with a gravesite to the side. The local high school recently improved the landscaping and installed picnic tables beneath the shade of pine trees, making it a great place to take a break from the driving.
Stop No. 16
Camden Battlefield and Longleaf Pine Preserve
On your way into Camden along Flat Rock Road, you’ll come to the Battle of Camden Historic Site, though you wouldn’t know it by driving through it. Look for a small parking area on the left in an otherwise nondescript longleaf pine forest.
Just three months after capturing Charleston, Patriot General Horatio Gates was sent to counter the British invasion of the South. General Lord Cornwallis met Gates at the Battle of Camden on August 16, 1780. Gates commanded 4,100 men compared to just 2,117 under Cornwallis, however the battle of a crushing defeat for the Patriots.
Operated by Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site, the Battle of Camden site is undergoing a massive project to establish trails through the battlefield, interpretive panels to explain critical moments, and offer guided tours. Several panels and monuments are already in place, but you may want to visit Historic Camden first to pick up a trail map. Guided tours are offered through Historic Camden for around $12-$20.
Stop No. 17
Founded in 1730, Camden is the oldest remaining inland town in South Carolina. During the Revolutionary War, the British saw its importance for establishing a fortification in the backcountry and launching attacks into North Carolina. After Cornwallis was victorious at the Battle of Camden, the British occupied Camden for much of the war.
The Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site is one of the most well-preserved Revolutionary War sites in South Carolina. Beginning with an admission fee of $5, visitors can explore the historic homes on the location of the original settlement. For $10, visitors can take a guided tour that includes the Kershaw-Cornwallis House, McCaa’s Tavern, and Craven House.
One of the best times to visit this historic site is during Revolutionary War Field Days. Hundreds of reenactors descend upon the location of the original settlement to set up camp, demonstrate life during the 18th century, and put on a thrilling reenactment of the Battle of Camden.
Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site 222 Broad Street, Camden, SC | 803-432-9841 | www.historiccamden.org
Food, Shopping, and Attractions in Camden
The bulk of downtown Camden stretches along two blocks of Broad Street; with free parallel parking, everything is within easy walking distance.
Start with a trip to Books on Broad,where you can order a fresh coffee while you browse through their collection of local interest books. Go window shopping at the nearly dozen antique shops, or do some actual shopping inside. Enjoy a great meal at Steeplechase Sports Bar & Grill or Sam Kendall’s, then head across the street to Sweet Lili’s Desserts to finish the evening.
The most exciting place to visit in Camden is the National Steeplechase Museum. Did you know horse racing comes to Camden every year? The Carolina Cup is played at the Springdale Race Course and is one of the most exciting and unique events in the state.
Visit Camden 1000 Lyttleton Street, Camden, SC | https://www.classicallycarolina.com/
Where to Stay in Camden
My top recommendation for lodging in Camden is Holiday Inn Express near the I-20 interchange. The clean and relatively new hotel had fantastic rooms, and it’s just minutes from downtown.
Across the street, I would also recommend Hampton Inn. This hotel chain has the best hot breakfast I’ve ever had at a hotel, and it’s free! Along with comfortable rooms large enough for traveling families, it’s an excellent option for spending a couple of nights.
My final suggestion is Bloomsbury Inn, a bed and breakfast located inside a house built in 1849. Of course, an exceptional breakfast is included, but you’ll also get a fireplace in the bedroom, comfortable beds, and peace and quiet around the property.
Settled in the 1700s, Ridgeway was still a tiny community during the time of the Revolutionary War and didn’t become a booming rail town until close to the Civil War. Today, the picturesque southern town closes shop before 5 p.m. on weekdays, and nothing is open on Sunday, so you’ll have to time a visit just right to take advantage of the local shopping and dining.
The Palmer Street Market is the place to find new items like home décor and clothing. The Cotton Yard Market is the place for antiquing with a continually shifting selection of various items. Over the Top Boutique, the only clothing store in town has a range of fine clothing and jewelry.
Olde Town Hall Restaurant & Pub is an excellent place to get something to eat. The casual restaurant serves gourmet pizzas, burgers, and signature steaks in the historic building that once served as the town hall. My recommendation for lunch in Ridgeway is the charming and peaceful Laura’s Tea Room. The main attraction is Afternoon Tea or High Tea, but I visited for lunch, where I enjoyed a bowl of creamy potato soup and a grilled pimento cheese sandwich.
Stop No. 18
In 1755, a small settlement was established here that quickly grew in population and amenities. In late 1780, after the British suffered a crushing defeat at the Battle of Kings Mountain, General Lord Cornwallis crossed the Catawba River near present-day Landsford Canal State Park. He made his winter encampment in this small settlement.
The two-story Cornwallis House is where the British general made his headquarters for the winter. When Don and Jenny Praser moved to Winnsboro and bought the historic home, they knew they wanted to create a business that reflected the history of the American Revolution. Along with their daughter, Christina, they opened the Cornwallis House Tea Company.
The local business started with custom-blended teas but quickly grew to include desserts and a small restaurant menu. Visitors can enjoy the fantastic food and tea in a comfortable space while learning about the intriguing history of Cornwallis and the “Winter of Discontent.”
Did you know?
When the settlement was incorporated in 1785, the founders ironically chose to name the town Winnsboro in honor of Richard Winn, a local Revolutionary War hero. The Virginia native moved to South Carolina before the start of the war, and in 1775 he was commissioned as a first lieutenant in the Third South Carolina. By 1783, he had risen through the ranks to brigadier general.