Dining choices in the Chester County area range from “fish camps” (local eateries famous for some of the best freshwater and seafood in the South), to pub style and southern home style restaurants to fast food eateries. International cuisine includes Mexican and Greek choices. Several places have facilities for club meetings and private parties.
Accommodations include quaint bed and breakfast homes in the Chester Historic District to several modern hotels in Chester and Richburg along the I-77 corridor.
Cultural activities are fostered by such organizations as the Arts Council of Chester County, the Chester Little Theater, the Chester County Library, the Chester County Historical Society, 2nd Thursday Blues which offers excellent family-friendly concerts, and local historic and civic groups. Annual festivals draw large numbers of visitors from local areas and out of state. The Flopeye Fish Festival is held each Memorial Day weekend in Great Falls. Activities at the event include arts and crafts fairs, a variety of musical entertainment, car shows, carnival rides and games, and a wide range of choice food items. The City of Chester serves host each year for the Chester Downtown Development Association’s HILLarity Festival. The multi-cultural event features a wide variety of entertainment, crafts and food in Historic Downtown Chester. Another popular and growing event is the annual Lilly Festival. The rare Rocky Shoals Spider Lilly is found in only a handful of places in the world. The beautiful lilies spring to life each May in the Catawba River. The celebration takes place at the Landsford Canal State Park near Richburg.
The Chester County Historical Museum, which opened in 1960, contains many notable collections including the Claude E. Gatlin Indian Collection. This amazing collection contains more than 30,000 projectile points. The Museum also houses pictures of four signers of the South Carolina Ordinance of Secession, which helped lead to the Civil War. There is also a copy of the Ordinance donated by the family of one of the signers. Several Civil War battle flags are also on display as are thousands of photographs and negatives from the collection of Henry Orion Nichols taken between 1917-1990.
There are a wide range of recreational activities in Chester County; from neighborhood playgrounds to State Parks and a National Forest, Chester County is known for its natural beauty. Both the City of Chester and the Town of Great Falls operate recreation departments with facilities that include playgrounds, swimming pools, tennis courts, football, basketball, softball, soccer, and baseball facilities. There are also smaller parks in Richburg and Lowrys and in western Chester County. A YMCA facility opened its doors in 1999. An 18-hole golf course is just minutes east of Chester off Highway 9. Operated by the Leroy Springs Company, the Chester Golf Club is open to the public. Republic Golf Course, a nine-hole course in Great Falls, is also open to the public.
If you love the water, you’ll love Chester County. The beautiful Broad River, named as one of the state’s most scenic, flows along the western boundary of the county and is an excellent source for day canoe trips and fishing. The historic Catawba River is located on the eastern boundary of the county and is also an excellent choice for canoeing, camping, or fishing. Water sports such as swimming, boating and skiing are available at Fishing Creek Lake, an impoundment on the Catawba River above Great Falls. The lake has public boat landings as well as a number of private residences and cabins.
Residents and visitors in Chester County have access to a myriad of artistic and cultural offerings. The region is home to nationally recognized museums, symphony, opera, theater & dance companies as well as a number of historic sites, living history exhibits and annual community festivals. Locally, the Chester County Historical Society is an active player in promoting and maintaining Chester County’s rich and colorful history. Just a walk through downtown Chester takes one back to a time when life was a bit slower, perhaps a bit friendlier and certainly less expensive. The downtown’s beauty and architectural heritage has been expertly maintained making it one of loveliest small towns in the entire South.
But the county’s other towns, including Great Falls, Richburg and Lowrys offer a special blend of charm unique to each. Great Falls is home to one of the oldest hydroelectric dams in the country and is where Duke Energy was born. Today, the river serves the area as a wonderful recreational area, perfect for boating, fishing, picnicking, and camping.
In Charlotte, the beautiful uptown North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center is host to several Broadway plays each year. Aside from the main arts center, several excellent local theater companies put on a wide variety of productions throughout the year. The City of Charlotte is home to a growing number of artists and galleries. A popular event is “Gallery Crawl” which takes place the first Friday evening of each month in the artist’s community of North Davidson Street in downtown Charlotte. In addition to activities at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, the region is home to the Mint Museum of Art, Discovery Place Museum, the Museum of York County, the Charlotte Repertory Theater, the North Carolina Dance Center, the Catawba Indian Cultural Center, the living history exhibit at Historic Brattonsville, and a host of community festivals. Statewide, the annual Spoleto Festival in Charleston, Freedom Weekend Aloft in the Upstate and the Carolina Cup horseracing events in Camden are just two of the dozens of community events that attract hundreds of thousands of spectators each year. For a complete listing of all the artistic, cultural and entertainment opportunities in Charlotte, visit the Charlotte Convention and Visitors Bureau. If the excitement of arts, culture and professional sporting events isn’t enough to fulfill your need for entertainment, there is a host of outdoor recreational opportunities in Chester County and the Charlotte MSA. Plus, the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains and the beaches of the Atlantic Coast are less than a 3-hour drive away – perfect for those weekend getaways!
Do you enjoy water sports? Nearby Lake Wylie, Lake Norman, Lake Wateree and the Catawba and Broad Rivers offer boating, fishing, and swimming. The area is also home to Andrew Jackson State Park, Kings Mountain State Park, Kings Mountain National Military Park and Cowpens National Battlefield – both sites of important Revolutionary War battles. Chester State Park, located south of the City of Chester on South Carolina Highway 72/121, offers residents and visitors camping, picnicking, fishing, a playground, and a nature trail. For more information, please visit Chester State Park’s web site. Landsford Canal State Park is located on the Catawba River in the northeastern section of Chester County. The park is located at an ancient crossing point of the river, which has a rocky shoal. In the 1820s, a canal was constructed to allow barge traffic to flow around the shoals for the transportation of cotton and other crops to markets in Charleston. The canal area, unused for many decades, is now an interpretive site. The park also has a picnic area, a nature trail, and opportunities for fishing and canoeing. For more information, please visit Landsford Canal State Park’s web site. Portions of the beautiful Sumter National Forest are located in western Chester County. The forest provides areas for hiking, hunting, access to the Broad River, and a developed recreation area at Woods Ferry. For more about the Sumter National Forest click here. If golf is your game, then South Carolina is a dream come true. There are more than 30 golf courses in the area and over 300 within a 3-hour drive including the over 100 courses along the Myrtle Beach Grand Strand.
Do you enjoy leisurely walks amidst beautiful gardens? Rock Hill’s Glencairn Gardens will make you feel right at home. Statewide, South Carolina offers some of the most beautiful gardens in the world including those at Middleton Place, Magnolia Plantation, Cypress Gardens, and Boone Hall Plantation in Charleston; Edisto Memorial Gardens in Orangeburg; Swan Lake Iris Gardens in Sumter; Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet which also includes beautiful statuary, and the South Carolina Botanical Gardens in Clemson. If the kids want a little more than a leisurely stroll, the Chester County and Charlotte area offers fun and excitement for them too! Paramount Carowinds Theme Park is located on the North Carolina-South Carolina state line – less than 20 minutes from Chester County. The full-featured theme park is open during warm weather months and offers roller coasters and other rides and amusements. Other children’s entertainment venues across the state include the Myrtle Beach Grand Strand area that has become a family vacation mecca and the Charleston area with its attractions, beaches and events. In nearby Columbia (45 minutes South), Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Gardens offer young and old alike an outstanding zoo experience. Only 30 minutes to the north of Chester County, Charlotte is one of only three Southern cities to have at least two professional sports franchises and is the number one travel destination in the state of North Carolina. The Charlotte area is home to the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, the WNBA’s Charlotte Sting, the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, the Charlotte Checkers of the East Coast Hockey League and AAA affiliate Charlotte Knights. In addition, the Lowe’s Motor Speedway offers exciting NASCAR racing, and the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Chester County has a little of everything when it comes to tourism. Whether you enjoy outdoor activities, visiting historic sites, shopping, or just plain relaxing, odds are you will find Chester County the perfect place to visit. The county’s rural setting is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and there are several places to visit for short day-trips.
Shopping “On the Hill” (which describes downtown Chester’s unique positioning on top of a very steep hill which slopes down to the remaining sections of the City) is a pleasant experience. Downtown shops carry a large variety of merchandise including men and women’s apparel, antiques, books, pet needs, and hardware. Scattered throughout the county are strip malls which contain grocers, drug stores, and general merchandise. Major outlet malls and modern shopping malls can be found in nearby Rock Hill (20 minutes); Pineville (30 minutes); Charlotte (40 minutes); or Columbia (45 minutes).