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14 Tips for a Summer Road Trip Thru Olde English District, SC

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© Getty Images PHOTO: Riverwalk Trail in Rock Hill, SC (Photo courtesy of SimplyPhotos/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

By Susan Young, TravelPulse

If you are looking for summer road trip ideas with a twist, South Carolina’s Olde English District, located just south of Charlotte, NC, is just the ticket. One might associate the state with Civil War activity, but it was also the location of early settlement by the English, in the mid-1700’s, and Revolutionary War battles. Dissected by Interstate 77, running north and south, seven counties make up this district full of historic sites, amazingly creative restaurants, as well as festivals, shopping and state and national parks.

FLIPSIDE CAFE

Start your day with a bountiful breakfast at Flipside Café in Fort Mill. Jon and Amy Fortes also run another Flipside in downtown Rock Hill. Amy’s philosophy, “There’s an art to eggs,” is evident in her menu selections like the Fort Mill Flip Biscuit Bake and Maine Lobster Omelet. Flipside also serves lunch and dinner but try to catch their weekend brunch with the likes of Soy Chorizo and Potato Hash for southern sophistication.

SMOKIN' ED'S CAROLINA REAPER

Fort Mill is also home to the Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper, the world’s hottest pepper, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Ed Currie owns the PuckerButt Pepper Company, which produces this spicy gem. How do they measure the hotness of a pepper, you ask? The Scoville Heat Units scale quantifies a substance’s spiciness, the concentration of capsaicinoids in the pepper. The Reaper rates at an average of 1,641,183 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), according to tests conducted by Winthrop University in SC.

WINDY HILL ORCHARD & CIDER MILL

While the country’s craft beer craze is still going strong, the obsession with hard cider is catching up. While in the OED, check out York’s Windy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill for a tasting and education about this “boutique apple orchard and Hard Cider producer.” Their many selections pair with pretzels, pork rinds, and chips, but don’t forget their delectable, freshly made donuts for a real treat.

MIDWAY BBQ

If Southern Living can find this place in Buffalo, SC, you can, too. Midway BBQ is known as a “100-mile barbeque joint,” you’d drive 100 miles to find it. Family run since 1941, Jay and Amy Allen are currently keeping up the tradition of Amy’s dad, Jack O’Dell, the “Hash King.” The Hash and Chicken Stew Capital of the World serves up beef hash which, though not particularly photogenic, is made up of beef, onions, butter, and seasonings, simmered for hours each day.

PIEDMONT PHYSIC GARDEN

Located in the tiny town of Union, the Piedmont Physic Garden sits on a shady corner behind a historical house built in the early 1900’s. Inspired by London’s Chelsea Physic Garden, the plants represent medicinal and herbal remedies for what ails you, in a natural way. The home and gardens are open to the public for tours.

LEGAL REMEDY BREWING CO.

What do you get when you mix a lawyer, a landscape architect, two bankers and a computer guy? Why, a brewery, of course. Their love of beer made them decide to brew their own and, when they got their product just right, they made it legal, forming Legal Remedy Brewing Co., in Rock Hill. Not only do they carry a fine array of spirits, but their food offerings are amazing, as well. Try their Southern Poutine for a down south version of a Canadian favorite.

BOB DOSTER'S BACKSTREET STUDIO

Drive through the town of Lancaster and you’ll notice several large metal sculptures, benches and even creative trash cans located throughout. They are all the handiwork of Bob Doster’s Backstreet Studio, where you’ll find an eclectic array of giant hands, silver palmetto bushes, and other fascinating items. Ask Bob to describe how all this came about and he might even follow you to the local BBQ joint around the corner for lunch.

THE CRAFT STAND

And if that BBQ joint is 521 BBQ & Grill, you might meet a mayoral candidate who happens to own The Craft Stand, a neighborhood beer store around yet another corner. That’s the kind of place Lancaster is, where everybody knows your name. Have a beer drawn from a tap containing selections from the Benford Brewing Company, and you’ll enjoy a “local boy makes good” story from Bryan O’Neal.

NATIVE AMERICAN STUDIES CENTER

The Catawba Indians play a big part in the story of this region and you’ll find their complete history depicted at the Native American Studies Center, a part of USC Lancaster. This museum houses the largest collection of Catawba Indian pottery in existence and keeps the secret of where the clay is found and harvested on the Catawba River. “Catawba pottery represents a single continuous, unbroken tradition. Surviving the tribe’s near extinction…remains the oldest continuous ceramics tradition in the U.S.”

THE PUMP HOUSE

On that same Catawba River, you’ll find The Pump House in Rock Hill. A repurposed industrial building, this restaurant offers beautiful views of the river and exquisite cuisine to go with it. Whether you’re in the mood for shrimp and grits or elk chops, just be sure you make room for the Cheerwine Chocolate Cake, named after the local favorite soft drink.

AG AND ART TOUR

If you find yourself driving through the OED in June, check out the Ag and Art Tour happening every weekend of the month in various counties. The Tour is the nation’s largest free, self-guided farm tour with local artisans, farms, and markets.

THE YOLK CAFE

Back to breakfast, The Yolk Café, in Rock Hill, is another locally owned spot, known for its fresh, creative offerings. Chef, Gregory Collier and his wife, Subrina, say their purpose was “to make their new diner a special place focused on local food resources but with a touch of contemporary flair.” With menu items like Smoked Cheddar Grits and Sweet Potato Waffles, they are fulfilling their promise.

FIVE & DINE

What once was the McCrory’s Variety Store, in the middle of Rock Hill, now is home to the Five & Dine. The diner was the site of the Friendship 9’s “Jail No Bail” sit-in, during the civil rights movement of 1960. Owner, Selena Kelemen, has kept the lunch counter as an homage to the group, some of whom still live in the area and visit often. Chef Tony’s menu is vast, if you can’t decide what to order, try his pot roast for a dose of northern cuisine in a southern setting.

If you need a place to stay during your Olde English District road trip, Marriott’s Fairfield Inn & Suites, in Rock Hill, is a good choice. Located close to I-77, you’re never more than an hour away from destinations mentioned above. The property is barely a year-old, so they provide all the most up-to-date amenities

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