Earlier this week, I did a little South Carolina travel for 48 hours. We visited The Olde English District, which is a collection of communities that boast an incredible amount of historical landmarks, vast waterways and exquisite culinary adventures. My travel and accommodations were sponsored by Olde English District Tourism Commission, however I would never recommend a destination that I didn’t enjoy myself. All opinions here are mine alone.
Note: this post covers the first 24 hours of our excursions. Here’s the details for day two.
I’ve been living in the Charlotte region for roughly five years and I absolutely love it. We have four seasons, incredible scenery for outdoor activities and an amazing culinary community that I hold dear to my heart. I’ve always enjoyed discovering new places, but sadly had not made it south of the North Carolina border… until now.
The Olde English District is made up of seven counties in the northern valley of the state.
It’s rich with history and much of the landscape remains the same today as it was in yesteryear. Of course… there are modern establishments sprinkled throughout the countryside, though I found myself drawn to the deep-rooted farms, lush woodlands and the local’s southern charm. If you’re looking for a jam-packed day of fun – follow our itinerary below (and make sure to come hungry).
Our first stop for the day was for breakfast at The Flipside Cafe in Fort Mill (9:00am).
We mingled with co-owner Amy Fortes as she walked us through her carefully crafted (locally sourced) menu. Originally from New York, Amy moved to the Carolinas when she was 21 years old; “I like the small town feel… seeing the same people three times a month and knowing how their kid’s cheeseburger should be cooked”. We sampled a few of her specialities, which included her house-made pimento cheese, potatoes bravas and a decadant biscuit bake. My favorite entree was the soy chorizo with potato hash, but you really can’t go wrong with any of the menu items here.
If you’re a hot sauce connoisseur, swing by Puckerbutt Pepper Company after your meal. Pepper enthusiast and owner, Ed Currie, will blow your tastebuds away with his innovative condiments. His shop just so happens to be the home of the world’s hottest chili pepper, the Carolina Reaper, and he would love to tell you his backstory (ahem.. it’s earned him a spot in the Guiness Book of World Records). Ed’s sweltering sauces are served at Flipside Cafe and contain absolutely no salt.
Next, we were off to taste ciders from Windy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill (11:30am).
Owned by New Jersey natives, Fritz and Catherine Gusmer, this plantation is the very first cidery to be located in South Carolina. After moving here in 1978, the Gusmer’s and their children added a twist to their family cider-making tradition by creating apple cider doughnuts.
Upon arrival our group was pleasantly greeted by their son Matthew, who helps run the boutique apple orchard and oversees daily operations. Their 10-acre plantation predominantly grows Stayman Winesap apples, which are available for pick-your-own every September to early October each year. In 1996, the family started to produce hard cider and now offers at least six varieties to regularly sip on (sometimes they’ll have more… it just depends on the season). Windy Hill’s ciders are blended with several varieties of apples (including their own and others sourced from Henderson County and the mountains from Virginia – check out my Hendersonville travel blog here). Each bottle contains 6% alcohol. Make sure to visit their website to see tasting room and farmstead hours.
Noteworthy facts: Windy Hill Orchard houses roughly 20 free-range pigs and an additional 20 cage-free chickens in their fields. These animals assist with fallen apple cleanup and pest control. How cool is that? They also grow hydroponic pumpkins and are currently perfecting their recipe for their “Farmer’s Gatorade”, otherwise known as Switchel (a non-alcoholic drink similar to kombucha).
After our fun tasting session, we hopped in the car to venture over to Midway BBQ in Buffalo, SC (1:30pm).
Established around 1941 – the exact date is unknown – this eatery was one of 50 hash houses in Union County. Today, they are known as the Hash and Chicken Stew Capital of the World and are the only original hash house that remains in operation.
Originally founded by Jack O’Dell, this family-owned legend is now run by his daughter, Amy, and her husband, Jay Allen. Every item on the menu is 100% scratch-made and only two individuals know the exact recipe for their famous hash and chicken stew. Employees are treated like family, thus the reasoning why Shirley White (the hash & stew gatekeeper in addition to Jay) has worked in Midway’s kitchen for 50 years.
Midway BBQ is included in the 100 Mile Barbecue list (meaning “I’ll drive 100 miles for that BBQ”) and sells an average of 250 pounds of hash during non-holiday operations. In case you were wondering, their chicken stew is so comforting that they’ll go through 90+ gallons of the magnificent chowder on any given rainy day. I can personally attest to this fact… it’s what I’ll be craving from now on.
After we had our fill, we popped on over to Piedmont Physic Garden for an herbal retreat (3:00pm).
Inspired by London’s Chelsea Physic Garden, this medicinal paradise has a mission to educate and promote the importance of medicinal plants to the folks of Union County and the surrounding region. The estate is breathtaking and they offer educational classes for children, serve as a wedding venue and will inspire you to utilize your own green-thumb at home.
At this time, we took the opportunity to check into our accommodations for the evening at Fairfield Inn & Suites in Rock Hill (5:00pm).
Just over a year old, this hotel offers free wifi, complimentary breakfast and easy access to I-77 for travel buffs. The rooms are spacious and accommodating, allowing guests to relax in an environment similar to their own homes. My stay here was quick, but I will definitely be returning this summer (they are in close proximity to Carowinds – I’m a thrill seeker).
After we settled in, we were off to Legal Remedy Brewing Co. right down the street from our accommodations (6:00pm).
This brewery produces up to 10,000 barrels of beer per year and houses a 17-barrel brewing system. There are 5 partners responsible for this craft brew hub, all who met through a “mommies of multiples” meet-up group with their wives (4 out of the 5 partners have twins!).
The crew originally started by brewing in their own homes and entering competitions. After popular demand, they went to market and released their first “legal batch” in 2014. The gang is fond of both beer and food… so they offer a full menu of gastronomical fare for your feasting pleasure. Make sure to try the pimento cheese fries and meatloaf sandwich… your tastebuds will thank you.
To end our foodie rendezvous, we settled-in for some casual waterfront dining at The Pump House in Rock Hill (7:30pm).
Located along the breathtaking Catawba River, this 5-story industrial pump house turned restaurant offers a little something for everyone. After a fun day of travel, our group immensely enjoyed the view, craft cocktails (or a mocktail in my case) and fantastic cuisine while overlooking the water. Guests can expect a colorful mix of southern classics, fresh seafood and succulent entrees with mouthwatering desserts (hello Cheerwine flourless cake).
I would like to send a whole-hearted thank you to all the establishments listed above for their genuine hospitality. I would also like to thank Susan and Des at DK Communications and Jayne with The Olde English District Tourism for setting up all our activities.
To say that I had a fantastic day would be an understatement. The Olde English District of South Carolina has so much to explore, I simply cannot wait to return. Stay tuned for details of our adventures on day two!
IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, PLEASE MAKE SURE TO CHECK OUT DAY 2. CHEERS, FRIENDS! 🙂