Discover Old-Fashioned Sweetness at South Carolina Soda Fountains

By:Kerry Egan


What’s more fun than ice cream on a hot South Carolina summer day? How about settling down at a long drugstore counter for a malted milk shake or root beer float made right in front of you?

It might seem like something from the past, but South Carolina is lucky to have a half dozen old-fashioned soda fountains located all across the state. While most children would love an ice cream cone no matter where it comes from, there’s something especially fun about watching kids’ eyes light up when they pull up to an old-fashioned counter and watch a soda jerk make their treats right in front of them. And for adults who grew up riding their bikes down to the drugstore to meet friends for a phosphate, a trip to an old-fashioned soda fountain is like a trip back in time.

Take a look at our round-up of South Carolina soda fountains and make plans for a pimento cheese sandwich, washed down with a homemade orange-aide and followed by a hot fudge sundae.

The Pickwick in Greenville (3219 Augusta St) has been a drugstore since 1947, but the deliciousness began even before that. The Pickwick is one of the few soda fountains that began with drinks, ice cream and sandwiches, years before they added a pharmacy. For a special treat, try a fresh and icy Cherry Smash.

Cut Rate Drug Store & Soda Fountain (32 S. Main St) on Main Street in Sumter has been drawing people in with its long, sinuous counter snaking back and forth since 1935, but it’s the sandwiches, salads, and amazing specials that keep bringing people back. Their chicken salad, in particular, draws people in from miles around. Oh, and the amazing ice cream concoctions never hurt either.

Vincent's Drug Store and Soda Fountain (110 Village Green Lane, John's Island), right on the edge of Kiawah and Seabrook islands, welcomes visitors with its old-fashioned charm, so it might be surprising to learn the store is only 10 years old. The atmosphere and food is everything a soda fountain should be, in a place as beautiful you can imagine. Try the enormous Vacation Sundae, if you dare. Just keep reminding yourself that you're on vacation and can work it off later.

Pitt Street Pharmacy (111 Pitt St, Mount Pleasant) has been a cornerstone of the old village of Mount Pleasant for more than 75 years. It's well worth the short trip over the Ravenel bridge from Charleston to explore this charming town and grab a delicious bite to eat. Try the famous Linda's Club, made with some of the best egg salad you'll ever have.

Lee’s Inlet Apothecary(3579 US 17 Business) is tucked away in gorgeous Murrells Inlet. Just a short drive from the hub-bub of Myrtle Beach, the soda fountain at Lee’s Inlet Apothecary lets you step back in time at its antique counter. The lovely antique fountain wasn't originally built in Murrells Inlet; it was shipped here and rebuilt, all the way from Route 66 in Oklahoma. Try an old-fashioned phosphate (syrup and soda water) just like they made them 60 years ago.

Nye's Pharmacy (1600 10th Ave, Conway) and its iconic red neon sign has welcomed visitors to Conway for more than 60 years. It's right next to US 501, the very busy highway that leads to Myrtle Beach, and is a popular stop for both locals and travelers. Slide into a booth or take a counter stool. There's a daily lunch special of down-home cooking, and the turkey salad has been a favorite of locals for years.

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