In a small town like Simpsonville, you’d expect to find an assortment of cute little shops, local restaurants and family-friendly events, from the traditional Easter egg hunt to an all-American Fourth of July celebration.
But in this Upstate community, located 20 minutes from downtown Greenville, you’re as likely to see big-name, headlining bands like Darius Rucker, Counting Crows, Paul Simon, Mumford & Sons and Foreigner.
One of the city’s biggest attractions is the CCNB Amphitheatre at Heritage Park, an outdoor entertainment venue with a seating capacity of 15,000. Along with major concerts and shows, the amphitheater hosts a number of community events, including Movies in the Park and the 10-day Fair at Heritage Park each spring.
In the summer, the most popular place in town is Discovery Island Waterpark where you can cool off in a lazy river, surf or boogie board on a FlowRider Perpetual Wave and splash down water slides.
The city’s downtown also sets it apart from other communities with a working railroad line running along Main Street, dividing the thoroughfare into two corridors. On the west side of the tracks is Simpsonville’s iconic brick clock tower. Built in 1986, it’s a more modern version of the classic Southern clock tower.
Nearby is the former Seaboard Air Line Railroad passenger train depot built in 1960. Now the Ice Cream Station, it has become a popular gathering destination for locals.
Once a stagecoach stop, Simpsonville traces its history to 1838 when a farmer named Peter Simpson established a blacksmithing shop at the intersection of what was the Old Stage Road and Cherokee Trail. The crossroads eventually became known as Simpsonville.
With the construction of the Greenville and Laurens Railroad in the 1880s, the town became a cotton-processing center. The Simpsonville Cotton Mill remained the town’s largest employer until after World War II.
In 1953, Greenville Water Works extended its system through the towns of Mauldin, Simpsonville and Fountain Inn, bringing industrial development to the area and transforming it to what came to be known as the “Golden Strip.”
Despite a 254 percent growth in the city’s population from 1970-1990, Simpsonville has retained its small-town charm. Today, the downtown corridor is home to an array of fun shops and restaurants, including Unterhausen The Castle Cellar Pub, a unique underground eatery with a distinctly Bavarian bent.
Simpsonville also offers plenty of recreational amenities with two golf courses, a bowling alley and skating center, and four city parks offering ballfields, batting cages, a sensory playground, disc golf, tennis courts and much more. It’s no wonder Family Circle Magazine named Simpsonville one of the Ten Best Towns for Families in South Carolina.
To get a feel for the city, take the Historic Walking Tour showcasing 20 notable—and unique—sites, among them the Potato House, built in the 1930s to store farmers’ sweet potato crops in the winter; the “Balancing Act” mural on the side of the Curtis Street building; and the Simpsonville Municipal Cemetery, with gravesites dating back to the mid-nineteenth century.