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Rock Hill Shines as a Sports Hub of South Carolina

Marie McAden Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.
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Whether you enjoy watching sports or participating in them, you’ll find plenty of both in Rock Hill, along with a revitalized downtown lined with fun shops, restaurants and breweries.

Once part of South Carolina’s rich textile manufacturing industry, Rock Hill reinvented itself in the new millennium as a sports tourism destination, drawing athletes and spectators from around the world.

Today, the historic Midlands town plays host to national cycling events in its state-of-the-art Giordana Velodrome, BMX Supercross Track and Criterium Course.

In the summer of 2019, the city will open the Rock Hill Sports & Event Center, an indoor sports complex featuring a 1,200-seat championship court and a main court with eight basketball courts, 16 volleyball courts and a walking track.

Established in 1851 as a railroad depot, the city earned its moniker when rail crews encountered a flint hill and dubbed the spot “Rock Hill.” It went on to serve as a transfer point for Confederate troops and supplies during the Civil War.

In recent years, Rock Hill has refocused its economy from textiles to technology and sports. Its world-class cycling facilities have played host to a number of national and international competitions, including the 2017 UCI BMX World Championships, second only in prominence to the Olympic Games.

Along with sporting events, Rock Hill also offers plenty of recreational activities. At the Rock Hill Outdoor Center, visitors can launch a kayak or canoe and paddle the Catawba River, walk or bike a 2.5-mile paved trail along the river’s edge or mountain bike through the woods.

Glencairn Garden and River Park provide quiet spots to picnic, take a leisurely stroll or simply sit and enjoy nature. The city also offers more than a dozen neighborhood parks with playgrounds, many picnic shelters, a dog park, a disc golf course and courts for basketball, tennis, volleyball and horseshoes.

The recent revitalization of Old Town Rock Hill has created a city center bustling with cafés and restaurants, gift shops, boutiques, art galleries and breweries. Family-friendly events are offered throughout the year, including St. Patrick’s Day on Main, Glencairn BloomFest, the Halloween Boo-HaHa, Christmasville and the signature Come-See-Me Festival.

In the summer, the Old Town Amphitheater at Rock Hill City Hall serves as center stage for theater, dance, musical performances and concerts headlined by well-known artists like Charlie Daniels, Lyle Lovett, Huey Lewis and Edwin McCain. Fountain Park in the heart of downtown offers another scenic spot for more community events, including the popular Food Truck Fridays, featuring 25 to 28 food trucks, children’s activities and live music.

Less than a mile from the town center is Winthrop University. It’s an enjoyable walk through the historic college campus with its stately neo-Georgian architecture and picturesque lake. The university’s athletic facilities offer more opportunity to enjoy sporting events and recreational play.

Rock Hill is also home to the Catawba Indian Nation, the only federally recognized tribe in the state of South Carolina. Catawba Indians have lived on ancestral lands along the banks of the Catawba River for at least 6,000 years. Visitors can learn more about the tribe’s history and culture at The Catawba Indian Nation Cultural Center.

For the arts-minded, Rock Hill offers museums, galleries and cultural attractions, including the Main Street Children’s Museum, the historic White Home, Gettys Art Center and the Center for the Arts.

Located off I-77 near the North Carolina state line, Rock Hill is an easily accessible destination for a fun getaway any time of year.

Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.