In the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains near the western edge of the state, Westminster offers an Upcountry small-town experience with city-like amenities, from golf courses to a music hall to a thriving farmers market.
Founded in 1876 as a water stop for the Atlanta and Charlotte Air Line Railroad, Westminster has retained its historic legacy with more than 100 homes dating back to the late 1800s and a downtown with beautifully restored commercial buildings. Among them is Moon’s Drug Store. Established in 1901, it’s one of the oldest pharmacies in the state.
You’ll also find the original wood-frame railway station on Old Main Street. When passenger service was suspended in 1969, the historic railroad depot was converted into a venue for civic group meetings and community events.
The charming town center plays host to one of Westminster’s biggest annual events—the South Carolina Apple Festival. Held each September, the three-day event includes apple baking contests, live entertainment, the Mr. and Miss Apple Dumpling Children’s Pageant, arts and crafts, kiddie rides, food vendors, a quilt show and parade.
Westminster’s newest community venue—The Foothills Agricultural Resource and Marketing Center (The F.A.R.M Center, for short)—is quickly becoming an Upcountry destination for concerts, rodeos and other Western-style events. The 57-acre property is home to the Foothills Heritage Market, held every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon from Memorial Day to the end of September. Everything sold at the market is grown on farms within 50 miles or handmade by an Oconee County artist or craftsman.
The popular South Carolina Foothills Heritage Fair also is held at The F.A.R.M. Center in early fall. The quintessential, old-fashioned country fair features concerts, livestock shows, rodeos, dance exhibitions, 4-H youth events, farm animal exhibits and lots of fun, family-friendly activities.
As you drive around town, you’ll notice quilt panels adorning barns, schools, churches, city buildings, homes and businesses. Westminster boasts nearly three dozen quilt panels featured in the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail.
Another must-see site is the Retreat Rosenwald School, one of 5,000 Rosenwald schools built between 1917 and 1932 to educate African-American children in the rural South. The Westminster school, opened in 1924, is typical of the two-teacher community schools named in honor of Julius Rosenwald, then-president of Sears and Roebuck, who provided funding for their construction. It is located at 150 Pleasant Hill Circle.
Westminster’s location near Sumter National Forest and the National Wild and Scenic Chattooga River also makes the city a destination for outdoor adventure, including rafting, fishing, kayaking and hiking. Right in town is Chau Ram Park, home to Chau Ram Falls, a beautiful cascade dropping 30 feet over large boulders where Ramsey Creek and the Chauga River meet.
With so much to see and do in Westminster, you’ll want to add this classic mountain town to your Upcountry itinerary.