Things to Do in Lancaster SC
While South Carolina is known for its beautiful beaches, there are plenty of ways to have fun inland in Lancaster County. From arts and culture to outdoor recreation, this portion of the South has it all.
Andrew Jackson State Park
Spanning 360 acres, Andrew Jackson State Park commemorates the life of the seventh president of the United States. Learn about the area’s history, such as the Revolutionary War, which took place during Jackson’s childhood.
Visit the on-site museum for living history days, artifacts, weapons demonstrations and lectures. Tour the battlefield and visit the replica of an 18th-century schoolhouse. The Historic Orchard and Herb Garden is full of flowers, fruit trees and herbs commonly used in the late 18th century for flavorings, dyes, foods and medicines.
The park also features an 18-acre lake ideal for fishing and boating, hiking and biking trails, camping and picnicking facilities, geocaching and more. The Old Waxhaw Presbyterian Church that Jackson attended is located down the road from the park. Two of Jackson’s brothers and his father are buried in the adjacent cemetery. www.southcarolinaparks.com/andrewjackson
Buford’s Massacre Battlefield
In 1780, Col. Abraham Buford and his regiment of 350 Virginians were captured by the British under the leadership of Col. Banastre Tarleton in what is known as the Battle of the Waxhaws. The devastation that followed resulted in this site being referred to as Buford’s Massacre Battlefield, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and features multiple monuments and markers. www.friendsofbufordmassacrebattlefield.com
Every May, the cultural arts district in historic downtown Lancaster plays host to the Red Rose Festival, the city’s signature event. This free family friendly event is full of fantastic food, live entertainment, arts and crafts, children’s rides, a 5K and more, all in celebration of Lancaster’s rich heritage. www.lancastercitysc.com/events/red-rose-festival
Don’t miss the annual Indian Land Fall Festival every October, which features a car show, food, cornhole tournament, arts and crafts, bounce houses and live music, to name a few. The event also features a chili cook off and over 150 vendors, showcasing products and services available in the county and region. www.indianlandfallfest.com
Forty Acre Rock Heritage Preserve
Spanning approximately 2,300 acres, the Forty Acre Rock Heritage Preserve features an impressive 14-acre granite rock, as well as hiking trails and creeks. The preserve is home to wildlife and unique plants. Guests will also enjoy beautiful spring and fall weather, which fills the area with vibrant foliage.
Gregory Family YMCA
Fitness is fun at the Gregory Family YMCA. Members have access to an indoor track, a gymnasium, racquetball and handball courts, an indoor pool and so much more. Certified instructors offer swimming lessons, zumba, yoga, water aerobics and other activities for a small fee. usclancaster.sc.edu/greg_ctr
Hanging Rock Battleground
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Hanging Rock Battleground served as a British stronghold and fort during the Revolutionary War. In 1780, multiple battles and skirmishes were fought on the site. Under the leadership of Maj. William Richardson Davie, the first attack by the American Patriots had them outnumbered against British forces. A few days later, the Patriots were joined by additional troops and staged a surprise three-hour battle on the British, after which the British retreated south.
The Ivy Place
Nestled among 33 breathtaking acres of farm, barns, gardens, fields and ponds, the Ivy Place is the perfect venue for any event, from weddings and receptions to parties and family reunions. This stunning site features a home built in 1850 and a 1920s rental cottage. In season, visitors can pick strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries straight from the fields.
Kilburnie, the Inn at Craig Farm
Kilburnie, the Inn at Craig Farm, featured in Southern Living magazine, is a boutique-style bed and breakfast in a restored home built in the 1820s. The inn features modern conveniences and spacious bedrooms, each with a private bathroom, a gas log fireplace and a hydrotherapy whirlpool. Kilburnie also makes for an exceptional place to tie the knot. www.kilburnie.com
Lancaster County Council of the Arts
The Lancaster County Council of the Arts (LCCA) is dedicated to providing arts education and programming to enhance the quality of life in the community. LCCA hosts exhibits throughout the year, dramatic performances and more. Programs include summer camps, ballet, art competitions—including the annual Red Rose Festival Photography Contest & Exhibition—and more. LCCA also awards a scholarship to one graduating Lancaster County high school senior every year to help in their pursuit of an arts degree. www.lccarts.net
Lancaster County Courthouse
Designed by Robert Mills—most recognized for designing the Washington Monument—the Lancaster County Courthouse is an outstanding work of craftsmanship from the 1820s. With solid brick walls that measure as much as 24 inches in thickness, the courthouse was named a National Historic Landmark in 1973. In 2008, an arsonist attempted to destroy the building. However, it has been fully restored and is treasured by locals. www.mylancastersc.org
Lancaster County Parks and Recreation
Locals of all ages will find plenty of sporting and fitness activities, such as baseball, football, softball, swimming, fitness and dance classes, trails and more via Lancaster County Parks and Recreation. A summer camp program for kids is also available, as well as a farmers market that runs from May through December. www.mylancastersc.org/parks
Built in 1954, Lancaster Speedway is known as the fastest half-mile dirt track in the South. Throughout its history, Lancaster Speedway has hosted a wide range of racing events, from NASCAR-sanctioned races to SECA Crate Sportsman and Super Stock, just to name a few. www.lancastersuperspeedway.com
Landsford Canal State Park
Home to one of the largest populations of rocky shoals spider lilies in the world, Landsford Canal State Park is located alongside the Catawba River. Visitors can fish or boat on the river, go hiking along the trails, enjoy birdwatching and geocaching, or just relax in the beauty of nature. There’s also a paddling trail for kayaks and canoes. www.southcarolinaparks.com/landsfordcanal
Leroy Springs House
The Leroy Springs House was built in the early 1800s and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. The two-story, wood-frame house changed many hands over the years and was owned at one point by Leroy Springs, a textile magnate, who had a significant role in the development of Lancaster County. It now serves as the headquarters of the LCCA.
Native American Studies Center at USC Lancaster
Spanning artifacts that date as far back as the Ice Age, the Native American Studies Center at USC Lancaster boasts the largest collection of Catawba Indian pottery in the world. As the only state university archive devoted to South Carolina’s native cultures, the center features 6,500 square feet of galleries and was built on land that originally belonged to the Catawba Nation. usclancaster.sc.edu/nas
Olde English District
Seven counties in the north central region of South Carolina, including Lancaster, make up the Olde English District, an area originally settled by the English in the 1770s. The district is home to several state and national parks, Revolutionary War battlefields and re-enactments, campgrounds, wildlife preserves, family farms, plantation homes, shopping and more. www.oldeenglishdistrict.com
Olde Presbyterian Church
Built in the Gothic Revival style in 1862, the Olde Presbyterian Church is a landmark in Lancaster and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1977. The building was the first in the county to be constructed of handmade brick. Over the decades, the church was home to several theologians of note, including Rev. James Thornwell, a professor at Columbian Theological Seminary and former president of South Carolina College, which is now the University of South Carolina.
In 1976, the building was purchased by the Lancaster County Society for Historical Preservation. After undergoing renovation, it was reopened in 2012 as the Cultural Arts Center. Adjacent to the church is a historic cemetery established by the original congregation in the 1830s that is the final resting place for many of the county’s well-known residents.
Twelve Mile Creek Trail
Winding its way through Walnut Creek Park, the Twelve Mile Creek Trail follows the path of the Catawba River as part of the Carolina Thread Trail system. As the trail crosses into North Carolina, hikers and bikers can cross the 170-foot suspension bridge to take in the 900-acre site that will one day
be home to neighborhoods, shops, and a 61-acre county park. www.carolinathreadtrailmap.org