Whether your idea of culture envisions a Broadway play, masterful art, historic events, or eclectic music, Chester County has it all.
Looking to explore our Southern heritage? Visit the Chester County Historical Museum or Historic Brattonsville Living History Exhibit, Catawba Indian Cultural Center, and Museum of York County which actively promote our rich and colorful past. Less than an hour away, Columbia displays over 200 years of history, much of it showcased in The South Carolina State Museum with exhibits in science, history and the arts, the EdVenture Children’s Museum, The Columbia Museum of Art, McKissick Museum on the University of South Carolina campus, and the South Carolina State Library.
In Charlotte, the Mint Museum of Art features fine American and European art and ceramics, and one of the world’s finest collections of Pre-Columbian art. Downtown Charlotte also houses the Mint Museum of Craft & Design and newly renovated Discovery Place Science Museum.
Few events unite a community like a festival, and we offer an assortment. Tap your toes every Friday Night at the Blackstock Bluegrass Festival or at our county’s longest running street celebration, the Flopeye Fish Festival which lures thousands to Great Falls. Other festivals dot the calendar including Chester’s HILLarity Festival, Chester and Lowrys Christmas Parades, and the annual Come See Me Festival at Glencairn Gardens in nearby Rock Hill.
In Sumter, South Carolina’s oldest continuous festival, the Swan Lake Iris Gardens Festival, arrives each May. The month also marks Charleston’s annual Spoleto Festival which entices music and art connoisseurs from around the world. Venture to Columbia and find year-round cultural festivals including the S.C. State Fair held each October.
Our performing arts venues range from our devoted Chester Little Theatre to Charlotte’s Opera Carolina and Blumenthal Performing Arts Center which showcases annual Broadway plays and world-renowned symphonies and musicians. In Greenville, SC, you can frequent the Peace Performing Arts Center, as well as the Koger Center for the Arts at USC in Columbia. Columbia is also home to the South Carolina Shakespeare Company, Columbia City Ballet, and the South Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra.
Bordered by the Broad River, Catawba River, and Sumter National Forest with a 500-mile trail system, Chester County provides unparalleled recreation opportunities on land, water, and even above ground. Our community balances hard work and family fun, so we’re blessed with a region that accommodates both, as well as a wide variety of outdoor activities.
Our active Parks & Recreation Department provides playgrounds, sport fields, skeet shooting, tennis courts and swimming pools throughout its park system. Each year, historic Landsford Canal State Park welcomes thousands to its stunning display of rare Rocky Shoals spider lilies—the largest population of spider lilies in the world. In Sumter National Forest, Woods Ferry Recreation Area sports a boat launch, camping, and horse and hiking trails. Chester State Park features a 160-acre lake for fishing, archery, horseback riding, boating and walking trails.
S.C. Parks, Recreation and Tourism, in partnership with Duke Energy, has plans to develop a state park on the five islands in the Cedar Creek (Stumpy Pond) Reservoir. These islands, Dearborn, Mountain, Hill, Pickett and Bowden will comprise the park which will include hiking trails, viewing areas, primitive camping and perhaps camper cabins or even a yurt village. There will be historic interpretation surrounding the ruins of the Mt. Dearborn Armory and Arsenal, built in the early 1800s during President Thomas Jefferson’s administration. The master plan for the park will be completed by the end of 2018.
If your idea of a park involves more thrills, visit Carowinds Theme Park, located on the North Carolina-South Carolina state line, 20 minutes from Chester County. This full-featured theme park is open March through September, and offers concerts, themed shows, roller coasters and other amusements.
With its mild climate, South Carolina provides a natural greenhouse for botanical life. In Columbia, Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Gardens combines animals from each continent with beautiful flora. Just two hours east or west you’ll find 295-acre South Carolina Botanical Garden in Clemson and Swan Lake Iris Gardens in Sumter with its floral canvas of Japanese iris and eight types of swans from around the globe. Venture an hour further, and discover Magnolia Plantation in historic Charleston and Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, featuring a world-renowned collection of statuary.
Citizens of Chester County enjoy boating, fishing, water skiing and swimming in area lakes and legendary rivers, plus we’re only three hours from famed South Carolina beaches with deep sea fishing, sailing, parasailing, or just a leisurely stroll searching for shells. Excellent canoeing can be found at popular Fishing Creek Lake on the Catawba Rivers or a breathtaking ride through the lilies at Landsford Canal State Park in late spring. Lake Wylie and Lake Wateree are also suitable for boating, and we even offer waterfalls in aptly named Great Falls.
Additional water sports opportunities are coming to Great Falls. Between now and 2022, Duke will open the by-pass reaches of the Catawba. The long by-pass will have continuous flows for habitat and wildlife which will allow recreation every day of the year. On weekends between March and October, the flows will be increased for whitewater recreation. The short by-pass will also have recreational flows on weekends from spring to fall. This area has been studied, modeled and designed with safety in mind and will bring a variety of experiences to visitors and residents alike. To learn more about the Fishing Creek Long Bypass, view this video. To learn more about the Long Bypass Reach Physical Model, view this video.
Additionally, Duke will be building canoe and kayak put-ins around the Great Falls and Cedar Creek (a.k.a. Stumpy Pond) Reservoirs. The three-kayak put-ins will make available areas on the reservoir that has not had public access. Duke will also build a fishing area near the base of the Fishing Creek Dam. In cooperation with Katawba Valley Land Trust, Duke will put in a history center at the ruins of the Nitrolee fertilizer plant located on the banks of Fishing Creek.
Known as a golfer’s paradise, South Carolina features exceptional courses, 30 of which are in our area and 300 within a three-hour drive. Leroy Springs Chester Golf Club rests just outside Chester, and nearby, you’ll find Republic Golf Course in Great Falls and a course at Rock Hill Country Club. In addition, Charlotte presents many exceptional courses, as well as the PGA Quail Hollow Championship held annually at Quail Hollow Country Club. And, for the ultimate golf vacation, head east to Myrtle Beach where over 100 courses span the 60-mile Grand Strand.
Few places on the East Coast still combine superb business advantages and the open space needed for raising or riding horses. Chester County offers both, including multiple horse farms and equestrian centers such as Gaston Farm Road Equestrian Center LLC located at 2717 Gaston Farm Road in Chester, SC , riding schools and stables, and an equestrian show ring at Chester State Park.
Whether you want to watch high-speed racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway or be in the driver’s seat yourself, we’re just your speed. In Chester, TNT Motorsports presents a variety of challenging MX tracks for racing and riding. In Charlotte, you can tame your own racecar at the Richard Petty Driving Experience. And, for those wanting a calmer ride, cycling trails stretch across our county and parks.
For those who prefer their excitement in the air, Skydive Carolina, located at the Chester Catawba Airport, has served the region for over 20 years with its diving school, tandem plunges, and programs for experienced divers.
Hunting and Fishing
Chester County has a variety of hunting and fishing opportunities for the enthusiastic sportsmen! Chester County has the Broad River as its western boundary and the Catawba River as its eastern boundary, with many tributaries, reservoirs, lakes and streams in between.
Rocky Creek Sporting Clays
If you are not familiar with sporting clays, it is sometimes called “golf with a gun”. The range is located along Rocky Creek in Chester County and includes a 12-15 station course as well as a 5 stand and a flurry machine station.
Rocky Creek began years ago as a place for a youth sporting clay team to practice and has grown from that. Sporting Clays is a fun sport that both youth and adults can participate in for the rest of their lives. The instructors, staff, and other volunteers at Rocky Creek donate their time to work with our youth on teamwork, self-discipline self-confidence, and problem solving, while also working on firearm safety, sportsmanship, building character, leadership abilities and citizenship responsibilities. They also encourage an appreciation of our natural resources. Last year, the Superintendant of Education in South Carolina announced an endeavor to introduce sporting clays as a team sport into the public schools of South Carolina, which has led to a formation of new teams across the state. Rocky Creek has about 30 kids on their team, called the “Clay Dusters”. This is the 4th year the team has competed in the National Championship. This year in Sparta, Illinois, members of the Rocky Creek Clay Dusters team won 1st place and two 3rd place trophies in this National Championship held in July. www.rockycreekclaydusters.com
Even though Rocky Creek is now a sporting clay destination for adults and kids, you do not have to be a member to shoot or use the facility. The new clubhouse includes a conference room, a clubhouse room with couches, tables and fireplace and a pavilion with a fireplace. These facilities and/or shooting venues may be scheduled to host your event or reserved for special occasions. They have the perfect location and accommodations for your next corporate outing, birthday party, wedding party or fundraiser. The staff will ensure your event will be a success. Contact Manager Hall Rogers or Clubhouse/Pavilion Manager Nancy Bankhead Walley and either of them will be glad to help you. Rocky Creek Sporting Clays is open Wednesday – Saturday from 10:00-5:00 and Sunday afternoons 1:00-5:00. Mondays and Tuesdays are reserved for corporate outings. Events and extended hours are posted on the online calendar, which can be found at www.RockyCreekSportingClays.com. Give them a call at 803-482-2070 or go by and visit.