Fountain Inn began as a stagecoach stop in the early 1800s. With its natural spring, it was an ideal spot for people to stop while traveling on the new road between Laurens and Greenville. Later, a railroad depot and then a cotton mill helped the town to grow to what it is today.
About 2006, a plan was created to revitalize Main Street, and by 2016, the new and improved Fountain Inn was ready to greet visitors. Landscaping, new sidewalks and sewers, new and updated traffic signs and signals highlight the charm of historic brick buildings. Businesses have filled vacant buildings downtown, twice the number before the revitalization. You won’t want to miss some of these sites, shops and restaurants.
Fountain Inn Museum
Many communities in the Upstate are passionate about preserving their history, and Fountain Inn is no exception. Directed by BJU graduate Kenzie Galloway, the museum is filled with artifacts and displays of the Fountain Inn life, industries and influential people from the city, like “Peg Leg” Bates. It also includes general history of the Upstate. Located in the former train station, the museum shares the building — called The Center — with the Visitor Center and the Chamber of Commerce. The Center is part of Commerce Park, which includes a greenspace for summer concerts and the Fountain Inn Farmers Market and Pavilion.
In the heart of downtown just across the street from Commerce Park is a street-corner plaza known as Rotary Park. Brick pavers surround a fountain, which can be enjoyed from a number of swinging benches. Take a break here from walking around downtown or eat your treat from Steam Coffee & Cream located across Main Street.
If you have spent much time in the South, you might have noticed Southerners’ love for monogramming and personalized items. At “i Declare” they fuel that love with clothing, jewelry, knickknacks, decorations and other personalized items. You can even bring in your own items for vinyl monogramming. Browse their Facebook page to see how many items they offer.
Everything about this shop says chic, from the full window front to the chandeliers hanging from the molded ceiling. This boutique — which the owner designed based on boutiques in Paris, Dublin and London — features women’s apparel, jewelry, accessories, home decor and more. Find your next classy outfit at Black Tulip or just browse for a delightful shopping experience.
Cedar Falls Park
About 10 miles from downtown, Cedar Falls Park sits apart from the hustle and bustle of city life. It was first the site of a mill in the early 1800s and later became a power plant. Stone supports that held the water pipe for the power plant still line the river. Visitors can enjoy reading informational signs about the site’s history and watching the water fall over the dam and rocks. The park also includes green space, a playground, a sand volleyball court and a wooded trail along the river.
Since 2010, this self-described “sassy southern cafe” has been making classic southern foods — like chicken salad, fried green tomatoes, strawberry cakes and a variety of sandwiches — from scratch. You can sit at a table or booth inside or on a small outdoor patio on Main Street behind a wrought iron gate of what appears to be a separate shop. Enjoy Sweet Catherine’s for lunch Monday through Friday and be sure to take advantage of the $10 Tuesday offer. More details about that and restaurant updates are on their website and Facebook page.
Steam Coffee & Cream
Looking for a new coffee shop to try? Sweet Coffee & Cream has been part of the Fountain Inn community since 2017. It serves coffee — of course — tea, ice cream and even sandwiches for breakfast and lunch, like the Grilled Hammy or the Inn the Club. Wooden tables and chairs inside give a homey feel to the shop. And outside, there is a boardwalk breezeway with the red brick of Sweet Catherine’s wall along one side, small tables on the other, and string lights overhead.
On the corner of Main and Trade Streets, Cucina 100 welcomes guests to Italy with its striped awning and red brick front. Inside, the open kitchen — where pizzas are tossed and then placed in a red wood-fired oven — adds to the atmosphere. In addition to a variety of pizzas, Cucina 100 offers a menu full of soups, salads, subs, meats, pastas and more. And as if that weren’t enough Italian, there is European-like outdoor seating along Trade Street. The picturesque area is blocked to traffic, lined with trees, strung with lights and backdropped by the spire of The Center of Fountain Inn.
Tacos & Bla Bla Bla
This restaurant puts its unique twist on Mexican food. The result could be called “hip Mexican.” The fun, colorful murals on the walls set the atmosphere to enjoy tacos, gorditas, mulitas, fajitas and more. They are all made from fresh ingredients, and you can choose from a variety of meats — even cow tongue. Tacos & Bla Bla Bla also offers appetizers like fried avocado and spicy corn niblets, which are fried bites of sweet corn, jalapeños, bacon and cream cheese. And to add to its hip, the restaurant is part of the food truck trend. Special offers and food truck details are on Instagram or Facebook.
If you’re looking for central Texas-style BBQ in South Carolina, Bobby’s BBQ is the place to go.
The ribs, pulled pork, turkey and house-made sausage are all 100% wood smoked and seasoned with the owner’s signature All-Purpose Seasoning, a citrus blend or a BBQ rub. And his beef brisket has won first place in the Mauldin BBQ Cookoff. Pair a sandwich with a classic side and banana pudding for dessert.