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|Amber Brooks • 1/22/18|
The Short Version: The city of Mauldin, in Greenville County, South Carolina, is a familiar pit stop for people traveling on the interstate. Outsiders may know it for its convenient location just off the state’s major highways, but residents know that Mauldin has more to offer than a quick fill-up and an easy exit. For instance, the city’s special events often feature live music, family-friendly activities, handheld foods, and a warm community spirit. You can take a date to a comedy show or an outdoor festival to liven up your time together and create a lasting memory. Plus, if you want to shake up your daily routine, Mauldin’s public parks and local restaurants provide laid-back and intimate date venues for anyone hoping to add some romance to their days.
It’s easy to whiz by Mauldin, South Carolina, without a second glance. Major roads crisscross through the city, so millions of travelers pass by on their way to somewhere else, taking I-85 or Route 276 in search of greener pastures in Greenville County.
People have been breezing through Mauldin since the Laurens Railroad Company laid tracks on the undeveloped land and built the Mauldin Train Depot in 1886. However, nowadays more people are realizing this city isn’t just a pit stop to somewhere else — it’s a fast-growing community of families and a lively destination in its own right.
Caught in the hustle and bustle of the high-traffic roads, you miss out on the welcoming Southern charm of the city’s eateries, parks, and other public spaces. That’s why we thought we’d stop in and showcase all that Mauldin has to offer active daters in South Carolina.
Mauldin is an up-and-coming city in South Carolina. The population surged from just over 15,000 residents in 2000 to more than 25,000 residents in 2016. Incomes are high, and tax rates are low. The city is rapidly developing to offer modern entertainment and leisurely activities for members of the community. If you want to show someone a good time in Mauldin, we recommend checking out the city’s official social centers for some out-of-the-box date ideas.
The Mauldin Cultural Center hosts over 1,000 events throughout the year to entice residents to come out of their homes and socialize. The annual Christmas Tree Lighting, for example, starts off the holiday season in the city and provides a romantic backdrop for a date. Local choir groups perform in the city’s outdoor amphitheater during the early evening, and, when night falls, the South Carolina National Guard lights up the tree. You can get some cookies to munch on or hot cocoa to sip while you watch the festivities.
In the summertime, Mauldin’s Beachin’ Fridays provide the perfect date setting for people of all ages. Every Friday, the amphitheater fills with people, food trucks, and live musical guests. The shows run from May through July and typically see huge crowds of friends, families, and couples. Seniors particularly enjoy the shag dancing lessons, which offer a great opportunity to bond with someone special.
Additionally, Mauldin plays host to a comedian twice a year to give residents something to laugh about and enjoy. The next show is set for March 3 and will feature James Gregory, a well-known stand-up comedian. Find out more about the event here.
Last but not least, the Annual BBQ Cook-Off in Mauldin is a particular favorite of city residents. At the event, 25 teams fire up their cookers and compete with one another by offering samples of their choicest barbecue dishes to 2,000+ attendees. Beer, wine, and live music help everyone loosen up as the smoky smell of fresh-made barbecue draws them to different tables.
The first day is called Anything Butt because cookers can offer any kind of barbecued meats except pork butt. The next day, it’s all pork butt. A Tasting Pass gives you access to it all. You can get a sense of your date’s tastes by sampling barbecued chicken, pulled pork, smoked turkey, and other delicious treats. Plus, the impressive barbecue selection gives couples something to talk about and enjoy as they go from booth to booth.
“It’s a fun date activity that appeals to multiple ages,” said Keira Kitchings, Cultural Affairs Coordinator for the city of Mauldin. “It’s more laid-back than a sit-down meal, so you’ll see a lot of smiling faces at that event.”
Looking for a casual place to have a dinner date in Mauldin? Then head over to Moretti’s Pizzeria and Bar. This Italian place is more focused on delivering amazingly tasty food than putting on airs. From the spicy wings to the cheesy calzones, the menu offers a mouth-watering assortment of classic Italian and American foods.
Of course, the pizza is the main draw for most diners because it’s Moretti’s signature dish. According to the restaurant’s owners, “This is pizza that will get into your dreams and stay there.” Whether you’re hankering for the Forgetaboutit, a broccoli and cheddar cheese pizza, or the Moretti’s Famous, made with double sauce and extra pepperoni, you’ll definitely come away satisfied by these toppings-heavy pizzas. If you and your date can’t agree on toppings, you can each get your own personal pizza (four slices of cheesy heaven).
Taken as a whole, Mauldin’s family-owned eateries represent a diverse sampling of Mexican food, Chinese food, and other flavorful dishes.
Seasons Cafe is a go-to place for many people on a first date because the casual atmosphere takes the pressure off couples. Chef Julie, the owner of the establishment, greets all diners with a smile and prepares meals using the freshest ingredients available. The sandwich board and grill is packed with seasonal and vegetarian favorites, and it’s all under $10 so it’s perfect for daters on a budget.
“Had lunch here for the first time, and the food was delicious,” wrote Rhonda Chambers in a review on Facebook. “Highly recommend this cafe if you want fresh-made from-scratch food.”
If you’re seeking date activities during the day, you can always take advantage of the state-of-the-art facilities run by the City of Mauldin’s Recreation Department. Since 1967, the department has offered an array of public programs, and today it is widely known for its engaging youth and senior programs. Some of the professionally run fitness classes are so unique that you won’t find them anywhere else in Upstate South Carolina.
According to the website, “Our goal is to provide a safe, clean, friendly environment for our citizens and participants.”
From Springfield Park to the Ray Hopkins Senior Center, the Recreation Department has established many social spaces for outdoorsy locals. The city has over 70 acres of public parkland, which include sports fields, walking trails, picnic shelters, and playgrounds. Sunset Park, the largest public park in the city, would be a great spot to share a picnic (or buy concessions) and watch the sun set in the arms of someone you love.
Just outside of Mauldin, Conestee Park is a popular gathering place for hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts. Over nine miles of hiking trails give people hours of exploration and enjoyment. Plus, the dog park offers a nice, shady area for dog owners to unleash their playful sides and get to know fellow dog lovers.
The Mauldin Sports Center is an ideal date venue for active couples who enjoy working up a sweat together. It offers tons of outdoor activities in an indoors setting. The top-notch facility offers visitors high-quality fitness equipment, a gymnasium, indoor walking tracks, an aerobics room, and locker rooms. Plus, there’s a 30-foot rock-climbing wall where you can challenge your date to scale to new heights.
“Our climbing wall is the great leveler,” said Joe Lanahan, Mauldin’s Recreation Director. “People of all different types of abilities, heights, and strengths can tackle the wall and be successful at it.”
Scaling the wall on a first date could be a good opportunity to showcase your athleticism and agility. The wall is fully staffed with a belaying team during the weekends and weekday evenings.
If you’re looking for something to do with a date, a recreational activity could be the perfect thing to help you both come out of your shells. You can get some exercise while spending quality time together, and that’s what dating is all about.
Mauldin’s convenient accessibility to I-85 and I-385 (plus Route 276 which cuts through the center of the city) makes it a natural stopover for people just passing through; however, the historic railroad city has more to offer than fast food and gas stations.
Daters in Mauldin can go out to eat, take in a show, play a sport, or attend a fun outdoor event to spice up their time together. The city’s cultural center, seniors center, and recreation department provide locals with plenty of opportunities to get out in the community and have a memorable time.
The South Carolina city is rapidly growing, and its rich array of social activities reflects the youth and vigor of its new residents. Local leaders told us they have big plans for the future of Mauldin. “Right now, we’re like a drive-thru town off the interstate,” Keira said, “but we have plans to build a downtown area with a walkable Main Street where you’ll find shops, places to eat, and cafes.”