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Clemson, South Carolina is undeniably best known for being the home of Clemson University. But aside from the buzz of college football, the small town is a true gem in the Upstate and is considered to be one of the best small towns in the state.

Situated on the banks of Lake Hartwell, a 56,000 acre lake that crosses South Carolina and Georgia, Clemson is a small town with a population just under 20,000. That population can swell to almost double when Clemson University is in session! The town is a melting pot of all the mountain region of the Upstate has to offer with lakeside living, artisan shops, locally owned restaurants, and collegiate sports. Given its mild climate and location situated equally between Asheville, Charlotte, and Atlanta, many are flocking to Clemson and surrounding areas for a metro escape and deciding to lay down roots. Comparing current census data to previous, population has grown 33% and shows no sign of stopping. So let’s dive deeper into what makes Clemson so special and why you should add it to the top of your list when considering the Upstate or greater Keowee area as your next home!

Clemson is on the upper banks of Lake Hartwell. But it’s not just Hartwell that attracts so many visitors and residents, another stunning lake is just a few miles down the road – Lake Keowee.  Being in the Upstate, at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Clemson gives you access to a plethora of outdoor activities from hiking to boating, fishing, and more. Here are our favorite outdoor spots & activities in the area:

Lake Hartwell
Lake Hartwell is one of the largest lakes in the Southeast and crosses over two states – South Carolina and Georgia. It has almost a thousand acres of shoreline! So it has no shortage of fun outdoor activities. Straight down I-85, about 30 minutes away is the Lake Hartwell State Park. It is one of the largest parks in the Upstate and offers camping, boating, hiking, fishing, and swimming. The park also has a playground and picnic spots.  Although living in Clemson, you don’t need to drive even 30 minutes to spend a day at the lake. Right on the edge of downtown is the Larry W. Abernathy Waterfront Park, The Dike, or East Beach. Larry W. Abernathy Waterfront Park has walkways over the water, covered picnic tables, and walking trails just minutes from Downtown. The Dike is another local spot with a gorgeous water view that also includes a glimpse of the Tiger’s stalking grounds – the Clemson University stadium. East Beach is a great local beach hot spot with a distant view of the mountains. If you cross the lake into Seneca, there is the Snow Family Outdoor Wellness Complex. You can play beach volleyball, launch your kayaks, or sit and enjoy watching the Clemson rowing team practice nearby.

Lake Keowee
Just a few miles north west from Downtown Clemson is the southern shores of Lake Keowee, one of the most prestigious lakes in the state. Known for it’s unbeatable mountain views and luxurious communities, Lake Keowee is a man made lake, created by Duke Energy and sprawls 26 miles long, with over 300 miles of shoreline. Clemson residents only have to travel across Highway 123 to Seneca to enjoy all this lake has to offer. Located in Seneca is the South Cove County Park. There is a great beach area where you can swim or paddle board, a playground for kids, and plenty of areas to grill or just sit and watch the sunset. There are also camping spots for anyone wanting to stay all night. Nearby, you can shop, grab a lakeside meal, or rent a boat at Lake Keowee Marina. About 15 miles up the shoreline are The Cliffs at Keowee Springs, one of the most luxurious golf communities, renowned for their amenities, Tom Fazio designed course, The Beach Club, and amazing waterfront custom homes. Justin Winter’s agents are some of the top buyer and seller agents for The Cliffs at Keowee Springs! 

Waldrop Stone Falls
Waldrop Stone Falls is a 50 foot waterfall within the Clemson Experimental Forest in Pickens county. Originally known as Clemson Falls, the water feature is just a short 1.9 mile hike that takes about twenty or thirty minutes and is accessible to hikers of all skill levels. Open year round, it’s a wonderful short hike to do anytime of year.

Lake Issaqueena
Near the Waldrop Stone Falls is Lake Issaqueena, another local feature that has loads of hiking opportunities. Also tucked inside the Clemson Experimental Forest region, a research forest used by the university, Lake Issaqueena was originally built in 1934 and was even used by the US War Department in the early 40s as a bombing range in preparation for war in the Pacific. Locals love the easy hike around the lake and great fishing holes. Nearby Stumphouse Park has easy trails that lead to Issaqueena Falls, a gorgeous waterfall with an equally beautiful short walk along raised walkways.  Lake Issaqueena is a perfect area to get lost in the majesty of the Upstate mountain region.

Clemson is filled with a wide variety of dining and shopping options, sure to please everyone who visits. While the variety of coffeeshops and sports pubs will not go unnoticed, the town has several up scale restaurants offering locally sourced ingredients as well. Here are our top favorite spots to grab a bite in Clemson:

  • Those looking to savor a Clemson win longer should head over the The Esso Club, a local establishment. It is rated by ESPN as one of the top college sports bars in the country and has been a local favorite since opening in 1933. Grab a pint, a basket of fried pickles, and fried chicken, and enjoy the company of locals. The club changes specials daily, but always offers home made, deep south style country cooking. You can view daily specials on their Facebook page. 
  • Looking for an upscale meal, Rick Erwin’s offers fine dining and an extensive wine list, wining Wine Spectator’s 2021 Restaurant Award. Reflecting traditional southern favorites, the restaurant serves meals such as pan seared scallops or venison but with modern twists, pulling in unique flavors.  
  • Another fine dining option is Pixie and Bills. Diners can relax in dining rooms flanked with fireplaces, or on one of two porch dining rooms.  While the restaurant offers more upscale options, the atmosphere is relaxing, not pretentious. Fan favorites are the Lobster Bisque and Prime Rib au Jus. With over 400 reviews on Google alone, with an average of 4.3/5, you can’t go wrong with the meal and ambiance here.
  • Evolve Kitchen and Table is a newer spot in town, focusing on locally sourced ingredients and crafted cocktails and spirits. The open kitchen and bar concept is already building quite a following with locals who rave about their modern take on classics. We recommend trying the interesting tacos –  fried cauliflower or hot honey garlic shrimp. Yum! They also offer interesting sandwiches, hot subs, and chargrilled Angus burgers glazed in whiskey.  


If you’re shopping in Clemson, you’re likely to run into more than one Clemson Tigers shop. Here where blood runs orange, you truly can’t get enough shops to display your Clemson pride. 

  • Judge Keller’s General Merchandise Store is filled to the ceiling with local pride. Shirts, hats, mugs, and everything Clemson is on display, with old town photos lining its walls. On the outside of the building, a new mural was just finished in the summer of 2021 and has become a go-to spot for Clemson fans to snap their photo. 
  • Onward Reserve has a Clemson location, located on College Ave and offers mens golfing attire, collegiate wear, and accessories.  The Atlanta based business is a southern golfer’s clothing establishment.
  • Another Clemson store – Mr. Knickerbocker, sells everything Clemson. From clothing, to hats, hair accessories, gameday goodies, to even lawn accessories and holiday decor. 

In nearby Pendleton, SC, Mountain Made is a local favorite for supporting locally crafted arts and goods. You can browse through locally made pottery, or nearby sourced honey and jams.

Home Market Statistics in Clemson

As of 2019, the current median home value in Clemson, SC was $236,000. With recent market increases and population growth, medium home listing prices in 2021 have been hovering around $279,000, with the median sold price being $384,000. Given population trends, we anticipate continued growth and demand in this area for years to come.

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