According to Discover South Carolina, Salem is known as “the gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lake Jocassee, and Lake Keowee.” This title is quite fitting given its location near the Jocassee Gorges and upper Lake Keowee region. Salem on its own is a very small Upstate town. So small in fact, that if you blink while driving down East Main Street, you’re likely to miss the handful of streets that comprise its “downtown.” But while Salem lacks many in-town conveniences, it more than makes up for it through outdoor opportunities. To us, Salem is more of a gateway to freedom in the great outdoors. A gateway to true Appalachian spirit, and to many who choose this area as home, a perfect place to hear the water and wildlife’s sweet serenades.
Salem has an estimated current population of a few hundred people, but it’s important to note that the area around the town boasts multiple upscale communities, many of which may not directly fall within consensus lines of this town’s limits. It is small though, but like many small towns around Lake Keowee and the greater Upstate area, it is booming with growth. Salem, perhaps more than most Keowee towns, is building a name for itself within luxury retirement and home communities.
Salem may very well be the best area around Lake Keowee for those wanting to enjoy all the Upstate has to offer. A shorter drive to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where you can spend a day hiking among waterfalls and sheer minutes to Lake Keowee and Lake Jocassee for boating and fishing, Salem is an outdoor paradise.
Here are our favorite outdoor spots & activities in the area:
Salem runs along the north-eastern banks of Lake Keowee, one of the most prestigious lakes in South Carolina. Known for impeccable luxury communities and mountain views, the Lake is over 26 miles long. A man-made lake, built by Duke Power, it has over 300 miles of shoreline! From most sections of the lake views of the distant Blue Ridge Mountains are visible, adding to its breathtaking beauty. Lake Keowee is also home to multiple luxury golf communities such as multiple Cliffs communities, Keowee Key, and Reserve at Lake Keowee. Numerous marinas and boat ramps are near the Salem side of the lake, making a day boating on the lake easy for anyone to enjoy.
Lake Jocassee & The Jocassee Gorges
Another lake close to Salem is Lake Jocassee. This lake is a smaller reservoir north of Lake Keowee, created in 1973 also by Duke Power. Jocassee has pristine shorelines with limited homes, keeping the lake more of a destination for fishermen. Visitors can access the lake through Devils Fork State Park. According to Discover South Carolina, the lake and its surrounding 50,000 acres feature some of the “highest concentrations of waterfalls in the eastern part of the United States.” Because the lake was man-made, you can still see some of the remnants of the homes under the water today. Fans of expansive views can hike to Jumping Off Rock and take in the whole of the lake and surrounding rolling hills.
The top dining spots in Salem are found within luxury communities – Keowee Key and Cliffs at Keowee Falls. Outside of the communities, we recommend heading south to Seneca for a taste of southern comfort food or Clemson for more fine dining options. Here are top dining options in or around Salem, SC:
Like Dining in Salem is more limited to the nearby luxury communities, shopping is similar. Locals can visit small shops within the communities, but most will travel to other nearby cities, like Clemson, for more clothing & decor selections. Here are a few of our favorites in neighboring areas:
Multiple popular home communities are within minutes of Salem, most notably Cliffs at Keowee Falls and Keowee Key. Cliffs at Keowee Falls is one of the most sought-after luxury communities along Lake Keowee, prized for its custom designer homes, award-winning golf course, community amenities, and expansive outdoor coverage of over 160 acres. Keowee Key is another community just a few miles south of Salem. With homes and lots ranging from $200,000 to over $1.5 million, this community has a home for everyone wanting to live near the water. The community also features an 18 hole golf course like Cliffs at Keowee Falls and miles of shoreline & lake activities for residents to enjoy.
One of Lake Keowee’s most prestigious lakeside communities, Cliffs at Keowee Falls is located just outside of Salem on the northern section of the lake. The community is widely known for its private golf course, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, rated as one of the best in the US by Golf Magazine. The clubhouse features panoramic views of the course and Falls Creek. Homes line the banks of Lake Keowee, all with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. Abundant amenities such as tennis, spa services, and gym, as well as the stunning surrounding 160 acres of rivers and trails, make this community an amazing place to unwind and escape from the trappings of city life. At Cliffs at Keowee Falls, you can view available homes for sale, all custom built with top builders in the area, or start from scratch with one of the desirable for sale homesites.
As of 2020, the current median home value in Salem, SC was $398,000. Since 2000, Neighborhood Scout estimates that home values have risen 86%. In fact, Salem has one of the highest average home values in the state of South Carolina. We anticipate continued growth in the area due to the popularity of Lake Keowee and luxury home communities built near Salem in recent years.
Contact one of our experienced agents for additional details about Salem and area neighborhoods.