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Just a few miles from Clemson, across Lake Hartwell, is the small town of Seneca, South Carolina. Seneca rests on the south end of Lake Keowee, one of South Carolina’s most prestigious lakes. With a population of just under 10,000, Seneca is the largest town in Oconee County. The town is also consistently ranked in the Top 20 places to retire in the nation. Let’s look deeper into why Seneca, and its outlining communities, are becoming more in demand for those looking for a slice of southern serenity.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Seneca is a wonderful place to call home. Situated on the southern shores of Lake Keowee, the town is also just sheer minutes from another large Upstate lake, Lake Hartwell.  While Seneca itself is under 1,000 feet above sea level, the town, like many other Lake Keowee area communities, rests at the foothills of the Appalachians. Beautiful scenic hikes featuring waterfalls and miles-long mountain views are within an hour, making the location ideal for those looking for beautiful scenery and a slower, outdoors-focused lifestyle.


Here are our favorite outdoor spots & activities in the area:

Lake Keowee
Seneca is perhaps best known for its proximity to Lake Keowee. Lake Keowee is a man-made lake, built by Duke Power and spans an impressive 26 miles long, offering over 300 miles of shoreline. The lake has multiple luxury communities lining its banks, such as the various Cliffs communities, Keowee Key, or Reserve at Lake Keowee. Known for its beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain ridgeline views, the lake draws many to it for visiting who ultimately decide to stay and call it home. 

Lake Keowee, like Hartwell, also offers many outdoor hotspots, and one nearby to Seneca, is the South Cove County Park. The Park offers a beach area with swimming zones, a playground, and grilling areas. Just down the road is the Lake Keowee Marina, where those wanting to rent a boat, can do so while also enjoying a great meal lakeside.

Lake Hartwell
Lake Hartwell is a large lake spanning South Carolina and Georgia and offers some of the top fishing around. In fact, Hartwell has played host to the Bassmaster Classic tournament several times and hosts several fishing tournaments each year. Visitors love a thousand acres of shoreline and location, which falls along Interstate 85. The University of Clemson, and it’s quaint college town, falls along its banks closest to Seneca. Hartwell has multiple state parks where visitors can camp, hike, or spend the day on the water.

Blue Ridge Mountain Various Falls
Within an hour west of Seneca are the foothills of the Appalachians. For hikers, the area features a lot of waterfalls and popular trails. Here are our favorites that are within an hour or two from Seneca:

  • Blue Hole Falls (45 mins) is a great 1-mile hiking path that features a beautiful waterfall and swimming hole tucked inside Sumter National Forest.
  • Just up the road from Blue Hole Falls is Yellow Branch Falls in Walhalla, SC. This hike is a little longer at 3 miles and is more challenging, but the waterfall at the end is 50 ft tall and features a staircase-like cascading feature which makes the falls very unique. The hike also follows alongside deep drop-offs and is a beautiful Upstate mountain hike for experienced hikers.
  • Southwest, near the Georgia state line, is the Brasstown Falls. This hike is one of the most popular hikes in the region, and the trail has been well maintained so many can enjoy it. The falls feature a great wading pool at the bottom.

Seneca, being very small, lacks a lot of dining options. For fine dining restaurants, we recommend heading into Clemson. But while it lacks in upscale cuisine, it makes up for it in down-home, southern-style comfort food. Here are some of the top restaurants in Seneca, as well as a few nearby options for anyone in your party.

  • 313 Cafe is a modern shop that serves up much more than freshly brewed coffee. Open for breakfast to after dinner, the 313 offers burgers, salads, and a dose of local fun with live music Fridays and Saturdays. 
  • Appellation Wine: Appellation is a wine bar with light food options that pair nicely with their wine selections. To see what they have in stock, visit their Facebook page.
  • Beyond the Bull is another local establishment, that may lack flair but makes up for it in southern flavor.  The restaurant requires reservations and serves Fridays through Sundays only. For those who get a spot, expect ever-changing menus based on fresh supplies and local feedback. 

Seneca has some wonderful local shops that we encourage visitors and residents alike to check out. Many in this small town are located off Ram Cat Alley and showcase local talent.

  • M. Tannery & Sons is an antique store located on Ram Cat Alley. The shop not only features unique finds, but also local decor such as Lake Keowee pillows, local estate finds, and other decorative items.
  • For those wanting to pick up a local handmade item, Green Springs is your go-to spot in Seneca. From locally made coffee cups and soap to fair trade decor like baskets, lights, and more. You never know what they’ll have in the store!

The Red Door is another Seneca favorite that focuses more on lake living decor. You can pick up Lake Keowee or Lake Hartwell coffee mugs, kitchen, and wall decor. Check Facebook for updates on what they get in stock.

Home Market Statistics in Seneca

As of 2019, the current median home value in Seneca, SC was $204,000. Since 2000, Neighborhood Scout estimates that home values have risen 78%.  Given the demand for area homes, we anticipate growth to continue for Seneca in the coming years.

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