Best Day Trips from Clemson, SC
South Carolina is home to some of the country’s most diverse native landscapes, which offer endless opportunities for adventure and wonder. In the western tip of South Carolina, you’ll find the charming city of Clemson, a destination full of rich history and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Settled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Clemson offers visitors a rare opportunity to explore the great outdoors and experience the unique Appalachian heritage. While the city is known for being within reach of some of the most impressive forests and hiking trails, you don’t have to travel too far to have a worthy day trip that involves some of the city’s very own natural beauty.
So whether you’re looking for a day trip around the city, or feel like venturing further out into to see the natural wildlife, you can rest assured that Clemson will provide every visitor with a day trip worth remembering. Read on to find some of our favorite day trips from Clemson.
Lower Whitewater Falls Trail
The city of Clemson is encompassed by thriving forests that contain some of the most majestic waterfalls and lakes in the southeast. If you’re a fan of natural wonders, Clemson offers many stunning day trips to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the South. Not sure where to start? About an hour north drive from Clemson, you’ll find the Lower Whitewater Falls. Right on the outskirts of Nantahala National Forest, Whitewater Falls can be found cascading through North and South Carolina. The lower side of the falls crashes into South Carolina with a dramatic 200 ft drop making all six of these adjoining falls the highest series of falls in eastern North America.
At the northern border where South Carolina meets North Carolina, you’ll find Sassafras Mountain, South Carolina’s highest point, coming in at 3,554 ft. Sassafras Mountain is part of the Blue Ridge Mountain range. When you make it to the top of this climb, you’ll be rewarded with an observation deck that gives you views of the mountains as far as the eye can see. The trip is an hour drive from Clemson, but worth it for any hiking enthusiast who loves the feeling of peace and solitude. As you venture up these winding mountain paths, you’ll be able to capture stunning images of South Carolina’s flourishing natural wildlife. With various hiking trails ranging from gentle walks to adventurous climbs, you’re sure to stumble upon some of the best natural sights and wildlife the state has to offer.
South Carolina Botanical Gardens
If you make a trip to the South Carolina Botanical Gardens, you won’t even need to leave Clemson to experience this slice of beauty. You can immerse yourself in the 295 acres of natural landscapes, gardens, and miles of nature trails and streams for an entire day. Relaxing in the peaceful gardens is a favorite pastime for many visitors, but be sure to check out the other experiences the garden has to offer, including the Bob Campbell Geology Museum, Fuller Art Galleries, and the Fran Hanson Discovery Center. Then, stop by the beautifully preserved historic homes such as the Hunt Cabin and Hanover House that are full of history and heritage.
An hour drive south of Clemson you’ll find Lake Hartwell, the southeast’s largest and most popular recreational lake. Created by Hartwell Dam located on the Savannah River, the lake is composed of nearly 56,000 acres of water and an expansive shoreline for beachside recreation. Lake Hartwell is a known haven for fishing enthusiasts, as it’s said to be inhabited by hybrid and striped bass, bream, largemouth, and catfish. Or, if fishing is not your main interest, you could take a rental boat out on the glistening water and soak in the sun as you glide across the massive length of this southern jewel of a lake.
Larry Abernathy Waterfront Park
If you’re looking for a quick and beautiful day trip while in Clemson, take a stroll through the Larry Abernathy Waterfront Park. Here, you’ll be able to see all the natural beauty Clemson has to offer without traveling far from the city. The waterfront park is just over a half mile long and connects to the Jaycee Park for an even longer outdoor experience. This Clemson day trip boasts a beautiful lake of its own, and shady coves that give you the perfect opportunity for a picnic. Or, visit the Pavilion where you’ll find plenty of picnic tables just waiting to be used beside a charming public fireplace.
Issaqueena Lake Trail
The Issaqueena Lake Trail is a must for anyone looking to spend a day roaming around Clemson. The trail goes through the Clemson Experimental Forest, an almost 17,500-acre forest used for preserving wildlife and providing education to students and the public. As you walk along the trail, you’ll be treated to some of the most amazing sights the forest has to offer, along with many opportunities for animal sightings. Babbling creeks will guide you to several of the peninsulas surrounding the lake, so make sure and bring a swimsuit if the weather is warm. Issaqueena Lake Trail provides some of the best swimming and lounging spots in the area.
Begin Your Clemson Day Trip Today
Clemson is a city full of history, southern charm, and natural wonders; so when planning a day trip, you’ll be sure to find the perfect adventure just waiting to be discovered. Whether you find yourself climbing to the top of a mountain peak or strolling through a colorful garden bursting with flowers, Clemson offers some of the most beautiful day trips throughout the year, each providing something new every time you visit.