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Clemson, SC: The Best Local Spots

Updated: Sep 11, 2022

If you are going to spend time at Lake Hartwell, your activity list may be full of boating, fishing, jet-skiing, and hiking. There is one other to-do you should add to your list — pay a visit to one of the many cute local cities around Lake Hartwell. I particularly recommend checking out Clemson, South Carolina. This city is bursting with fun local hot spots and lots of southern charm. Here’s all you need to know about Clemson and how to spend a day or two exploring the city.

Where to Eat in Clemson, SC

There is nothing like a good southern meal, y’all! These dining options truly have something for everyone.

family eating breakfast at a restaurant

Enjoy a good southern breakfast at SunnySide Cafe in Clemson, SC

Breakfast Will Help You Fuel Up for the Lake

Before a long day on Lake Hartwell, the SunnySide Cafe is the place to go to get in a hearty breakfast. This Market Street eat gets as much produce and meat as they can from local and sustainable sources. They offer lunch as well, and the menu of soups, salads, wraps, and quesadillas will leave your mouth watering for more. Reservations for larger groups can be made online, and they cater to vegetarian and vegan needs, as well as dairy and gluten-free options.

Dress Up for a Steak Dinner

If you’re spending time around Lake Hartwell to celebrate a special event, head to Rick Erwin’s Clemson for an upscale meal. The fine-dining restaurant serves steak and seafood, and the rich atmosphere will create an intimate evening for you and a loved one. There are vegetarian and gluten-free options, as well as some excellent dessert options. As this is a popular establishment, your best bet is to call ahead and make a reservation.

couple eating sushi in restaurant in clemson sc

Enjoy excellent sushi meal at Blue Heron

Snack on Sushi

The Blue Heron Restaurant and Sushi Bar has options for everyone. Located on College Avenue, finish up your day on Lake Hartwell with a stroll in the stunning Larry W. Abernathy Water Front Park followed by a satisfying meal at Blue Heron. With an “Award of Excellence” in their wine offerings and daily specials, as well as offerings for all dietary needs, the Blue Heron will be a sure hit.

Try a Sports Bar

For a bit of nightlife, find your way to the popular hotspot, The Esso Club. This former service station is now ranked as one of the best sports bars in the country. Belly up to the bar, grab a drink and get to know a friendly folk or two.

Activities + Things to do in Clemson, SC

Looking for some fun things to do in the town of Clemson? Here are a few options to try.

Play a Round of Golf

The Walker Course at Clemson University is a magnificent golf course on the edge of Lake Hartwell. This pristine course is well worth the visit for any level of golf player. The course is open seven days a week during the months of April through November, and Tuesday through Sunday in the winter season. If you’re a Clemson fan, don’t miss out on your chance to play the signature PAW hole.

Catch a College Football Game

If you’re at Lake Hartwell during the school year, hit up the Memorial Stadium at Clemson University. They have games happening regularly, and you will definitely feel the energy and catch some team spirit while standing in this massive stadium. Make sure to bring sun protection and wear the right clothes for the weather as the stadium is an open roof. Get your tickets at Clemson University’s Sports Website.

Clemson university football stadium on lake hartwell

Frank Howard Field at Clemson Memorial Stadium, popularly known as “Death Valley”, is home to the Clemson Tigers

See Some History

For those who love history, there are multiple historical sights located around Clemson. One is the Fort Hill Plantation, which has a rich history in the area, once belonging to Vice President John C. Calhoun. It is located at Clemson University. Another is the Hanover House, also located at Clemson University. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this beautiful spot houses artifacts from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Get Out in Nature

Mentioned above, the Larry W. Abernathy Waterfront Park is a getaway from the busy downtown of Clemson. Nestled on a small branch of Lake Hartwell, find your way here to enjoy peace and tranquility. Areas of this park allow fishing, and there are swings adults and kids alike will utilize.

There are also several picnic tables to enjoy lunch at. Unlike many parks, there is not a lot of green space as the boardwalk is the main feature, surrounded by trees and covered in shade.

Another water-front area worth checking out is The Dikes, located on the edge of Lake Hartwell. This area is a large open space to enjoy the outdoors. Bring your dog, go for a run, and relax next to Lake Hartwell.

Tillman Hall at Clemson University

Tillman Hall at Clemson University

The South Carolina Botanical Gardens are located at Clemson University. The garden has miles of trails spread across the 295-acre area, with a butterfly garden, wildflower garden, and a 70-acre Arboretum. This free garden is open daily from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm, with a Visitor Center and Gift Shop open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. This is a great area for kids and adults alike to see the flora of Lake Hartwell up close. Located within the SC Botanical Gardens is the Bob Campbell Geology Museum with rocks and fossils local to the area and from around the globe. Admission is free and it is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm daily.

Seasonal Events in Clemson

Depending on the time of year you are looking for things to do in Clemson, you may have even more options worth exploring. In April, Clemson hosts the Greater Clemson Music Festival.  Blues is at the forefront of the festival, along with Jazz, Reggae, Rock, Gospel, and Country music on the roster. The festival raises money to give back to charities. The City of Clemson does several ties ins with major holidays, including an Easter egg hunt, Mother’s and Father’s Day events, and breakfast with Santa. Fireworks for the 4th of July and New Year’s can be seen from The Dike.

In October, The City of Clemson hosts the Sunset Music Series at the Catherine Smith Plaza for several weekends.

Where to Say in Clemson

The James F. Martin Inn at Clemson University is the place to stay if you’re going to golf at the Walker Course. It only has a few rooms, so book in advance. It has great views of the course and of Lake Hartwell. There are several chain hotels to stay at, the most notable is the Hampton Inn, situated near Lake Hartwell. A notable AirBnB stay is at the Clemson Memorabilia house, but there are many other locations available online as well.

Are you ready to explore Clemson? Which fun thing will you try first? 

local hangouts in clemson sc text overlay image of people having fun

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