Stephanie is a cherished member of the Sampling America writing team, dedicated to crafting captivating narratives that transport readers to thrilling adventures across the country and beyond.
South Carolina is well known for its massive shorelines and subtropical climate. The Ozark Mountains are some of the most infamous outdoor spaces, well known for having the best lakes in the state.
Be sure to follow our list of the best lakes in South Carolina so that you can choose the perfect vacation spot for your next outdoor adventure.
Lake Marion is the state’s biggest lake, offering endless outdoor activities and water sports. The significant boat launch here is perfect for anyone to bring their personal watercraft to participate in fishing, water skiing, or just relaxing in the boat.
The lake has plenty of campsites as well. It’s perfect to bring your RV or trailer for a camping weekend. Bring your whole family and take a hike, kayak, or canoe around the lake. The area is family-friendly and welcoming to visitors and tourists.
This stunning artificial lake takes up more than 60,000 acres and creates the perfect atmosphere for boaters and fishermen. The lake sits near Fort Moultrie, a series of battlements built to protect the city of Charleston.
Lake Moultrie is a part of a larger group of lakes called the Santee Cooper Lakes. This area is full of cypress trees and swampy wilderness that sets a completely unique outdoor setting. As with many other lakes in South Carolina, this lake is close to the ocean, creating large waves and a sandy shore.
This lake has quite a famous backstory. It was used as a shooting location for the 2012 movie The Hunger Games, and the 1972 film with Burt Reynolds called The Deliverance.
Despite its famous past, this lake is the perfect location to spend a fun weekend with friends or family. The lake is well-known for being perfect for scuba diving, snorkeling, and kayaking. The lake has plenty of amenities where guests can rent paddle boards, kayaks, and swim in the clean waters.
Lake Murray sits in the state’s center and is the area’s crown jewel. With more than 650 miles of shoreline, this lake has plenty of space for beachgoers, boating, and sailors.
Consider staying the night at one of the many campgrounds available. The warm summer weather creates the perfect atmosphere for young families and groups of friends to stay up late roasting marshmallows over the fire while enjoying a warm summer night.
Lake Russel is a man-made lake next to the Richard B. Russel Dam, creating a freshwater reservoir from the Savannah River. Although it’s not a natural lake, this area offers gorgeous mountain views around Calhoun Falls State Park.
The park is the perfect place to bring a pop-tent or an RV to spend the weekend. Take a dip in the lake to swim or partake in one of the many water sports available. While here, you can also float down the Savannah River to view some of the best mansions in the state.
This stunning lake is close to many vibrant cities in South Carolina, but the shoreline feels like you’re in a secluded mountain resort.
Guests can expect to bring their boat here to partake in water skiing, fishing, and windsurfing. While the lake isn’t the biggest in the state, over 18,500 acres of water offer plenty of spots for all visitors to enjoy the water and the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Lake Greenwood is well-known as a lake with many stunning vacation homes. If you’re lucky enough to rent or get invited to one of these stunning cabins, be sure to take a moment to drink in the beauty of the surrounding area.
The lake offers a massive boat launch, marina, and multiple boating clubs. Guests can look forward to fun water sports like water skiing, windsurfing, and wakeboarding.
Located on the Georgia South Carolina border, Lake Hartwell is well known for being full of bass, catfish, and bream. Plenty of fishermen come here year-round to enjoy the healthy fish populations.
This popular lake also offers plenty of outdoor activities like hiking and biking around the trails. With more than 500 campsites, this lake has plenty of room for everyone to come and bask in the warm summer weather.
Although this lake isn’t as popular with tourists and visitors, it’s well-known with locals as one of the state’s best catfishing spots.
The lake is always open for swimming, which makes it a quiet place to enjoy the water. Locals are allowed to fish for catfish on Wednesdays and Saturdays, so if you want to watch the masters of “noodling” at work, be sure to stop by on a fishing day.
Although swimming is not allowed in Lake Robinson, the pristine lake does allow boats with a horsepower limit. Due to the calm nature of the lake, it usually does not attract young families or partygoers.
Instead, the lake is known for being calm and tranquil. Guests can kayak, canoe, and paddleboard over the warm waters while enjoying the woods as calmly as possible.
Lake Strom Thurmond
Lake Strom Thurmond is South Carolina’s second-biggest lake and one of the most popular outdoor spots, with over 5.5 million visitors every year.
The parks, campgrounds, and marinas surround the 29,000-hectare lake. Camping, hiking, fishing, and swimming are enjoyed by all who stop by this stunning destination.
Lake Cooley is a small lake. However, it’s well known with fishermen as it’s filled with bass, crappie, beam, and catfish.
Guests don’t need to fish to enjoy this lake, though, surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains, many hikers stop by this lake as a rest point on one of the longest trails in the United States. Visitors can also enjoy water sports, swimming, and playing on the sandy beach.
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