When in Lexington, South Carolina, do as the locals do!
They love to rock and roll, are active in recreational sports with big support from the town government, and bustle with sightseeing spots and extraordinary travel experiences.
As a vibrant, charming town, Lexington unleashes its big city fun and small-town charisma, making the place a big attraction for tourists from all over.
Seated in Lexington county, Lexington is the county’s largest town located west of South Carolina’s capital city of Columbia and perched on the shores of Lake Murray.
Lexington endured economic struggles following the Civil War, originally incorporated as a town in 1861, and later thrived in the automobile industry from the 1920s to the 1940s, prompting the government to help the town evolve into a suburb of Columbia.
Research studies show that Lexington continues to welcome new residents each year, with both its population and the desirability of living in South Carolina continually flourishing.
For those who are nearing their retirement years, why are observers saying that Lexington’s seductive come-on allure is so hard to resist?
Topping the reasons could be its tax friendliness for seniors, with South Carolina as one of the most tax-friendly states in the entire country.
With zero social security tax for millions of older Americans, this means more income for Lexington retirees.
Further, a $15,000 income tax deduction is available for all state residents over the age of 65, which applies to all forms of retirement income, a great way for Lexington retirees to save money during retirement!
Let’s check out the other reasons for visitors hanging out with friends and checking out the place.
Try Some Water Activities at Lake Murray
Lake Murray is simply the place to be.
If you’re the outdoorsy type who would take the plunge in doing all these watersports adventures -- from canoeing to kayaking and paddleboarding, from wakeboarding to jet skiing, fishing, boating, water skiing, you would adore Lake Murray.
The region offers lots of fun for the thrill-seekers, as its marketing pitch describes the region as world-class “Playcation,” which is the “Jewel of South Carolina,” attracting visitors with its come-hither allure.
And it’s not just a lake, mind you.
Its advertisements promote the place as “Lake Murray Country,” offering its paradise “full of world-class fishing, boating, golf, barbecue, breweries, with lots of fun for the entire family.”
Definitely, the place occupies the top spot for outdoor recreation near Columbia, with over 650 miles of Lake Murray shoreline and 90-plus miles along its riverways.
With 50,000 acres of lake and 500 miles of shoreline, there is definitely a lot of fun to be enjoyed at Lake Murray.
William Murray was an engineer involved in the three-year design and creation of the dam, which was under construction from 1927 through 1930, risk of flooding along the Saluda River by impounding the waters of four major tributaries: Little River, Limestone Creek, Richland Creek, and Dutch Fork Creek.
South Carolina Electric and Gas Dominion Energy, now known as the Lexington Water Power Company, was responsible for building the dam, and the lake was later named after Murray who was the project head engineer of the group.
Rock and Roll at the Ice House Amphitheater
Rock and roll big acts from the likes of artists such as Billy Joel, John Mayer, Alan Jackson, and a host of other big-name artists have proverbially “brought the house down” in recent years with their fantastic performances, wowing the Lexington crowd at the Ice House Amphitheater.
The state-of-the-art infrastructure has been receiving exclamatory superlatives from its patrons for the past years, making the small town come alive with its year-round live music events.
Its numerous shows range from traditional musical performances to motorcycle mini rallies, with observers describing the venue as “a major step and catalyst for the revitalization of Lexington’s Main Street."
The amphitheater has a seating capacity of 900 yet can actually balloon up to thousands as the audience can bring their own additional lawn chairs or sit at the top overlooking the show.
The live music venue is also host to a variety of festivals for families and children, as well as other special events such as the Annual Lexington Barbecue Festival and Fair, among others.
“If you’re looking for a nice night out, the Ice House Amphitheater is a great option,” says Lexington residents.
The concert venue came about as a way to pull together the other downtown Lexington areas, with nearby Palmetto Collegiate Institute, Lexington Municipal Complex, Virgin Hylton Park, and the Lexington Square Park.
The amphitheater sits on land wherein an ice plant was originally opened in 1928, the reason for its name “Icehouse.”
Play at Grady’s Pool & Billiard Hall
Billiard enthusiasts and those who want to have a good time are getting their highs at Grady’s Pool & Billiard Hall, located along South Lake Drive in Lexington.
The pool room’s patrons are raving about the place where they are getting their maximum fun with friends or making new ones in “a joint that’s built for full entertainment capacity, great selection of good drinks
combined with good times.”
Crystal is the current owner of the place who has the thumbs up from almost everyone who visits Grady’s, earning superlatives from clients, describing her as “an awesome homegirl.”
“Oh yes, we always have a blast with every visit. My boyfriend and I were very impressed with the owner Crystal and the establishment. Great atmosphere to shoot billiards, good music while watching sports on the big screen. What more could you ask for?” they say.
"The place is just like the good old times," they continue, "like walking into a 1975 pool hall with blasting rock and roll music in the background, great tables, cold beer, great prices, friendly staff, and hot coffee!
“Grady’s is run professionally, where you can experience the real game of pool,” says its friendly regulars. “The diamond tables are well-maintained, with great staff. I’d go every day if I lived closer!”
The original owner of Grady’s was the legendary Grady Mathews, known as “The Professor” in the world of American billiards and the first inductee to the One Pocket Hall of Fame in 2004.
Mathews was the brains behind the Legends of One-Pocket billiards tournament series, promoting the sport of pool throughout his career.
He was also a regular commentator on pool matches and billiard instructional videotapes produced by Accu-Stats Video Productions, a sports columnist for InsidePool Magazine, and also contributing writer to The National Billiards News, The Snap Magazine, and Billiards Digest. as well as coach and instructor in the world of billiards.
Go Jogging at the Dreher Shoals Dam
Those who prefer walking, jogging, skateboarding flock to Dreher Shoals Dam, the historic dam completed in 1930 along with Lake Murray.
Jogging and skateboarding daily through the 1.7 mile-stretch, with around 5.4 kilometers back and forth, would be great for health maintenance upkeep for sports buffs and health enthusiasts alike.
And while doing your health routine, be mesmerized with fantastic views of the beautiful Lake Murray, as well as the skyline of downtown Columbia.
Originally called the Saluda River Dam, and also later referred to as the Lake Murray Dam, with its original purpose for flood control, hydroelectricity, and water supply.
The dam was the world’s largest earthen embankment dam at the time of its completion in 1930 and later was built with the world’s largest man-made lake, now known as Lake Murray.
Meantime in 2005, a 213-feet roller compacted concrete dam was completed as additional infrastructure at the foot of the original dam to lessen the gravity of an earthquake-caused dam failure.
The Dreher Shoals Dam provides inspiration for Lexington’s annual high school football league series, aptly called “The Battle of the Dam” between Lexington High School and Irmo High School -- with both schools connected by the South Carolina highway crossing over the dam.
Nature-Tripping at Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve
A precariously balanced overturned pyramid with some twenty feet in height is the gargantuan rock in the middle of the natural preserve called “Peachtree Rock,” a reason for the tourist spot’s name.
The Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve, unlike other preserves with well-maintained hiking trails and man-made lakes and mangroves, is left unbothered and is still in its natural state.
Fossils of ancient marine animals, layers of sandstone, towering long-leaved pines, and the South Carolina coastal plain’s only natural waterfall greet visitors looking for some nature-tripping adventure in Lexington.
Located at Peachtree Rock Road in Lexington, this reserve is a 4.2-kilometer loop trail great for all skill levels, whether a beginner hiker or an advanced adventurer.
Whether hiking, walking, or bird-watching, you can bring your family and even your kids and pets.
Just make sure you have your trail maps, with these doable trails even for kids, and have your dogs kept on a leash for safety!
The Nature Conservancy and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SC-DNR) co-manage this natural preserve rich in history and culture with its flora and fauna plus unusual geology.
Among the government agencies’ joint projects is the preservation of its native longleaf pine forests, removing 74 acres of non-native slash pine, and replanting with the longleaf pines in 2007, and continued projects through the years to encourage longleaf germination and growth.
Enjoy the Games at Lexington County Baseball Stadium
Sports fans are ecstatic with every victory by the Lexington County Blowfish, the summer collegiate team who are the baseball heroes of the town, with milestone triumphs held at the Lexington County Baseball Stadium.
Even with 3000 spectators, baseball fans describe the games at the stadium along Ballpark Road at Wildcat Hollow as an “intimate ballpark experience,” “a hub entertainment in the Midlands.”
You’ll witness its Wrigley field style box seats, an air-conditioned hospitality club, lawn seating in the outfield, and other local special events such as baseball camps and tournaments, concerts, collegiate and high school baseball championships, and more.
All these are at the Lexington County Baseball Stadium.
The Lexington County Blowfish is every Lexington baseball fans’ pride, a two-time Coastal Plain League (CPL) Organization of the Year, running away with the momentous 2012 CPL Championship, operated by Shanahan & Company Sports Management owned by husband-and-wife team Bill and Vicki Shanahan.
And if you haven’t heard about boiled peanut eating contests and winning trophies for winning such, look no further.
You may be the next champion for Lexington’s boiled peanut-eating contests and be awarded with a gold trophy!
Nature Tripping at Virginia Hylton Park
You would love some quiet time listening to the chirping birds and watching the swaying trees at Virginia Hylton Park.
Named after former Lexington Town Council Member Virginia Hylton, who did government service work from 1981 to 1998, the park is described by its visitors as a relaxing park with its trees, playground, covered gazebos, and picnic tables, a great hangout with family and friends.
Hylton spearheaded the initiative to create this so-called “oasis of outdoor fun for the entire family, located in the heart of downtown Lexington.
There’s the Koi pond, the Butterfly Garden, the Iris, Camellia, and Day Lily gardens, and the Twelve Mile Creek overlooking a refreshing man-made waterfall -- sights to enjoy if you wish to spend a cool afternoon for a stress-free time.
With its current size of 6.5 acres, plans are underway for its renovation with an additional 8.25 acres to significantly upgrade the park to provide Lexington with a playful, social and recreational space for all ages.
Streams and walkways meander through the park and even have a special playground for children with disabilities to make sure everyone can be included.
Concerts are also held in this park from June through August.
Go Bar Hopping at Lexington’s Bars
Nightlife is alive and well at the clubs of Lexington County, charming with its small-town vibe yet rich in history and now a thriving suburban city.
The place offers the best bars with its high-concept watering holes, old-style bars, and hip dive clubs, concert bars to which you give a toast for happy hours indeed!
At the Krafty Draft Brew Pub, you get amazed at an array of their beer collection, whether these are dessert beers, or the robust stout, aged beers, or those rich dark porters, there’s always one that fits your fancy.
Beers at this pub are brewed in-house, boasting a craft beer selection of over 104 choices, and beer lovers would surely love its cozy and casual atmosphere.
TR’s Bar and Grill, meantime, is a family-friendly diner that metamorphoses into a concert bar in its happy hours, so come in and join the fun!
Great music and good food as its finest, with its Sunday buffet menu captivating customers who go for no-frills casual dining, live entertainment, and buckets of Bud for the fun-loving diners.
And at The Dam House, the owners and crew understandably boast that it is home for its “DAM Good Beer,” overflowing with draft-style pale ales, lagers, craft beers, and a wide selection of beer and wine options.
Its friendly regulars recommend the place with its expert bartenders giving you a surprise with their wonderful concoctions at every visit.
If you would like some fresh air enjoying the view of Lake Murray, or join a game of corn hole and disc golf as you take your beer outside, simply have a DAM good time.
Discover the Mercer House Estate Winery
For all you wine lovers, you would be thrilled to do a discovery tour at the Mercer House Estate Winery.
Being one of only ten all-natural and organic wineries in the entire United States, this 12 -acre property boasts its own unique blend of native grapes within five distinct vineyards.
Some 50-plus varieties of grapes, strawberries, pecans, cherries, apples, nectarines, kiwis, figs, pears, blueberries, and peaches, are grown in this vineyard with its caretakers growing all these fruit products which are used to make wines.
“Everything is organic, natural, sustainable, and eco-friendly,” explains the winery staff.
Whether your palate would go for the Jalapeno Wine Jelly, the Bloody Mary Wine, or the Fruit Spiced Coffee Wine, you’ll be amazed at the winery’s traditional native American techniques in making wine.
Enjoy a Discovery Tour at Lexington County Museum
Take a step back in time during the 18th century until the Civil War, with a nostalgic tour of historic buildings and architecture in Lexington.
This is what we will find at the Lexington County Museum located in the historic district of Lexington, an array of 36 historic buildings within the seven-acre property.
The museum is more of a small village of historical architecture, sliding us down through the history of Lexington's German and Swiss heritage during the Colonial and Antebellum periods.
The John Fox House was built over 100 years ago, a two-story ten-room house which was originally a plantation home depicting everyday life in the 19th century with its period pieces and locally made artifacts such as its pottery, quilts, and furniture.
The original Lexington County Post Office is the oldest documented architecture in the county, the house where the traditional Gospel song “Give Me That Old Time Religion” was first heard, which became a standard among Protestant hymnals.
Research shows that gospel writer Charles Davis Tillman was attending a camp meeting in the post office wherein he sang the song in 1889, then sung by African-Americans and later popularized by white Southerners.
“Invest in our future by preserving our past, “ says its invitation.
The museum is inviting everyone for its memberships, also open for volunteer opportunities.
Unwind at the Corley Street Park
As they say, you can never have enough of the great outdoors!
Corley Street Park is perched along Corley Street, hence the name, and a stone’s throw away from the historic Lexington County Courthouse, which continually serves after some 200 years, with the Lexington County Museum also nearby.
It’s the perfect way to chill in the muggy weather of the South when you visit during summer, say the locals.
As the oldest park in Lexington dating back to the 1970s, the park has many old trees as well, yet still offering fun and relaxation with its open field for picnics, a small pond with turtles, ducks, fish, and some frogs, and benches wherein you can sit on by the water as you enjoy nature.
Open from sunrise to sunset, all areas in the park are open year-round except the spray pool, which is only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
With a grant amounting to more than $18,000 from the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation in 2011, upgrades and renovations were done to make the playground more kid-friendly, safer, and more attractive with its tennis courts, picnic spaces, fish pond, and open area.
The spray pool is the park’s newest addition after its major renovations, with additional picnic shelters, playground installations, and painted murals.
For the renovations, the Lexington Police Department added a phone call station for emergencies, while the Lexington Countywide Stormwater Consortium, meanwhile, has installed a rain garden in the park.
Go Golfing at LJ’s Par and Grill Restaurant Bar
Food, fun, live music entertainment all in while hitting golf balls at its open target driving range means the LJ’s Par and Grill Restaurant Bar is more than just a food place.
“Whether you need to put in a little practice or need help with your game, we have the perfect practice facility for all levels of golf enthusiasts at any age,” says LJ’s Par and Grill marketing pitch.
The driving range offers a fun and friendly place to practice golf, large teeing areas which are either covered or uncovered and its most popular feature: its automatic tees.
So you just wait for a few seconds, and your golf ball is automatically up on a tee, ready for your swing, perfect for those who have difficulty in bending over and placing a tee on the ground.
You simply wait a few seconds, and your ball will up on a tee, ready for you to take a swing. This is perfect for anyone that has trouble bending over and placing a tee in the ground.
While taking pride that LJ's Par And Grill is Lexington, South Carolina's “best place to practice,” it also boasts to having a wide array of delicious food choices on its menu for everyone who wishes to “dine on some of the finest food in Lexington.”
Shop at the Market at Icehouse
Hundreds of food stalls and fruit stalls greet you as you enter The Market At Icehouse, brimming with locally grown fresh produce as well as homemade crafts, wherein food trucks and vendors make this spot their happy place.
Perched at 107 Main Street, this hawkers’ haven is always alive with high energy with its community-friendly atmosphere promoting local products while educating the community regarding the importance of supporting local artists.
For its part, the Lexington Police Department intensifies its efforts with its “Coffee With A Cop” Program, in cooperation with The Haven Coffee House located on Main Street in downtown Lexington.
The program is a new concept as officers look forward to sharing a freshly brewed cup of coffee with passersby, with a tent set up in the Icehouse Pavilion and The Haven Coffee House offering free cups of their house blend coffee.
Another LPD program at the Market At Icehouse is the Child Passenger Seat program, wherein police officers explain to those who stop by for a free coffee the importance of the child’s car seat safety, which can definitely save their lives.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Delight With Animal Life at the Riverbanks Zoos and Garden
Just 15 minutes away from Lexington, and you’ll be entering a whole new world of fauna via the Riverbanks Zoos and Garden.
All of a sudden, you’re like a kid all over again, amazed at all these animals from Africa, Asia, North America, and Australia, those kangaroos, tigers, lions and seals, wallabies, and komodo dragons, and much more!
The zoo and botanical garden is sprawled on 170 acres of land area, with more than 2000 animals and a beautiful and lush garden that is a delight for nature lovers.
While the younger kids shriek in amazement at all its facilities, such as playhouses, splash zones, and rabbit holes which they can crawl through, the older ones will appreciate a life-sized replica of the T-Rex, and also those giant tree houses plus the 25-foot waterfall.
Delicious Food at Lexington’s Restaurants
Food, glorious food: there’s a lot of excellent cuisine at Lexington’s wide array of restaurants.
And you’re sure to keep coming back for more!
There’s authentic Italian cooking at its finest at Alodia’s Cucina Italiana, a great mix of Italian dishes and Southern hospitality, mouth-watering dishes like portabella pork ribeye, shrimp scampi, and pan-seared fillet mignon, topped with wine or cocktails.
And there’s the Root Cellar, top-notch hearty dishes such as their buttermilk fried chicken with white gravy and yellow grits, with a crunch in every bite, fried to golden brown perfection.
They even have specialties for those with special diets: gluten-free dishes for the vegetarian customers are ready as well.
Still, there’s Private Property which is all about Cajun cooking and country cuisine, famous for its seafood jambalaya and shrimp and grits, showing the owners’ love for New Orleans and Lexington via its down-to-earth menu of comfort foods and exciting Southern fusion!
Lexington would be your perfect weekend getaway, whether you are a thrill-seeking adventurer, or a nature-loving soul who would love to commune with flora and fauna, bird-watching on a crisp, cool afternoon.
Whatever your fancy, South Carolina’s Lexington would earn your two thumbs up for fun things to do, including shop-till-you-drop escapades, hunting for historical culture, or rocking and rolling to your heart’s delight.
And if you’re a senior citizen, yes, you’re in for a good treat at this town, as you’ll enjoy participating in recreational programs created by the Lexington County Recreation and Aging Commission.
Make sure your visit falls on the first Wednesday of the month, which is Lexington Country Recreation and Aging Commission Night!
Indeed, Lexington is a beautiful place to visit, with irresistible Southern world charm which would continue to haunt you when you leave.
With so much to do in this wonderful town, you will definitely want to include it on your travel bucket list.
Plan your next trip to Lexington, promising to provide great attractions and big fun for the whole family!