15 Best Things to Do in Clemson, SC

Clemson, SC
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With a generally humid climate, the city of Clemson in Pickens and Anderson counties, South Carolina, promises places and adventures all year round.

People seek outdoor adventures that let them reconnect with nature in this city.

Education is also the main highlight in the city with the historic and world-renowned Clemson University.

Apart from this, Clemson has invested much in agriculture and transportation, which is apparent in the modern-day version of the city.

Tourists are treated to various activities, including agritourism, outdoor adventures, historic places, and sports.

Here are the best things to do in Clemson, South Carolina:

Go Boating on Lake Keowee

Kayaker on Lake Keowee
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Lake Keowee has become a significant destination for tourists visiting South Carolina because of its pristine waters covering part of Clemson.

The serene and beautiful environment surrounding this artificial reservoir has made the place an exciting place for relaxation and adventure.

Lake Keowee was created in 1971 primarily to supply the power needs of the electric power company Duke Energy.

The lake also provides an area for public recreational activities.

Aerial view of Lake Keowee
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Many people visit the park to the fish, boat, or hike.

For boating enthusiasts, Lake Keowee provides numerous boat ramps and access areas for visitors.

You can also try other activities here, such as wakeboarding, kayaking, skiing, paddle boarding, and wildlife watching.

The waters of Lake Keowee
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Enjoy Playtime with Kids at Ashley Dearing Park

A quiet walk in Ashley Dearing Park will give you the peace and calmness you need.

Located along Berkeley Drive, the charming park is perfect if you want to let your kids play in a spacious area or if you want to have a picnic with your family.

Built in the early 1980s, the park took its name from a Clemson resident who used the park as a venue for his Eagle Scout project.

Ashley Dearing Park has a playground area with slides and monkey bars for children to enjoy.

It also has a baseball field, benches, and picnic tables.

There is also a walking path in the park with a view of a creek where you can stroll and breathe fresh air.

Explore Nature at the South Carolina Botanical Gardens

Cacti at South Carolina Botanical Gardens
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You can explore 300 acres of beautiful gardens and well-maintained trails at the South Carolina Botanical Gardens along Discovery Lane.

Woodlands and landscapes decorate the gardens that started in the 1950s and later declared the state's botanical garden.

Check out their butterfly garden, arboretum, field of wildflowers, wildlife habitat garden, heritage garden, and other specialty gardens.

Flower at South Carolina Botanical Gardens
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You can also take the three-mile trail here for jogging, walking, and hiking.

The main highlight of the South Carolina Botanical Gardens is thousands of species of flowers and ornamental plants, which add color and life to the place.

Venus flytrap at South Carolina Botanical Gardens
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Bring Home Clemson Blue Cheese

Your trip to Clemson will not be complete without tasting or taking home the famous Clemson Blue Cheese.

It has gained national and international attention because of the fresh and flavorful taste attributed to the six-month aging process of the cheese.

The initial Clemson Blue Cheese was produced in 1941 at the Stumphouse Mountain Tunnel.

Production involved warm air entering the tunnel and exiting cold air, which helped cure the cheese.

Later, the tunnel served as a research ground for cheese production but had to be closed in the 1990s after a rock slide.

Now, you can purchase your supply of Clemson Blue Cheese from their main store along McMillan Road.

Take a History Tour at Fort Hill Plantation

Main house at Fort Hill Plantation
blahedo, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Housed inside Clemson University, the historic Fort Hill Plantation allows visitors to walk back in time and learn more about the history of Clemson.

It served as the residence of prominent politician John C. Calhoun in the 1800s.

The property currently functions as a library and museum that Clemson University operates.

Likewise, the US has declared the site a National Historic Landmark, which the state continuously protects and restores.

Fort Hill Plantation is open for all visitors wanting to witness its beauty and learn more about the history of Clemson.

Discover Science at the Bob Campbell Geology Museum

Bring out the science geek in you at the Bob Campbell Geology Museum, also inside Clemson University.

The museum is home to an enormous collection of more than 10,000 gemstones, minerals, and fossils from all parts of the world.

Researchers and students will take much interest in the exhibits displayed inside the museum, from dinosaur bones to rocks and minerals.

There is also a fluorescent mineral cave that glows in various colors.

Bob Campbell Geology Museum is open daily.

Admission is free here, so do not miss the chance to learn new things at Clemson.

Uncover the History of Hanover House

Exterior of Hanover House
Excel23, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Admire the architecture of the historic Hanover House during your visit to Clemson.

Built in 1716 in Berkeley County, the house was initially designed with a symmetrical two-sided roof, dormers, and intricate French details.

This house is unique, compared to other buildings in the city.

In 1941, they moved the colonial-era structure to Clemson University, which now serves as its home.

Hanover House is also on the National Register of Historic Places, under the management of the university’s historic properties office.

If you want to visit an excellent architectural site in Clemson, do not forget to visit Hanover House.

Taste Clemson Ice Cream at ‘55 Exchange

Clemson is also well-known for serving delectable locally-made ice cream, which people here started making in the early 1900s.

You can grab a bite of this sweet treat at the ‘55 Exchange at the Hendrix Student Center inside Clemson University.

Students of Clemson University run this ice cream shop which began in the school’s Dairy Department, which started producing ice cream aside from the usual cheese, butter, and milk.

In 2006, the retail store was named ‘55 Exchange after the Class of 1955, the last military class in Clemson.

You can enjoy different flavors of ice cream like vanilla, peach, cookies and cream, Greek vanilla frozen yogurt, and mint chocolate chip at the store.

Likewise, unique and limited edition flavors are available, including butter pecan, lemon custard, Mexican hot chocolate, and many others.

Aside from ice cream, ‘55 Exchange also offers shakes, coffee, smoothies, and floats.

Bring your kids or friends here for ice cream tasting.

Watch a Musical at the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts

Exterior of the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts
Chris Pruitt, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you love to watch plays or musicals, head along Jersey Lane to reach the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts.

The almost 1,000-seater professional theater facility hosts musicals, concerts, and plays.

In 1994, the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts was completed and dedicated after years of careful planning and construction.

It has become Clemson’s premier hub for the performing arts.

Its shows include concerts, pageants, show series, recitals, workshops, and other special events.

Aside from this, it also serves as the base for Clemson University’s Department of Performing Arts, which offers a comprehensive curriculum and training to performing arts students.

Learn about Clemson’s History at the Clemson Area African Museum

To preserve and protect the history of African American settlers in Clemson, the Clemson Area African Museum was established at the Calhoun Bridge Center.

Here you will find artifacts, documents, books, and other memorabilia about the history of African Americans who lived in the city.

The Clemson Area African Museum opened in 2007 with the help of Mayor Larry Abernathy.

It was built in the exact location of an educational institution dedicated to African Americans in Pickens County.

If you want to enrich yourself with historical information about Clemson further, the Clemson Area African Museum is worth stopping by during your trip.

Camp and Boat at Lake Hartwell

Rocky shore of Lake Hartwell
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Are you looking for the perfect place to camp, boat, and fish?

Lake Hartwell has all these in store for you and more.

The tourist destination is popular among adventure-seekers and campers because of the many activities offered here and the vast camping ground it provides.

You can set up camp at any of the more than 100 campsites at Lake Hartwell.

The waters of Lake Hartwell
blahedo, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

The view and calming ambiance of the place will allow you to reconnect with nature and appreciate its beauty.

You can also try boating, fishing, and swimming during your visit.

There are plenty of fish species at Lake Hartwell, including crappie, bream, catfish, and large and smallmouth bass.

Other Things to Do Nearby

When in Clemson, you can also stop by destinations popular with travelers.

The city is near many places you can explore and visit.

Most of these destinations are just a few minutes from the city center, accessible via main roads and highways.

From historical experiences to exciting activities outdoors, adjacent cities in Clemson have them all.

Here are the other things you can do nearby Clemson during your trip.

Check Out the Bart Garrison Agricultural Museum

Located 10 minutes away from Clemson, the Bart Garrison Agricultural Museum of South Carolina highlights the agricultural history of South Carolina.

The exhibits here can be touched and experienced by visitors, unlike other museums.

Opened in 2013, the agriculture museum was named after the son of farmer-politician and former Senator Ed Garrison.

Bart Garrison died in a farm accident in 1990; thus, the name pays tribute to his memory.

The agricultural museum features indoor and outdoor exhibits of animals, farm work, gardening, a greenhouse, historic buildings, and many more.

The Bart Garrison Agricultural Museum is along History Lane in Pendleton, South Carolina, ten minutes from Clemson.

Demonstrations of farm equipment like tractors, chair caning, and milling are also available at the museum.

Tour the Ashtabula Historic House

Built on a ten-acre plantation along Old Greenville Highway in Pendleton, South Carolina, the Ashtabula Historic House highlights the rich agricultural history of South Carolina.

After a short 12-minute ride from Clemson, you will arrive at this house with stunning architecture.

Initially built in the late 1790s, the Ashtabula Historic House is a two-story structure designed with two chimneys, a hipped roof, and a railed rooftop platform.

It has two rooms, piazzas, and high ceilings on the inside.

If you would like to explore the historic house and the vast ground surrounding it, tours are available for groups, and rates vary depending on age.

Bring your kids and the entire family to experience the Ashtabula Historic House.

Complete the Trails at SWU Bike Trails

If you are a bike enthusiast, SWU Bike Trails will be an exciting adventure spot for you.

Located in Central, South Carolina, this recreation spot provides bike trails with moderate difficulty.

You can ride along an estimated eight-kilometer trail in this location, 13 minutes from Clemson.

To access the trail, you can take the main entrance of Southern Wesleyan on SC Highway 93, reach the end of Clayton, leave on the gravel road, then go straight to the start.

A journey through this trail allows bikers to appreciate nature with its clustered tall trees and well-maintained off-road tracks.

Enjoy a day of mountain biking adventure at the SWU Bike Trails.

Final Thoughts

Filled with historical experiences and outdoor adventures, Clemson promises not only an exciting visit but also a fruitful and meaningful one.

You can experience outdoor adventures or enjoy a quiet moment with nature.

Plan your trip today and discover the best things to do in Clemson, South Carolina!

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