Spend an Amazing Day at These Recreational Lakes in Greenville, SC, and the Upstate

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Are you wanting to explore the lakes in Greenville, SC? If you have been searching for “lakes near me” and can never figure out the best fit for your day trip, we have you covered! Playing in the lake during the hottest months is a wonderful idea for summer family fun.

This list will give you the low-down on tons of recreational lakes only a short drive away. Whether you want to take the kiddos for a swim, teach them how to fish, pull them along for a thrilling knee-boarding excursion, rent a kayak, or spend the weekend camping lakeside, read on.

Recreational lakes near Greenville, South Carolina

We have compiled the best list of recreational lakes in the Upstate for swimming, fishing, boating, or camping. The only thing you’ve got to do is gather your troops and decide which one to try next!

Swimming note: Swimming at most area lakes is swim-at-your-own risk. Adults must always determine if the area is safe for their party and watch children.

Fishing note:
All lakes require a valid South Carolina fishing license and some other requirements may apply. See the lake management website for details.

Boating note:
Some lakes require special boating permits. See the lake management website for details.

Lakes Near Me: Lakes in Greenville, SC

Child looking at the water at Lake Placid in Paris Mountain State Park.
Paris Mountain State Park

Lake Placid in Paris Mountain State Park

2401 State Park Road, Greenville
Swimming, fishing, and boating
This smaller lake, 8 acres, is close to downtown and prohibits private boats but rents canoes, kayaks, and pedal boats. There are also several hiking trails and a small beach area. The sandy beach lures swimmers. Want more information on what you can do at Paris Mountain State Park?

Saluda Lake

605 Motor Boat Club Road, Greenville
Fishing and boating
A 331-acre reservoir where you can paddleboard, kayak, canoe. You can find a boat ramp here.

Lake Cunningham & Lake Robinson

Greer
Fishing and boating
These 200-acre and 800-acre lakes (respectively) are home to bass, crappie, and catfish. They both include a boat ramp, picnic shelters, and a fishing pier. No swimming allowed.

KA review of Lake Robinson in Greer, SC

Review of Lake Robinson in Greer, South Carolina

Public Lake Access Near Me: Less Than 1 hour from Greenville, SC

Lake Cooley

100 Cooley Dock Road, Inman
Fishing and boating
A 330-acre reservoir home to bass, bream, crappie, and catfish offering a fishing pier and a boat ramp. Motors are limited to pontoon 30 HP and/or below. You can rent kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards at the Lake Cooley Outdoor Education Center.

Kayaks docked on the shore at Lake Cooley in Spartanburg, South Carolina

KA review of Lake Cooley in Spartanburg, SC

Pinnacle Lake and Lake Oolenoy
in Table Rock State Park

158 Ellison Lane, Pickens
Swimming, fishing, and boating
A 36-Acre lake and a 67-acre lake (respectively) with a boat ramp on Lake Oolenoy. No gas motors allowed. Electric trolling motors and paddle-powered boats are permitted. Canoes, kayaks, and pedal boats are available for rental on Pinnacle Lake which also boasts a sandy swimming beach and the swimming area is perfect for small children. There is also several picnic areas, so pack for lunch! This is a great day trip.

Broadway Lake

Between US 76 and SC 28, Anderson
Fishing and boating
This 300-acre lake is home to bass, crappie, bream, and catfish. A public boat ramp provides access.

Lake Hartwell

19138-A Hwy 11 S, Fair Play
Swimming, fishing, boating, and camping
This 56,000-acre lake includes campgrounds and many boat ramps. Known for its largemouth bass, crappie, bream, stripers, hybrid bass, and catfish.
Head to the state park for a 140-ft fishing pier, two boat ramps, and a courtesy dock. The state park also offers over 100 sites, including cabins, RV and tent sites, walk-ups available.

Twelve Mile Recreation Area at Lake Hartwell in South Carolina

For more swimming and boating, check out the popular day-use facility at Twelve Mile Recreation Area – offering a boat ramp, playground, and sandy beach.

Keowee-Toxaway State Park

108 Residence Drive, Sunset
Swimming, fishing, boating, and camping
This 18,500-acre mountain lake offers it all. Along with motorized boat access not far from the park, a half-mile trail provides lake access to fish for bass, bream, crappie, and catfish. Swimming is at your own risk and there is no designated swimming area. Over 24 campsites are available nearby.

For more fun on Lake Keowee, don’t miss South Cove County Park! You’ll find a sandy beach, playground, fishing pier, 3 boat ramps, picnic space, and more!

The beach at South Cove County Beach

Boyd Millpond

Boyd’s Mill Pond Road, Ware Shoals
Fishing and boating
A 184-acre lake where you can drop a line for catfish and bass. Small boats with under 15 HP or canoes/kayaks are welcome here. Travel up the lake and into the Reedy River!

Lake Thicketty

Cowpens
Fishing and boating
This 100-acre lake is home to bass, bluegill, shellcracker, and catfish. A public boat ramp provides access.

Lake Rabon

Laurens
Fishing and boating
This 540-acre lake offers a double boat ramp and fishing pier. No swimming is allowed and boat motors are limited to 15 HP.

Lake Jocassee
Lake Jocassee

Lake Jocassee at Devils Fork State Park

Salem
Swimming, fishing, boating, and camping
A sandy beach welcomes swimmers to this pristine 9,000-acre waterfall-fed mountain lake. Touted as the only lake in South Carolina offering both trophy trout and smallmouth bass, Jocassee is a hotspot for brown trout, rainbow trout, white bass, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, and black crappie. Three boat ramps provide access for private boats. Rentals of canoes, kayaks, SUPS, and pontoons are also available. Two campgrounds offer plenty of sites, including boat-in sites!

Jumping in the water at Lake Jocassee

KA review of Lake Jocassee in Oconee County, South Carolina

Lake Bowen

8515 Highway 9, Inman
Fishing and boating
A sizeable 1,534-acre reservoir with two boat ramps, 33 miles of shoreline, and a fishing pier. Come looking for bass, crappie, and catfish.

KA review of Lake Bowen in Spartanburg, SC

Lakeview bench and park  at Lake Bowen in Spartanburg, South Carolina

Lake Craig in Croft State Park

450 State Park Cross Road, Spartanburg
Fishing, boating, and camping
Fish for bass, crappie, catfish, and bream in this 150-acre lake. Private boats may enter at the ramp but are limited to electric trolling motors or paddle boats. Fishing boats, canoes, and kayaks are available for rental. Enjoy camping lakeside at this great park!

Croft State Park in Spartanburg, SC

Learn more about Croft State Park in our KA review

Lake Whelchel

Gaffney
Fishing and boating
This 150-acre lake includes a fishing pier and boat ramp. Fish for bass, bream, crappie, and catfish.

Lake Secession

Iva
Fishing and boating
Acclaimed for its crappie fishing, this 1,450-acre lake is also popular for bass, catfish, and bream. A boat ramp provides public access.

Lakes Near Me: Under 2 Hours Away

Oconee State Park

624 State Park Road, Mountain Rest
Swimming, fishing, boating, and camping
Oconee State Park offers a swimming area and dive dock on two small lakes. Fishing catches include bass, bream, catfish, and trout in the winter months. Private boats such as canoes, kayaks, and jon boats are permitted. Camp at the lake with over 140 sites available.

Learn more about the things to do at Oconee State Park.

oconee state park things to do include minigolf

Lake Greenwood

302 State Park Road, Ninety Six
Swimming, fishing, boating, and camping
While there is not a designated swimming area, swimming is permitted at Lake Greenwood. Fish from your boat or from the pier for bass, crappie, bream, perch, catfish, or stripers. This 11,400-acre lake in the Midlands also offers excellent boating opportunities with two boat ramps. The state park has over 100 campsites available near the shoreline.

Lake Russell

Calhoun Falls
Swimming, fishing, boating, and camping
With around 10,000 acres of water to play in, this lake has it all. Twenty-one recreation areas and sixteen boat ramps offer ample opportunity to swim, boat, camp, fish for large-mouth bass, and much, much more!

Lake Murray Park beach near Columbia, South Carolina
Lake Murray

Lake Murray

Columbia
Swimming, fishing, boating, and camping
Lake Murray: This 50,000-acre lake offers all the recreation options! Swim at your own risk, fish for largemouth, stripers, catfish, bream, crappie and yellow perch, or put your boat in at one of the ramps. Dreher Island State Park’s campground stretches across several islands and provides campers with shoreline views.

Lake Monticello

Columbia
Swimming, fishing, and boating
This 7,000-acre lake has a sizeable sub-impoundment area that was designed for fishing, boating, and swimming!

Lake Wylie

4490 Boat Shore Road, Rock Hill
Swimming, fishing, boating, and camping
This 12,455-acre lake borders North and South Carolina and is a hot-spot for summer water sports, swimming, fishing, and camping!

Large Lakes in Upstate, SC: Over 2 Hours Away From Greenville, SC

Lake Wateree

881 State Park Road, Winnsboro
Swimming, fishing, boating, and camping
This 13,800-acre lake is on the shallower side but still offers plenty of lakeside camping, swimming, and all the water sports.

Lake Thurmond

510 Clarks Hill Highway, Clarks Hill
Swimming, fishing, boating, and camping
At 70,000 acres, Lake Thurmond boasts three South Carolina State Parks, boat ramps, campgrounds, and public access areas galore. It’s all here.

Santee Cooper Lakes (Marion and Moultrie)

Santee
Swimming, fishing, boating, and camping
These giant lakes (110,000 acres and 60,000 acres respectively) offer it all! Swim, fish, boat, camp, or rent a cabin or lake house to create family memories!

Which lakes have made it to your list? See you out there soon!

This article was originally written by Jackie Vest and has been updated by the Kidding Around Team.

List of sandy mountain beaches near Greenville, South Carolina.

If you’re looking for a lake with a sandy beach and a place to swim, do not miss our list of Lakes with Sandy Beaches.


If you love to kayak, we have a list of the best lakes for kayaking and paddleboarding in the Upstate!

Great places to go kayaking near Greenville, South Carolina

parks with swings
About the Author
How does Kidding Around® bring readers high-quality and up-to-date content month after month and season after season? We have a dedicated team of writers and editors who regularly update our fabulous content to keep it current and relevant for our readers. This team combs lists of events, heads out into the community to experience new Upstate offerings, and communicates with local businesses. Many of our updated articles and event lists, like this one, reflect the contributions and hard work of multiple Kidding Around® team members.

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Melanie
5 years ago

Wow Jackie ! What an awesome resource for us to use! Thank you so much for putting this list together!

Melanie
5 years ago

Wow what an awesome resource! Thank you for putting together this list!