Spend an Amazing Day at These Recreational Lakes Near Greenville

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If playing in the lake during the hottest months is your idea of summer family fun, then look no further. 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.

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!

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

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 Greenville, SC: Under 30 Minutes Away

Paris Mountain State Park lakes near Greenville

Lake Placid in Paris Mountain State Park

2401 State Park Road, Greenville
Swimming, fishing, and boating
This 8-acre lake close to downtown prohibits private boats but rents canoes, kayaks, and pedal boats. A sandy beach lures swimmers. Want more information on what you can do at Paris Mountain State Park?

Check out our review from a local mom.

Saluda Lake

605 Motor Boat Club Road, Greenville
Fishing and boating
A 331-acre reservoir where you can paddleboard, kayak, canoe.

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.

Check out Maria’s review of Lake Robinson.

Lakes Near Greenville, SC: Under 1 Hour Away

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.

Check out Melanie’s review of Lake Cooley.

Lake Cooley in Spartanburg County

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 beach, high-dive board, and low-dive board.

Check out this review of Table Rock from a local mom.

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.

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 allowed and boat motors are limited to 15 HP.

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!

Read what Kristina thought about Lake Jocassee.

Lake Jocassee in Devils Fork State Park

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.

Read About Melanie’s Trip to Lake Bowen.

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!

See what Maria thought about Croft State Park.

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 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.

Read what a local mom thought of Oconee State Park.

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

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.

Here’s our Kidding Around Review of Lake Murray.

Lake Murray Park beach
Lake Murray

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.

Kidding Around Team Members
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
4 years ago

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

4 years ago

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