These 13+ Sandy Beaches in the Mountains Are Perfect for the Summer

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Can’t decide if you like the beach or the mountains? Have both – just alter those beach expectations a little – with these beaches fed by cool, refreshing mountain water all within two hours or less of Greenville.

I grew up near the Jersey Shore so I have a good idea of what a beach should look like. Get that version of miles and miles of sand and shore out of your head. However, be prepared to be pleasantly surprised by these small mountain beaches that do have sand and sun, just not exactly like you may be used to at the ocean.

OK, now that you’re sufficiently prepared to enjoy both the beach and the mountain, here are our best recommendations of where to grab the sand toys, beach towels, and cooler and head out for some sun and a refreshing swim for the day.

If you’re looking for lakes for fishing, boating and other water activities, try our list of Recreational Lakes in the Upstate.

Sandy Mountain Beaches Near Greenville, SC

Lake Jocassee

Where: Devils Fork State Park, 161 Holcombe Circle, Salem
Cost: $8/adults, $4/kids ages 6-15, under five are free
Bathrooms: Yes

Lake Jocassee beach is one of our favorites in the Upstate because you look out over the stunning and crystal clear lake. The view is unbeatable. Water shoes are best since you have to scramble down some rocks to get to the sandy oasis. How large the beach is will depend on the water level of the lake. If it’s around 96 or below, you’ll have a decent amount of sand. If it’s above that, you won’t. Check it before you go to prepare!

The beach at Lake Jocassee

Pinnacle Lake

Where: Table Rock State Park, 158 Ellison Lane, Pickens
Cost: $6/adults, $3.50/kids ages 6-15, under five are free
Bathrooms: Yes

This lakeside beach has a decent sized shore front with lots of sand. Get there early in the summer to make sure you are able to get into the park.

Lake Placid

Where: Paris Mountain State Park, 2401 State Park Road, Greenville
Cost: $6/adults, $3.50/kids ages 6-15, under five are free
Bathrooms: Yes

Small beach in this state park located inside Greenville County. Watch the Paris Mountain website for swim advisories as water there has been found to be contaminated in recent years.

Chau Ram County Park

Where: Oconee County, Chau Ram Park Road, Westminster
Cost: $2/car
Bathrooms: Yes

A nice little sandy beach with lots of shallow spots to swim and wade.

The beach at Chau Ram County Park
Beach at Chau Ram County Park

Twelve Mile Park Recreation Area

Where: 113 Twelve Mile Park, Clemson
Cost: $5 parking fee
Bathrooms: Yes

Pretty beach right in Clemson within the beautiful setting of Lake Hartwell. Learn all about it in our review of Twelve Mile Park .

Riley Moore Falls

Where: Sumter National Forest, Riley Moore Falls Trail, Westminster
Cost: Free
Bathrooms: No

This swimming hole and beach is accessible by a two-mile round-trip hike and people even camp there. Park near the sign that says “Riley Moore Falls” if you don’t have a 4×4 SUV or truck to get up the logging road to the trailhead. There is a good size sandy beach with views of the 50-foot wide waterfall. Lots of places to let the kids play around in the water but because so many people have littered, there is some trash around and we had to watch for glass. Water shoes were worn the whole time.

The beach at Riley Moore Falls

South Cove Park

Where: On the shores of Lake Keowee, 1031 S Cove Rd, Seneca
Cost: $2/car
Bathrooms: Yes

South Cove Park has a small sandy beach for sunbathing and playing, a great playground as well as lots of lakeside campgrounds. The park is actually a peninsula that extends into the lake.

The beach at South Cove County Beach
South Cove County Park

Lake Lure

Where: 2724 Memorial Hwy, Lake Lure, NC
Cost: $9/adults, $7/kids ages 4-12 + 45” tall, Kids four and under are free with adult
Bathrooms: Yes

Lake Lure has a huge beach for relaxing, sunning, and playing. Admission also includes access to the on-site small waterpark. Lifeguards are present at Lake Lure.

Floating in tubes at the beach at Lake Lure

Darwin Wright Park

Where: 106 Anderson Beach Boulevard, Anderson
Cost: N/A
Bathrooms: Yes

Darwin Wright Park in Anderson County has a good sized beach along the lake where you can swim. Swim at your risk since there are no lifeguards.

Lake James State Park

Where: Just outside the Linville Gorge in NC, 6883 NC-126, Nebo, NC
Cost: $5/adults, $4/kids 12 and under
Bathrooms: Yes

Large sandy beach just under two hours from Greenville with bathrooms, changing rooms, and a concession stand. The lake has a designated swimming area with lifeguards from May to September.

Mile Creek County Park

Where: On Lake Keowee, 757 Keowee Baptist Church Road, Six Mile
Cost: $5/day parking fee
Bathrooms: Yes

This great little beach is perfect for families. It’s got a playground, swimming area, bathrooms, picnic facilities, and camping. Read our review here.

The beach at Mile Creek County Park
Mile Creek County Park

Lake Powhatan

Where: In Pisgah National Forest, 375 Wesley Branch Rd, Asheville
Cost: $2/person day use fee
Bathrooms: Yes

This is a small lake and campground only 90 minutes from the Upstate with a sandy beach where lifeguards are on duty. If you’re camping or glamping there, the fee is waived.

Calhoun Falls State Park

Where: On Lake Russell, 46 Maintenance Shop Rd, Calhoun Falls, SC
Cost: $3/adults, $1/kids
Bathrooms: Yes

Small sandy beach right on Lake Russell. And there’s great camping sites here also.

The Shores of Asbury

Where: On the shores of Lake Hartwell, 1600 Asbury Park Road, Anderson
Cost: $5/parking + $10/person beach access
Parking: Yes

The Shores of Asbury is a campground that has imported sand from Florida and a huge Aqua Zone floating obstacle course that operates seasonally. Beach access is available.

High Falls Park

Where: On Lake Kewoee, 671 High Falls Road, Seneca
Cost: $2/car
Bathrooms: Yes

Right on the beautiful Lake Keowee, High Falls Park has a small sandy beach, restrooms, changing rooms, and a campground.

Sandy Creek Park

Where: Athens, GA
Cost: $2/per person
Bathrooms: Yes

Sandy Creek Park has it all: a playground, shaded picnic areas, a lake with boat rentals, 28,000 square feet of sandy beach, and trails. It’s a great spot to cool off during the summer and walk the trails during the cooler months. It’s only 15 minutes outside of downtown Athens. Hours are Tuesday – Sunday from 7 am – 8:30 pm and closed on Mondays.

Sandy Creek Park
Sandy Creek Park

Where’s your favorite sandy beach near the Upstate?

About the Author
Kristina Hernandez is a mom of two girls, freelance writer and photographer. Originally from New Jersey, she is in love with the Upstate and could not imagine raising her kids anywhere else. She enjoys hiking to waterfalls, kayaking, camping, cooking, and exploring all that Greenville has to offer. And she really loves baby goats. Follow her on Instagram at @scadventurer.

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Tisha
3 years ago

Hello,I just love the newsletter and I love Greenville I would love to move there in the future.Since I have a 10 year old son we come this way a lot. I would like to know coming from Columbia which beach would you recommend that may be the closest.? Thanks

Danielle E.
3 months ago

Fellow Jersey Shore girl here and this is the article I’ve been waiting for! I love how you distinguished this is not the miles and miles of sand you might be expecting. Beach is used very liberally here and if you don’t clarify, it’s just disappointing! Thank you!