Lake Murray: One of the Best Lakes to Live on in South Carolina

Lake Murray at Sunset in South Carolina

Photo Credit Pete Salter

When you’re building your dream home, location has to be the first consideration. Maybe you are thinking of moving South for the mild winters, the great property tax rates, or for the best school districts to give your kids every opportunity to excel. But you want more than that. You also want a gorgeous view and plenty to do.

The Midlands of South Carolina attracts people from all over America (and the world) because there are so many great reasons to live here.

We are just 2 hours from the beach or the mountains. You can be close to Columbia, SC, a mid-sized city with amazing restaurants, culture, nightlife, a nationally top-ranked zoo, a sizzling restaurant scene, museums, parks, the University of South Carolina (with 32,000 undergraduate students), and abundant career and business opportunities.

This is a great place to raise a family. It’s also a wonderful place to build a new life as a young professional or to retire and enjoy your golden years.

Here in central South Carolina, there are plenty of beautiful neighborhoods with resort-style luxury amenities and family-friendly designs. But you can also find secluded, rural properties if you’d prefer to be out in the country far from your closest neighbors’ house. So whether you’re a city person or a country person, you can feel at home here.

Why Build Your Home on a Waterfront?

There is just something magical about living on the water. People all over the world flock to places that offer stunning beauty — and for most of us, water is just about the most beautiful thing we can imagine.

Looking out of your living space or sitting on your back porch soaking in a beautiful view brings peace to the soul and joy to the heart.

Of course you can live at the beach. But that is not everyone’s cup of tea with the high prices, expensive homeowners’ insurance, crazy summer traffic, and elevated risks of hurricanes.

Or you could live on a lovely pond, river, or creek. Any body of water paired with a beautiful waterfront home design to make the most of your view can be a winner for your dream home.

However, if you want to live on the water and enjoy the most beautiful views, a lake may just be your favorite place to build a home on the water.

Why should a waterfront home in SC be at the top of your list? With all the lakes to choose from, how can you decide between all the lakes in South Carolina?

We’d like to share the reasons we believe Lake Murray is the ideal place to build your dream waterfront home in SC. (Quite honestly, we believe Lake Murray is one of the best lakes in the US for living or visiting for vacation.)

New Homes in Lexington, SC on Lake Murray

Why Live in a Lake Home on Lake Murray, SC?

Lake Murray is the largest lake in central South Carolina with world-class fishing, boating, and plenty of fun activities for the entire family. Boasting 650 miles of shoreline and plenty of peninsulas and coves, it is an ideal setting for building a luxury home.

A lakefront home in SC may be just the paradise you are looking for.

Our top 10 reasons why lake living in South Carolina is better at Lake Murray.

  1. Be close to culture and civilization or far from town (depending on which side of the lake you live on).
  2. Lexington, Ballentine, and Chapin (all towns on Lake Murray) have some of the best school districts in the state of SC.
  3. Opt for a cozy cove or wide water.
  4. Average effective property taxes in SC are quite reasonable at a rate of about 0.55% compared to the national average of 1.07%. (In Lexington County, you may expect an average county property tax rate of 0.56% rate in 2021.)
  5. Winters are typically mild here compared to many of our sister states north of us. And because we are at a lower elevation than Greenville, SC, we rarely have snow and usually don’t dip much below 30 degrees for long.
  6. Many luxury lake-access neighborhoods have resort-type amenities, parks, swimming pools, hiking trails, green spaces, and friendly Southern hospitality.
  7. Enjoy world-class golf courses and country clubs on Lake Murray and nearby.
  8. Explore 90 miles of riverways nearby for tubing, boating, and fishing. Or check out our local river walks to stroll or jog beside our scenic rivers.
  9. Visit our amazing local parks and trails for more outdoor recreation opportunities with one of the best being Saluda Shoals Park close to Lake Murray Dam.
  10. Because Lake Murray is a man-made lake and has a hydroelectric dam (although the plant is no longer running), it is at lower risk of flooding than most natural lakes. When the lake level gets too high, the electric company can let extra water flow into the Saluda River to prevent flooding around the large lake.

Lake Murray penninsula - new home

Photo Credit Pete Salter

Best Places to Live on Lake Murray, SC

Homes on Lake Murray are some of the most scenic and popular luxury homes in South Carolina. Here are our favorite picks for the ultimate in lake living in SC.


Ballentine, SC is a small, quiet town on Lake Murray between Chapin and the larger town of Irmo. It has been known for its wonderful lake life for generations. Here, you’ll find many of Lake Murray’s best coves and inlets, perfect for fishing, boating, and relaxing.

The schools are great and you have easy access to the hustle and bustle of downtown Columbia just 20 minutes away down the interstate but you can find your own secluded piece of paradise where you can commune with nature.


Chapin is a growing suburban area with a charming town center and many new shops. Homes in Chapin, SC sell quickly. The schools are phenomenal. The crime rate has historically been quite low. You can live right on Lake Murray or in a gated community with lake access.

Here, you’ve got your choice of waterfront and country homes and lots on which to build your own waterfront home plans. There are also plenty of resort-style neighborhoods and upscale restaurants in the area to enjoy.


New construction homes in Lexington, SC are booming as Lexington County has one of the fastest growth rates in the state of South Carolina, as well as in the Southeast, in general.

Lexington schools continually rank at the very top academically and in many sports across the state. You don’t have to choose between a top-notch education for your kids and the location of your dreams. Here, you can have it all. Fantastic career opportunities, a short commute to downtown Columbia, shopping, fine restaurants, and as much outdoor adventure and recreation as you can imagine.

The towers at Lake Murray Dam

Why Lake Murray Is One of the Best Lakes in South Carolina

Lake Murray is a large man-made lake that provides hydroelectric power. (That’s what the iconic five towers near the dam are for.) From the dam, you can see a panoramic view of downtown Columbia, the Saluda River, and a wide water view of Lake Murray.

The sun rises over downtown in a glorious display every morning. And it sets dramatically over the lake every night.

Beautiful lake views

Sunrises and sunsets are just the beginning of the breathtaking beauty awaiting you if you choose to build a new home along the shores of Lake Murray. Enjoy the peaceful water, or on blustery days, the whitecaps rolling to and fro.

Watch the sailboats, pontoon boats, and rowboats on the water. See people fishing, swimming, and skiing. Depending on your vantage point, you may be able to people-watch all day.

The area is full of wildlife including many types of songbirds, deer, turtles, fish, beavers, squirrels, and more.

The towers at Lake Murray Dam

Great fishing

Lake Murray fishing is some of the best in the Midlands of South Carolina. That’s why there are large bass fishing tournaments here in October every year.

Fish available in Lake Murray include striped bass, largemouth bass, catfish, bluegill, and more.

If you decide to live in a waterfront home on Lake Murray, design your own dock and fishing piers. Get your own fishing boat and go anytime from the comfort of your own home without having to haul your boat on a trailer and wait in line at a boat ramp.

Lake Murray, SC fishing draws thousands of people for the beauty of the scenery and the fruitful fishing experiences available here. The Department of Natural Resources has 24 fish attractor sites all around the lake that you can find here.

Anyone over 16 years of age needs a valid SC Fishing license to fish at Lake Murray. Licenses are available at local tackle shops and online.

The beautiful parks at Lake Murray

Dreher Island State Park

is one of the most popular vacation spots for people to stay in cabins or camp in tents or just to visit during the day. It offers:

  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Golfing
  • Some of the best striped and large-mouth bass fishing spots

Lake Murray Dam Park Sites/Walkway (owned by Dominion energy) is a wonderful public place to walk or jog to catch one of the most spectacular views in South Carolina.

Park on the Lexington side of the Dreher Shoals Dam near Hwy 6 to enjoy the public “œbeach” access to Lake Murray or to walk 1.7 miles (one way) across the entire earthen dam where you can see a wide view of Lake Murray on one side and downtown Columbia 11 miles away on the other side.

Or park on the Irmo side of the dam to access the public boat launch, picnic areas, restrooms, fishing docks, or the dam walkway.

Waterfront restaurants on Lake Murray

Interested in discovering the best restaurants on Lake Murray? Some of these even have docks so you can go by boat straight from your lake home to the restaurant on the water.

Catfish Johnny’s

Come on in for a great time of food, fun, and live entertainment at this seasonal restaurant. Check out the events available in the spring and summer on their Facebook page. 

Spirit of Lake Murray

The Spirit of Lake Murray provides tours of Lake Murray and dinner cruises. It can hold up to 134 passengers and is a wonderful venue for reunions, birthday parties, weddings, or business meetings.

Liberty on the Lake

This is a taproom and grill that serves delicious American cuisine paired with signature Liberty Ales, draft beer, and craft brews. Check out their menu here.

Rusty Anchor

This seasonal lakefront restaurant boasts a beautiful water view and plenty of delicious American fare.

Tour boats

Book a tour boat for a personal tour of Lake Murray with your group.

With Lake Murray Boat Tour Company, you can choose from sunset tours all year round, ghost tours in the fall, lake history tours in the afternoons, and more.

At Lake Murray Adventures, enjoy a private pontoon sightseeing tour, purple martin tours, history tours, nature tours, sunset cruises, and island hiking tours at a private island.

Or climb aboard The Osprey Tour Boat and Party Barge for sightseeing adventures, history tours, sunset cruises, purple martin tours, and a chance to explore some of the amazing islands on Lake Murray.

If you are here in the summer, don’t forget to take a public cruise to see the Purple Martins who gather from early June through the end of August each year on Bomb Island in the center of Lake Murray.

A young man kayaking on Lake Murray, SC - Photo Credit Pete Salter

Photo Credit Pete Salter

Water sports

Lake Murray water sports include almost everything you can imagine like swimming, jet skiing, water skiing, boating, paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and more.

If you have your own custom lake home on Lake Murray, buy your own lake toys to enjoy the water with family and friends.

Or there are plenty of places around the lake where you can rent jet skis, boats, and other equipment if you’d rather let someone else store and maintain the toys.

Here are a few boat and jet ski rental places on Lake Murray:

Fireworks at Lake Murray – 4th of July

Every fourth of July, enjoy South Carolina’s largest fireworks display over the lake. Earlier in the day at Bomb Island, there is a patriotic boat parade. Then spectators can watch the incredible fireworks at two locations: Spence Island and Dreher Island from boats, from their lakeside homes, or the Lake Murray Dam.

The fireworks coordinate with a patriotic concert aired on iHeart Radio on 97.5FM WCOS.

Lake Murray’s Christmas Light Boat Parade – Early December

Find a spectacular nighttime parade on the water at Lake Murray and enjoy seeing beautifully decorated boats overflowing with Christmas lights.

Drone view of a kayaker on Lake Murray, SC - Photo Credit Pete Salter

Photo Credit Pete Salter

Where Is Lake Murray, SC?

Lake Murray is located about 11-15 miles northwest of Columbia SC, which is in the very center of the state of South Carolina.

From the dam, it takes about 20 minutes to get downtown from the lake.

Ready to Build a Custom Waterfront Home in Lexington, SC?

Blythe Building Company is one of the top custom home builders in South Carolina with over 100 custom homes built in the Midlands of SC.

We can build on your land and you can use your own plans or architect or we have lakefront home plans you can choose from and customize to create the perfect home with a stunning lake view for your family.

Recently, we built luxury homes at Lake Murray and Lake Carolina with dual master suites or in-law apartments for multi-generational living. Maybe your whole family would love to dive into the best lake living in South Carolina.


Why Does Everyone Want to Live in Lexington, SC?

The Top 10 Things to Do Around Lexington, SC

Moving to South Carolina — What to Expect with Weather

Build on Your Own Lot in Lexington, SC


Lake Murray Souvenir Shop at Lake Murray Country

Wingard’s Market – Lake Murray Gift Headquarters

Redbubble – Lake Murray gifts