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Clemson (and Pickens County)

Clemson and Pickens County

Follow the orange paw prints to Clemson University. This top research university in Pickens County combines tradition with academic excellence in a small-town atmosphere. The university is ranked first among colleges where “Town-Gown Relations are Great” and seventh where the “Happiest Students” reside, according to Princeton Review.

Clemson University was classified as one of the nation’s most active research institutions. Carnegie R1 Research Universities are economic engines that create prosperity in entire regions, and their national and international reputations add significant value to the degrees they award.

Clemson University is also one of 18 institutions designated as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University for engaging communities in economic development activities that create jobs and improve lives by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

These students and their families have access to the great outdoors, the best of college sports, and the best of performance arts. Catch a Tigers game or a play at Clemson’s Brooks Theater for Performing Arts, visit the South Carolina Botanical Garden or take a hike to one of more than 20 waterfalls in the area.

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U.S. News & World Report
  • Food Scene
  • Arts + Culture
  • Outdoor Activities
  • Business Climate
  • Education

Food Scene

Thanks to a blend of regional flavors, Clemson and Pickens County are hotspots for hidden gem eateries. A staple in a Clemson University foodie’s diet is likely to include the mouth-watering ice cream from ’55 Exchange, the student-run enterprise that manufactures, sells and serves Clemson’s world famous ice cream. Or maybe you want to indulge in a Southern delicacy? Don’t worry, your taste buds can decide which restaurant truly boasts the best fried green tomatoes. Craving a slice of pizza? Don’t miss dollar slice night at Todaro’s Pizza in downtown Clemson. The Esso Club is an absolute must on game day. Upscale dining experiences are plentiful as well, including Rick Erwin’s in Clemson’s Patrick Square.

Apart from the traditional dining setting, coffee shops and bistros are plentiful, adding to the region’s communal atmosphere. Love home brewed coffee? Check out Jitters Brewing Company. Prefer a cup of tea? The Table Rock Tea Company has Uniquely American Tea® for you. Upstate South Carolina’s booming agritourism industry means the area is home to numerous farmers markets. The city of Central, ClemsonEasleyPendleton, and town of Six Mile each host their own seasonal farmers markets, featuring fresh local produce, homemade food items and more.

Arts + Culture

Pickens County’s arts and cultural scene offers a handful of festivals, galleries, events and other fun experiences. Take an art class at the Arts Center of Clemson, view historic fine crafts at the Pickens County Museum of Art and History, or stand in architectural awe at the Hagood-Mauldin House — the choice is yours! You can also catch a play at the Brooks Center for Performing Arts in Clemson or Pickens County Performing Arts Center in Liberty. Are you a self-proclaimed history buff? Pickens’s historical attractions include Hagood Mill, which offers events and educational opportunities surrounding Appalachian Heritage and Native American history. Clemson’s rich history also offers several museums and cultural exhibits packed with historic information.

Here are just a few other noteworthy attractions:

Outdoor Activities

As the No. 2 best county for outdoor activities in South Carolina, according to Niche, Pickens County’s outdoor scene is nothing short of breathtaking. From hiking to picnicking to biking, Pickens County offers the full outdoor package. Thanks to its mild climate, the county’s outdoor areas and parks are accessible year-round and draw outdoor adventurers from all over.

If you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a scenic biking path, check out the Green Crescent Trail or Doodle Trail. Both trails are continuing to expand and connect the upcountry, so there is always something new to explore!

Among the most notable attractions is Table Rock State Park, which was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and features an old-fashioned swimming hole on one of the park’s two lakes. The park also contains historic elements including several cabins and structures that are on the National Register of Historic Places. With the park’s 3,083 acres open for exploration, Pickens County is a hotspot for outdoor activities.

Keowee-Toxaway State Park is another attractive spot for outdoor-seekers. This 1,000-acre park gives you the opportunity to enjoy beautiful views of the Blue Ridge mountains or challenge yourself with a strenuous hike. You can also enjoy the outdoors without leaving the car, thanks to the Jocassee Gorges Scenic Driving Tour that begins in Pickens County and crosses into neighboring North Carolina.

Looking for a little more adventure? Mile Creek County Park is located on beautiful Lake Keowee, nestled in the foothills of Pickens County. Mile Creek Park offers 69 campsites with water and electricity on each site. You can choose from waterfront or interior sites. There are 10 lakefront cabins that include power, water, kitchen, and bathroom. Cabins have no television or internet so bring the family for a quiet and relaxing stay. Enjoy picnic areas, kayak rentals, a basketball court, a volleyball court, and boat dock for a beautiful lakeside getaway.

Business Climate

Home to global and industry leaders, Pickens County attracts top companies with the help of its technically-skilled workforce and business-friendly environment. With a mix of international and domestic companies representing a variety of industries, Pickens County has a dynamic and diverse business ecosystem. Pickens County’s major employers include:


While Clemson and Pickens County are home to the “No. 1 Best College in South Carolina”, according to NicheClemson University, the county has two additional top-tier higher education institutions: Tri-County Technical College, a 2-year institution, and Southern Wesleyan University, a 4-year institution.

Beyond higher education, Pickens County is home of the Scholar Technician®. The program is unique to Pickens County, as it recognizes the most skilled student in the region while raising funds for STEM equipment for the local technical high school. As a result, Pickens students are in-demand. Some of the largest manufacturers in the state now make routine recruiting visits to the Pickens County technical high school. To date, the county has seen an estimated 22% increase in students engaged in STEM competition programs and a significant increase in enrollment at the technical high school.

The School District of Pickens County has an annual enrollment of about 16,300 students and a student-teacher ratio of 17 to 1. In total, Pickens County has 14 elementary schools, five middle schools, four high schools, and a state-of-the-art Career and Technology Center. Clemson Montessori SchoolEasley Christian School and Soaring Eagles Christian Academy are among the county’s roster of private schools. Discover more about Pickens County schools below.

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