Located in the Piedmont of South Carolina, this 7500-acre, man-made lake is a paradise if you love to take a boat out and do some freshwater fishing or just let yourself drift and watch the sunset. These Lake Jocassee vacation rentals are the best vacation rentals that offer nearby waterfalls, white water rafting, and kayaking on the river. You can even climb the waterfalls if you’re game. Hike, ride your bike, or a picnic at the Devil’s Fork State Park or the Jocassee Gorges Wilderness Area. Parts of the Wilderness Area are actual rain forests, which is rare for this part of the world. Since Lake Jocassee is in the northern part of the state, autumn nights get cool enough to produce spectacular fall foliage. You might also get a glimpse of rare flora and fauna, including rare types of goldenrod, blue darter fish, and green salamanders.

1. Pickens, South Carolina

Rentals in Pickens range from condos with sleeping porches that keep you cool in the heat of summer to cabins with bedrooms that open up to decks that give you fantastic views. Venture from your vacation rental to visit such places as Table Rock State Park or the ancient petroglyphs at the Hagood Creek Petroglyph Site. The whole family can ride their bikes or simply walk the Doodle Trail, and you can enjoy the sights and sounds of the many local waterfalls on horseback. Take a break from your activities, and enjoy a seafood buffet lunch at Aunt Sue’s Country Corner, one of the most rustic restaurants you’ll see.

2. Walhalla, South Carolina

About 40 miles south of Lake Jocassee, Walhalla is home to the beautiful Issaqueena Falls and the Stumphouse Mountain Tunnel. The latter is worth visiting on hot days, as walking through the tunnel keeps you cool. Bring a flashlight and a bag lunch, and wear clothes you don’t mind getting wet since there’s a waterfall in the tunnel. For a less physically challenging visit, head to Sweet Retreat for mini-golf, arcade games, and fantastic ice cream.

3. Seneca, South Carolina

Bring the kids to World of Energy Museum in the lovely town of Seneca, then relax at South Cove Country Park, which is dog-friendly and has a beach on the lake. The town is right on Lake Keowee, so charter a boat, and take a fishing tour to catch some impressively large bass, which your tour guide might prepare for you to take home. Vacation rentals can be surprisingly sumptuous houses perched on the lake with spectacular mountain views.

4. Clemson, South Carolina

Home of the beloved Tigers, Clemson is a vibrant college town. Join in the celebrations of Clemson University’s athletics, including the homecoming, Tigerama, the welcome back festival, and the first Friday parade. Catch a game at one of the stadiums or fields found on campus. The University also manages the Clemson Experimental Forest, which has mountain biking and easy, dog-friendly trails. Places to eat include 1826 Bistro in the lovely, antebellum Farmers Hall and 356 Sushi & Martini Bar.

5. Central, South Carolina

This big town/small city got its name because it’s midway between Atlanta and Charlotte. It’s so close to Clemson that they sort of merge into each other. Central is also home to Southern Wesleyan University, which holds Fine Arts Series that features both classical music and jazz. Go to Central Station Cafe for your morning cup of coffee, then, later on, pop across the street to Dakota’s Courtyard Sports Grille for some pub food.

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6. Easley, South Carolina

Easley’s Southern Oaks Golf Course draws the duffers in your family, while theater lovers are impressed by the Foothills Playhouse on South 5th Street. Let the kids bust some wild moves at the Skate Park, and afterward, if they’re not too bruised, head to The Smokin Pig for ribs or Inky’s Authentic Philadelphia Cheesesteak.

7. Greenville, South Carolina

As a big city, Greenville provides all kinds of vacation rentals, from condos to tiny cottages. Some are within walking distance of downtown. Take the family to the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail for hiking or biking. The Peace Center is a thoroughly modern theater where you can enjoy Broadway plays and other performances.

8. Rosman, North Carolina

Right over the border in North Carolina, Rosman is the home of the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute, which the kids will love. Go early, because there’s a lot to see and learn here. If you thought snorkeling was only for the sea, go to the French Broad River and join a snorkeling tour. You might see more diverse plants, animals, and habitats than you would off the coast of Florida.

9. Highlands, North Carolina

This town is in the Pisgah National Forest, which is abundant in beautiful, cooling waterfalls, including Dry Falls, Cullasaja Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. If you like art, visit The Bascom, a gallery that showcases local artists. You and the kids may even get a chance to see the artists at work. Don’t miss the Jackson Hole Gem Mine, where you get a bucket and dig for gemstones. Afterward, shower off and dress up for fine dining at Ristorante Paoletti or Wolfgang’s, or just head down to the Sports Page Sandwich Shop.

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