Lake Life Gets Better and Better

Sparkling Lake Greenwood is the crown jewel of life in Greenwood County.

  • Publication date March 30, 2021
  • Categories Outdoors
Now more than ever, Lake Greenwood attracts residents and visitors alike to its beauty, fun,  adventure—and fish. Meet Gwen Gunnells, a champion of the careful development and preservation of this liquid blue treasure.

Gwen Gunnells and her husband, Barney, co-owners of Gunnells Marine Unlimited, both grew up on Lake Greenwood, enjoying everything the lake had to offer.

Visitors today enjoy many of the same activities on the lake that Gwen and Barney grew up with, and there are new options for even more water fun, like wakeboarding, wake surfing and jetskiing. Gwen has been a leading proponent of creating more ways to enjoy the beauty of Lake Greenwood.

Always Something to Do

The development of the Blueway, a 34-mile trail for paddling, has brought kayakers, canoers and other water lovers to the area. Kiosks and signage on the Blueway increase paddlers’ knowledge of their environment. A paddler can do short or long routes. Connect Lake Greenwood has several Paddle Runs each year that start at the Buzzard Roost Dam and go to various drop-off points for pickup.

Connect Lake Greenwood partnered with Lake Greenwood State Park to build a three-mile walk and bike trail for those who prefer a view from the land. Several sandy beaches provide great places for volleyball and swimming, while a Jungle Float and boat rentals at Skippers, an ice cream boat, a reminder of the neighborhood ice cream truck, all add to the fun and variety. A “Wüber” (water Uber) provides both customized and prepackaged lake cruises, as well as transportation to the restaurants along the lake.

Moon Landing is a popular RV spot with family activities and a pavilion for church services and other events. A new Class A motorcoach community is now on the Laurens County side of the lake for motorhomes.

In addition to traditional water activities and live music at nearby restaurants, the July 4th fireworks at FellowshipCamp and Conference Center (July 3 this year) is an unforgettable experience. More than 500 boats gather to watch the fireworks show, one of the largest in South Carolina.

Take a Break for Taste

Restaurants on the lake give visitors plenty of choices for food and fun.

Break on the Lake may be the most popular waterfront dining venue, but it’s only the beginning. Harris Landing is an older venue with live music and great burgers and other casual food. Woody’s NY Pizza at 72 Bridge on the Laurens side of the lake is a favorite for pizza, subs and more. Lee’s BBQ has an extensive takeout menu that includes their renowned banana pudding. Seasons by the Lake on the lower end of the lake boasts a well-known chef and specialty food. Skippers Landing also provides great food and atmosphere for lake goers.

Lakeside drinks are a popular way to relax at area restaurants.

Drop a Line

Water quality is crucial to the lake’s users, including the fishermen who flock there for catfish, bass, and crappie. There’s a good reason that Bass Fishing Hall of Famer Davey Hite calls Greenwood County home—the fishing is great.  

“We have multiple tournaments every week, as well as night tournaments,” Gwen says. More than pro fishing tournaments, the lake hosted one of the largest high school state tournaments. High school and collegiate tournaments have grown exponentially in the last five years. In fact, high school tournaments in South Carolina have grown so fast that they have to limit entries. 

Gunnells Marine helps sponsor and both fishing and water ski teams from Lander University, Greenwood and Ninety Six High Schools to help promote water sports and local educational opportunities. Gwen gives credit to a dear friend and pro skier, water skier Hall of Famer, and world record holder, Jeff Rodgers, for starting and assisting the Ninety Six Fishing Team and providing guidance, a boat, and a place to ski for the Lander Ski Team. Greenwood is known for giving back and supporting their town.

Barney and Gwen Gunnells enjoy boating on Lake Greenwood.

Preserve the Future

In addition to Gunnells Marine, Gwen works hard to preserve and promote the lake. She serves on both the Master Plan Board and Connect Lake Greenwood, working on capacity studies, beautification projects and lighting. They’ve helped create no-wake and slow zones in addition to trail projects. “I’ve been on Connect since it started. It’s nice to see the number of people who are interested in keeping the lake peaceful and beautiful.”

The Master Plan Board helps maintain a  healthy and safe lake environment with water testing, sediment control, especially for new construction projects, and capacity studies to keep the lake from becoming overcrowded. Plans include another public park, more public space, at least one more ramp for day transporters and larger fishing tournaments. 

Docks and trails hug the shores of Lake Greenwood.

Find a Shady Spot

When it’s time to get out of the sun, Greenwood has plenty of fun places to entertain the whole family, from Uptown shops to historic sites like the Benjamin Mays Historic Site or the Revolutionary War fort and trails at Ninety Six National Historic Site.

If you’re looking for an easy way to spend an afternoon, Emerald Farm is a green oasis with herb gardens, blooming flowers, furry friends to meet and pet and peacocks to admire. This working dairy farm offers group or individual tours, and miniature antique train rides on Saturdays. Visit the shops for goat milk soaps, herbal products, train hobby supplies, health foods and even antiques.

When the sun goes down, take the family to an old-fashioned dinner and a movie at the 25 Drive In Movie Theater. Stay in your car or bring your lawn chairs and blankets so you can get comfy watching the first-run double features and snacking on their popular pub food menu, from ribeye sandwiches to hot dogs.

Things to Love About Greenwood

“It’s the perfect size town with an awesome lake, lots of daily activities, plenty of good restaurants. It’s a fun place to live,” Gwen says. 

As the options for fun grow on the lake, the county’s industrial base is growing, creating a more versatile economy. Still, it retains the small town atmosphere. “Greenwood is not overpopulated and crowded, but still small enough that people mostly know each other.”

Ultimately, life on Lake Greenwood has so many rewards. “When I go home in the afternoon,” Gwen says, “everything goes away because the water is such a peaceful place.”

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