Why I Love Living on Lake Murray in SC

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Today I thought you may enjoy learning why I love where we live while getting a glimpse at town in the country that you may have never been or even known is on the map.


I live in one of those towns that no one has ever heard of.

As many of you know, four years ago, Ed and I decided we wanted to downsize, live on a body of water and enjoy a simpler life. We went in search of a lake or river on which to live.

After a search along the eastern seaboard states, we found out about Lake Murray from friends of ours. After our initial visit, we knew it was where we wanted to live and moved from the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA to become South Carolinians.

Map of Lake Murray SC
Lake Murray is 41 miles long and 4.5 miles wide at the widest point.

Lake Murray is the name of the lake we live on. It is not the name of a town as there are a few towns around the lake that has 600 miles of shoreline. We live in the town of Chapin – population around 1800 adults and children.


Chapin, SC is called the Capital of Lake Murray. It is a small town nestled on the northern shores of the lake on the outskirts of the Columbia, SC Metropolitan Area to the east and 80 miles from Greenville to the western side of the state.

It serves as the commercial hub for the northern part of the lake and is one of the fastest growing communities in the Midlands of South Carolina.

Its close proximity to Columbia’s urban amenities, the University of South Carolina and the tranquil rural setting of the town and lake provides a unique quality of life that we enjoy.  Rural, but when we want to shop, attend a play or concert, the city is a 30 minute drive.

The major attraction for residents as well as visitors who vacation or come to camp at Dreher Island State Park, is the lake.

Lake life is what life in Chapin is all about and is what brought us to the area.

Sail boats on lake murray

I love the easy relaxed vibe of lake living.   Both Ed and I are water lover’s and know this is where we were meant to be.

Liberty on the Lake Resturant

We love going out to eat at one of only a few restaurants on the lake via our boat. If it is crowded, we get a pager from the hostess and can sit out on our boat to wait while we start a Happy Hour party with our own drinks on the boat. I call it a dock party with other boaters who are also waiting to get called in to be seated in the restaurant.

In the warmer months, I love going out on the boat and meeting up with friends in the evening for a sunset watching dinner cruise. There is always a spectacular natural show that goes off every night…

…and never looks the same. 

kayaking on lake murray

I like being able to be active by simply walking out of my house and pulling a kayak into the water to paddle around to explore the many miles of shoreline… 

Lake Houses
Large house on Lake Murray

… or sometimes to look at the many beautiful waterfront homes while getting exercise. No gym needed.

4th of July on Lake

I like living in a town that is off the beaten path and one that keeps values and traditions alive like holiday parades in town and boat parades on the lake. 

Fireworks over lake

I love getting a front row seat from my house every year to celebrate our freedom with an annual fireworks show over the lake complete with live patriotic music streaming on the local radio station to coordinate with the fireworks. All those white dots along the horizon are boats filled with people watching the show. 

The town is growing fast as urban sprawl from Columbia is spreading westward, but once out of the town limits, it is very rural. 


We live 4 miles from the center of town in one direction. In the other direction is Ed’s hangout – the golf course. He loves that it only takes 8 minutes to get to the course with not one traffic light to have to go through. :-) 

rural area around lake murray sc

The miles between town and the golf course are not very developed.  I enjoy passing the pastural setting with a glimpse of the lake every so often. 

Rural area around Chapin SC

I pass by rows of towering pine trees, fields with cows grazing, a fire station, a few new houses being built, more pine trees, and a Christmas tree farm before reaching the town limits.

Chapin Sailboat sign

In the center of town, which is about 1.5 miles long, there are 3 supermarkets, 2 drug stores, a Dollar General, 2 dry cleaners, hair salons, a flower shop, a gift shop, 2 day spas, 2 banks, a thrift store, a UPS store and an auto store.    

Flower Shop in Lake Murray town

The most charming shop in town is the Lake Murray Flower Shoppe.

I love seeing how they give the exterior of the shop colorful creative style that they change every so often.


Out of the town limits, but still in Chapin is an Ace Hardware and a furniture store. I frequent both of these quite often. Ace, to buy home improvement project supplies, Chapin Furniture for a dose of decorating inspiration.

They have fabulous furniture and the store layout is ideal to go in every once in a while for a quick spin. 


There are two coffee shops and a few restaurants. My favorite is Farm Boys BBQ. They have the best Pork BBQ. It is a very popular place that is only opened Thursday – Sunday. 


I have to stay away from The Coffee Shelf, even though I love their coffee, the people and the bookshop section. I have a hard time passing up the double chocolate muffins they sell.  See them on the right… yum!

When I need to go to stores besides the supermarket, like mall stores, Costco, Home Depot, Lowes, Target, Walmart, Michaels and other retail big box stores, or to enjoy dinner and a movie, the drive is 30 minutes to the east towards Columbia via Interstate 26 to Harbison, SC.

I keep a list of everything I need from week to week and plan ahead so I can get all my shopping done in one day and not forget anything. I call these days my Harbison days as do a few of my friends. Since it takes time to get there, planning ahead with a shopping list is key to saving time and money on gas.

When I want to go to Hobby Lobby and the health food store, I need to head to Lexington which is on the southeast corner of the lake. It is about a 45 minute drive.  When I go there, I go via the Dreher Shoals Dam… aka The Lake Murray Dam. 

lake and dam


The dam was built to create the lake back in 1927 and became operational in 1930. It provides electrical power to the area.

What is under the lake has been the fascination of many people. There are nearly a dozen communities, thousands of graves, the Wyse Ferry Bridge, bomber airplanes, a pipeline, several railroad tank cars, an old rock house, also homes, boats, and bomb fragments under the waters of Lake Murray.

In the early 1940s, the U. S. military used the lake to train WWII bomber pilots on the B-25 bomber airplanes. Seven of the lake’s islands were used as practice.

Dreher Shoals dam

What I love about the dam is that there is a pedestrian walkway along the 1.7 mile long dam.

walking along lake murray dam walkway

It’s a popular place for walking and jogging. 

If I start from the Irmo side and walk to the Lexington side and back, it’s a little over a 3 mile walk which puts a big dent in my trying to get 10,000 steps a day. :-) 


The best part of the walk though is that you get spectacular views of largest part of Lake Murray and in the other directions, the downtown Columbia skyline that is 11 miles away.

Dreher Island State Park

Besides the lake, my other favorite place to go is Dreher Island State Park. It is near my house and I can ride my bike there and through the three islands with access to 12 miles of lake shoreline.

Things to do at Dreher Island

Visitors will find recreational water activities, nature trails and some of the best striped and large-mouth bass fishing spots. It has long been a popular location and launching spot for major, national fishing tournaments. 

Dreher Island State Park vacation rental villas

For overnight accommodations or weekly rentals with views of Lake Murray, lodging reservations can be made for one of 6 park villas…

Dreher Island State Park coves

…or guests can camp at one of many lakefront campsites. 

So now you know a little bit more about the place I call home.  When I am traveling or just out and about around town, there is nothing better than the wonderful feeling of coming home and looking out at the lake. It never gets old and …

sunset on lake murray

… amazes every single night.


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  1. Love this idea of seeing where you and other bloggers live! I’m actually familiar with your location having grown up in Charleston, SC and living in Western NC now, but I didn’t know many of the tidbits you shared about Lake Murray or Chapin!

  2. Diane, I love your little town and all the WW11 history you shared. I’d love to visit your area of SC. Hubby and I would also like to downsize and live on the water someday. Your photos are so beautiful and I enjoyed reading your post.

  3. Diane,
    Chapin looks wonderful. My husband and I are getting close to the point of downsizing and I’m not sure if we will stay in PA or head south like you. It’s certainly a big decision and this blog hop has given me lots of ideas. Great places to relocate, or visit.

  4. Lake Murray looks like a wonderful spot to live. I love your idea of boating to a restaurant and then having your own happy hour on the boat while you wait for a table.