Whether it serves as a scenic backdrop for fun or the impetus for activity, Lake Murray is a 50,000-acre playground with a lot of recreational opportunities.
Dreher Island State Park offers camping, hiking and fishing. A 1.7-mile paved path across the dam draws walkers and runners with a spectacular lake view (especially at sunset) and a peek at the downtown Columbia skyline.
On either side of the dam are two parks: a shady oasis for fishing, picnicking, boat-launching and sunset-watching that’s open year-round, and a beach park for swimming that opens April 1.
The annual Fourth of July boat parade and fireworks are scheduled for July 2. Most weekends, folks tie up and anchor their boats at Sandy Beach for impromptu parties.
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Regardless of whether you live on the lake, or whether you own a boat, you can enjoy Lake Murray as spring and summer approach. Here are four ways:
Get Your Gear offers guided paddleboard, kayak or canoe tours of Lake Murray. “They’re scenic tours with some history of Lake Murray,” said Logan Ross, manager of guided services. It’s $50 a person, which includes the guide and equipment. The tour lasts two to three hours.
Or paddleboards, or kayaks, or canoes, or Jet Skis. Better Boat Rentals, Lighthouse Marina, 50/50 Water Sports, California Republic, Lake Murray Watersports and Entertainment and Lanier Sailing Academy offer various rentals that can get you on the lake. You can even learn fly boarding at Lake Murray Watersports and Entertainment, which describes it as “a water-powered jet pack.”
Go to a barge party
The Frayed Knot restaurant in Chapin, and Lake Murray Watersports and Entertainment will bring in bands, headlined by country music singer Glen Templeton (“I Could Be the One”) for a three-day Memorial Day weekend party Saturday, May 28 through Monday, May 30. The bands will perform from a barge anchored in a cove near Frayed Knot. “It’s going to be a blast,” said Justin Brooks, of Frayed Knot and Lake Murray Watersports and Entertainment. Frayed Knit’s new Tiki bar will be open, and vendors will sell food and other items.
Take a cruise
Take a cruise on the Spirit of Lake Murray. You can charter the yacht for a private dinner cruise or go on one of the “random” public cruises it offers throughout the year. “Public cruises allow individuals to purchase tickets and join in on the fun, rather than have to charter the whole yacht,” said Andrew Colton, captain and cruise manager for Lake Murray Cruises.
Public cruises include Easter Brunch, a Lake Murray Jam Cruise and Melodies on Murray. Is a yacht too big? No problem. Spirit Adventures also offers guided pontoon tours, or tours on a 32-foot Carver (a boat with a stateroom and bathroom).