You don’t need to see a “Welcome to Clemson” sign to know you’re in the city that serves as home to college football powerhouse Clemson University and its famed Fighting Tigers. In this picturesque town, pride runs deep for the three-time national college football champions. Everywhere you look, there are tiger paws—on the sides of buildings, in storefront windows and on the street.
City life revolves around the university. In fact, it’s Clemson’s raison d’etre. The land that is now Clemson was originally called Calhoun for the family that owned it. It was passed on to Thomas Green Clemson who bequeathed it to the state of South Carolina in 1899 for the establishment of a public scientific and agricultural college. In 1943, the community changed its name from Calhoun to Clemson.
Today, Clemson University offers 80 undergraduate majors and 110 graduate degree programs. Located on 20,000 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains along Lake Hartwell, it is ranked as the 27th best national public university by U.S. News & World Report.
But it’s the football program that has earned the university star status with its most recent victory over Alabama in the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship. The team is also known for its impressive entrance into the school’s "Death Valley" stadium, dubbed “The most exciting 25 seconds in college football” by sportscaster Brent Musburger.
Visitors to Clemson will find several notable attractions on the campus, among them Tillman Hall and its iconic clock tower. Set on a hill overlooking Bowman Field, it is one of the city’s most photographed landmarks. You’ll also find Fort Hill, the antebellum plantation of former U.S. Vice President John C. Calhoun, and the South Carolina Botanical Garden.
The university also manages Clemson Experimental Forest, a 17,500-acre preserve offering more than 100 miles of trails as well as access to Lake Hartwell, Issaqueena Lake and Todd’s Creek.
The city provides additional opportunities to get outdoors. Its recreational facilities include parks, passive green spaces and a recreation center with an indoor swimming pool, basketball courts and workout room.
Arts offerings are just as diverse in this small college town. Be sure to check out the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts, the galleries run by the Center for Visual Arts, Clemson Little Theater and Clemson Area African American Museum.
And when it comes to dining, you won’t have any trouble finding lots of fantastic options, from a Southern barbecue joint to a retro drive-in. There are also plenty of cool boutiques and stores along College Avenue and in the new Patrick Square Town Center to satisfy your shopping needs.