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Lake City: A Year-Round Gem

Bria Barton Bria Barton
A traveler at heart, Bria has lived around the country, but South Carolina’s allure always draws her back. She loves to inspire others’ wanderlust for her home state by sharing its boundless beauty.
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The Ronald E. McNair Life History Center pays tribute to one of Lake City’s most beloved native sons.

Nestled in the rural Pee Dee region, Lake City beckons travelers to discover its distinctive blend of artistic vibrancy and agrarian heritage. Once known for its agricultural prowess in beans, tobacco and cotton, this charming Southern town has undergone a fascinating transformation into a year-round destination.

While Lake City’s central location makes for a wonderful and convenient stopover for travelers on their way to larger South Carolina cities, such as Myrtle Beach, Charleston and Columbia, it truly is a destination in itself.

No matter the season, the town is a place of artistic wonder, thanks to the nationally renowned festival, ArtFields, and the plant lover’s oasis, Moore Botanical Gardens. Every year, the town bursts to life as artists converge to showcase their creativity and talent during the multi-day event. But the magic doesn't end with the festival; it lingers throughout the year in the form of street murals, public art displays and the famed botanical garden, which has been dubbed a “horticultural jewel of the Southeast.”

When visiting, be sure to embrace Lake City’s small-town charm as you explore its historical downtown, filled with quaint shops, delightful eateries and inviting cafes. Stroll along tree-lined streets, taking in the beautifully preserved architecture and friendly atmosphere. Whether you're an art enthusiast, a nature lover or simply seeking a charming getaway, Lake City has something to offer everyone.



ArtFields transforms Lake City into and arts mecca each spring, showcasing the work of talented artists from across the Southeast.

The ArtFields festival, one of Lake City's crowning jewels, transforms the entire town into a vibrant, open-air gallery and arts mecca each spring, showcasing the work of talented artists from across the Southeast.

Up to 400 works of art are on display in locally-owned venues, from renovated 1920s warehouses and professional art spaces to the town’s library, history museum, Ronald E. McNair Life History Center, restaurants, boutiques and other shops.

Visitors can immerse themselves in creativity as they wander through the town’s streets, discovering captivating sculptures, breathtaking paintings and thought-provoking installations. From the curated exhibits to the engaging workshops and live performances, ArtFields is an unparalleled celebration of artistic expression that leaves a lasting impression on all who visit.


Moore Botanical Gardens

For those seeking tranquility and natural beauty, Lake City boasts an exquisite garden that enchants visitors with its lush landscapes, serene meadows and diverse plant species, offering a serene oasis where one can unwind and reconnect with nature. Throughout the year, the garden's ever-changing displays ensure there's always something new to discover, making it an enchanting destination for every season.

Arranging a tour at Moore Farms Botanical Gardens is highly recommended. Both large groups and individuals can schedule tours with staff to get an in-depth look at the grounds. Be sure to book a tour at least two weeks in advance to assure availability. There are also free garden days for a self-guided exploration of the grounds and to celebrate the beauty of each season.

Adult classes are offered and cover everything from horticultural wellness to pruning and wreath making. Youth programming includes field trips, family programs, day camps and tours, all focused on hands-on learning.

Special events are also offered at the garden throughout the year. Visit the garden’s website to plan your visit.



Downtown Lake City is not big by any means, but it sure knows how to make good use of its spaces. Everywhere you turn, there are murals, art installations and galleries to remind you that art isn’t just an afterthought that takes the stage once a year. Begin your art walk by hunting for the ten murals that pepper the town.

Sauls Street is home to three, including “Infinite Flowers” by artist Lance Turner. Inspired by local plant life, the muralist coordinated with landscapers from Moore Botanical Gardens to create the brightly colored floral scene. On the same street, across from the town’s iconic open-air produce market The Fruit Stand, you’ll find “Wrapped Up,” a joint nod to Lake City’s agricultural roots by artists Andrew and Sarah Wilson.

On Acline Street, there are five more works to take in including the ArtFields mural by Jessica Diaz, Morgan Funkhouser, Olivia Cramer and Sam Ogden. It was inspired by the railway that runs through the heart of the city as well as dandelion seeds that symbolize growth and rejuvenation—key aspects that drive this small-town renaissance. Get all the info for your mural hunt here.


Public Art

The spirit of Lake City fixture, Huey Cooper, lives on in this downtown sculpture by Alex Palkovich.

Six 3D art installations call Lake City home. This includes two works by world-renowned sculptor Alex Palkovich. One of them honors the memory of a local figure, the late Huey Cooper, a cheerful fellow known for sitting on the corner of Acline and Main Streets where he would let passersby rub his rabbit foot for a nickel. You can still find him there proffering his good luck charm for those who put a nickel in the slot of his cash box—all part of the lifelike sculpture.

One installation that uses recycled components is “Geisel’s Garden,” by self-taught artist Matthew J. Leavell. His metal art is filled with whimsy as it celebrates the spirit of works by beloved children’s author Theodor Seuss Geisel, best-known as Dr. Seuss. You can spend time in this bright and breezy landscaped nook in Lake City Theatre Park, the former site of the Ritz theater that closed in the 1950s.


Art Galleries

A trio of galleries invites artists and aficionados to escape into an immersion in fine art. At Crossroads Gallery on Main Street, you can see winning works from previous years of ArtFields. Because the collection grows and rotates, even repeat visitors are likely in for a fresh experience.

TRAX Visual Art Center, one of the largest galleries in South Carolina, is at the core of an exciting project that will transform Sauls Street into a European-style promenade filled with cafes, bars and retail shops. For now, this gallery oozes with interesting, year-round exhibits inside its 5,000 square feet of space consisting of two galleries and a sculpture garden. Its sister gallery on Henry Street, Jones Carter Gallery, offers state-of-the-art exhibitions as well. All three galleries are free and open to the public.


Art Experiences

artist drawing a portrait of a man
Part of the art experience in Lake City involves hands-on public participation.

Part of the art experience in Lake City involves hands-on public participation. At Olio Studios, explore your creativity through artistic expression. Individuals and groups are welcome to sign up for a class or workshop or attend open studio hours. Throw pottery, paint, try your hand at mixed media—at Olio, you are only limited by your imagination.


Of Historical Interest

Get a peek at the area's storied past at Lynches Lake Historical Society.

The Lynches Lake Historical Society oversees a historical display inside Whitehead Infirmary. Items of interest offer history buffs a peek into the area’s storied past, from Francis Marion’s brigade to Native American artifacts and more. A research center offers a more immersive experience for learning about the region called the Pee Dee.

All visitors should spend some time at the Ronald E. McNair Life History Center, which pays tribute to one of Lake City’s most beloved native sons. The astronaut and scientist, who perished in the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster in 1986, is honored here with a tribute in art, words, pictures and artifacts. Follow his remarkable life from scientifically curious child to ambitious student challenged by racial confines to renowned physicist, pioneer and accomplished musician. The museum is poignantly positioned next to his final resting place.



bee mural in Lake City
Through his initiative The Good of the Hive, artist Matthew Willey has committed his art to hand-painting 50,000 honeybees – the number necessary for a healthy, thriving hive - in murals around the world.

Outdoor inspiration can be had at the pollinator gardens appointing the town. Lake City is an official “Bee City,” and the first South Carolina city to adopt the national program’s standards. You can find pollinator gardens at the Whitehead Infirmary, the outdoor courtyard at the town’s boutique hotel, The Inn at the Crossroads and in other plantscapes dotting the downtown area.

Lake City Community Park features a 12-acre lake with a boardwalk, fishing piers, a canoe and kayak launch, shaded gazebo and a picnic shelter. Visitors enjoy strolling the boardwalk and walking trail, with magnificent views of trees and flowers, wildlife and the lake itself.

Visitors can also paddle among the Bald Cypress of the beautiful Lynches River with RiverRat’s Kayak and Canoe Rentals. The section of river starting at Lee State Park and ending at Great Pee Dee River has been designated as the longest wild and scenic river in South Carolina. It is the perfect spot to kayak, swim on sandy beaches, catch critters and to lose track of time in the slow pace of the great outdoors. Call RiverRat’s for reservations.

For golfers, the Lake City Country Club is the premier semi-private Country Club in Lake City. The Country Club has a beautiful 18-hole golf course, great clubhouse with restaurant and bar facilities. Guests can enjoy a game of golf Monday through Friday, while members can play all year-round.



Obviously, to experience all that Lake City has to offer, you will want to spend a few days—and to do that, you will need a place to stay. The Inn at the Crossroads is located in the historic downtown district and offers beautiful rooms and suites. On-site dining is offered at Lake City Bistro, open 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Other options include Days Inn by Wyndham, Quality Inn & Suites and Olives Bed and Breakfast.

Bria Barton
A traveler at heart, Bria has lived around the country, but South Carolina’s allure always draws her back. She loves to inspire others’ wanderlust for her home state by sharing its boundless beauty.