10+ Novel Things to Do in Sumter, SC for a Memorable Getaway

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10+ Novel Things to Do in Sumter, SC for a Memorable Getaway

Novel Things to do in Sumter

As we travel off the beaten path, Sumter is an hour east of Columbia, an 1 hour and 45 minutes northwest of Charleston, and 2 hours west of Myrtle Beach.

For veterans visiting the area, Shaw AFB is 10 miles from the heart of Sumter.

Nestled in the heart of South Carolina, Sumter offers a treasure trove of activities that beckon travelers and locals alike. 

From its historical roots to cozy nooks perfect for a leisurely afternoon, our list of things to do in Sumter showcases not just the attractions, but the spirit of Sumter itself. It’s rich in history and on a path of revitalizing itself. 

Whether you’re drawn by the call of the outdoors, the whispers of history, or the joy of exploring quaint boutiques and cozy eateries, Sumter has something for everyone.

Youth, adults, families, or senior travelers, dive right in and discover the vibrant blend of past and present of this charming town that’s waiting to enchant you.

1.   Unearth Sumter’s Revolutionary Past

Sumter - Museum and Genealogical Society Sumter Museum and Genealogical SocietySumter - Museum Mural

Ready to time travel? Let’s journey back to where Sumter got its fighting spirit! Meet General Thomas Sumter (1734 – 1832), the “Fighting Gamecock” himself, a  Revolutionary War hero who wasn’t afraid to ruffle some British feathers. 

His daring guerilla tactics? Game changers in the fight for our independence from Britain. 

Now, fast-forward to today, where the Sumter County Museum, constructed in 1916, stands tall, a tribute to our past. Composed of 4 unique buildings, each a treasure chest of stories from Sumter’s yesteryears. 

Additionally,  for the family historians among us, the museum’s lower level holds the Sumter County Genealogical Society – a gold mine for ancestry buffs, like touching the heart of history. It’s run by volunteers, so check those hours before you go. 

Ready to step into Sumter’s history? 

2.  Experience Sumter’s Year-Round Festivities

Calendar to be happy

Craving sunshine and good vibes? Sumter’s your answer with its toasty summers and mild winters. July days where the mercury hits a sizzling 91°F and January chills that dip to 32°F.  

Whether you’re basking in the sun or enjoying a crisp winter day, don’t forget that umbrella – it’s your year-round sidekick for both showers and shade!

And if you’re wondering what’s on the Sumter Social Calendar, you’re in for a treat. This place buzzes with events from January to December. 

Dive into Sumter’s calendar to snag your next adventure. Whether you’re planning a visit or are already here, there’s always something happening.

Ready to join the fun?

3.  Meander Through Historic Downtown Sumter

 Sumter Streets

Downtown Sumter’s calling your name, whispering tales of a charming revival. Picture yourself meandering through an eclectic mix of vibrant shops, eateries, and the historic Sumter Opera House. 

And don’t miss out from May to September, the Fourth Friday Concert Series offers free entertainment from local talents. Imagine lounging on your blanket, tapping to the rhythm, snack in hand.

Additionally, discover hidden nooks with quirky, artistic seats perfect for lazy afternoons. It’s time to experience the heart of Sumter, a place where every step tells a story.

  Sumter Nooks


Ready to dive into the charm?

4.  Find Peace in Swan Lake Iris Gardens

Ever stumbled upon magic? That’s Swan Lake Iris Gardens for you, a gem born by accident in 1927. Blink, and voilà, it’s one of the most enchanting botanical gardens in the country. 

This fairy tale encapsulates 150 acres of whimsical beauty portrayed through the 120 varieties of irises (April and May are most spectacular). You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a storybook. 

But wait, there’s more! It’s not just an iris wonderland. This place is a VIP lounge for swans, geese, ducks, and all sorts of feathered friends, showcasing species from all over the globe. 

The path beckons you, complete with a charming wooden overpass bridge that ties the whole magical scene together.  Furthermore, it’s all accessible.

Finally, this gem is courtesy of the City of Sumter. A free ticket to a tranquil escape? Now that’s a steal. 

So, why not waltz through this enchanting slice of nature? Trust me, it’s a serene escape you won’t want to miss.

5.  Test Your Mettle at Lock, Clock, and Peril Escape Rooms

Sumter - Escape Room

Fancy yourself a detective? Sumter’s Lock, Clock, and Peril Escape Rooms are your playground!

Dive into puzzles with friends or family, where laughs and teamwork unlock a world of themes. 

Score prizes by snagging bonus items during your escapades, 

Ideal for family bonding, team-building, or just a fun get-together. With room for 6 – 8 players, ages six and up, it’s your chance to channel Sherlock.

Just outside of Shaw AFB, it’s about 10 miles from the historic downtown area.

Ready to crack the code and claim your bragging rights? Let’s see what you’ve got!

6.  Stay Amidst History at the 1912 Bed and Breakfast

Sumter - 1912 Bed and Breakfast

Looking for a cozy spot to crash in Sumter? We’ve got you covered with options ranging from sleek hotels to a quaint Bed and Breakfast that’s like stepping back in time.

First up, Hyatt Place, right in the heartbeat of downtown Sumter. It’s chic, pet friendly, and yes, breakfast is on the house.

Sumter Hyatt Place

Fancy staying away from the hustle? Holiday Inn Express sits snugly in the shopping and dining zone. Perfect for those “oops, I forgot my toothbrush” moments. Additionally, a free hot breakfast will kickstart your day.

Comfort Suites keeps the vibe similar and ticks all the boxes for a comfy stay. Just a heads-up: it’s a no-pet zone, but they do sweeten the deal with a free hot breakfast.

But here’s the real gem – the 1912 Bed and Breakfast. Brimming with charm and history, it’s a journey into the past, with its original floors whispering tales of yore. 

It’s cozy, pet-welcoming, and has earned rave reviews on TripAdvisor, making it a must-stay. Plus, you wake up to a scrumptious free breakfast. Room rates? Surprisingly friendly, just like the service.

Ready to book your historic getaway?

7.  Indulge in Sumter’s Unique Culinary Delights

Craving a taste of Sumter? Dive into its Culinary Scene!

Ready to tickle your taste buds with Sumter’s finest? Forget the usual fast-food run; we’re zooming in on eateries bursting with character and flavors that’ll make you go “Wow!”

          It’s a cozy corner you won’t want to miss!

Sumter - Brubakers



  • Then, there’s the Palmetto Oyster House. Visualize chilling in a lively spot, indoors or out, munching on everything from seafood to burgers. 

          Incidentally, their signature Southern zingers like Po’House Alligator Cheesecake, Po’House Shrimp & Grits, and other delightful Southern specialties, are tasty!

  • Craving something international? Sambino’s European Bistro has got you covered with their German and Italian delights. New management since November of 2023, family-owned, and includes a delicious sampling from both countries. 

          Customer service is top-notch, and local musicians serenade you.

Sumter - Sambino's European Bistro

  • Don’t skip Willie Sue’s for a southern feast with an upscale twist. Whether it’s their wood-fired flavors or the southern classics, every bite’s a hit, from crawfish succotash to seafood grits, and other unique upscale choices.

          Just a tip: this spot’s always buzzing so maybe call ahead.

         Additionally, an EV charging station is at the back of the parking lot.

Sumter Willie Sue's

8.  Soak Up Culture at the Inspiring Sumter Opera House

             Sumter Opera House

Remember the tale of the Phoenix rising from the ashes? That’s the story of the Sumter Opera House. Imagine it’s 1893 and from the fiery embers that destroyed its predecessor a year earlier, this cultural beacon rises.

Through the years, there’s been makeovers, yet, it’s still standing tall, and proud, on the National Registry of Historical Places since ‘73.

Then the 80s unfolded when the lights dimmed and the curtains closed on its cinema days. But Sumter wasn’t about to let this gem fade into history. 

By ‘87, with the city’s TLC, it was back, better than ever, breathing new life into the downtown scene.

Nowadays? It’s the heart of the town’s cultural beat, with performances that’ll have you clapping, laughing, and maybe even shedding a tear or two. From local talent to big names that draw crowds, the Sumter Opera House is it. 

Ready to be part of its next chapter?

9.  Shop Fresh and Local at the Sumter Farmers Market

Sumter Farmers Market

Who loves fresh finds and local vibes? Swing by the Sumter Farmers Market! Every Friday afternoon, from the first bloom of spring on March 29th, through the crisp autumn air on November 22, 2024, we’ve got the goods.

The open-air space by USC-Sumter on Miller Rd becomes a paradise of freshness and flavor from noon to 5:00 PM.

What’s on the menu? Think vibrant food trucks serving mouth-watering eats, stalls bursting with the freshest produce, handcrafted treasures that scream one-of-a-kind, drool-worthy bakery treats, and local artisans showcasing their genius.

It’s an experience. Make your Friday afternoons unforgettable with a dash of fun and a whole lot of local at the Sumter Farmers Market. 

Ready to join the fun?

10. Satisfy Your Shopping Itch at the Sumter Mall

Got a shopping spree itch that needs scratching? Sumter Mall is your go-to spot! From the latest fashion finds and dazzling accessories to your next favorite book and beauty essentials, we’ve got it all under one roof.

Craving a bite? The eatery lineup both inside and next to the mall, will have you spoilt for choice. 

Oh, and for those thinking about serving the country, yep, there’s a spot for you to chat about military opportunities too.

Ready to dive into the treasure trove?

11. Explore the Great Outdoors Across Sumter County

Sumter - Palmetto Park

Guess what? Sumter County is practically bursting with parks – 20 of them, to be exact! Whether you’re after a cozy corner for a quiet read or a vast green expanse for your next big adventure, we’ve got you covered.

And hey, if you thought Swan Lake Iris Gardens was the only show in town, think again! Here’s a sneak peek at some other fabulous green spots where you can soak up nature, find your zen, or just let the kids (or yourself) run wild. 

Ready to explore Sumter’s backyard wonders? Don’t forget your water bottles!

Benton Park – a block from USC and Central Carolina Tech. Lots of shady places to sit.

Chamber Park – in downtown Sumter includes outdoor artwork.

Cypress Park – Scenic trails to walk and a sheltered picnic area with benches around the water.

Dillon Park – in the middle of Sumter offers new playground equipment, softball, and baseball fields, a frisbee golf course, and three new football fields with a pavilion.

Mill Creek Park – although this park is located about 30 minutes southwest of Sumter, it boasts a lot of amenities. Its 1940s-era lodge has been renovated and complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

For the outdoors camping folks, this park hosts 126 camping sites popular with tent or RV campers. Furthermore, it offers a 20-stall barn for equestrian campers. 

Palmetto Park  – another in-town park that includes walking trails around the water, public tennis facilities, baseball and softball fields, a splash pad, and a playground.

Patriot Park – another park with walking paths, nature trails, and soccer fields, in addition, a new pavilion is in the works.

South Sumter Park – includes large basketball courts and spectating areas with playground equipment and a splash pad.

Poinsett State Park  – Just outside of Sumter, this park offers hiking, fishing, canoeing, swimming, and camping. Cabins are available for rent or you can bring tents.

Unveiling Sumter: Where Every Corner Tells a Story

As you’ve journeyed with us through the streets and list of things to do in Sumter, you’ve seen that this isn’t just any small town. 

Sumter, with its rich tapestry of history, natural beauty, and cozy nooks, has laid out an invitation you simply can’t ignore. It’s your turn to step into the stories, the landscapes, and the warmth of this Southern gem.

Whether you’ve been charmed by the serenity of Swan Lake Iris Gardens, intrigued by the echoes of history, or ready to test your wits in an escape room, Sumter promises adventures that are both enriching and heartwarming.

Remember, Sumter is more than a destination; it’s an invitation to experience and connect. 

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, bring your sense of adventure, and let Sumter reveal its secrets to you. 

Ready to embark on this adventure? Sumter is calling—will you answer?