Top 10 Things to Discover in Sumter
Nestled in the middle of the state, not too far from the mountains or ocean, is where the heart of South Carolina lives. In Sumter, you’d be hard-pressed not to find an event or festival taking place. While Sumter has countless activities to have fun-filled days, weekends and months, we narrowed the list to help you navigate your visit to Sumter.
1.) Go to a Festival
Sumter has festivals for every season! Here's a list of just a few.
- Festival on the Avenue (2nd Weekend in April) - a West African Bimbé festival of harvest, held every spring in the spirit of sharing, includes traditional soul food, music, art, dance, parades, and living history that showcases the creativity and vitality of South Sumter Community.
- Bethune Legacy Festival (3rd Weekend in May) - a festival to celebrate an American History Icon, Mrs. Mary McLeod Bethune. Mrs. Bethune was an advisor to four U.S. Presidents, a national champion of human rights, as well as the founder of Bethune-Cookman College and was born and raised in Sumter, SC.
- Iris Festival (Memorial Day Weekend) - This three-day festival is one of the old continuous running festivals in the state of South Carolina. It includes concerts, arts & crafts, pageants, plants & flowers, antique & classic car shows, a number of contests, concerts and lots of children's activities. Continuously named one of the top 20 events in the Southeas
- OctoberFest on Main (3rd Saturday in September) - downtown Sumter transforms into little Germany for a grand evening full of german food, music and heritage.
- Porches of Sumter (1st Thursday in October) - ever wonder what sipping tea on the veranda was like? This is the event for you. Stroll the historic streets of Hampton Park area and visit as homeowners open their homes and share their stories with visitors.
- Fantasy of Lights (December 1-31) - For the entire month of December, the Swan Lake Iris Gardens come alive with a display of twinkling holiday imagery created by more than one million lights.
2.) Visit a State Park
- Poinsett State Park
- Woods Bay State Park
- Thomas Sumter Memorial Park
- ATV/OHV Trails in Manchester State Forest
3.) Outdoor Markets
South Sumter Farmer’s and Flea on Manning Avenue, open Friday afternoons (May-November).
Downtown Market at corner of Main and Liberty Streets, open Saturday mornings (May-September).
Sumter Farmer’s Market at USC Sumter, open Friday afternoons (April-November)
Sumter Flea Market, open Saturdays & Sundays.
4.) Take the Museum Crawl Tour (or go on your own)
- Bethune Learning Center & Art Gallery
- Sumter County Museum & Backcountry
Sumter Firefighters DisplayMonday - Friday 8:30 am - 5 pm
315 N. Lafayette Drive, Sumter, SC 29150
- Sumter Military Museum
129 S. Harvin Street, Sumter, SC 29150
Fridays - 9 am - 12 pm
Sundays - 2 pm - 5 pm
- Sumter Opera House
5.) For the Sports Enthusiasts
Sumter is a very active sports community.
Catch an MVP in the making with the P-15s summer baseball league at Riley Park.
Play tennis at our world renowned Palmetto Tennis Center (for free we might add!).
World Double Dutch
World Series Softball
- Statewide Archery Competition
- and many more (contact Sumter County Recreationand Parks office)!
6.) Grab some grub
Inspire your senses at any number of our unique local restaurants, each with their own flavor and story to tell. Here are just a few favorites in the community…
- BBQ, Pizza, Burgers: Wards, BBQ Hut, The Sidebar, Demara’s, Pizza Lane, J O'Gradys, Aunt Ruth Ann's, Willard Farms
- Fine dining: Hamptons, Lilfred’s, Millpond
- International Flavor: Thai House, Chicken Shack, Osaka, Sambino’s, Mariachi’s, Angels, Queen’s Caribbean
- Sports Bars & Pubs: Main Street Tavern, Shucker's, Brewer's, Melted Whiskey, Leo's Wings, Rafters
- Steaks and Seafood: The Shrimper, Palmetto Oyster House, Willie Sue’s
- Southern Cooking: Simply Southern Bistro, Second Mill Diner, Country Fixins, Maryann’s Deli, Cut Rate Soda Fountain, Guignard Diner
7.) Explore the Water
- Pack’s Landing on Lake Marion, offers a public access boat ramp and parking, with prized catfish and bass fishing excursions available throughout the year.
- Poinsett State Park offers pedal boats, canoeing, kayaking, swimming and more!
- Sparkleberry Swamp is known for its beauty, tranquility, and abundant wildlife. It's an avid kayaker's dream location and is the host location of an annual duck run and boating party each spring.
- Find you inner child and run through anyone of our five Spray Parks.
8.) Hunt for and Hide Painted Rocks in one of our 24 Community Parks
Sumter has an extensive network of community parks and walking trails that allow visitors and residents to experience our natural beauty. Here are a few popular ones, but check out our map below for more!
- Bill Pinkney Park
- Birnie Park
- Dillon Park
- Memorial Park
- Mill Creek Park
- Palmetto Park
- Swan Lake Iris Gardens
- Veteran’s Park
9.) Take in the Arts
- Sumter Gallery of Art
- Sumter Litter Theatre
- Sumter Opera House
- USC Sumter Art Galleries
- Or one of the many cork and canvas events around town (see map below)
- Bultman Avenue offers a wide variety of boutique shopping, with unique gifts at places such as the Olive Tree, Elephant Ear, Silverpaper, and One-Accord (plenty more in the area so keep your wallet handy, you'll want to sample everything Bultman offers).
- Have a party to plan? Check out Let's Party, Partys 'R' Us and Sumter Cash & Carry!
- Build your own (they'll do it for you too) custom designed shirt downtown at Rumor Has It, Jersey Joe’s and Southern Uniform)
- For all your hardware needs Wally's is a local favorites. But for a truly family friendly experience, visit Simpson Hardware on Wesmark Blvd, they have something for everyone in your family.
- Grab a piece history at the Southern Cross or Broadstone Manor antique stores on Broad Street.
- Shop the Sumter Mall for all your staple stores, like Bath & Body Works, Belk, Books-a-Million, JC Penney, Kay Jewelers, New York & Co., Victoria's Secret and more.
- Whether you are buying or selling, looking for old or new the Sumter County Flea Market is a great place to explore.