15 Best Things to Do in Sumter County, SC

Sumter County, SC
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Sumter County is located in the middle of South Carolina and next to the river that leads to Lake Marion in the southern portion.

The county, named after General Thomas Sumter, known as "The Fighting Gamecock" during the revolutionary war, has a deeply rooted military history.

Sumter County is not only rich in military history but is also famous for its beautiful landscape.

Situated near the rolling High Hills of Santee, the coast, and Columbia, the county has numerous outdoor attractions that many flock to yearly.

If you enjoy art, music, or other forms of entertainment, Sumter County has an attraction that will catch your eye.

Here are the 15 best things to do in Sumter County, South Carolina:

Marvel at the Historic and Enduring Architecture of the Sumter County Courthouse

Front view of the Sumter County Courthouse
Blackoffee, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

See an outstanding example of the beau-arts architecture style by visiting the Sumter County Courthouse in Sumter City.

Constructed in 1907, this courthouse is known to be one of the most recognizable landmarks in the county.

Although it has undergone several reconstructions and refurbishing throughout the years, it remains an iconic property that keeps the county's history alive.

Side view of Sumter County Courthouse exterior
Pollinator at the English-language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stroll around the courthouse, which sprawls over an entire block, and marvel at the grandeur of the columns installed on its facade.

Admire the beautiful arched windows and stone horizontal moldings that go around the upper section of the building.

You can also take pictures of the vibrant green landscaping surrounding Sumter County Courthouse.

Dive Deep into the County’s History at the Sumter County Museum

With more than 300 years of history, Sumter County is a great place to learn about the past, and the perfect spot to start is at the Sumter County Museum.

The Sumter County Museum in Sumter City offers visitors a glimpse into the cultural norms back in the county's early days through numerous historic properties.

It also strives to preserve the region's historical heritage so that many more people would become aware of how things were back in the day.

Stroll around the Williams Brice House and ponder the luxurious decor and artwork.

You may also visit the Temple Sinai Jewish History Center and discover how the Jewish Community in the county came about.

Another area you can check out is the Carolina Backcountry Homestead, which features structures that reflect how life was 200 years ago in the state.

Marvel at the breathtaking traditional and contemporary artworks at the Sumter County Gallery of Art.

If you're an art enthusiast or an artist yourself, this is a great spot to get inspiration and see the works of talented artists.

First opened in 1970, the Sumter County Gallery of Art in Sumter City strives to stimulate interest in the arts within the community by offering visual art exhibits and educational opportunities to its surrounding counties.

View gorgeous paintings that feature vibrant landscapes or intriguing abstract shapes.

You can also check out other creations, like colorful pottery and majestic sculptures.

If you're interested in developing your skills, you can sign up for their art classes.

Explore the High Hills of Santee at Poinsett State Park

A creek at Poinsett State Park
mogollon_1, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Connect with nature by exploring all the vibrant green areas in Poinsett State Park in Wedgefield.

Situated right where the coastal plain area and South Carolina Sandhills meet, Poinsett State Park is a mixed ecosystem area perfect for anyone who loves the outdoors.

Referred by many as the "mountains of the midlands," this park is filled with trails that will allow you to explore the High Hills of Santee and the Manchester State Forest.

Within the park's grounds are camping sites where you can set up a tent and stay for a few days with your loved ones.

You can also go fishing or boating at the serene 10-acre lake near the park.

Witness Sensational Performances at the Sumter Opera House

Watch outstanding performers put on unforgettable performances at the historic Sumter Opera House.

Built in 1895, this opera house in Sumter is a gorgeous, state-of-the-art facility considered a cornerstone in the performing arts industry of the county.

The Sumter Opera House is also where you can find numerous municipal offices, including the city council's chambers.

With its Romanesque architecture style, this iconic property is a must-see for theatre fans and architecture enthusiasts.

Take pictures of the building's famous clock tower, which catches the attention of anyone visiting the area.

You can also watch shows, including musicals, concerts, and plays at its beautiful auditorium on the first floor.

Golfers will love spending a day playing at Links at Lakewood in Sumter.

If you want to practice your swings and improve your golf game, this is the perfect place with its stunning scenery and challenging greens.

Whether a pro or a beginner, you'll have an extraordinary and fun gaming experience at this golf course.

With its 6857 yards, you will never have to worry about having too little space to sharpen your golf skills.

Bring your friends and loved ones along as you take on the challenge posed by the 13th hole on this course.

The clear lakes along Links at Lakewood provide a fantastic opportunity to rest and enjoy the lovely scenery.

Discover the County’s Rich Military History at Shaw Air Force Base

An aircraft preparing to takeoff at Shaw Air Force Base
Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock.com

Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter is home to the 20th Fighter Wing and provides an opportunity for civilians to catch a glimpse of day-to-day military life.

First established as the official base for training air cadets in flying planes in 1941, this base played an essential role for the county, especially during the wars.

During the second world war, Shaw Air Force Base served as a detention center for prisoners of war who were German.

When the war ended, the base housed the 414th Night Fighter Squadron and the 415th.

Aircraft on the grounds of Shaw Air Force Base
Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock.com

Today, base tours are available to all guests who want to discover more about the way of life of the Air Force.

Witness Airmen specialists detect, disarm, and remove explosives under extreme duress.

You will also see different planes, some of which have great historical relevance.

Feast on Mouthwatering Southern Delicacies at Simply Southern Bistro

Looking for a delicious Southern meal after exploring the county?

Head to Simply Southern Bistro!

First opened in 2009, Simply Southern Bistro in Sumter specializes in serving delectable dishes made with culinary traditions from the American South.

Although this is a small restaurant, it can still satisfy its customers' cravings through its large and comprehensive menu options.

Try their signature shrimp and grits, a filly saucy dish perfect after a long day of walking around town.

You can also indulge in their juicy steaks, stacked burgers, and delectable sandwiches.

This is a great place to visit with your family and friends if you want a taste of authentic flavors that originate from the South.

Experience a Fun and Creative Night Out at Millenium Studios

Do something exciting and unique the next time you want to have drinks with your friends by visiting Millenium Studios.

Located in Sumter, this establishment is an art studio that doubles as a bar where you can sample delicious wines.

If you enjoy being creative or want to try something new, you'll love the different activities available here.

Sip on your choice of wine as you add vibrant colors to the pre-drawn canvases available.

If you have no experience with painting yet, you can join the paint parties led by talented instructors who will teach you the basics.

You can also try puffing on the different hookah flavors as you create your own artwork.

Millenium Studios is the perfect place to foster creativity and pour your imagination into a canvas.

Stroll through an Ethereal Wonderland at Swan Lake Iris Gardens

The waters of Swan Lake Iris Gardens
makasana photo / Shutterstock.com

Take a relaxing and peaceful stroll through the stunning and captivating paradise that is Swan Lake Iris Gardens.

First established in 1927 as a private fishing area for a local businessman named Hamilton Carr Bland, this 150-acre garden in Sumter is filled with beautiful flowering plants and graceful swans.

This is the perfect place if you love being surrounded by nature, growing flowers, or taking pictures.

Walk around Swan Lake Iris Gardens and check out all 120 varieties of irises bursting with color.

You can also sit and watch different swan species gracefully glide through the lake waters.

Take numerous selfies or group pictures with the luscious greeneries around you as your backdrop.

You can also see sculptures by artists like Grainger McKoy and Zan Lee Wells within the gardens.

Visit the Final Resting Place of the County’s Namesake at General Thomas Sumter Memorial Park

General Thomas Sumter Memorial Park is the Dalzell cemetery where the county's namesake, General Thomas Sumter, is buried.

General Thomas Sumter is a hero during the Revolutionary War and was often referred to as the Fighting Gamecock because of his exceptional fighting skills.

He passed away just a few weeks before his 98th birthday in 1832, making him the last general from the Revolutionary War to die.

His grave was left unmarked until the state legislature approved the installment of a marker in 1907.

This cemetery is also the final resting place of General Thomas Sumter's family.

Here, you can pay your respects to the general who established the town.

You can also roam around and check out the other monuments on the cemetery grounds.

Grab a Tall Pint of Beer at Main Street Tavern

Main Street Tavern is the best place to relax and have a tall, cold pint of beer with good company.

Located in downtown Sumter, this is a great spot for beer lovers who love trying different thirst-quenching craft beers.

With more than 75 different local beers, you will have a great time indulging in booze as you catch up with your friends here.

Not to mention, Main Street Tavern boasts a delicious food menu in case you get hungry from all the alcohol consumption.

Their wings and pizza are perfect for sharing with a group of friends.

Enter a Centuries-Old Place of Worship at the Salem Black River Church

Exterior of the Salem Black River Church
Efy96001, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A visit to the Salem Black River Church in Mayesville will take you back centuries and show you how people worshipped long ago.

Built in 1846, the Salem Black River Church is known to be one of the earliest churches made out of brick in the entire state.

Established before the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, this church features a slave gallery that segregated slaves from other churchgoers.

Today, the slave gallery is used as a seating area available for all worshippers.

With its Greek Revival style of architecture, the church maintains a majestic facade that has remained unchanged since it was constructed.

See the four mighty columns that greet all the church's visitors as it seemingly superimposes over the red bricks of the church's wall.

You can also roam around and observe the church's unique decor.

Shop for Fresh, Local Produce at Sumter Farmers Market

If you're looking for the best place to buy fresh, local produce in Sumter, look no further than Sumter Farmers Market!

Established in 2017, Sumter Farmers Market offers fresh produce and many other farm products to the Sumter community and surrounding areas.

This market is the perfect place to buy local and support your community.

You'll find stalls of farmers, food truck vendors, artisans, and more.

You can also find other products, such as homemade bread, pies, and delectable baked goods.

Watch a Riveting Show in an Intimate Space at Sumter Little Theatre

Located near the Sumter County Cultural Center in Sumter is the Sumter Little Theatre, an establishment where you can watch some of your favorite literary stories come to life.

This theater is also a school that offers students and other people from the community a chance to discover more about performing arts.

Bring your loved ones as you watch unforgettable shows that will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions.

Be captivated and immersed in the stories presented masterfully by the exceptional actors on stage.

Sumter Little Theatre is a great place to visit if you're in the mood for some entertainment.

Final Thoughts

Sumter County has many options, whether you're after relaxation and catching up with friends or if you want to explore the county's history.

Include these 15 best things to do in Sumter County, South Carolina, to make your visit to the area much more fulfilling and exciting.

Plan your trip today and visit all of these excellent spots during your stay!

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