If you find yourself in the charming South Carolina city of Sumter, and wondering what to do, we have you covered. Whether it’s visiting beautiful iris gardens, admiring swans in swan lake, or touring the Shaw Air Force Base one can easily enjoy a few days here. Let’s dig into the best things to do in Sumter, South Carolina.
Where is Sumter, South Carolina?
Sumter is conveniently located in the central part of South Carolina, about 45 miles east of Columbia, which is the state capital. The city is about midway between Charleston and Charlotte, North Carolina – about a two-hour drive from either city.
Sumter is also located near several major highways, including Interstates 95, 20, and 26, which make it easy to reach by car.
Best Things to Do in Sumter SC
1. Get Active at Palmetto Park
- Address: 416 S Wise Dr, Sumter (GPS)
- Hours: Monday- Sunday: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm
If you’re looking for a place to go outdoors to have some fun and get active, look no further than beautiful Palmetto Park.
This well-maintained green space is home to many facilities including baseball and softball fields, tennis courts, a children’s play area and several nature trails that snake around Palmetto Lake. In season, a splash pad is also set up and all the facilities are open to the public.
2. Test Your Skills at Lock, Clock, and Peril Escape Rooms
- Address: 5535 Broad St, Sumter (GPS)
- Hours: Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday: 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm,
Friday-Saturday: 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Monday & Closed
- Cost of Admission: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday- $30 per person, Saturday & Sunday: 2 people $35 per person, 3-8 people $30 per person
While the weather tends to be nice most of the time in Sumter, bad weather does happen and when it does, being outdoors is likely the last thing on your mind. On those days, there are plenty of things to do indoors around town and a favorite among locals and visitors alike is heading to Peril Escape Rooms.
This is where you can put your puzzle and riddle-solving skills to the test. You’ll be locked in a room filled with obstacles and mind-bending missions to accomplish. The end goal is to get yourself out of the room in a set amount of time. There are a variety of themes available including a room dedicated to the paranormal.
3. Explore the Downtown District of Sumter
The best way to get to know any city is to explore the downtown district, and downtown Sumter is a great place to explore. Whether you want to find a bench and people watch, check out the historic architecture or browse the local shops, it’s worth it to put a little time aside to explore downtown Sumter.
Throughout the year, a variety of events take place too so be sure to check the schedule for any concerts or markets taking place during your visit.
4. Become an Artist at Millennium Studios
- Address: 1155 N Guignard Dr #6th, Sumter (GPS)
- Hours: Monday – Saturday: 9:00 am – 11:00 pm, Closed: Sunday
- Cost of Admission: For ticket prices, click here.
Are artists born or made? One way for you to find out if you have a hidden talent, you have yet to tap into is to head to Millennium Studios and try your hand at being an artist for a day. Or perhaps you’ll uncover that hidden talent and go on to pursue it beyond your visit to Sumter. Either way, you’ll have some fun!
Beginners and seasoned artists alike are welcome to the studios where you can paint, draw, and create to your heart’s content while you sip on a cocktail or indulge in some hookah. The atmosphere is light and relaxing with soothing music and friendly staff to help you along the way.
When hunger strikes, enjoy some wings, tacos, fries, or another delicious dish from the kitchen. If you prefer some privacy for your group, the option to book a private paint party is available too.
5. Enjoy a Live Show at the Sumter Opera House
- Address: 21 N Main St, Sumter (GPS)
- Cost of Admission: For ticket information per event, click here.
Not only does the Sumter Opera House host world-class performances throughout the year, but the venue, which dates back to the late 1890s, is also a beautiful, historic building with exceptional design both inside and out.
The 100-foot Gothic tower is the tallest structure in town and onside, you’ll find a stately auditorium that seats up to 550 people. This is where you can enjoy a range of performances that mainly focus on local artists including concerts, stand-up comedy acts, plays and more. If you are looking for a romantic date night, heading to the Opera House is one of the best things to do in Sumter.
6. Discover More About the City at Sumter County Museum
- Address: 122 N Washington St Suite A, Sumter (GPS)
- Hours: Thursday-Saturday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Monday – Wednesday: Closed
- Cost of Admission: $5 for adults, $2 for students 6-17 and seniors 65+, and free for 5 and under. Museum Members always free!
Sumter is full of fascinating history and the best way to learn more about the city is with a visit to the Sumter County Museum. Inside, you’ll find many exhibits highlighting the city’s culture, people, and notable past events in the city’s history.
Artifacts, manuscripts, and photos are among the items on display and the building that the museum is housed in is even an artifact! Constructed in 1916, it’s the former Carolina Backcountry Homestead, and it provides visitors with a glimpse into the past and how early settlers lived.
7. Explore a Distinct Ecosystem at the Poinsett State Park
- Address: 6660 Poinsett Park Rd, Wedgefield (GPS)
- Hours: Monday -Sunday: 9:00 am -8:00 pm
Located only about 30 minutes away from Sumter, Poinsett State Park is 1,000 acres of pristine nature featuring a variety of unique ecosystems. This is a great place to go if you want to spend a day outdoors and have the best chance of spotting some wildlife including a number of different species of birds.
Besides exploring the park, there are a variety of exciting activities to pursue in the area including paddleboarding, swimming, kayaking, cycling, and hiking. Cabins are located on site so you can even stay overnight if you don’t feel like driving back to Sumter on the same day. Reservations required.
8. Stay at the 1912 Bed and Breakfast
If you want to stay away from big national and international chain hotels and stay somewhere with a more local feel, 1912 Bed and Breakfast is a great pick and one of the best places to stay in Sumter. You won’t find a swimming pool or gym here, but you’ll find a great location that’s close to many places where you can go swimming or exploring outdoors.
If that’s not your thing, many of the city’s other top attractions are only minutes away. Free Wi-Fi service, free parking, and comfortable, air-conditioned rooms are among the amenities you’ll find at this lovely place but one of the best things is the complimentary breakfast that’s served each morning.
9. Go Shopping at Sumter Mall
- Address: 1057 Broad St, Sumter (GPS)
- Hours: Monday – Saturday: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
If you plan to do some shopping during your visit to Sumter, the best place to find a variety of items all in one place is at the Sumter Mall. With more than 40 stores and a wide selection of items ranging from clothing to gift items, you’re sure to find everything you need.
Whether you’re looking for a special gift for someone back home, an ornament for your house, a book to read in the park, or a souvenir of your trip, it’s all here under one roof. You’ll also find a selection of food outlets in the food court.
10. Visit the Battle of Dingle’s Mill Marker
- Address: 1400 US-521, Sumter (GPS)
- Hours: Monday – Sunday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
The Deep South is steeped in Civil War History and South Carolina is no exception. In fact, Sumter is home to one of the most significant battlefields of the war. The Battle of Dingle’s Mill Marker was the site of one of the last battles of the war.
Step back into the past and walk through the battlefield area where you’ll see unmarked graves, plaques containing information about the battle and the area and monuments dedicated to the fallen.
11. Book a Tee Time at The Links at Lakewood
- Address: 3600 Green View Pkwy, Sumter (GPS)
- Hours: Monday -Sunday: 7:00 am – 5:00 pm
Whether you’re an old pro or new to the game of golf, The Links at Lakewood is a challenging and fun golf course suitable for all levels.
It’s considered to be the top course in the area and with almost 7,000 yards of space, four unique sets of tees, well-maintained greens, and a variety of hazards such as sand traps and water features, it’s easy to see why so many locals and visitors alike flock to this course!
12. Browse the Sumter Farmers Market
- Address: 200 Miller Rd, Sumter (GPS)
- Hours: Friday: 12pm-5:00 pm
There are many farms around the Sumter region so that means fresh produce is in abundance! The place to get your hands on some fresh fruits and vegetables straight from local farms is at the Sumter Farmers’ Market that operates on Fridays.
As you browse the market, you’ll also find a variety of other items including beverages, local artworks, baked goods and crafts. Sometimes there are even food trucks on site, which are great places to grab lunch!
13. Go Fishing at Second Mill Pond
- Address: South Carolina (GPS)
Fishing is a popular activity in Sumter and Second Mill Pond is where anglers of all ages take their place along the edge of the water to wait for the big ones to bite. Largemouth bass, bluegill, bream, bowfin, and crappie are just some of the species of fish that are often reeled in here.
The best thing about fishing at Second Mill Pond is the area tends to be less crowded and quieter than other popular fishing spots around Sumter.
14. Test Your Limits Sumter Ninja Warriors
- Address: 56 Market Street Sumter (GPS)
If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to be a ninja, Sumter Ninja Warriors has the facilities available to transform you into something you thought you could never do.
With dozens of obstacles and gym equipment set up to allow visitors to test various levels of fitness and endurance, you won’t just test your physical limits but also your mental and emotional limits. All ages are welcome so this is something the whole family can enjoy.
15. Catch Dirt Racing at Sumter Speedway
- Address: 3150 Wedgefield Rd, Sumter (GPS)
If you’re seeking something different and exciting to do around Sumter, check out the Sumter Speedway. Every Saturday between March and September, a variety of thrilling events take place including dirt races, car races and demolitions are held. This dirt track on Wedgefield Road is one of the oldest tracks in the state. Take a seat in the spectator’s area and watch as cars speed around the track and race for the finish line.
16. Dine on Fine Seafood at the Palmetto Oyster House
Seafood is a big thing in South Carolina and in Sumter, one of the best places to enjoy a seafood meal is at the Palmetto Oyster House. On the menu, you’ll find a wide variety of seafood-based appetizers and main courses including tacos, sandwiches, soups, and salads. If you’re not in the mood for seafood, fear not because there’s a variety of burgers and other items available to satisfy your hunger too!
17. Try Inline Skating at the Skate Station of Sumter
- Address: 45 Old Manning Rd, Sumter (GPS)
- Hours: Tuesday – Thursday: 5:00pm – 9:00 am, Friday: 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Sunday: 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm
- Cost of Admission: For ticket information per event, click here.
Inline skating is fun and is a great way to stay fit and you don’t have to be a seasoned skater to enjoy this sport at Skate Station of Sumter. Upon arrival, you’ll be presented with a variety of skates to choose from depending on your skill level.
The skating area is spacious and safe so everyone feels comfortable while going at their own speed. If you’re not into having wheels on your feet a small arcade is also on site and features several games you can try your luck at.
18. Observe Nature at Swan Lake Iris Gardens
- Address: 822 W Liberty St, Sumter (GPS)
One of the best things to do in Sumter is take a walk around the Swan Lake Iris Gardens. With 150 acres of open space and pristine nature, Swan Lake Iris Gardens is a quiet place where you can escape the noise and crowds and relax surrounded by beauty and you don’t have to travel far to access it either!
One of the top things to do in this park is birdwatching as there are many different species of birds to observe including geese, ducks, egrets, swans, and herons. On site, you’ll also find a butterfly garden and a wide variety of plants including over 100 types of colorful iris flowers.
19. Stay fit at Patriot Park Sportsplex
- Address: 380 General Dr, Sumter (GPS)
- Hours: Monday – Wednesday, Friday – Sunday: 7:00 am – 8:00 pm,
Thursday: 7:00 am – 9:00 pm
You may be on vacation but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still try to keep fit! This task is made easy with a visit to Patriot Park Sportsplex where you’ll find jogging trails that snake around several scenic ponds and baseball, softball and soccer fields.
The facilities are beautifully maintained and all the comfort amenities you’ll need for a fun and invigorating workout are on site including washroom facilities. Be sure to look in the ponds for the turtles that are often spotted swimming around!
20. Immerse in Local Culture at the Sumter County Gallery of Art
- Address: 200 Hasel St, Sumter (GPS)
- Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 11:00 am -5:00 pm
The Sumter County Gallery of Art is where visitors go to view artworks created by local artists. There are three galleries to explore and as you go through each one, you’ll see a wide variety of pieces including photos, paintings, sculptures, textiles, and more.
Curators are on site, and they are happy to take the time to provide the history behind each piece and answer questions. If you’re looking for a unique gift or item to display in your home, you can even purchase some of the art on display.
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