Looking for the classic All-American town? You'll find it a few miles down U.S. 378 to the east of Columbia. Sumter is named after one of American's Revolutionary heroes, General Thomas Sumter. General Sumter was nicknamed "The Gamecock" for his scrappy fighting spirit–a nickname used in his honor by both the University of South Carolina and Sumter High School. Adding to this patriotic pedigree is Shaw Air Force Base, the area's largest employer and home to the 20th Fighter Wing. McEntire Joint National Guard Base, home of the decorated 169th "Swamp Foxes" Fighter Wing, sits halfway between Sumter and Columbia. On any given day, your commute down Highway 378 may feature a spectacular flyover by one or more F-16 fighter jets.
Sumter's list of superlatives is surprisingly long. Sumter High School is the fifth largest in the state and a consistent challenger in academics and athletics alike. It's a scant 100 miles from Myrtle Beach, well within day-trip range on a warm weekend. Sumter is a shorter commute to downtown Columbia than many places in the Midlands, and traffic is not an issue here. Locally, the Swan Lake Iris Gardens bursts at the seams with floral brilliance: irises, yes, but also camellia, azalea and Japanese magnolia, and many others. It's also the only public park in the nation that's home to all eight species of swan. Best of all, access to the park is completely free. And wait till you see it during the Christmas season. It's just one of the highlights that makes Sumter an ideal home at any time of the year.
Did you know?
Retirement Lifestyles magazine named Sumter in their "Top 10 Places to Retire".
Forbes magazine ranked Sumter one of the nation's top 50 best small metropolitan areas to do business and advance a career.
Money magazine listed Sumter as one of the top 200 places to live.
The small town of Stateburg, on the outskirts of Sumter, missed becoming South Carolina's state capital by one vote in 1786.