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Things to do in Summerville, South Carolina

Updated on September 8, 2014

Summerville, South Carolina: The Best Hometown in the USA

I love my hometown! Summerville, South Carolina has been my home for most of the last 32 years. I left for college, for law school, and for a few years here and there to chase my dreams. But I always came back. This is a beautiful southern town in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, just about 20 miles from Charleston. It has recently been named by CNN Money as one of the top 25 places in the country to retire, and it is also a wonderful place to raise a family. So, as you can imagine, there is plenty to do here! The list of things my family enjoys doing is long. Here are just a few items that may surprise you, if you think of Summerville as a small town.

(Photo mine. Scroll down for trolley booking information.)

Photo by Judy Watts of Summerville-Journal Scene
Photo by Judy Watts of Summerville-Journal Scene

Location, location, location.

Summerville is its own town.

Sure, we are about 20 miles from gorgeous Charleston, South Carolina. We enjoy cultural events, shopping, beaches, dining and more with only a thirty minute drive to the Holy City. But Summerville is its own town. In its own right, it has all the small town charm, history, and appeal you could ask for, but with all the modern conveniences of a big town. We stand alone and do not rely on Charleston to supply us with the arts, dining, and fun activities. We do not lack for our own supply of culture and the arts. Summerville may just surprise you!

See a bit of Summerville

This is a lovely taste of Summerville's beauty and small town charm. Town Square and some of the parks are included.

The Birthplace of Sweet Tea - It's true, y'all!

Our very own Azalea magazine published an article a couple of years ago laying out the historical facts. Our neighborhood called "the Tea Farm" was, in fact, the only tea farm where tea was grown in the United States way back when. The farm has since been moved out to Wadmalaw Island, about 45 minutes away from here. It is owned by Bigelow and remains the only place in the United States where tea is grown.

Sawmill Branch Trail -  photo: SCGreatOutdoors
Sawmill Branch Trail - photo: SCGreatOutdoors

Beautiful Parks and Recreation Facilities

Summerville's nickname, "Flowertown in the Pines," suits it very well. Originally established by residents of Charleston to escape harsher humidity, Summerville enjoys shade from legions of tall pine trees and a good supply of oak trees, as well. "Flowertown" is famous for its collection of azaleas in spring, and its historic collection of camellias is not too shabby, either. Significant portions of woods and wild remain a lovely natural setting for hikes, bike rides, and more. There are a number of public parks that feature tennis courts or playgrounds. There is a paved trail, seen in the picture here, than spans about seven miles and is good for walking, running, or biking. Click the picture for more information on trails in Summerville.

Parks and Sports

This is certainly not a comprehensive list, but offers some great options for outdoor fun in our great climate.

Shopping in Downtown Summerville - And Third Thursdays!

Art Central in downtown Summerville
Art Central in downtown Summerville

(Click the image to be taken to Art Central's website)

Our downtown area has a wonderful variety of cute gift shops, art, sewing and knitting shops, restaurants, and commerce. It's bustling with life. Gorgeous old brick buildings with awnings line the Town Square, offering dress shops, jewelry, gifts, coffee and tea, and a precious children's bookstore. Guerin's Pharmacy is preserved much the same as it was fifty years ago or more. Never been in an old-fashioned drug store? This one's a treat! There are so many towns across America that have attempted "revitalization" and have gotten business rolling again on their town squares. But I daresay few have been as successful as our Summerville DREAM project. We even have one little street ("Short Central") that has been blocked off as a pedestrian street. Cafés have their tables and chairs set up in the middle, along with sandwich boards boasting tastes of the day. A parking garage was built adjacent to Town Hall several years ago to accommodate all of the activity that has been ushered in with the Summerville DREAM project.

Third Thursdays happen every month on . . . you guessed it, the Third Thursday of the month! The festive atmosphere includes live music and vendors. Shops stay open later to accommodate patrons. You will usually find a book signing with a local author or an art reception going on in tandem with Third Thursday.

Summerville, SC

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Book your seat on the Summerville Trolley Tour

We have just started a regular trolley tour of historic downtown Summerville, as of July, 2013! You can follow this link to book your tickets before coming to town.

Find out more about Summerville

James F Dean Theater

This lovely little theater is home to the Flowertown Players, a troupe who puts on about a half dozen shows per season. Auditions are usually open to the community, though. Anyone who would like to be in a play can try out. They also run various workshops and classes for all ages, including kids. Right on Town Square, it's just a frog jump from Town Hall.

The James F. Dean Community Theatre

133 S. Main St.

Summerville, SC 29483

(843) 875-9251

Summerville Community Orchestra

Yes, we even have an orchestra! Take a look here for a quick sample.

Sculpture in the South

River Rapture by Kim Shaklee.  Click here to see it on Sculpture in the South website.
River Rapture by Kim Shaklee. Click here to see it on Sculpture in the South website.

This event lasts a weekend and is held in the spring each year. The picture you see here is of a piece from the town's permanent collection. The piece is called "River Rapture" and was created by artist Kim Shaklee. It was installed in 2009.

CLICK THE PICTURE TO VISIT SCULPTURE IN THE SOUTH'S WEBSITE. You will find information about past events, how to purchase tickets for future events, and pieces that have become part of the town's permanent collection.


I am a Summerville author.

Like Southern fiction? Give my short stories a try! This collection is available in paperback or Kindle. Also available from Barnes & Noble in paperback or Nook version.

Let me know you were here . . . sign the guestbook!

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    • CamelliaPenny profile image

      Perrin 4 years ago from South Carolina

      @OhMe: The upstate is wonderful, too! We may be visiting Greenwood later this week, where my family's roots are. Also, I have wanted all summer long to drive up to Greenville to some of the fabric stores. Plus, y'all are close to the mountains, and that's the best place to be in July-August! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. :)

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Enjoyed this virtual visit of Summerville. I haven't been there in several years but a good friend of mine lived there many years ago. We love to go to Charleston but don't even get there much anymore. We just seem to be content to stay right here in the upstate!

    • CamelliaPenny profile image

      Perrin 4 years ago from South Carolina

      @lesliesinclair: Thank you! :)

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      Congratulations on your books. I do love the path through the azaleas. I'm so used to thinking of those plants as coming from the Northwest, but here they are Down South too!

    • CamelliaPenny profile image

      Perrin 4 years ago from South Carolina

      @tonybonura: I agree with you about small towns. They are the heart of our country. I'm delighted you enjoyed the lens. Thanks for the blessing!

    • tonybonura profile image

      Tony Bonura 4 years ago from Tickfaw, Louisiana

      I used to love visiting small towns in (mostly) southern states. There is just something about the atmosphere of small towns in the south that is a real part of Americana. Love this lens. Blessed.TonyB

    • CamelliaPenny profile image

      Perrin 4 years ago from South Carolina

      @DeborahDian: I hope you do! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

    • DeborahDian profile image

      Deborah Carr 4 years ago from Orange County, California

      I have been to South Carolina, but not to Summerville. I will have to check it out sometime!