Uncovering Hidden Sumter, SC

  • Temple Sinai Synagogue
  • Church of the Holy Cross
  • Boykin Millpond
  • Joel Poinsett State Park
  • Francis Marion murals
  • Millford Plantation


March 20 - 22, 2024


  • Sites with unique connections to important SC history
  • Delicious local dining, including the historic Boykin Millpond Steakhouse
  • Fascinating Civil Rights stories, on location

Trip Description

Welcome to our featured spring-time South Carolina exploration trip this year! The azaleas will be in bloom, along with yellow jessamine (SC’s state flower) and magnolia, all of which will enhance time-forgotten rural churches and cemeteries, plantation homes, atmospheric millponds, and small towns. We’ll make the pretty town of Sumter our home for two nights in excellent lodging in the heart of downtown. Our exploration will take us to a remarkable variety of interesting and historic sites—from the Temple Sinai Synagogue to the Church of the Holy Cross; from the Boykin Millpond to Joel Poinsett State Park; and from the Francis Marion murals in Manning, SC, to stunning Millford Plantation. Local experts will add their insights to the stories we hear and the pictures we see.


Join Explore Up Close – on our annual “spring fling”: A eye-opening jaunt into the hinterlands of the Carolinas! What’s on the menu? Places frozen in time… local fare and local hospitality on tap… and story-tellers with secrets to share. We’ll also enjoy the comforts of a downtown boutique hotel that will surprise you… lovely architecture, in a variety of settings; and our typical small-group fun. Let the adventuring begin!

Wednesday, March 20

We’ll depart the western Carolinas for the easy “slide” downhill… pausing in the Midlands’ considerable Sandhills for lunch. Those same ancient dunes form amazingly high ground on the east side of the “Santee River” (more accurately, the Santee’s northern branch, known as the Wateree). Those High Hills of the Santee – called that by locals, dating back to the Revolutionary War era – are our destination. In fact, we’ll make our first post-lunch stops in and around the town of Stateburg . . . almost South Carolina’s second Capital. Our site visits will include the Church of the Holy Cross: it’s one of the nation’s most unique architectural structures; and it’s the final resting place of one of South Carolina’s greatest world adventurers, Joel Roberts Poinsett.

We’ll drive into the city of Sumter for comfortable lodging, excellent down-home hospitality, and a lovely across-the-street dining experience. Overnight, Sumter.

Thursday, March 21

This morning, we don’t have far to go for our first visit: It’s the Williams Brice Mansion – now the home of the Sumter County Museum. A local guide par excellence will show us the home’s lovely features and exhibits; that will include the “namesake” Thomas Sumter room.

We’ll venture into the outback of Sumter County, with our same local guide in tow. Stories will abound, as we approach quaint farming communities, punctuated with serene millponds; and rural churches, suspended in slow-motion combat with the surrounding forests.

We’ll enjoy lunch at a local favorite, then pay our respects to one important element of America’s newest National Monument. In the town of Summerton (in adjacent Clarendon County) we’ll see the beginnings of the legal battle over school segregation that led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling.

Enjoy some afternoon R&R in Sumter. In the late-afternoon, we’ll drive past the site of Thomas Sumter’s Home Plantation, nestled into the heights of the High Hills; then descend to one of South Carolina’s most unique (and famous) restaurants for dinner.

Overnight, Sumter.

Friday, March 22

Breakfast in the hotel… a nice stroll in Sumter’s quiet downtown… a stop in the local coffee shop to catch the latest about downtown development, or other local news.

We’ll depart for the day, driving toward the sharp relief that gives way to the Santee River on the county’s southwest border. Here we’ll find the state’s greatest mansion: Millford Plantation. Our guided tour of Millford will be conducted by experts with the American Classical Homes Trust, founded by Richard Jenrette.

Our lunch will be a catered affair – at nearby Poinsett State Park. If you like birding, bring your field glasses. Poinsett is a geology lesson, a series of natural beauty highlights, and a place of peace and quiet, that mirrors a great part of our lovely state.

Featured Experiences

Hyatt Place Sumter

The tree-lined sidewalks of historic Main Street lead to our downtown hotel accommodations in the heart of quaint Sumter, South Carolina. Steps from Hyatt Place Sumter / Downtown you will discover local restaurants and breweries, shops, centuries-old churches and the Sumter Opera House, constructed in 1895.

What's Included

  • Comfortable high-roofed van transportation
  • Accommodation for 2 nights
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner each day
  • All activities / admissions per the itinerary
  • Guide and concierge service throughout the trip

Trip Price

$1,920 / person (double occupancy; single supplement, $150)

What's Not Included

Price does not include alcohol or trip insurance (recommended).

I’ve traveled extensively and have never had a trip that felt as intimate and custom-tailored as this. The planning, flexibility and attention to detail were second to none.

Trip insurance safeguards your travel investment, your belongings, and most importantly, you. Though trip insurance is optional, we strongly encourage travelers to purchase trip insurance in the event you have to cancel or leave a trip for any reason. Please note, all trip participants should wait for confirmation from Explore Up Close that the trip has the minimum sign-up required to be a “go” before purchasing travel insurance. Please confirm with Explore Up Close before making any additional travel arrangements.

Once you have received confirmation from Explore Up Close, we recommend contacting a travel insurance provider directly to request a quote and compare pricing and features. You can find other providers that may fit your needs at www.insuremytrip.com, or we can gladly connect you with our travel agent.

This trip departs from Greenville / Spartanburg, South Carolina and Asheville, North Carolina. If you live elsewhere, please contact us to discuss travel arrangements, and we will look forward to assisting you!

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