I needed to pick up a couple things at a quilt shop last weekend, so I looked around for some and found two in nearby Sumter. Sounded like a good plan for a Saturday drive – check out a new town and visit a couple quilt shops.
On our way to the first quilt shop, we passed by a fairgrounds where there were lots of tents set up, and a park that looked interesting.
After finding one of the things I needed at the first shop, we went back to check out the event at the fairgrounds. It turned out to be a BBQ cookoff by the local Fire Department, but we weren’t ready to eat yet, so we passed on that one.
We did stop in at the Swan and Iris Gardens, though, and it turned out to be quite a nice find!
We drove in and parked in the parking lot where workers were busy putting up outdoor Christmas lights. There was a picnic area and playground for kids that looked really nice. There was also a small coffee shop/cafe/ice cream shop, but we still weren’t ready to eat.
Across from the picnic area, there was a sidewalk leading to an iron gate with a sign reminding people to close the gate behind them, and not to bring any dogs in. We weren’t sure where we were going, but we went through the gate. The sidewalk lead us over to a beautiful lake surrounded by cypress trees.
We saw ducks, geese, anhinga, herons and swans . . . lots of swans!
There was a trail following the edge of the lake,
and a few more gates to go through as we neared a feeding area for the residents.
We weren’t sure what to expect as we walked through the feeding area, but figured it wouldn’t be open if they were aggressive . . . then we saw this sign later . . . on the other side of the lake!
There were lots of swans milling around in the feeding area, and in the water nearby. I’d never seen black swans before! As we continued walking along the trail, there were signs for each of the species of swan in the garden – there were about 10 different ones, some native to the US (Trumpeter Swans) and some native to Europe and Asia.
The lake was beautiful, and I couldn’t resist taking pictures of the swans.
We continued around the lake,
and past several interesting trees.
It was a beautiful day for a walk around the lake – we were so glad we stopped!
Surrounding the lake there were several gardens, including a “braille garden” where all the plants were selected for their fragrance.
We stopped for a break to watch the ducks at the other end of the lake.
One last look at the lake before we leave!
The visit to the Swan Garden alone made the trip to Sumter worthwhile, but we weren’t done yet . . .
On the way to the next quilt shop, we drove through the historic downtown area. As we approached the center of town, the streets were closed for a Thanksgiving Parade. We decided to stop and watch, and as we parked the Jeep on a side street, we spotted a car show.
It turned out to be an all-Ford car show . . . with plenty of Mustangs,
and even trucks!
Tom really liked this Bronco! That would be nice to take on the dunes!
It wasn’t a big car show, but there were some very nice cars there. Another gem!
Too bad Nicolas was working -- he would have enjoyed this one!
From the car show, we walked a few blocks down to reach the parade route and were just in time to catch the tail end of the parade.
We stood on the corner by a church to watch the parade.
In addition to some floats, there were Corvettes,
and a High School Marching Band!
We’d had a pretty full day, but we had one more stop to make before getting some dinner. We found my other quilt shop, and I found the 2nd item I was looking for, and we asked the ladies in the shop for recommendations on a pizzeria.
They mentioned a few, but the general consensus was that Marco’s had the best pizza in town. Really?? Marco’s? The carryout pizza place – that’s the best pizza in town!?! They said it was an eat-in place, too, but when we drove past it looked just like the Marco’s back in Michigan, maybe with a few tables inside. No thanks, certainly we can do better then that!
So, I turned to Yelp, and found one of the other places they had mentioned, Georgio’s II, and it had pretty good reviews. Following my phone gps, we drove right past the first quilt shop again, and then arrived at the little italian restaurant. It was empty (but we were pretty early for dinner), and very good . . . although they did forget to put sausage on our pizza! We enjoyed the pizza – definitely better than Marco’s – and headed back home.
It was a very good day – I found the things I was looking for, and we found some hidden gems that we didn’t even know were there!