Do you remember the quaint little town of Mayberry in the classic Andy Griffith television series? Add Friday night football games, historic shops, long-time traditions, and rhubarb pie to the mix and you’ve got a taste of the idyllic small-town life that encapsulates much of the City of Sumner. Don’t be fooled by Sumner’s size, though. As described by the city website, this charming pocket of Pierce County is ‘combining the best of the past with a visionary future’ by encouraging progressive growth while continuing to retain the small-town charm that it’s known and loved for.
Sumner lies in the valley where the White River flows into the Puyallup River, wedged between the City of Auburn to the north and the City of Puyallup to the south. Majestic Mt. Rainier is only an hour’s drive away and Tacoma is an easy 12 mile trip if you have a craving for the coast. Sumner is also an ideal spot for commuters, with easy access to three main freeways (HWY 167, 410, and 512) and a conveniently located Sounder Station that provides transportation by train all the way from Lakewood to Seattle.
Sumner is divided into three main areas:
- Historic Downtown Sumner, located on the west side of Main Street
- East Main Street, which hosts several newer restaurants, shops, and businesses
- The Industrial District, located to the north
Regardless of the area you decide is right for you, keep in mind that it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes to get from one end of Sumner to the other. That means you can stop for your morning latte at your favorite coffee shop, hit the gym in the afternoon, and then grab groceries on your way home all without having to hop on the freeway or fight traffic.
Historic Downtown Sumner
The quintessential small-town feel of Sumner shines most brightly along the streets of Historic Downtown Sumner, located on the west side of Main Street. Visitors and residents alike enjoy a slower pace in this part of town while strolling past several antique shops, local retailers, coffee shops, and restaurants (scroll to the bottom of the page for a list of my can’t-miss spots).
Downtown Sumner is also the hub for many local annual events that bring together residents both new and old. Get your pie fix at the weekend-long Rhubarb Days festival, enjoy outdoor music and entertainment during July’s Music off Main concert series, or attend the annual Santa Parade and Holiday Bridge Lighting to make your holidays extra memorable. There’s also a Sip and Stroll event a few times a year for all your wine lovers out there! See a full list of Sumner’s annual events here.
Downtown Sumner is also home to the Ryan House Museum. This historical gem was originally constructed in 1872 by Sumner’s first Mayor, George Ryan, and was gradually added on to over the course of the next 10 years. It was eventually donated to be used as Sumner’s Library until a new one was built, and is now a museum run by the Sumner Historical Society.
The homes and residential neighborhoods near Downtown add to the overall historic charm of the area. As you venture down each tree-lined street, it’s quite impressive to note how well homeowners in this part of town care for their properties. Several homes date back as far as the early 1900’s and many residents have lived in the same one for decades. The low turnover of residents coming and going causes the inventory of homes available for sale in this area to be on the lower side, so just be warned that it can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack if Downtown Sumner is your neighborhood of choice.
East Main Street
The east side of Main Street showcases a newer side of Sumner. This is where you’ll find most of the city’s local amenities such as groceries, retailers, fast food, and the impressive 110,000-square-foot Gordon Family YMCA that opened in 2015.
The east part of town also offers access to the Sumner Link Trail, which stretches about 5.5 miles from the north part of Sumner to the south. The trail is completely paved and snakes along the Puyallup River and White River, making it a scenic option that works for all kinds of outdoor activities.
Homes in this part of Sumner tend to be on the newer side with several different developments and neighborhoods to choose from. Most of them date back to the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, but there are also some brand new construction communities that are currently being developed as the city continues to grow and expand.
As you travel to the north side of Sumner, you’ll discover that the tree-lined streets gradually fade into several miles of massive commercial buildings and warehouses. Although it may not be as pretty, this part of Sumner greatly contributes to the city’s economic success and offers jobs to thousands of employees. Major companies with fulfillment centers in Sumner’s industrial district include Amazon, Costco, REI, lululemon, and more. There are also a handful of restaurants, drive-thru coffee stands, and other amenities as well.
Whether you decide Sumner is the right neighborhood for you or not, you are sure to appreciate the ‘hometown’ feel this special place has to offer. Make sure to check out some of my favorite businesses while you’re there!
- Coffee Shops: Craft19 Espresso & Creperie, Electric Coffee, River’s Edge Cafe
- Breakfast/Brunch: Windmill Bistro, Dixie’s Home Cookin’, The Buttered Biscuit
- Cafe: Hometown Charm Cafe, Sumner Cafe
- Pub Fare: Stuck Junction Saloon
- Pizza: Trackside, Farelli’s, Fat Zach’s
- Italian: Sorci’s, Aversano’s
- BBQ: Brank’s BBQ
- Drive-in: Main Street Dairy Freeze
- Simple Tidings & Kitchen
- Blue, A Goodwill Boutique
- A Picket Fence
- Fleurish Home
- Kissed by Chloe
- The Old Cannery Furniture Warehouse
- Sugar Babies
- Sparrow and Nightingale’s
- Bonney Lake Bicycle Shop
- Windmill Gardens
Fast Facts about Sumner
- Current population: 10,427 (2019)
- Median age: 36
- Bachelors’ degree or higher: 24.6%
- Median household income: $59,846
- Median home price: $368,883
- Seattle – 34 miles, 41 mins
- Tacoma – 12 miles, 22 mins
- Olympia – 37 miles, 45 mins
- JBLM – 21 miles, 30 mins
- Avoid the traffic and take the Sounder Train. There’s a station located in Downtown Sumner that can get you to Lakewood within 35 minutes or Seattle within 45 minutes, with several stops along the way in both directions.