The town began in 1877 as a store established in a dugout to accommodate buffalo hunters. Today, the seat of Nolan County is a banking and commercial center. Industrial firms include a cottonseed oil mill and a garment manufacturer. The Sweetwater Commercial Historic District is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and includes architectural styles from the 1900s–30s.
The Nolan County Coliseum Complex is the site of livestock shows, rodeos and the "World's Largest Rattlesnake Round-up" held the second weekend in March.
Sweetwater hosts the "Texas Midwest Soap Box Derby" in June, with winners advancing to the world championships.
The Nolan County Courthouse features a collection of Winchester rifles and houses Walt Disney's "Fifinella," the emblem adopted by the Women Airforce Service Pilots of WWII.
The city also boasts two 18-hole golf courses.
Sweetwater lies near the intersection of U.S. 84, a segment of the Port-to-Plains Highway connecting the state's heartland to the coastal ports. The town is part of the Texas Midwest Community Network and the northern gateway to the Texas Forts Trail.