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Visit Florence South Carolina, things to do and more!

Florence South Carolina
Florence South Carolina

The city of Florence, South Carolina, isn't just another Southern gem in the Palmetto State. Nestled in the Pee Dee region, it's a bona fide hub of rich history, culture, and warm community spirit that's sure to captivate any traveler, local adventurer, or history aficionado. Spilling with a rich tapestry of pastel-shaded buildings, verdant parkland, and a downtown poised with a balance of tradition and modernity, Florence goes beyond southern stereotypes, uncovering a South both true to its heritage and bursting with potential and an array of outdoor recreational activities.

Whether you're a chronicler of history, a gastronomic trailblazer, or dare to saunter around unfamiliar trails, Florence is a palette of varied pursuits, ready to offer the adventure that perfectly suits your palette. Drawing a colorful itinerary, we'll map out the experiences that make Florence an American city with a soul as deep as its cultural roots. Gather your curiosity and walking shoes; we're about to uncover the many shades of Florence, South Carolina.

Florence Through the Ages

Florence SC road sign
Florence SC road sign

Before we beckon you to the freshest spots in town, a prose of its past is warranted. Tracing back to the segregation era, Florence has braved through challenging civil rights moments to emerge as a haven for diversity and resilience. This steadfast forward march has woven a diverse blend into the city's fabric, one that warmly includes every shade under the South Carolina sun.

The city has preserved historical landmarks, such as the Florence National Cemetery, bearing testament to its storied past. Moseying through Florence, one can't help but marvel at the layers of history within each brick. This respect for its roots is a defining feature that has sustained throughout centuries and remains a rich essence adding to the city's modern tapestry.

Located at just over an hour away from Myrtle Beach, just off of interstate 95 and Interstate 20. Many travelers pass right by here on their way to the beach, but never stop long enough to appreciate the history or activities that this wonderful city has to offer.

What to do in Florence South Carolina? Here are the Answers!

Caramelized Pecans, visit the SC Pecan Trail
Caramelized Pecans, visit the SC Pecan Trail

What's the first order of the day in Florence? How about immersing yourself in the art at the Florence County Museum, where local works intertwine with international pieces. There are so many things to see and do in Florence and the surrounding area you could be busy for days. For example, have you heard of the South Carolina Pecan Trail? It is a trail from Florence to Lake City that features restaurants or other shops that feature Pecans as an ingredient in their food, drinks, or candies. Check out this website for more info, but I will have a few places listed in this blog too that are on their list. You visit the Visitors Bureau to pick up a passport and get it stamped when you visit the restaurants on the list.

Meanwhile, War-Between-the-States history buffs will revel at the Florence Stockade, where echoes of a bygone conflict linger in the air. A confederate state military prison and prisoner of war camp during the civil war. This area is on the National Record of Historic Places. These historical sites are part of the Florence Trail System.

Florence Veterans Park- located downtown is a great park for people watching but also for paying tribute to the armed forces and soldiers who served. There is a memorial wall, and several sculptures.

High Hill Creek Bike and Run
High Hill Creek Bike and Run

Timrod Park is another great park in Florence with Tennis courts, an amphitheater, a gazebo, playgrounds and a picnic area also for the whole family.

High Hill Creek Bike and Run Park- this is by far one of the best places to visit if you are a bike rider.

Lynches River County Park is my favorite park. They have an environmental discovery area, and a splash pad that is open during the summer season. One of the best things to see is the swamp area is beautiful and great for looking at old cypress trees and bird watching.

Woods Bay Natural Area located nearby in Olanta SC offers a variety of trails for hiking, fishing, bird watching and picnic shelter. This is a great place to visit to be out in nature. This is the perfect place for nature lovers. A great place for a leisurely walk.

Riverrat Canoe and Kayak Rental is the best rental company in the area, they have a kid's camp and tours on the Lynches River.  

Langston Ranch located in nearby Coward SC is a great place to visit with the kids. A petting zoo and so much more. They also have summer camps available.

Sculpture Trail- Florence is known for having lots of sculptures, both inside and out. From statues at the Library and Performing Arts studio, to the Veterans Park. If you would like a list of all statues, you can learn more at the Visit Florence website.

Waterways of the Low Country
Waterways of the Low Country

Revolutionary Rivers- a large river system that was important and used during the Revolutionary war. Today it is a national water trail that starts in the Lynches River area and covers 66 miles making its way down to the Pee Dee River area, with plenty of camping, kayaking and canoeing. With 22 designating landing spots, this trail system starts in Florence but continues on well outside the county.

Francis Marion Performing Arts Studio located in the downtown area is a great place to see a performance. A play or even a concert. Sometimes they feature music ensembles who are going to school at the University. The Florence Symphony Orchestra also performs here.

Florence Little Theatre is a great place to see musicals or shows. They even have a summer camp for the kids.

In the heart of downtown Florence, Main Street is a great place to walk, shop and grab a bite to eat. Florence’s downtown area is full of local businesses, thanks to the downtown revitalization.

Buc-ee's Travel Center picture by Tom Brynan
Buc-ee's Travel Center picture by Tom Brynan

Buc-ee's Travel Center is located in Florence. This is a well-loved convivence store by truckers and road trippers of Texas and other areas of the South. Stop in, you will always find something you will want to buy at Buc-ee's.

Francis Marion University is a major SC university and a main feature of the city of Florence. In my opinion it is landscaped beautifully and is a beautiful campus. 

Florence Motor Speedway is a great place to get your adrenaline rushing while watching the cars go fast around the track, trying not to wreck. Located in nearby Timmonsville, there are races every weekend during the summer.

Other places to check out while in town are, The Florence Center, Blade and Bull Axe Throwing, Gately Gallery or the Straw Hat Distillery.

When Florence Throws a Party

Florence has more than a few community events. From music festivals to art fairs, the city's calendar is a kaleidoscope of events. Each year, you can time your visit to coincide with some of these festivals. For example, Check out the Florence after 5 Concert Series,  SC Pecan Festival, or The Chocolate Crawl.

The city's ethos truly shines during these festivities and many more in the area, a collective revelry where locals and visitors meld into one in a shared celebration of life — Southern style.

A Gourmet Odyssey

Steak and fries

Florence ventures far beyond your standard Southern local cuisine (though their fried chicken and biscuits are incomparable!). The Red Bone Alley is a culinary institution offering a symphony of flavors, from Cajun to Caribbean, marrying diverse food traditions under one cozy roof. Should "fresh" be your flavor, Victors is the place for you, where local and organic ingredients burst through in every bite. It is fine dining at its best.

But it's not just about the local restaurants – farmers' markets here are a living, breathing bounty of the region's best fresh produce, showcasing the heartland's harvest. The seasonal local picks make for an organic, farm-to-table experience unrivaled in authenticity. I love stopping when I'm in the area at roadside produce stops in the summer. You will see them throughout all of South Carolina.

Julia Belle’s- serves great food and has great food and decent prices. I love their pasta dishes.

Wholly Smokin BBQ- of course serves BBQ, but you have to try the Dargan Devil Egg, it is amazing.

Tubbs Shrimp and Fish Company- Serves a southern comfort food like fried green tomatoes but also grilled, blackened, and fried seafood. If you are here for lunch get a oyster Po’boy they are great.

Rebel Pie- is a great place for pizza and so much better than any franchise pizza chain. Try their cinnamon sugar pie holes for an appetizer or desert. This is a great hidden gem.

The Town Hall is a favorite of mine, they have a rooftop bar area that overlooks the Florence downtown historic district which is a great place to spend spring or summer evening. This place is slightly upscale serving twists on southern food along with the best steaks around.

Lulu’s Coffee Company is a great place for coffee and featured on the South Carolina Pecan Trail.

Where to Rest Your Head

High Hill Creek and Run
High Hill Creek Bike and Run

When the day's adventures wear you down, Florence's hospitality industry unfurls a welcome second to none. Boutique inns with their antebellum-inspired decor or the more contemporary comforts of chain hotels — Florence's lodging variety ensures you end your day with a cozy haven catered to your style. From Hampton Inn to Courtyard Marriott, there are over 70 options to stay at night.

The Hotel Florence, a restored 1920s hotel, offers a lavish step back in time, harmoniously blending historic grandeur with modern amenities. If you're more inclined towards a modern space, Tru by Hilton promises a vibrant, contemporary stay that is sure to impress the tech-savvy traveler.

Each stay, from the coziest B&B to the most luxurious suite, is steeped in the city's charm, where warm welcomes reiterate the enduring truth — in Florence, hospitality isn't just an industry, it's a way of life.

Wrapping Up Your Visit to Florence

Magnolia Bloom
Magnolia bloom

Leaving Florence is no easy feat. The memories you'll craft here, from the ebullient festivals to the serene rows of magnolia and palm trees, are the threads that weave visitors into part of Florence's story. It's a narrative that's always evolving but never losing sight of its roots, consistently boasting a spirit of community and a trove of tales waiting to be told.

Florence, South Carolina, isn't just a city you pass through — it's one that you carry with you in your heart, a blend of tradition and possibility that beckons you to return, to rediscover, and to keep enjoying the flavors of the South that it so abundantly offers. Come once, and you'll find a reason to keep coming back — Florence is a city not easily forgotten. It's an epitome of the New South in constant dialogue with its past, picturesque and lively, its charms deep-rooted yet ready to be discovered.

Pack your bags, and set your GPS, the charming city of Florence, South Carolina, awaits your inquisitive spirit, your unbounded joy, and the makings of your own Southern story.

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