12 Top Things to Do in Florence, South Carolina

Top Destinations Oct 9, 2023

Florence, South Carolina, often overshadowed by its more famous counterparts, is a gem waiting to be discovered. Nestled in the eastern part of the state, this charming city exudes a mix of southern charm, rich history, and burgeoning modernity. Whether you're a history buff, nature lover, or shopping enthusiast, Florence promises a delightful experience for all. This guide to the "Top Things to Do in Florence, South Carolina" aims to steer you through the city's top attractions, ensuring you make the most of your visit.

From its museums that take you back in time to the tranquil parks offering a peaceful respite, Florence's attractions are as diverse as they are numerous. For the discerning traveler looking for a blend of the old and the new, or the family on a quest to find activities that are both fun and educational, there is something in Florence for everyone.

Every corner of Florence whispers a story, every alley a testament to its past, and every attraction a promise of an unforgettable experience. This list of the "Top Things to Do in Florence, South Carolina" is your gateway to uncovering the city's soul, one attraction at a time.

Exploring the Florence County Museum

The Florence County Museum is more than just a building filled with artifacts—it's a time capsule that captures the essence of the region. Situated in the heart of downtown Florence, this museum stands as a testament to the area's rich history, art, and culture.

As you step into the museum, you are greeted by an array of exhibits ranging from prehistoric times to the modern age. These carefully curated collections provide insight into the Native American inhabitants of the region, the Revolutionary War era, and the role Florence played during the Civil War.

Art enthusiasts will be delighted to find a substantial collection of regional art spanning various mediums and eras. The museum's commitment to showcasing local talent ensures that visitors get a genuine feel for the region's art scene.

One of the standout exhibits is the Pee Dee History Gallery. This permanent exhibit dives deep into the history of the Pee Dee region, giving visitors an in-depth understanding of its transformation over the centuries.

For families visiting with children, the museum offers interactive exhibits that are both educational and fun. Kids can engage in hands-on activities, ensuring that their museum experience is both enlightening and entertaining.

Source: Pee Dee Tourism

Discovering the War Between the States Museum

Florence, South Carolina, is a city steeped in history, and nowhere is this more evident than at the War Between the States Museum. Located in the heart of the city, this museum is dedicated to preserving the memories, artifacts, and stories of the Civil War. For history enthusiasts and casual visitors alike, this is a crucial stop to gain a deeper understanding of the profound impact of the Civil War on Florence and the broader Southern United States.

Upon entering the museum, you are immediately transported back to the tumultuous period of the 1860s. The carefully curated exhibits provide a balanced perspective, showcasing artifacts, memorabilia, and relics from both the Confederate and Union sides. From authentic uniforms to battle flags, from weapons to personal letters, each artifact tells a unique story of bravery, sacrifice, and the complexities of war.

The museum places a special emphasis on the role of South Carolina in the Civil War. Given its distinction as the first state to secede from the Union, understanding South Carolina's perspective is crucial to comprehending the broader narratives of the Civil War. As you navigate the museum, you'll gain insights into the major battles that took place in the state, the strategies employed, and the key figures that shaped the course of the conflict.

One of the museum's standout features is its collection of personal stories. These narratives bring to life the experiences of soldiers, their families, and civilians caught in the crossfire. Through letters, diaries, and first-hand accounts, visitors get an intimate glimpse into the struggles, hopes, and fears of those who lived through the era.

Source: Pee Dee Tourism 

A Day Out at the Florence Veterans Park

Florence, with its rich tapestry of history and cultural influences, offers an array of experiences that tug at the heartstrings and evoke a sense of pride. Among these treasures, the Florence Veterans Park stands out as a symbol of honor, sacrifice, and the indomitable human spirit. Set against the backdrop of verdant landscapes and serene water features, this park serves as a poignant tribute to the brave souls who served in the armed forces, ensuring our freedoms and way of life.

As you enter the park, the first thing that captures your attention is the central monument – a soaring structure crowned with the emblem of the United States, surrounded by intricately crafted statues representing each branch of the military. Each statue, from its pose to the detailing of the uniforms, has been meticulously designed to encapsulate the essence of the respective branch, be it the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard.

Nestled around this central monument are individual memorials dedicated to various wars and conflicts in which the United States has been involved. From World War I to the modern-day operations in the Middle East, each memorial offers insights into the battles fought, the challenges faced, and the heroes who rose to the occasion. Engraved plaques provide historical context, personal anecdotes, and heart-rending quotes from soldiers and leaders, offering visitors a deep dive into the realities of war.

For families visiting the park, there's an opportunity to educate the younger generation about the importance of service and sacrifice. The park's educational plaques, interactive displays, and occasional reenactments offer a hands-on approach to understanding military history, ensuring that the lessons of the past are not lost on the future.

Source: City of Florence

Shopping and Dining at Magnolia Mall

When it comes to capturing the vibrant essence of Florence, South Carolina, the Magnolia Mall stands as a testament to the city's evolving cultural and commercial landscape. Located conveniently in the heart of the city, this bustling shopping hub offers visitors an eclectic mix of retail stores, dining options, and entertainment activities, making it a must-visit for both locals and tourists alike.

Upon entering Magnolia Mall, one is immediately greeted with a plethora of shopping options. From high-end luxury brands to local artisan boutiques, the mall caters to every taste and budget. Fashion enthusiasts will find a treasure trove of apparel, accessories, and footwear stores that showcase the latest trends and timeless classics. Those in search of unique souvenirs or gifts can explore the array of specialty stores that feature local crafts, artisanal products, and other unique finds.

However, shopping is just one aspect of the Magnolia Mall experience. For the foodies, the mall boasts a diverse range of dining options that promise a culinary journey through various cuisines. Whether you're in the mood for a classic American burger, spicy Mexican delights, creamy Italian pasta, or exotic Asian flavors, the mall's restaurants and eateries have something to satisfy every palate. Moreover, for those looking for a quick bite or a sweet treat, numerous cafes, bakeries, and dessert parlors offer delectable options to satiate those cravings.

Source: Magnolia Mall

Enjoying Nature at Timrod Park

Timrod Park, a lush oasis in the heart of Florence, South Carolina, beckons nature lovers, families, and anyone seeking a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. Covering a vast expanse, this verdant haven is a testament to Florence's commitment to preserving natural beauty and providing recreational spaces for its residents and visitors.

The moment you step into Timrod Park, you're enveloped by its tranquil ambiance. Mature trees, some of which have stood tall for decades, offer a canopy of shade, their leaves rustling gently with the breeze. Well-maintained pathways meander through the park, inviting visitors to take leisurely strolls, jog, or simply wander and soak in the beauty.

One of the park's standout features is its beautifully landscaped gardens, bursting with a riot of colors throughout the year. From vibrant azaleas in the spring to the fiery hues of fall foliage, every season brings with it a unique visual treat. Garden enthusiasts will especially appreciate the various plant species, some native to South Carolina, meticulously labeled and cared for.

But Timrod Park is not just about passive enjoyment. It's designed to be a hub of activity. Families can have picnics in designated areas, children can frolic in the playgrounds, and sports enthusiasts can make use of the tennis courts.

Unwinding at the Florence Motor Speedway

For adrenaline junkies and motor racing enthusiasts, the Florence Motor Speedway is an unmissable stop when visiting Florence, South Carolina. Over the years, this iconic racing circuit has etched its name in the annals of American motorsport history, hosting a variety of racing events and witnessing some of the most thrilling moments on the track.

Sprawling across a vast area, the Florence Motor Speedway is an epitome of racing excellence. The track, with its challenging bends, straights, and chicanes, promises an exhilarating experience for both drivers and spectators. Its state-of-the-art facilities ensure that every race is not just a sporting event but a spectacle.

Upon arriving at the speedway, the roar of engines, the scent of burning rubber, and the palpable excitement in the air immediately set the tone. Whether you're a seasoned motorsport aficionado or a first-time visitor, the energy of the place is infectious. From the gleaming race cars lined up on the grid to the teams meticulously preparing in the pits, every element screams speed and passion.

One of the standout features of the Florence Motor Speedway is its commitment to promoting grassroots racing. While it hosts several high-profile races throughout the year, the speedway is also a platform for budding racers to showcase their talent. The weekly racing series is a testament to this, where local drivers, young and old, battle it out on the track, vying for glory.

But the speedway experience isn't restricted to watching the races. The facility offers a range of interactive experiences for visitors. Guided tours take fans behind the scenes, exploring the pits, the control rooms, and even the victory lane. For those who've always dreamt of getting behind the wheel, the speedway offers racing experiences, allowing visitors to feel the thrill of speeding down the track under the guidance of professional instructors.

Off the track, the Florence Motor Speedway ensures that visitors are well catered to. The grandstands offer panoramic views of the circuit, ensuring that fans don't miss a second of the action. Multiple food stalls and beverage counters serve a range of delectables, ensuring that hunger pangs are kept at bay.

Source: Nascar

Visiting the Lynches River County Park

Nestled amidst the natural beauty of Florence, South Carolina, the Lynches River County Park stands as a beacon for nature lovers, adventure seekers, and those looking to escape the urban grind. With its expansive landscapes, diverse wildlife, and a plethora of recreational activities, the park offers a slice of nature's best, right in the heart of the Pee Dee region.

Spanning over 676 acres, the Lynches River County Park is a celebration of the region's rich biodiversity. Majestic trees, shimmering waterways, and verdant meadows form the backdrop of this beautiful haven. As you wander through its trails, it's not uncommon to spot deer grazing, birds soaring overhead, or the gentle ripples of the river reflecting the sky.

One of the park's standout features is the Environmental Discovery Center. This state-of-the-art facility serves as an educational hub, offering insights into the region's ecology, geology, and wildlife. Interactive exhibits, hands-on displays, and informative dioramas make learning fun and engaging. The center also hosts regular workshops and nature talks, ensuring that visitors leave with a deeper appreciation for the environment.

Adventure enthusiasts are in for a treat at Lynches River County Park. The river, with its meandering course, offers ample opportunities for canoeing and kayaking. Paddle down the gentle waters, with the canopy overhead and the sounds of nature all around, for a truly immersive experience. For those who prefer solid ground, the park boasts several miles of hiking and biking trails, each offering unique vistas and challenges.

Source: Lynches River County Park

In the quieter corners of the park, benches overlooking the river or secluded spots amidst the trees offer moments of solitude and reflection. Many visitors come to the park not for the activities but for the peace it offers, a chance to reconnect with nature and oneself.

The Splendor of the Florence Symphony Orchestra

The power of music to move, inspire, and bring people together is universally acknowledged. In Florence, South Carolina, this power is best encapsulated by the Florence Symphony Orchestra (FSO). Renowned for its mastery, precision, and emotive performances, the FSO stands as a testament to the city's rich cultural tapestry and its dedication to the arts.

Founded decades ago, the Florence Symphony Orchestra has evolved to become one of the region's premier musical institutions. Its talented ensemble, composed of both local and internationally acclaimed musicians, is known for delivering performances that span a wide range of genres – from timeless classics of Beethoven and Mozart to contemporary compositions and popular scores.

The experience of attending an FSO performance is nothing short of magical. As the lights dim and the audience settles into a hushed anticipation, the first notes that resonate through the concert hall immediately transport listeners to a world of melody and emotion. Under the skilled baton of the conductor, the orchestra weaves intricate musical narratives that captivate, inspire, and often evoke profound emotions.

One of the unique aspects of the Florence Symphony Orchestra is its commitment to community outreach and education. Recognizing the transformative power of music, the FSO regularly hosts workshops, educational programs, and interactive sessions for students and aspiring musicians. These initiatives not only nurture the next generation of musical talent but also foster a deeper appreciation for classical music within the community.

In addition to its regular concerts, the FSO frequently collaborates with other artistic disciplines, further enriching Florence's cultural scene. From ballet performances to operatic productions, from art exhibitions to theatrical plays, these collaborations create a multi-sensory experience for the audience, blending the auditory splendor of the orchestra with visual and performative arts.

The concert hall, where the FSO often performs, is an architectural marvel in itself. Its acoustically designed interiors ensure that every note, every nuance, is heard with crystal clarity. The ambiance – from the plush seating to the ornate decor – adds to the overall experience, making each concert a memorable event.

In conclusion, the Florence Symphony Orchestra is more than just a group of musicians; it's a cultural beacon, shining brightly in the artistic landscape of Florence. Attending an FSO concert is not just about listening to music; it's about experiencing the passion, dedication, and brilliance of an ensemble that plays from the heart. Whether you're a classical music aficionado or someone looking for an evening of cultural enrichment, the Florence Symphony Orchestra promises a symphonic journey that resonates deep within the soul.

Source: Symphony

Golfing Experiences at Traces Golf Club

For golf enthusiasts visiting Florence, South Carolina, the Traces Golf Club emerges as a paradise. Tucked amidst the natural beauty of the region, this golf club offers an unparalleled golfing experience, blending challenging courses, top-notch amenities, and the serene ambiance of the South Carolina landscape.

The Traces Golf Club boasts three distinct nine-hole courses, each offering its unique set of challenges and vistas. Designed by renowned architects, the courses cater to golfers of all skill levels, from novices looking for a relaxed game to seasoned pros seeking a challenging round. The meticulously maintained fairways, strategically placed hazards, and undulating greens ensure that every hole is an adventure in itself.

One of the standout features of the Traces Golf Club is its commitment to preserving the natural beauty of the region. The courses weave through groves of mature trees, skirt around natural water bodies, and offer panoramic views of the South Carolina countryside. It's not uncommon for golfers to spot local wildlife, from graceful deer to vibrant birds, adding a touch of wilderness to the golfing experience.

Beyond the courses, the Traces Golf Club offers top-tier amenities to enhance the golfer's experience. The pro shop, stocked with the latest equipment and apparel, ensures that golfers have everything they need for their game. The club's PGA professionals are on hand to offer lessons, fine-tune techniques, and provide insights into the game.

After a round of golf, players can head to the clubhouse, a welcoming space designed to offer relaxation and camaraderie. With its comfortable seating, panoramic views of the courses, and a menu featuring local and international delicacies, the clubhouse is the perfect place to unwind, recap the game, or simply enjoy the ambiance.

The Traces Golf Club also serves as a venue for various events and tournaments throughout the year. From local championships to corporate outings, the club's facilities and staff ensure that every event is a resounding success. Customized packages, including golf lessons, catering, and equipment rentals, make organizing events a breeze.

Source: ForeTee

The Vibrant Farmers Market at Pee Dee State Farmers Market

Florence, South Carolina, with its rich agricultural heritage, is a haven for fresh produce and local delicacies. At the heart of this agricultural showcase is the Pee Dee State Farmers Market. A vibrant hub of activity, this market brings together farmers, artisans, and consumers, offering a cornucopia of fresh produce, handmade crafts, and an authentic taste of Florence's agrarian culture.

The moment you step into the Pee Dee State Farmers Market, you're greeted with a riot of colors and aromas. Stalls laden with fresh fruits and vegetables, each bursting with natural flavor and goodness, line the pathways. From juicy tomatoes to crisp apples, from earthy root vegetables to tender leafy greens, the bounty of Florence's fertile lands is on full display.

But the market isn't limited to just fresh produce. Local farmers and artisans showcase a variety of products, from homemade jams, jellies, and sauces to freshly baked bread, cheeses, and artisanal chocolates. As you meander through the stalls, you can sample a variety of these delicacies, often engaging with the producers themselves, understanding the love and dedication that goes into each product.

One of the standout features of the Pee Dee State Farmers Market is its dedication to sustainability and supporting local businesses. The majority of the vendors are local farmers and artisans, ensuring that the produce is fresh, sustainably grown, and directly benefits the local community.

Source: WBTW

Strolling Around the Florence Downtown Historic District

As you begin your journey through the Florence Downtown Historic District, the historic buildings stand out as silent witnesses to bygone eras. Architectural styles from various periods, including Victorian, Colonial Revival, and Art Deco, dot the streetscape. Each building, with its unique design, intricate detailing, and historical significance, tells a story of the people, events, and ideologies of its time.

One of the standout landmarks in the district is the Florence City Hall. With its stately facade, grand interiors, and historical significance, it stands as a testament to the city's administrative and political heritage. Nearby, the old train station, with its distinctive architecture and role in the city's development, offers insights into Florence's transportation history and its importance as a railway hub.

But the Florence Downtown Historic District is not just about historical buildings. It's a living, breathing space where history seamlessly melds with the present. Modern boutiques, cafes, and galleries have found their home in these historic structures, offering a unique blend of old-world charm and contemporary offerings.

Art enthusiasts will be delighted by the district's burgeoning art scene. Several galleries showcase the works of local and international artists, spanning various mediums and styles. Frequent art walks, workshops, and exhibitions provide a platform for artists and art lovers to interact, learn, and celebrate the creative spirit.

Taste Savoring Southern Delights: The Cuisine of Florence, SC

Florence, nestled in the heart of South Carolina, is not just a visual and historical treat but also a culinary haven. The city, with its Southern roots and global influences, offers a gastronomic journey that tantalizes the taste buds and leaves one craving for more. From traditional comfort foods to contemporary fusion dishes, the cuisine of Florence is a delectable testament to its rich cultural tapestry.

A Glimpse into Florence's Culinary Landscape

Florence's cuisine is deeply rooted in Southern traditions. Think of hearty meals, rich flavors, and dishes passed down through generations. Yet, the city isn't afraid to embrace new culinary trends, resulting in a delightful melding of the old and new. Whether it's the classic shrimp and grits, mouth-watering barbecue, or innovative farm-to-table offerings, Florence's food scene is as diverse as it is delicious.

Restaurants to Relish in Florence

  • Mama's Southern Kitchen: A staple for those craving authentic Southern dishes. From fried chicken to collard greens, Mama's offers a taste of home-cooked goodness.
  • Johnny T's Bistro & Blues: For those seeking a fine dining experience, Johnny T's Bistro & Blues offers a blend of classic Italian dishes with a Southern twist. Their wine list is extensive, perfect for pairing with their exquisite meals.
  • Townhouse Restaurant: Set in a charming historic building, this bistro offers contemporary American cuisine with fresh, local ingredients playing a starring role.
  • Flavors of India: Reflecting Florence's diverse palette, this restaurant offers an array of aromatic and flavorful Indian dishes, from butter chicken to spicy biryanis.
  • Lizard's Thicket Restaurant: This rustic grill, with its wood-fired pizzas and succulent steaks, is a favorite amongst locals and visitors alike.
  • Pee Dee Coffee House: Beyond just coffees and pastries, this quaint café offers a range of sandwiches, salads, and local brews, perfect for a casual lunch.

A Culinary Adventure Awaits

The restaurants in Florence are more than just eateries; they're experiences. They reflect the city's history, its people, and its evolving tastes. Every dish tells a story, every flavor carries a memory. So, as you explore Florence, make sure to savor its culinary offerings. Let each meal be a journey, a delicious exploration of what makes Florence, SC, truly unique.

Top Things to Do & Places To Visit in Florence, South Carolina

Florence, South Carolina, is a city that effortlessly marries its rich history with modern vibrancy, offering visitors a myriad of experiences that captivate both the heart and soul. Whether you're immersing yourself in the melodies of the Florence Symphony Orchestra, tracing the architectural wonders of the Downtown Historic District, or seeking tranquility amidst the natural beauty of Lynches River County Park, there's an undeniable magic that permeates every corner of this Southern gem.

The diversity of experiences, from adrenaline-pumping races at the Florence Motor Speedway to the fresh flavors of the Pee Dee State Farmers Market, ensures that every visitor finds something that resonates with their interests and passions. Moreover, the city's commitment to preserving its cultural heritage, fostering community spirit, and embracing modernity makes it a must-visit destination that promises both enlightenment and entertainment.

In essence, the top things to do in Florence, South Carolina, are not just about activities or attractions; they're about experiencing the city's essence. They provide a window into its past, a taste of its present, and a hint of its promising future. Each visit to Florence is an opportunity to delve deeper, discover more, and leave with memories that last a lifetime. Whether you're a seasoned traveler or someone exploring Florence for the first time, the city beckons with open arms, inviting you to uncover its treasures and find your own slice of Southern enchantment.