Florence has been around since 1719 so is rich with history. It became chartered in 1871 and then became the hub of three railroads in 1857 and is the center of the Pee Dee region of South Carolina. It includes the eight counties of northeastern South Carolina, along with sections of southeastern North Carolina. As of 2013, the city retains its status as a major hub, both for industry and infrastructure, while establishing itself as a regional center for business, medicine, culture and finance. This small city of 37,326 residents has many events and activities available along with a wide range of dining, with numerous national franchises, and spectacular local cuisine. Listed below are the top ten things to do in Florence, South Carolina.
10. Jeffries Creek Nature Park and Northwest Park
Enjoy the outdoors by visiting Jeffries Creek Nature Park and Northwest Park. The nature park has a lush landscape that is 55 acres of wetlands close to downtown; it offers romantic scenic views, hiking and biking trails, a picnic shelter with tables, and playground areas. The Northwest Park offers a large playground with slides, swings, and climbing structures; as well as a concession stand, restrooms, a picnic area and a large shelter. This park also offers a walking trail, a horseshoe court, two tennis courts, a volleyball court, and a community center that has activities for both kids and adults.
9. Taste of Florence
This is a community, family-friendly event that will showcase 40 restaurants and dessert professionals and give them the opportunity to showcase their specialties. Families are encouraged to attend and there is a Kid Zone that hosts carnival inspired games in a separate area, away from the food vendors. Each year, the festival gives almost five thousand people a chance to try a little something different from forty restaurants in our area. Each vendor can vend up to 3 items that range in price from 1-5 food tickets. Guests will purchase the food tickets at the event for $1.00 each. Tickets are $5.00 in advance, $6.00 at the door and children 12 and under enter for free. This event takes place mid to late October.
8. Florence Museum of Art, Science, and History
Number eight on the top tourist attractions in Florence is the Museum of Art, Science, and History which was established in 1936 with the help of an artist named Jane Beverly Evans. Today, it graces Timrod Park and is a 5,000-square-foot structure that is the primary site for showcasing the works of local and regional artists and craftspeople. It has a stunning collection of Southwestern native pottery, an Asian collection with something from every Chinese dynasty, and an African and oceanic collection. It also displays World War and Civil War memorials. Along with the exhibits, the museum offers Family Day that includes gallery activities, hands-on studio projects and more. Join us the second Sunday of each month from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. This monthly program is free and there is no registration required.
7. War Between the States Museum
The museum was founded in 1988 by the Sons of Confederate Veterans members and is located in the house that was the home of R. Frank McKain. There are Artifacts and memorabilia from 1850-1900 which consists of guns, uniforms, swords, armor, some personal items, and other items from the Union prison camp, the Florence Stockade. There are rare books and documents and a reference library dealing with this time period is available for public use. Lining the walls throughout the museum are pictures of veterans of the war. They are open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10:00am to 5:00pm and admission prices are $1 for age 12 and younger and $2 for adults.
6. Palmetto Peddlers Antiques Mall
Founded in December of 2010 by the Harrington family, the Palmetto Peddlers Antiques Mall is located in a refurbished factory that was built in 1903, with wood floors and high ceilings and offers a heated and air conditioned environment. It’s an upscale antique mall offering ever changing selection of antiques, collectibles, vintage items, jewelry, home decor, large vinyl records with more than 200 spaces to 150 vendors. And they are only using 30,000 square feet in the 100,000-square-foot building. There’s even an in-house bistro called Bean Groovy, which offers refreshments and homemade chicken salad sandwiches. The mall is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 1:30 to 6 p.m.
5. Columns Plantation
Take a step back in time and visit The Columns which is a working Century Farm with an estate of 1500 acres. The house built in 1857 by Johnson using timber harvested from and brick manufactured on the plantation grounds. Principal crops on the Johnson Plantation were cotton and tobacco. Unlike many Southern plantations, The Columns operated with slave labor for only about ten years. Mostly, the property’s history as a working plantation was farmed with hired labor. The architecture alone is worth the trip with 22 perfectly shaped Doric columns, not to mention the historical significance of homes such as this on Southern history. They offer well priced group tours that allows visitors to take a peek into the history of the beautiful south.
4. Florence Civic Center
Stop by the civic center to participate in events and activities that the whole family can enjoy. From December 3 through January 2, the center has ice-skating available. Other events that you can enjoy during the winter months are the Harlem Globe Trotters, and trade shows, along with live concerts with artists such as Willie Nelson and Mary J. Blige, Holiday Festivals, kids’ festivals and musicals, and much more. Admission for ice-skating is $7 for adults and $3 for children. Tickets for other events range from $10 to $120 depending on the seats and the event.
3. Lynches River Park
This popular park on the Lynches Scenic River is one of the best places to visit in Florence as it features a variety of habitats and vegetation including a river swamp with towering cypress trees as well as sand hills. It is about 140 miles long and offers popular activities such as canoeing, nature trails, picnicking and Geocaching as well as a tree top canopy walk and Environmental Discovery Center which is a hands-on nature center that features live animals common to South Carolina, and a splash pad which is a favorite for kids during the summer months to cool down. There is an 11,000 square foot community building can accommodate groups of 20-400 people.
2. Florence after Five
The final Friday of each month from April to October there is a concert on S. Dargan Street between Evans and Cheves Streets in Historic Downtown at no cost. You can experience local music, and local food and beverages. Just bring a lawn chair and come out to relax, and enjoy the music with the family while supporting local food and beverage vendors and downtown revitalization. All food and beverage sales are made via tickets which can be purchased at the ticket booth located near the driveway at 135 S. Dargan. Look for the giant white ticket flag. The event starts at 5:30pm and the band starts at 6pm.
1. Arts International Festival
Bring your friends and family to the Arts International Festival held in the downtown area in mid-April to experience some international events that is fun for kids and adults. Highlights include Jabali African Acrobats, Chief Kamu’s Polynesian Fire and Hula Show; The Fabulous Chinese Acrobats, live music by the Celtic group Stirling Bridge, and rock down in the south with the Blue Dogs band. The longstanding festival, one of the Pee Dee’s great spring traditions, has free admission, and runs from 12:00pm to 6:00pm. They will offer festivalgoers a unique perspective on arts from around the world and is a must-see tourist attraction in Florence.
Florence, South Carolina has many entertaining things to do, from attending special events, getting involved in the arts and learning about local history to dining at independent restaurants and staying active at area parks. Autumn, winter and spring are mild, with occasional winter nights below freezing but rarely extended cold. The city’s summers can be very hot and humid. Whether you go for long vacation or just a weekend, this city is bound to delight you.