25 Things To Do In Florence, South Carolina

The town of Florence, South Carolina, is a diamond in the rough, a city brimming with life and inventiveness. Irrespective of your interests, you’ll unquestionably be able to find something fun to do with your family in this wonderful Southern city. From journeying into the wilderness to discover South Carolina’s bountiful wildlife roaming through a river swamp in a kayak, or exploring the interesting history of the state in museums and historical sites, there’s something everyone will find interesting in Florence, South Carolina, and the surrounding area.

Florence, South Carolina, is more than just a rest stop en route to Myrtle Beach or a midway point between New York and Florida. This bustling city is a hub for shopping, entertainment, recreation, and the arts, perfectly blending the perks of both small town and big city living.

Nestled in South Carolina’s Pee Dee region (named for the Pee Dee River running through it), this region in the extreme northeast of the state is largely off the tourism radar. That’s a shame because Florence and the surrounding Pee Dee area offers a particularly relaxing rolling landscape and a plethora of charming small towns.

Picture from: cityofflorence.com

Some Facts About Florence, South Carolina

The Pee Dee Indians were the first inhabitants of the Pee Dee area which now includes Florence and other counties.

In the 1800s, Florence was located at the juncture of three rail lines.

The city was named in honor of the daughter of the railroad company president, Florence Harliee.

The rails of Florence represented a real hub of activity during the American Civil War. Plenty of troops, machinery, supplies, and such (bound to Richmond, Savannah, and other cities) all passed through the city.

The first map of Florence, South Carolina, is from 1860 when it had just seven streets and ninety six lots.

The year 1890 saw the chartering of the City of Florence.

In the 1940s, the biggest rail station in all of South Carolina was located in Florence.

Source: Instagram

Things to Do In and Around Florence, South Carolina

Florence County Museum

This is considered to be Pee Dee county’s crowning cultural jewel. It explores the historic and artistic heritage of the area through artifacts and artworks. The museum’s collections range from the Cretaceous period to colonial times to the Civil War and modern day. It is an ideal way to learn more about the area and how it has evolved over centuries. Admission is free.

Florence County Museum
111 West Cheves Street
Florence, SC 29501
(843) 676-1200
http://www.flocomuseum.org/ 

Dooley Planetarium

Image from: Facebook

This planetarium is a popular attraction of the area. It offers a variety of different shows on a rotating schedule and hosts many private and public events as well.

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The dome itself is 24 feet tall and seats 75. They also offer free presentations on Sunday afternoons that are not to be missed. There is an on-site observatory complete with top notch telescopes that will often host star parties as well. There are exhibits to explore and animations to enjoy. Get lost in the cosmos of the celestial sky right in Florence.

Dooley Planetarium
20 Alumni Drive (Francis Marion University)
Florence, SC 29506
(843) 661-1355
https://astro.fmarion.edu/

Florence Little Theatre

Photo credit: Official Website

This local institution has been entertaining Florence since 1923 when it was known as the Community Players. Since then it has had a few homes, but none to compare with the 394-seat theater that opened downtown in 2008.

The talent you’ll see on stage is on par with (or surpassing) anything you will see at other community theaters across the state.

Florence Little Theatre
417 South Dargan Street
Florence, SC 29506
(843) 662-3731
https://www.florencelittletheatre.org/

Florence National Cemetery

Image from: scriptureproject.org

Visit the Florence National Cemetery to pay your respects to those who have served the United States in the military. The grounds are beautifully maintained and it is peaceful to walk and reflect. A variety of interesting historical markers can be found here.

Look especially for the story of Florence Budwin, who is buried here. She is believed to be the first woman buried in a national cemetery. From Pennsylvania, she pretended to be a man during the Civil War so she could fight beside her husband. Grounds open daily from dawn to dusk.

Florence National Cemetery
803 East National Cemetery Road
Florence, SC 29506

War Between the States Museum

Source: arthurtaussig.com

Housing authentic artifacts used during the Civil War, the War Between the States Museum interprets military history for its visitors. Exhibits include weapons, uniforms, scale models, and a historical archive.

War Between the States Museum
107 South Guerry Street
Florence, SC 29501
(843) 669-1266

Florence Veterans Park

Picture from: cityofflorence.com

This location, dedicated to the lives of soldiers who participated in America’s wars, offers visitors the chance to learn about Florence’s role in the history of the armed forces. The location also includes a memorial that is dedicated to those who lost their lives at the Pentagon on 9/11.

Florence Veterans Park
842 Woody Jones Boulevard
Florence, SC 29501
(843) 665-3253

Florence Stockade

Photo credit: cityofflorence.com

The Florence Stockade was built by the Confederacy in 1864 to imprison captured Union soldiers. Florence was a logical location due to the junction of three railroads that helped with transportation. More than 18,000 soldiers were imprisoned there, 2,800 of which died.

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Today, a gentle but unpaved interpretive trail tours the prison site with illustrated historical markers to help visitors learn more about the area. The Florence Stockade is adjacent to the Florence National Cemetery.

Florence Stockade
Stockade Drive
Florence, SC
(843) 669-8783

The Columns Plantation

Photo credit: south-carolina-plantations.com

The Columns Plantation is in an Antebellum plantation from 1857, and it is the last working plantation in the region. While the house remains a private residence, tours led by guides in period clothing can be arranged for groups. Every year in March the plantation hosts a reenactment of the Skirmish at Gamble’s Hotel, which occurred in Florence on March 5, 1865.

The Columns Plantation
5001 Rankin Plantation Road
Florence, SC 29506
(843) 662-6350

Mars Bluff

Source: abandonedcountry.com

At the center of an abandoned trailer park is an atomic hole of strange origins. The massive crater was created here by the accidental dropping of a B6 bomb by a US Air Force B-47 Stratojet during the Cold War in 1958.

Luckily, the rod which triggers explosions in such atomic bombs was missing, but the bomb itself destroyed the farmhouse of Walter Gregg and left a large crater that remains to this day.

Despite many signs, the site can be difficult to find. Note that while the site is federally protected, it remains on private property so seek permission if available and be respectful of the property as you explore. Only go during daylight hours.

Mars Bluff
4776 Lucius Circle
Florence, SC 29506

Palmetto Peddlers Antique Mall

Image from: Official FB Page

The mall is a 38,000-square-foot shopping stop for all your antique hankering. It provides a wide range of home decor items, collectibles, jewelry, and antiques.

There is also a diverse selection of vintage collectibles such as sports memorabilia, vinyl, and comic books. The inventory is ever changing, so there is always something exciting to explore.

Palmetto Peddlers Antiques Mall
2295 Hoffmeyer Road
Florence, SC 29501
(843) 665-8663
https://www.palmettopeddlers.com/

Thieves Market

Source: tripadvisor.com

Located on the lovely Palmetto Street, this 22,000-square-foot warehouse is filled to the brim with treasures, collectibles, bric-a-brac, and lots of surprises.

Thieves Market
1820 Palmetto Street
Florence, SC 29506
(843) 664-8103
https://www.thievesmarketflorence.com

Jeffries Creek Park

Picture from: scpictureproject.com

Jeffries Creek sets the mood for its namesake park, a 55-acre slice of peaceful trails along the creek. Stroll the pathways and soak in the beauty of the protected wetlands located in a residential section of Florence. At the Jeffries Creek Park entrance, you can let the kids loose on the playground and have lunch in the picnic area.

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Jeffries Creek Park
1404 State Road S-21-836
Florence, SC 29501
https://scgreatoutdoors.com/

Timrod Park

Image from: tripadvisor.com

Enjoy a large park with nature trails, picnic areas, a playground, fitness area, and pickleball courts. There are also beautiful gardens, including two rain gardens and an area known as Liberty Garden.

Timrod Park
Timrod Park Drive
Florence, SC 29501
https://scgreatoutdoors.com/park-timrodpark.html

Lynches River County Park

Photo credit: Official Website

For those of us who love the great outdoors, the Lynches River County Park is sure to please. Located on the Lynches River about 20 minutes from Florence, this vast park spans 676 acres and offers a wide selection of nature-centered activities.

You can rent canoes and kayaks, and even take a guided canoe or kayak trip through the Lynches River. There are four hiking trails in the park with educational stations to learn about the forestry, wildlife, and water of the park.

Lynches River County Park 
5094 County Park Road
Coward, SC 29530
(843) 389-0550
http://www.lynchesriverpark.com/ 

Weaver Heritage Farm

“The Marsh Tacky Horses”
Source: horsemensguide.com

Take a trip to the Weaver Heritage Stables in Timmonsville, less than 20 minutes from downtown Florence. Here you can meet Marsh Tacky horses. Marsh Tackies are the State Heritage Horse of South Carolina. They are rare and nearly extinct, which is why the owners founded the stables in 2009, to educate people on the species. They are most notably known in South Carolina for leading General Marion and his troops through the Pee Dee Swamps during the Revolutionary War, which was crucial to the General’s success against British troops.

Weaver Heritage Farm
1029.5 Weaver Farm Street
Timmonsville, SC 29161
(843) 250-0556

Woods Bay State Park

Image from: southcarolinaparks.com

This 1,540-acre park, about 30 minutes from Florence, is not to be missed. It contains one of the largest remaining Carolina Bays, a unique and somewhat mysterious geological phenomenon. These elliptical depressions, scattered throughout the Carolinas, are typified by a cypress-tupelo bog environment.

Habitats at Woods Bay also include marsh, sand hills, oak-hickory forest, and a shrub bog. More than 75 species of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians are found here, along with more than 150 species of birds, changing with the seasons.

Visitors enjoy canoeing, fishing, walking, hiking, and photography on the 500-foot boardwalk, canoe trail, and nature trail.

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Woods Bay State Park
11020 Woods Bay Road
Olanta, SC 29114
(843) 659-4445
https://southcarolinaparks.com/woods-ba

Darlington Raceway

Source: Official FB Page

The world famous Darlington Raceway is located just minutes from Florence. Nicknamed the “Lady in Black,” the raceway is known far and wide as the track that’s “tough to tame.” Focused on honoring its storied past while celebrating the future, Darlington combines the thrill of racing with numerous events to bring together the community.

While it’s most notable for playing host to NASCAR races like the Southern 500, you don’t have to visit on race day to get in on the action. It also offers car shows and barbecue cook-offs. And history buffs won’t want to miss the Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum and NMPA Hall of Fame, which offers an in-depth look at the history (and future) of NASCAR and the raceway.

Darlington Raceway
1301 Harry Byrd Highway
Darlington, SC 29532
(843) 395-8900
https://www.darlingtonraceway.com

Cottle Strawberry Farm

Image from: Official Website

Is there anything more delicious than a ripe strawberry ripe from the bush? If you’re not sure, a visit to the Cottle Strawberry farm will convince you. Bring the whole family for a day of strawberry picking. Strawberry season typically lasts from mid-April until mid-June in Florence, so this is the perfect way to enjoy the return of spring or welcome the summer season.

If you prefer not to pick the strawberries yourself, you can purchase pre-picked quarts or gallons.

Cottle Strawberry Farm (Open daily from mid-April to mid-June)
3712 West Palmetto Street
Florence, SC 29501
(843) 317-0031
https://www.cottlestrawberryfarm.com

Pee Dee State Farmers Market

Source: agriculture.sc.gov

The Pee Dee State Farmers Market is the place to go for fresh, local produce and so much more. Plants and flowers are for sale from nearby growers, as well as locally-made ice cream, boiled peanuts, juices, wines, and canned and preserved vegetables. The market is open year round so stop by and see what’s in season.

Pee Dee State Farmers Market
2513 West Lucas Street
Florence, SC 29501
(843) 665-5154
https://agriculture.sc.gov

Straw Hat Distillery

Photo credit: Official Website

Straw Hat Distillery is locally owned and operated and has been creating handcrafted, small-batch booze for many years. They source their corn and wheat from local Pee Dee farms and use all natural fruits, teas, and coffee to make their masterful infusions.

Take a behind the scene tour and taste the entire process of production from start to finish. They love to honor their South Carolina roots by using only traditional methods.

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Straw Hat Distillery
1301 North Douglas Street
Florence, SC 29501
(843) 453-1349
http://www.strawhatdistillery.com/

Southern Hops Brewing Company

Picture from: Official FB Page

Southern Hops is a locally owned independent brew pub. In addition to serving its own craft-brewed beers, the brew pub also serves a full menu, with a dining room and outdoor beer garden (open in season).

Southern Hops Brewing Co.
911 South Sunset Acres Lane
Florence, SC 29501
(843) 667-1900
https://southernhops.com/

Red Bone Alley

Source: Instagram

Enjoy Lowcountry flavors at Red Bone Alley, one of Florence’s premier gathering places. Order your favorite cocktails and gush over the shrimp and grits in a cavernous 2-tiered re-creation of an old Charleston neighborhood.

Red Bone Alley
1903 West Palmetto Street
Florence, SC 29501
(843) 673-0035
https://www.redbonealley.com/

Victors

(Breakfast Buffet at Victors)
Image from: Official Website

Inside the Hotel Florence you will find culinary delights at Victors. Embracing a farm-to-table philosophy, Victors serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a sumptuous weekend brunch. The elegant bar is a favorite local gathering place for the after work cocktail crowd, too.

Victors
126 West Evans Street
Florence, SC 29501
(843) 665-0846
https://www.victorsflorence.com/

D’z Pit BBQ

Photo credit: tripadvisor.com

D’z Pit BBQ is a hidden food gem serving up some of the smokiest, juiciest, tastiest pulled pork and ribs in the Pee Dee. Place your order then enjoy it right there at one of the picnic tables or inside the dining area/pool hall next door. This is a favorite stop for locals who take the rural Old Marion Highway to Myrtle Beach and back.

D’z Pit BBQ
5248 East Old Marion Highway
Florence, SC 29506
(843) 230-0953
https://michaeldz.com/

Ambrias Garden Manor Bed and Breakfast

Picture from: tripadvisor.com

Ambrias Garden Manor was built in 1920 and is known locally as the Old Holman’s House.

This Victorian manor bed and breakfast offers three lavishly decorated bedrooms, a parlor and living room, formal dining room and breakfast room, sun porch, and relaxing front porch.

Ambrias Garden Manor
111 Kuker Street
Florence, SC 29501
(843) 661-6060

Source: eatdrinkandtravel.com

Final Thoughts

Many people know Florence, South Carolina, as an exit off the interstate. It is a convenient rest area for travelers on I-95 and, because of this, the city boasts a large number of hotels, gas stations, and restaurants. But after reading this article you can see that Florence has many interesting and exciting things to offer besides just a quick pit stop.

I think you will agree that Florence, South Carolina, is a destination stop, not a rest stop.

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