Things to Do in Florence, SC
Like any community, there are plenty of great things to do in Florence, SC. Sometimes these events, attractions and restaurants are well known, while other times it takes a well-trained eye or local guide to introduce you to them. If you are looking for more variety, the more populous cities in South Carolina are certain to accommodate your desires of activities.
The trail walking, hiking, fishing, canoeing and other activities at Florence County’s many parks and recreation sites offer no excuses for staying inside. Lynches River County Park, a 676-acre site, includes everything from a splash pad to a 1,200-foot riverwalk, as well as canoeing and other water-based options. And with a nature center and seasonal festivals, the park also doubles as a learning and cultural facility for area residents.
Racing fans, take a brake in Darlington, SC. Darlington Raceway, which seats 65,000 and is nicknamed The Track Too Tough to Tame, is one of NASCAR's oldest and was the site of the first stock-car race run entirely on pavement. A $10 million renovation project recently repaved the 1.366-mile oval track, which opened in 1949. To learn more about the sport's history, visit the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame and the Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum, which offer views of what has made NASCAR such a popular spectator sport.
Party alert: The city of Florence hosts six festivals each year. The Pecan Festival occurs downtown, while Francis Marion University hosts both the International Festival and Arts Alive. Other events are the Spirit of Florence July 4 Celebration of Family, the Greek Festival and the Sankofa Festival that recognizes African-American heritage. Celebrations in neighboring municipalities include the South Carolina Tobacco Festival in Lake City, Gator Festival in Olanta and Founders Day Festival in Johnsonville.
The 1860s remain alive daily at the War Between the States Museum. Attractions at the museum include more than 400 photos of both Union and Confederate veterans, as well as weapons, camp items and relics recovered from several battlefields. The museum includes a library and research materials. In addition, the museum features a scale model of the 1860s Florence stockade as well as artifacts from the CSS Pee Dee, the only commissioned Naval vessel built in the area. The museum is at 107 S. Guernsey St. and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday.
You haven’t had a pecan pie until you’ve had one from Young Plantations in Florence. At least, that’s what the locals will tell you. In fact, the company’s pies have become a Florence Thanksgiving tradition – selling some 10,000 pies for the occasion. Young Plantations has been providing Florence residents and visitors with premium pecans, pecan candies and baked goods since 1923. The company sells a variety of pecan products including whole pecans and pecans coated with chocolate, praline, butterscotch and amaretto, among others.
The architecture is nearly as interesting as the reading material at the Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation Library. The impressive 83,000-square-foot building on Dargan Street in Florence features classical columns, etched windows, chandeliers and spacious hallways. The foundation donated more than half of the funds to build the $17.4 million library, which opened in 2004.
Shoppers in Florence, SC can find an assortment of retailers to meet their needs. Magnolia Mall Home to more than 70 stores, Magnolia Mall is a popular destination for Florence shoppers.
The Florence Symphony Orchestra has been astounding sounding since 1949. The organization was told back then that Florence was too small to support an orchestra, but the symphony now features 60 members and presents four performances each year. The all-volunteer ensemble also works closely with the Florence County Youth Orchestra and a Florence Symphony Guild support group. Visit www.florencesymphony.com for more details.
Like so many successful gatherings before it, the Arts International Festival began as a simple potluck affair. “The Pee Dee International Festival started at the Florence Family YMCA as a covered-dish supper,” says Joan Billheimer, long-time Arts International committee member. “People brought a covered dish from their individual culture. It was basically potluck – and very ethnic.” The festival grew from that modest beginning and is now held at Francis Marion University, where it has been combined with FMU's Art's Alive event.
In New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art resides in Central Park. In the Pee Dee region of South Carolina, the Florence Museum of Art, Science and History graces Timrod Park. Housed in a 5,000-square-foot, art-moderne structure, the Florence museum is a collection of objects from around the world – a collection that has been growing since the museum was founded in 1924.