It’s a well-known fact that small towns vary widely in the description. Some classify solely by population, while others by culture and experiences. In Florence County, I found many places to visit that have the allure of small town charm, with great experiences, wonderful history, and good old-fashioned Southern Hospitality! Follow along As My Town takes you through our Top 19 Small Town Finds in Florence, County SC!
Great Outdoor Destinations and Historical Finds
#1. RiverRats – 5094 2740 Indigo Landing Rd, Scranton
Hop in a Kayak and paddle the South Carolina Revolutionary River Trail!
One super fun activity I did while in Florence, SC was exploring The SC Revolutionary River Trail. This 66-mile water trail gives visitors an up-close and unique experience. You’ll learn what it was like to hide in the swamplands where the Loyalists were engaged with the Patriots in Guerrilla Warfare! Learn about General Francis Marion also known as “Swamp Fox,” and the mission of his militia.
This is such a fun way to explore South Carolina’s Rivers, while also learning the important Revolutionary History, Geography, and Wildlife in the area. My Town had the pleasure of touring with RiverRats Founder, Barry-Marie Frick. He is a wonderful guide and will take great care of you!
Note: There are facilities on-site at RiverRats if you need to use restrooms or change clothes.
#2. Lynches River County Park – 5094 County Park Rd, Coward
Lynches River County Park is a beautiful and unique park to visit in the Pee Dee Region. One of its main environmental features is a large river swamp with huge cypress trees, giving this park a Carolina feel for your outdoor adventure. There are several activities to choose from, especially for kids. Try hiking the trails, kayaking, or my favorite hanging out at the Environmental Discovery Center! Here you’ll see live local reptiles, learn about the unique geological features of the area, and can play on the swinging boardwalk built into the trees like the Ewok Village! Want to stay longer? Camping is available!
#3. The Columns Plantation Home – 5001 Rankin Plantation Rd, Florence
Wow! Have you ever wondered what it might be like to step into the world of “Gone With the Wind”? Then you must visit The Columns Plantation.
This beautiful plantation home is special because it has not been converted into a traditional museum. Currently, this is still a residence passed down through generations that allows visitors. The Plantation was the site of the 1934 motion picture “Carolina” starring Janet Gaynor and Lionel Barrymore.
The home was built in a classic Greek Revival style sought after at the time called “ The Devereux,” and is one of the last working plantations in this part of South Carolina. You truly get a hands-on feel visiting here as you explore the Antebellum Past of the Pee Dee area.
“The Columns plantation home, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in the 1850s and is an outstanding example of Greek Revival architecture, a style frequently used for large homes built in the Antebellum South.
All materials used in the construction of the house came from the estate. Bricks were hand-made by slaves on-site and used to form 22 free-standing Doric columns, which support the overhanging hipped roof to form a deep three-sided porch. The logs used in the structure of the house were hauled by oxcart to a sawmill in Cheraw, and the lumber was floated down the Pee Dee River.
Local craftsmen formed the hand-hewn beams that support the roof. Original plaster molding adorns the twelve-foot ceilings, and large windows, fine wainscoting, and heart pine floors can be seen throughout the home. A one-fourth mile driveway lined with pecan and sycamore trees leads to the house, and the home itself is surrounded by Darlington oaks, magnolias, and camellias. The property, a private residence, is the last working plantation in the area and is the site of the annual reenactment of the Skirmish at Gamble’s Hotel, held the first weekend in March.” (www.visitflo.com/columns-plantation)
Did you know that Florence, SC is home to the SC Pecan Trail?
The Pecan Tree is the only nut native to North America, and its roots as a cash crop in South Carolina can be traced to the early 1800s. However, places like #5. Young Plantations (Now Young’s Premium Foods) in Florence, SC made Florence a Pecan Destination, by selling directly to consumers and becoming the world’s largest Pecan Shelling Operation.
You can find just about everything you can imagine with pecan flair in the Pee Dee Region. To highlight this delicious history you can partake as a visitor in the SC Pecan Trail which highlights over 18+ restaurants and retail locations to explore Florence’s Pecan History.
Click Here to read How it Works so you can plan your Pecan Adventure!
Before You Check-In or Head Home from Florence
#6. Pee Dee State Farmers Market – 2513 W Lucas St, Florence
One awesome aspect of visiting southern states is the abundance of produce! When visiting Florence, My Town highly recommends stopping at the Pee Dee State Farmer’s Market for several reasons:
- It’s a great way to experience local produce, jams, baked goods, and many other locally made items including wine and art!
- You get to experience one of the largest drive-through markets in a small town area My Town has ever seen (45,000 square feet)!
- This is a fun & experiential way to front-load your trip with local groceries before you stop at commercial grocer (great if you’re staying a while, or are working on a tight budget).
- You’re able to find great local gifts to take home!
- If Hot Boiled Peanuts are your thing while visiting South Carolina, you can get them here all year long!
#7. Hotel Florence – 126 W Evans St, Florence
When staying in Florence, there is no better small town atmosphere than Hotel Florence. This is a boutique hotel right in Downtown. This beautifully restored hotel is a combination of three historic buildings brought to life by a group of local businessmen. Because of its history, you will love the abundance of space and exposed brick you can find in many rooms. The rooms definitely have a rustic-chic flair with all the high-end hotel amenities. It’s recently become part of the Hilton Tapestry Collection, and is conveniently located for you to walk to great locations in downtown Florence. Besides its wonderful location, Hotel Florence has great amenities to add to your experience. This includes a Spa, Fitness Center, Business Lounge, and the award-winning restaurant, Victors!
#8 Victors – Steak, Wine, & Seafood is a fine dining restaurant on-site that was voted Best Fine Dining Restaurant in Florence! What I loved best about the dining experience is their beautifully manicured outdoor space. Click here for the video.
My Town’s Delicious and Delectable Tops Picks for Florence
#9. Lula’s Coffee Co. – 160 S Dargan St, Florence
Wow! My Town LOVED this space for morning breakfast and coffee in downtown Florence! Such beautiful woodwork everywhere, great lighting, and friendly staff to get my morning off to a great start. I suggest getting one of their breakfast Croissant Sandwiches. But there are several great pastry options to choose from, like their popular cheese scones!
#10. Lunch at Top Hat Special-Teas – 234 W Evans St, Florence
Top Hat Special-Teas is truly a special and memorable dining experience you don’t want to miss. My Town never had the opportunity to experience a traditional Tea Room before and was thrilled to have this experience in Downtown Florence.
Top Hat is a favorite lunch stop for locals, and of course, for afternoon tea! The owner has been successful in this location for over 21 years and is a veteran of catering for over 30. This is also a stop on the famous Pecan Trail, because of their delicious pecan scones served warm with fresh Devonshire cream and tangy lemon curd. Delicious, Unique, and isn’t the locations just adorable?!!
#11. Julia Belle’s – 2106 W Lucas St, Florence
Did you know that afternoon dessert was a thing? In Florence, it absolutely needs to be, and your destination should be Julia Belle’s!
If you’re looking for great Southern Cooking to add to your Florence Experience, look no further! This family-owned- and operated business started in what’s known as “The Big Red Barn” at the Pee Dee State Farmers Market, and grew to have a visitor-friendly location off I-95 and Hwy 52.
Julia Belle’s uses recipes that have been passed down for generations, and gives you truly southern tastes with dishes like: “BBQ egg rolls, low country boil, shrimp & grits, crab cake sandwich, homemade buttermilk biscuits, fried green tomatoes, blue plate specials, and house-made desserts.” (Juliabellesrestauraunt.com) But the show stopper here is the White-Russian Pecan Pie!
Want to learn how to make this award-winning Pie? My Town’s got the recipe. Click Here to get it.
#12. Town Hall – 101 W Evans St, Florence
Town Hall is another wonderful place to experience a Southern-inspired menu in an upscale dining atmosphere. My Town’s experience at Town Hall was nothing short of superb! From specially crafted drinks to Southern starters and entrées; each part of this meal continued to become more delicious and interesting. Plus, my host and I had the best server ever who spoiled us with Southern Hospitality. Many entrées are made on their open-wood fire grill, and you will love the beautiful dining area in this upscale yet casual atmosphere.
I am not from the South, so I wanted to try dishes that truly would be unique to this area. I encourage you to do the same. Here is the breakdown of My Town’s evening:
Drink: Spirit-Free Blackberry Lime Spritzer ( Blackberry Limeade, Sierra Mist, Mint, Lime)
Starters: Braised Pork Belly (Sherry Caramel, Fried Oyster, Local Egg Yolk, Red Chili Aioli). -Deviled Eggs (Fried Gulf Oysters, Espelette- I never had oysters on deviled eggs before, they were amazing!). -Bread Service (Homemade Cornbread with Honey Butter). -Local Crab Cakes.
Dinner: Fried Quail (Taleggio Grits, Asparagus, Redeye Gravy).
-Town Hall CAB ® Smash Burger (House Pickles, Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, Cheddar, Neuske’s Bacon, Pecorino Truffle Fries).
“Town Hall restaurant changes with the seasons with a selection of starters and entrées including locally raised meat, pork, and seafood prepared on an open wood-fire grill. Some ingredients are even sourced from a nearby family farm.” (www.townhallflorence.com)
#13. Wholly Smokin’ BBQ Downtown – 150 S Dargan St, Florence
Listed as one of the Top 10 BBQ restaurants in SC, you will love the delicious Southern-style of this downtown eatery. Specializing in traditional Pulled Pork, Chicken, Brisket, fall-off-the-bone ribs, & burnt- ends. This is a winner in My Town’s eyes for can’t go wrong food! Everything I ordered was amazing, but I also was eying several dishes from other tables, because it all looked so good.
What I thought set this BBQ restaurant apart from others was their high-quality Sides & Starters (their Warm Loaded Baked Potato Salad is out of this world!) and Family-Style Dinners. A great value for high-quality meat if you’re traveling with family and want to indulge. To feed a family of four, you can get 2 choice meats & 3 sides for $45! Plus, you can call ahead and take it with you!
Fun Evening Out Locations
#14. Seminar Brewing – 551 W Lucas St, Florence
My Town has traveled to several Breweries over the years. I love visiting them at the end of the day to relax, but early enough before their “normal” crowd comes in. This was the setup when I visited Seminar Brewing. I had a blast hanging out and making new friends with their craft beer brewers.
This facility is making several delicious varieties, and not just IPA’s! Something I always look for is how many wheat-based beers a brewery produces, as those tend to be my personal favorites, and IPAs still seem to be all the rave. I guarantee if you visit their tasting room for a flight or a pint, you will not be disappointed. Plus, they also now offer Axe throwing if you’re so inclined!
#15. The Dispensary – 101 W Evans St, Florence
Looking for the perfect unique atmosphere for an evening out? Or one of the coolest places in downtown Florence to grab a drink before or after your dinner plans? Look no further than the Dispensary.
This unique location is a rooftop bar that sits on top of the Town Hall restaurant. It’s a whopping 3,500 square feet, and will give you a great taste of Florence in addition to its rooftop views, serving wines and beers from local establishments.
You can also order from the Town Hall’s Starters Menu, or get the local favorite Town Hall CAB ® Smash Burger
Great Options for Entertainment & Exploring
#16. Florence Veterans Park – 601 Woody Jones Blvd, Florence
A great way to learn about a new area without having to schedule a lot of time is to explore a town’s parks. Local parks can range from Art & Sculpture to Kids Playground and Outdoor Hiking and Biking. A special park in Florence you can easily fit into your schedule is Florence Veterans Park.
A beautiful memorial to our veterans. The park is a short walking path of sculptures, and features award-winning memorials like its centerpiece- a pillar center obelisk. It was co-designed by Brown Memorials of Florence and nationally known local sculptor Alex Palkovich. Click here for video.
If you decide you’d like to make this a longer walk, Veterans Park is also connected to other city parks by a twelve-mile system of walking trails.
#17. Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center – 201 S Dargan St, Florence
Another great place to plan ahead for your downtown experience is the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center. Named one of “America’s 25 Most Amazing Campus Arts Centers” and is home to The Florence Symphony Orchestra, the Masterworks Choir, and the South Carolina Dance Theatre.
This beautiful facility was finished in 2011, and now features performances all year including, “nationally touring Broadway performances, variety shows, and concerts such as Graham Nash. Additionally, the Florence Symphony plays classical music and a pops series that has featured such vocalists as Art Garfunkel and the Indigo Girls.” (visitflo.com)
My Town loved the entrance surrounded by windows, featuring a grand staircase and local artisans adorning the walls. Additionally, there’s sculpture art to visit throughout the campus. Make sure to check the performance schedule and get your tickets early here, so you don’t miss this great cultural experience!
#18. Florence Little Theatre – 417 S Dargan St, Florence
A lovely addition to any small town atmosphere is the ability to have a theatre. A place to foster the arts on the local level, and bring the community together in a unique way that only a local theater group can. In Florence, they are fortunate to have an exceptional theater group that’s been established since 1923!
My Town had the opportunity to tour this facility. And I’m telling you, it’s worth your time to book a show with this local theater performing professional-level plays and Broadway musical performances. Past performances include: included Monty Python’s Spamalot, Les Miserables, Mary Poppins, and Little Shop of Horrors.
Take-Home Your Own Creative Piece of Florence!
#19. The DIY Place – 157 W Evans St, Florence
I’m not sure If I have ever been so proud of something I made! Recently, My Town had the opportunity to make this serving tray (see pictured) at the DIY Place, Downtown Florence! This was super fun and easy- trust me, if I can do it, anyone can. Click here for video.
The DIY Place is a locally-owned studio where you can pick your project, and they teach you step-by-step how to make your own take-home creation! What an awesome way to experience Florence, and bring home a functional or decorative piece for your home that will remind you of your travels forever!
Plus, this wonderful owner will also spoil you with hospitality, offering adult beverages during your time in the studio to enhance your experience.
MTT Antique and Market Finds
A Note From My Town
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