Florence is a small city in South Carolina’s Pee Dee region. This predominantly agricultural area spans eight counties along the Pee Dee River that takes its name from a Native American tribe in the area. Although Florence’s inland location deprives it of the beaches that attract visitors to the nearby coastal resort city of Myrtle Beach, you can enjoy a selection of cultural, sports, recreation and educational attractions for all ages in Florence and the surrounding county.
Downtown Florence is the location of a variety of historic buildings and museums. The Florence Museum of Art, Science and History (florencemuseum.org) is the city’s primary site for showcasing the works of local and regional artists and craftspeople. The museum also hosts annual juried art competitions with prizes. Its permanent collections include history displays for the city and the Pee Dee region, Asian art, a Native American pottery collection, along with World War and Civil War memorials. The Florence Symphony Orchestra (florencesymphony.com) provides seasonal and themed performances of classical and contemporary music. The Performing Arts Center at Francis Marion University (fmupac.org) is the city’s main venue for local and national theater performances along with other renowned performers, such as the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.
The Dooley Planetarium (fmarion.edu) at Francis Marion University offers public shows twice a month on alternate Sunday afternoons. Visitors see projected images of major galaxies and important star formations displayed on a 33-foot dome. The planetarium gives guests insight into the history of the universe with detailed star maps of celestial events that shaped the solar system and its planets. Audio presentations accompany themed programs, such as NASA Missions, the Christmas Star and Follow the Drinking Gourd.
The city of Florence has two public golf courses. The 18-hole Crossings Golf Club (no website; 3540 Shadow Creek Dr., Florence; 843-665-8040) is open year-round. It has a Pro Shop and offers cart rentals. The Traces Golf Club (thetracesgolfclub.com) boasts three 9-hole courses, which provide year-round access to Bermuda grass greens, a clubhouse with a grill and professional shop. The Darlington Raceway (darlingtonraceway.com), home to auto races such as the NASCAR Southern 500 and the Darlington 200, is also the focal point of the Darlington Historic Racing Festival, a regional race event held each fall and accompanied by a local festival and parades in Florence. The raceway provides public camping during scheduled events. Recreational vehicle owners have a choice of several sites outside the track and on the grounds, while primitive tent campsites are available outside the racetrack for patrons who spend the weekend.
Outdoor Recreation and Ecology
The Clemson University Outdoor Recreation Trail (clemson.edu) is a nature center created to provide outdoor, guided exploration of the region’s natural resources and to promote conservation strategies. Established with the participation and sponsorship of businesses in Florence and the adjoining counties, the university and environmental organizations, the 1.5-mile trail’s educational activities and scheduled tours let you explore the natural environment of an area that adjoins the 150-acre Dargan’s Pond. The trail features a Native American Village, canoe launch, crop fields and an aviary.
Carol Luther has more than 25 years of business, technology, and freelance writing experience. She has held leadership roles in higher education management, international development, adult education, vocational education, and small business support programs