Whatever you call it - Pearl of the Pee Dee, The Magic City - Florence is a unique place. It's a curious mixture of rural and industrial, a little culture and a little rough around the edges. Florence offers residents a great place to raise families with just enough entertainment to keep everyone out of trouble. For visitors, Florence offers a glimpse into the area's railroad and agricultural past, updated with modern places to stay, catch a show or grab a bite to eat.
The Hilton Garden Inn Florence is a great place to stay, and convenient to downtown Florence and the Civic Center if you're planning to see a show there. Plus, you can book the Bed 'N' Breakfast Deal here and enjoy a breakfast that's cooked to order until 11 a.m.
If you haven't had dinner, be sure to check out The Drive-In- where you can order some of the best fried chicken in town, as well as a great hamburger or steak sandwich.
After breakfast at the hotel Saturday morning, make plans to paddle down the Lynches River, one of South Carolina's most scenic rivers. Lynches River County Park is a great spot for launching a canoe or kayak, and River Rat's Canoe Rentals can set you up with a guided tour and equipment.
Be sure to work up an appetite so you can check out one of the many barbecue restaurants in town. Florence is famous for its vinegar and pepper pulled pork. No trip to the area is complete without sampling at least one or two offerings from the area's barbecue joints, which, like many classic spots, are open only a few days a week.
Most of the old-school barbecue restaurants have all-you-can-eat buffets for around $10 and offer a variety of Southern sides. You can't go wrong with either Cain's Barbeque or Woodstone Barbeque.
After lunch, stop by the Florence Museum of Art, Science and History. The museum's collection ranges from ancient Egyptian artifacts to prehistoric Anasazi pottery, Japanese prints and porcelains, American Civil War uniforms, paintings, ethnographic sculptural objects, textiles, historic maps and railroad memorabilia - a nod to the city's early history as a railroad junction.
The Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center offers a full slate of performances every year, including concert bands and ensembles from Francis Marion University, the Florence Symphony Orchestra and touring companies performing Broadway shows.
Depending on the start time, you may want to get dinner beforehand. Check out Southern Hops Brewing Company, a local brewpub and restaurant featuring live music and craft beers.
After breakfast, visit Florence National Cemetery. Founded in 1865, this cemetery houses soldiers from all branches of the military and every war since the Civil War. If the weather's bad or you want to stay indoors, check out the War Between the States Museum, which holds artifacts from 1850 through 1900.
Before leaving town, hit the barbecue buffet at Roger's Bar-B-Que House. This buffet is marked by its variety; it has everything from chicken and dumplings to fried seafood to barbecue, chicken bog and all the fixin's. The fried chicken is a favorite and Roger's has some of the best restaurant banana pudding you will find.