downtown archiveFlorence has long been defined by its transportation network. The Native Americans lent their name to the region and the river that flows through it  - the “Pee Dee.” They used the Great Pee Dee River as a trade route for their pottery and furs. Settlers came and learned from the Pee Dee Indians many things, including the best use of the waterways, and how to cook barbecue low and slow over a pit – a tradition followed to this day.

Soon homes were built from wood harvested from the area, and as trees were cleared to make way for plantations,

the logs floated down the Great Pee Dee River for export. Indigo and cotton were also carried by boat to Georgetown before being transported to Europe.

During the American Revolution, the rivers served to carry munitions and staple goods, and as natural barriers protecting General Francis Marion and his militia.

It was around 1853 that the Wilds, as Florence was then called, became a railroad transportation hub, beginning as a rail station for use by three intersecting rail lines. General Harllee, owner of the Wilmington-Manchester Railroad named the town after his daughter, Florence.

In 1957, interstates 95 and 20 found their way through Florence, allowing the city to be known as yet another transportation hub – the halfway point between New York and Miami. Easy access to hotels and restaurants established the city as the preferred stopping point for leisure travellers.  

In the years that followed, from foundations  set deep in sandy farmland, have sprung the civic center and the hospitality district surrounding it, a vibrant downtown, regional hospitals, and manufacturing and commercial facilities like QVC Distribution, Otis Elevators, Honda ATVs, monster.com, Johnson Controls, and pharmaceutical companies.

Florence ranks sixth in the list of the country’s most restaurant-crazy cities, with a population of about 38,000 and a few hundred great places to relax and dine. Florence also offers nice golf courses, twenty miles of walking trails, 66 miles of National Recreation [Paddling] Trails, and an historic downtown with plenty of new features to draw you in, including a new museum and an amazing performing arts center. Our agricultural base has been transformed into a retail and hospitality marketplace.

From settlement to rail hub to a destination city,  our people have relied on natural resources and abundant opportunities to prosper. Florence is the perfect place to pull in and experience the allure, adventure, arts, and atmosphere of a modern progressive city that has retained its southern charm and hospitality that South Carolina is known for. It’s a place to bring your guests and your appetites, a place where home town people are living their dreams among the artwork and coffeeshops, a place where visitors come to enjoy the dynamic atmosphere. Over the course of time, these same guests have helped to establish our reputation of being a place where magic happens, where the people work together to make it happen. 

girl kayaking

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Visitor Information

Toll Free: (800) 325-9005
Phone: (843) 664-0330

Visitor Information Center

3290 W. Radio Drive
Florence Civic Center Upper Level
Florence, SC 29501

Daily 9am - 5pm

The Guide

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