Sweet Home Alabama! At least you could call it home for a weekend. Do you wonder what this town offers? If so, let me guide you through the entire experience.
On the Tennessee River in the northwestern corner of Alabama, you’ll discover the beautiful city of Florence, Alabama. The region is known as The Shoals, with 80,000 residents living here. You’ll find that the city has an abundance of cultural opportunities, including the Helen Keller Festival and the W.C. Handy Music Festival.
When I say Florence I mean, breathtaking architecture, rich history, and unique culture as you will read about my top list of things to do in Florence Alabama.
Visiting other destinations in Alabama? Check out our other delicious guides:
The 8 Best Things To Do In Florence Alabama
1028 S Court St // +1 256-760-6427
Some imagine history to be just facts and events from the past. I strongly disagree with this because history is alive and reachable.
That is why I featured the Florence Indian Mound and Museum on this list. The museum exhibits American Indian relics found in the area on a chronological basis and explains their significance. The relics date back from the Paleolithic and Historic periods. You will agree that history comes alive with such engaging displays and features.
In Alabama, the largest repository of ancient tools, pottery, jewelry, and pipes is this 43-feet high mound, originally built between 100 AD and 500 AD, during the Woodland Stage. Archeologists have carried out many excavations to determine the mound’s age and use.
The museum is relatively small; around 30 minutes to go through it, and you can see the whole place in less than an hour.
The tickets cost $5 for adults and $2 for students. The friendly staff will welcome you at the entrance, sharing additional information about the place and the artifacts. Some steps lead you to the top of the mound but are careful; they are very steep. You can see fascinating views of the river from the top.
601 Riverview Dr // +1 256-718-5050
Why is this place, out of all the things to do in Alabama, Florence, worth the time?
What’s next will surprise you. I was personally fascinated by the idea of how architecture profoundly affects us and connects us. This house is so natural and elegant, and you can easily imagine yourself soaking in all the coziness it has to offer.
In 1939, Frank Lloyd Wright-designed the Rosenbaum House for Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum. After this house, Wright built dozens of Usonian homes.
He wanted his houses to be simple, integrated spaces made up of built-in elements and furniture. The homes were structured to have three sections: a living room, a small bedroom, and a kitchen dining area.
If you wonder what Usonian style represents, Usonia was an artistic philosophy developed over many years and peaked in the 1930s. A low, simple roof characterizes it, natural ornamentation, efficient use of space, no attic; no basement, one story, and horizontal orientation.
Experienced interpreters guide the tours, which last approximately 45 minutes and costs $10 per adult. Also, there is a small cozy gift shop just across the street from the museum, where you can stack on whatever you wish.
It’s obvious why a visionary like Frank Lloyd Wright stood out among architects. According to him, architecture is the mother art because it connects with its inhabitants. We have no soul of our civilization without an architecture of our own.
106 N Court St // +1 256-275-3248
The Pie Factory is the kind of place you would stumble on. But a blend of so many smells could be a promising lead. Anything better than cheese, fresh tomatoes, olive oil, and crunchy pastry? I am about to awake your hunger. The Pie Factory offers one of the tastiest pizzas in town. Are you looking for things to do in Alabama, Florence that include indulging in memorable flavors? Visit here!
They offer personal pizza creations, and we simply had to share a few to get an idea of what the buzz was all about. As I am writing this, I can still feel the taste of that Old Faithful with tomato sauce, pepperoni, and Italian sausage. But, of course, the mushrooms, onions, and that melty mozzarella cheese were the crown of this.
The second pizza we taste was The Muscle Shoals Sound, with tomato & hot sauce, extra layers of pepperoni, mozzarella, and sprinkles of parmesan cheese. Literally heaven.
Did someone say pineapple on pizza? Then, Hawaiian Luau is your why not answer. A burst of flavors and perfectly soft dough topped with goodies.
They have a wide variety of pizzas and other dishes, but these three were what stole the show. I loved how the mixture of such ingredients makes a vibrant taste. Share with me your experience and your faves when you visit this location.
200 James M Spain Dr // +1 256-740-8817
Mc Farland Park has a long history. The locals shared with me that citizens of the area have used this place for more than 10,000 years! Can you imagine how long that is?
Located near the Tennessee River, this beautiful park has 60 campsites and many amenities.
McFarland Park features:
-Driving range for golfers
-Picnic shelters with fireplaces
-Individual picnic tables
-Paved and lighted jogging trail surrounding the harbor
-Restaurant and marine store
-Numerous festivals and special events take place at the park, including the annual Trail of Tears motorcycle ride and the Bassmasters Fishing Tournament
This place is open from Monday to Friday, from 9 AM to 5 PM, Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM and closed on Sunday. Out of all the things to do in Florence, Alabama, I find this Park to offer everything for everyone literally, and a day here is simply not enough.
352 Beale St. // +1 901-527-3427
This one’s a wonderful little museum that tells the story of W.C. Handy’s life. They do a fantastic job presenting the type of history that often doesn’t get told with this kind of depth. This renowned Museum and Library are Florence’s most immense pride.
This cabin, museum, and library are dedicated to W.C. Handy, known as “The Father of the Blues,” born in a log cabin on this site in 1873. He was one of the most influential American musicians.
Handy donated many of his papers, artifacts, and other items to the cabin, museum, and library before his death in 1958. This museum is constantly improved by the Handy family that closely monitors everything related to it.
I should not forget to mention the festival honoring the life and music of this musician in this town called “W.C. Handy Music Festival.” People enjoy it every year, and this year, it takes place between July 23rd to August 1st. If you look for things to do in Florence, Alabama make sure you include a visit here.
203 Hermitage Dr // +1 256-760-6439
Never enough museums in Florence! Pope’s Tavern And Museum is another place where you can discover more about history.
America’s history wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Civil War. This place used to be a Civil War hospital for both Union and Confederate Soldiers.
Pope’s Tavern has existed for quite some time. Travelers stopped here when they were heading west or east. Its most important use was as a hospital. Currently, the site is a museum displaying soldiers’ uniforms, both North and South, artifacts from the war, and information about the Indians who lived in the area long ago. Frontier Day takes place each spring. This event features weavers, musicians, basket weavers, and other crafts to view and purchase. Suitable for all ages!
Although it is a small place, I learned a lot here. The staff told me not only about the museum itself, but also many exciting stories about Florence.
1 Harrison Plaza // +1 256-765-4100
I have so much to tell you about this! But first, let me start with some basic facts and information.
Florence, Alabama, is home to the University of North Alabama (UNA). It is the oldest public university in the state. This four-city area, including Florence, Tuscumbia, Sheffield, and Muscle Shoals, comprises a 130-acre (0.5 km2) campus at the center of a residential area.
Since 1974, the university has been known as the University of North Alabama and has been located in Florence since 1855.
The university currently offers 60 undergraduate majors and seven graduate programs across four colleges: the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business, the College of Education, and the College of Nursing and Allied Health.
The unique thing about this university is its magnificent and glorious garden and its breathtaking architecture. When I was walking in this garden, I remembered the old days when I was in college. It’s from those types of places that easily evoke memories and feelings.
You can also chat there with some amicable people or students. I asked them about the university, college life, and youth, and they were so kind to involve in conversation with me. It may be a little odd to recommend a university among the things to do in Florence, Alabama but well, blame it on the garden.
120 N Court St // +1 256-349-5219
I’m ending up my list of things to do in Florence, Alabama, in a way, a real foodie should! Odette is a five-star place to dine. But, first, let me introduce you to their menu, which uses locally sourced ingredients, and all the dishes have souther and international flair.
What I enjoyed were the Deviled Farm Eggs Two Ways with pimento cheese and bacon, red curry, a dish so simple yet so delectable. We then agreed to share the Grilled Chicken Wings. They arrived with fish sauce, caramel, and peanuts, a generous portion to make everyone from your group simply crave more.
My personal favorite was the Grilled Whole Wheat Toast. I also want to mention to you that they often change their menu and have daily dishes.
The owner, Celeste, says, “We created Odette out of combined passions for art, food, and the town of Florence. You see, we live here, and we wanted to open a restaurant that featured the best of Alabama and influences from around the world.”
Summing Up On Things To Do In Florence Alabama
Did you know that Florence is called “Alabama’s Renaissance City”?
Although there are many more lovely places to be mentioned in this list, it has to come to an end. The best time to visit Florence is definitely in the summer, while the weather is not very hot and there are many events and festivals to be seen.
I shrank the list to what I personally found worth the time and best represents the spirit of this beautiful town of Florence. Do not hesitate to hit the road and explore these places, and much more by yourself.
Travel writer and owner of the blog. My work has been featured on Fodors, Eater.com, International Living, and Great Escape Publishing, among many others. My story? Nearly six years ago, I left my job at an Oklahoma City law firm and embarked on a journey around the world. At the time, I thought I would only be gone for 6 months, but the more I traveled, the longer my bucket list became. Flashpacker describes how I travel. Rather than traveling as the normal world wise backpacker and staying in hostel dorms, I prefer a more comfortable experience, and typically stay in private rooms, take Ubers instead of taxis, and now use a suitcase instead of a backpack. Foodie, on the other hand, describes one of the key reasons why I travel. I love to pick a central “base camp” and then explore the surrounding area, really immersing myself in the culture and interacting with the people, and enjoying and exploring the food of an area is an essential part of this experience.