The biggest thing Florence currently has a reputation for is being a decent stop on the way to Myrtle Beach. The locals know of a few great restaurants and know that Freemans bakery has the best old fashioned chocolate frosted layer cake, but Florence is still old school. All of the really great places are closed on Sunday, so we had to do some digging to fill a half day trip itinerary to Florence on a Sunday.
First stop- Buc-ee’s. Buc-ee’s now has a cult following, so I am sure you’ve heard many descriptions, but now you’ll get to read mine. Imagine if you will, the middle of nowhere Texas. Your pretty excellent BBQ joint falls in love with and marries the gas station/general store that has been around forever. They have children. Those children are Hobby Lobby, Academy, Dunkin (just the coffee) and the shopping and old fashioned treats portion of Cracker Barrel. They all embrace the “everything is bigger in Texas” mentality and move in to one big house together. Especially because Grandma and all of her best homemade fudges and treats need a place to live too (the banana pudding fudge is exactly how you hoped it would taste).
What else does Buc-ee’s have? They pretty much have everything covered. Going camping and you forgot your cast iron skillet and bacon grease? Buc-ee’s has you covered. Your gun case broke on the way to the gun range and you also need more targets to shoot at? Buc-ee’s has you covered. You want a new t-shirt from your favorite sports team, southern vines, or the Bible? Buc-ee’s has you covered. You need to do your Christmas shopping or need a last minute birthday present? You guessed it, Buc-ee’s has you covered. Did you forget that it was Easter/ Resurrection Sunday and you need some last minute décor for the church? Yep, Buc-ee’s has even you covered. Known for their extremely clean bathrooms, 100+ gas pumps, fresh BBQ, Beaver Nuggets and everything else under the sun such as river floats, fire pits, hunting ground blinds, coolers, walls of soda fountains and beef jerky, it is a place actually deserving of its hype.
The Florence location is the only one in the state and also at the crossroads of two major interstates, so it was more crowded that Disney World at a rope drop (when you figure people per square foot anyway). The first thing we needed was lunch. We went in and got brisket and the fresh made chips with banana pudding for dessert. We ate outside and then wandered the rest of the store (having a full belly definitely helped us not buy as much junk). In total we spent 2 hours at Buc-ee’s. Full and completely over stimulated, we decided to leave Buc-ee’s and explore a little more in Florence.
With the help of Google Maps, we set off to find the crater from the accidental nuclear bomb dropped on SC. (Link to the Wiki story here- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1958_Mars_Bluff_B-47_nuclear_weapon_loss_incident#:~:text=The%201958%20Mars%20Bluff%20B,causing%20damage%20to%20buildings%20below.
The trail began in an abandoned RV park. We were very thankful to be in the truck that day! Getting through the RV park to the trailhead was an adventure. Once we finally made it to where we thought the trail began, we almost gave up because the trail was so overgrown, but the geocaching app helped us figure out the best way forward. The newspaper articles at the shelter at the end of the trail are in good condition, even if the trail is not. The crater itself has eroded away a good bit, but it is little known SC History and we were happy to explore it.
With a few daylight hours left, we decided to go to the Florence Stockade. We were discovering a trend in Florence, lots of potential, but very little of it was maintained. There were great walking trails and even interesting recreations of what the walls would have been like, but there was no information on what you were looking at and poor markings on the trails. A few places had numbers associated with a stop, but no information or pamphlets on the stops.
We decided to end our night at Seminar Brewing. A craft brewery founded by professors and known for its IPA “Pixels”. It sits in a big Wearhouse with the brewing equipment, a bar, typical sports bar eats and TV’s, axe throwing, a beer garden and tables to sit. A one stop hang out place for sure. If you are into craft breweries, excellent sours and supporting small business, it’s worth the visit. Just don’t plan to take any alcohol home if it’s Sunday due to blue laws. Florence is old school after all.
All in all, Florence has many hidden gems, you just have to go digging for them.