Florence, Arizona is an old Western town with a rich history and 25 historic buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places as well as more than 140 well-preserved historic buildings. Florence is located only about 70 miles from Tucson and is a nice spot for tourists to visit and learn about the Wild West history of this part of Arizona. The best place to start is the visitors center at McFarland State Park.
1. Pinal County Historical Museum
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The Pinal County Historical Museum is a quirky and fascinating museum in Florence, Arizona, that describes the history of Florence and Pinal County through unique displays and artifacts. Exhibits include the Arizona Prison at Florence and stories about the rodeo, ranching, and the town’s Wild West past. Some of the most interesting artifacts are two types of cactus furniture from the 19th century, real nooses used for hangings, a sock monkey doll made by notorious murderer Winnie Ruth Judd, and a display of original Hohokam artifacts. There are also exhibits on Florence’s famous son Gus Arriola, who created the Gordo comic strip, as well as Eastlake furniture, a rodeo exhibit, the Camp Florence Prisoner of War Camp, Apache deer-skin playing cards, and a display with memorabilia from Western movie stars.
715 S Main St, Florence, AZ 85132, Phone: 520-868-4382
2.McFarland State Historic Park
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Open in 1979, McFarland State Historic Park is a seven-room low adobe structure located in downtown Florence. Once the first courthouse in Florence and one of the first in Arizona, the park's building and its history provide visitors with a glimpse into the past of this part of Arizona. The original structure was built in 1878, and architecturally it is a transition between Sonoran and Anglo-American architecture. It has a typical wood-shingled pitched roof over traditional adobe brick walls. Like most buildings in Territorial Arizona, it was built by hand using locally available materials. The park is dedicated to the works of Ernest McFarland, a US Senator, Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court, and Governor of Arizona. Visitors are encouraged to browse through the archives of the McFarland papers to get an idea of the extent of his works. A guided walking tour through the building and its exhibits can be arranged in order to learn more about the building’s past.
24 Ruggles St, Florence, AZ 85232, Phone: 520-868-5216
3.St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery
© St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery
St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery was established in 1995 in the desert near the city of Florence, Arizona, about 80 miles from Phoenix. The monastery was established after an active Greek-American Orthodox community in the area invited six Athonite monks from Greece. Under the instruction of Elder Ephraim, the monks started building churches, guest rooms, living quarters, and dining rooms and planting extensive, lush gardens in what was originally an isolated, desolate part of the Sonoran Desert. The monastery today serves a Greek Orthodox community in central Arizona and is home to more than 40 monks. Visitors, Orthodox and non-Orthodox, are welcomed to tour the monastery, attend church activities, and tour the garden. They are asked to dress “appropriately and modestly” according to the guidelines available on the monastery’s website.
4784 N St Joseph's Way, Florence, AZ 85132, Phone: 520-868-3188
4.Arizona ATV Adventures
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Visiting Florence in Arizona offers a great opportunity to explore the surrounding desert, mountains, and canyons. The safest and most fun way of doing this is with the help of Arizona ATV Adventures, the largest and oldest of Arizona’s outdoor adventure businesses. All ATV tours include one of their modern ATVs, a certified guide, insurance, helmets, gloves, and goggles. The ATVs sit up to two people and if you have never ridden one, you will get detailed instructions before embarking on your adventure. Once you are ready, follow your tour guide straight to the mysterious Sonoran Desert. The 37-mile loop follows several now abandoned mining trails established in the late 1800s, passing between massive saguaro and ocotillo cacti. You will stop at an old gold mining camp, observe ancient Native American rock drawings, and visit a stagecoach depot once you arrive at the bottom of Box Canyon. The canyon is about 7 miles long and at times only 10 feet wide. You will see the sky high above as you travel between cliffs that soar 900 feet on either side. The tour takes about half a day and will leave lasting memories.
E Price Rd, Florence, AZ 85132, Phone: 800-242-6335
5.The Windmill Winery
© The Windmill Winery
The Windmill Winery is located at the outskirts of Florence, Arizona, and is one of the most elegant and unique venues for weddings and other large celebrations in the area. The enormous property has two lakes, miles of beautifully landscaped lush greenery, two venues for special events, a massive beautifully renovated 100-year-old barn, the Hampton's-style elegant and polished Lake House with a pier, and a wine tasting room in a 1920s dairy barn. The wine tasting room is a charming and rustic small room where visitors can taste Windmill Winery’s own wines as well as wines from all over the world. Knowledgeable personnel will help you choose the wine and share information about the wine’s origin and qualities. The winery tends to get very busy because it is one of Arizona’s most popular wedding destinations.
1140 W Butte Ave, Florence, AZ 85132, Phone: 480-313-2303
6.Poston Butte Golf Club
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Poston Butte Golf Club, designed by renowned golf course designer Gary Panks, is an 18-hole championship golf course in Florence, Arizona. The course offers player-friendly tee shots to spacious fairways. It is a challenging green surface that requires a strategic approach. Poston Butte Golf Club features five sets of tees that range from 5,300 to 7,300 yards and provide a pleasant experience to golfers of any skill level. The golf club has a practice facility with a full-length driving range. It has five target greens at different distances. The club also has a chipping green, a large practice putting green, and a practice sand bunker.
6100 Merrill Ranch Pkwy, Florence, AZ 85232, Phone: 520-723-1880
7.Tom Mix Memorial
© Tom Mix Memorial
As you drive along State Route 79 just south of Florence in Arizona, you will notice a cutout of a 2-foot high metal horse on top of a pile of cobblestones. The horse, known as Tony, has its head hanging down, with his reins loose. It is the sculpture of the horse that has lost its rider. At the base of the monument are the words: "Jan. 6, 1880-Oct. 12, 1940, In Memory Of Tom Mix, whose spirit left his body on this spot, and whose characterization and portrayals in life served to better fix memories of the Old West in the minds of living men." The touching monument was erected in memory of Tom Mix, one of the great silent movie era cowboys, who was a cowboy in real-life as well as a great rifle shot and a superb horse rider. He was killed near the monument in a car crash in 1940. The gully in which his car ended is now called Tom Mix Wash.
State Route 79, Florence, AZ 85132
8.AZ Rentals and More, LLC
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AZ Rentals and More, LLC is a rental agency for high-power off-road vehicles located in Florence, Arizona. The agency rents a large range of high-end off-road vehicles such Polaris RZRs and Can Am X3s for visitors who are interested in exploring the rugged areas near Florence, especially the famous Box Canyon. While inexperienced drivers will get basic instructions on how to operate an off-road vehicle, it is their responsibility to use the vehicle safely. Box Canyon is not too difficult to navigate but it has a few steep spots. The All Trails app can be downloaded by visitors and offers detailed instructions and directions. If you are afraid of getting lost, AZ Rentals offer tours from October to April.
3110 N Pinal Pkwy Ave, Florence, AZ 85132, Phone: 480-331-7623
9.Golf Club at Oasis
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The Golf Club at Oasis is considered one of the hidden gems of golf courses in Arizona, a state that is not famous for its golf clubs. It is a unique golf course located just off Hunt Highway about 8 miles from Florence, Arizona. The course has nine fairways and 18 greens. There are with five tee boxes 7,366 yards from the black set or 4,564 from the red set. This all makes Golf Club at Oasis one of the most interesting courses to play 18 holes of golf. It is also a great place to learn course management and shot strategy. The club is a popular local venue for parties, meetings, and celebrations.
5764 E Hunt Hwy, Florence, AZ 85132, Phone: 480-888-8890
10.MT Athos Restaurant & Cafe
© MT Athos Restaurant & Cafe
Open in 2005 in Florence, Arizona, Mount Athos Restaurant and Cafe specializes in authentic Greek food as well as American and Italian fine cuisine. The family-owned and operated restaurant is spacious and comfortable, with a family vibe and a relaxed feel. It has a large open bar surrounded by small tables and big, comfortable booths for larger groups. While the menu offers the regular comfort food such as burgers, fries, pastas, and lamb shanks, people mostly come for their more interesting Greek dishes such as spicy gyros and flaming cheese. The restaurant has a full bar and serves house wine and beer on tap
444 N Pinal Pkwy, Florence, AZ 85232, Phone: 520-868-0735
© Valentino's Eatery
Located in the Anthem at Merrill Ranch community, Florence, Arizona, Valentino’s Eatery is an upscale, spacious restaurant with an elegant, nicely decorated dining room and a pleasant small patio for al fresco eating. The restaurant is proud to offer a large menu of authentic Italian dishes prepared with the freshest local ingredients. Chef and owner Rob Barker uses high-quality fresh steaks and seafood to create traditional Italian specialties with his own flair. The menu has something for everyone, but the Chicken Riggies stand out: Tender medallions of boneless chicken are sautéed with peppers and Valentino's original garlic tomato sauce. Served over penne, this dish will delight you. Valentino’s have nice wine selection and their bar is famous for its cocktails.
3385 N Hunt Hwy, Florence, AZ 85132, Phone: 520-723-5910
© LB Cantina
LB Cantina is a popular Tex-Mex Restaurant in Florence, Arizona. You will easily notice it – it is right on the Main Street and has a lovely traditional Mexican patio in front. Come early if you want to sit outside as the restaurant is very popular. Cantina serves traditional Mexican recipes from the Sonoran part of Mexico, but you will also find a traditional lineup of good old classics such as pollo adobado, machaca, and chiles rellenos. The indoor space is lovely, colorful, and homey and the service is perfect. They will give you some chips and salsa while you wait for your meal. The beer is cold and their margaritas are famous.
695 S Main St, Florence, AZ 85132, Phone: 520-868-9981
13.Old Pueblo Restaurant
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Old Pueblo Restaurant is a traditional Mexican spot located on the Main Street in Florence, Arizona. They serve freshly made authentic Mexican dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Everything, including their tortillas, chips, and tamales, are handmade in their kitchen in the back. You will find the good old classics such as chimichangas, enchiladas, and carne asada, but they also serve American popular dishes if someone in your party fancies a burger or grilled chicken. They have a full bar, craft beers on tap, and wonderful margaritas. Bring your whole family, the atmosphere is relaxed and homey, like visiting an Mexican aunt.
505 S Main St, Florence, AZ 85132, Phone: 866-907-9935
14.A & M Pizza
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A&M (Angela and Mike) Pizza is a chain of authentic pizza parlors with restaurants all over the country, from NYC to Arizona. Their Florence spot is a popular local place to order pizza and pasta to-go, but they have a pleasant, unassuming dining room with a couple of tables outside for dining al fresco. It is located just across from the Holiday Inn Express, off Highway 287. The pizzas are made using an old family recipe, deep-dish, with a range of toppings. They have an extensive menu of Italian classics and American popular dishes. They make their bread in house and it is so popular they quickly run out of it every day. Their best deals are daily specials such as spaghetti or penne with meatballs, served with salad, bread, and butter.
445 W Highway 287, Florence, AZ 85132, Phone: 520-868-0170
14 Things to Do in Florence, Arizona
- Pinal County Historical Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Andriki - Fotolia.com
- McFarland State Historic Park, Photo: Courtesy of Joern - Fotolia.com
- St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery, Photo: St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery
- Arizona ATV Adventures, Photo: Courtesy of Daniel Dietze - Fotolia.com
- The Windmill Winery, Photo: The Windmill Winery
- Poston Butte Golf Club, Photo: Courtesy of Megan - Fotolia.com
- Tom Mix Memorial, Photo: Tom Mix Memorial
- AZ Rentals and More, LLC, Photo: Courtesy of PPstock - Fotolia.com
- Golf Club at Oasis, Photo: Courtesy of artea_art - Fotolia.com
- MT Athos Restaurant & Cafe, Photo: MT Athos Restaurant & Cafe
- Valentino's Eatery, Photo: Valentino's Eatery
- LB Cantina, Photo: LB Cantina
- Old Pueblo Restaurant, Photo: Courtesy of JackF - Fotolia.com
- A & M Pizza, Photo: Courtesy of Olga Tkacheva - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Cliff - Fotolia.com