Florence is the largest city in Lauderdale County, Alabama with a fantastic small town flavor. Packed with attractions and activities for all tastes, Florence offers traditional Southern living at its best. Explore charming historic districts, world-renowned architectural wonders, beautiful natural scenery, world-class fishing, golf, and award-winning cuisine. Here are the best things to do in Florence, AL.
1.University of North Alabama
© University of North Alabama
Located on the banks of the Tennessee River, the University of North Alabama (UNA) is the state's oldest four-year public university. The 130-acre campus is situated in the four-city area known as The Shoals, and it offers high-quality education in a variety of fields to students from all over the country.
Informative walking tours of the campus led by Admissions Representatives are available to prospective students and history buffs, and can be arranged through the admissions office.
1 Harrison Plaza, Florence, AL 35632, 256-765-4608
2.Frank Lloyd Wright's Rosenbaum House, Florence, AL
© Frank Lloyd Wright's Rosenbaum House
Designed by world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the Rosenbaum House is a single-family abode that was built for Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum. Described as an “unexcelled beauty,” the house is one of only 26 pre-World War II Usonian houses ever to be built, and it stands as one of the best examples of this architectural genre.
Characteristic features of Usonian design include the use of natural materials such as brick, glass, and wood, horizontal lines used to connect the structure with the land, flat roofs with overhangs, and access to the outside from every room in the home, all of which can be seen in this house. The Rosenbaum House is open to the public from Tuesday through Sunday and visitors can explore this beautiful piece of architecture on guided tours led by experienced interpreters. More Alabama vacations
601 Riverview Drive, Florence, AL 35630, 256-718-5050
© Deibert Park
Deibert Park is a family-orientated park for the people of Florence and its visitors to enjoy. Donated to the town of Florence by Kirk and Lillian Cook-Diebert, the picturesque 70-acre park features a network of interpretive walking trails and paths that wind through the park, interspersed with tranquil ponds and water features.
The park also has an exclusive playground for children and is home to the Children's Museum of the Shoals, where various educational programs, workshops, and lesson plans are offered for group tours.
4.W. C. Handy Birthplace, Museum & Library
© W. C. Handy Birthplace
W. C. Handy Birthplace, Museum & Library is a museum dedicated to the “The Father of the Blues” W.C. Handy. Born in Florence in 1873, William Christopher Handy gained fame for his jazz compositions such as "St. Louis Blues,” "Memphis Blues," and "Beale St. Blues," and the museum features a wealth of his personal memorabilia, papers, and artifacts for visitors to enjoy.
Exhibits include the piano on which he composed "St. Louis Blues," original sheets of handwritten music, and one of his trumpets. Explore the museum at your own pace or take a guided tour led by jazz aficionados and music lovers. The W. C. Handy Birthplace, Museum & Library is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm.
620 West College St, Florence, Alabama, 256-760-6434
5.McFarland Park, Florence, Alabama
© Courtesy of visitflorenceal.com
Nestled between the Tennessee River and Downtown Florence, McFarland Park is one of the crown jewels of Florence. Resting on the banks of the Tennessee River, the 200-acre park is comprised of a variety of natural habitats ranging from tall grass prairies and thick woodlands to wet stream habitats.
The serene park features a wealth of facilities and activities for people to enjoy, including paved walking and jogging paths, picnic shelters with fireplaces, playgrounds, soccer and baseball fields, and a floating restaurant and bar. The park also boasts 60 campsites with modern amenities, a marina and boat slip for launching, fishing piers, and a driving range, and it hosts a variety of festivals throughout the year, such as the Bass Masters Fishing Tournament and the annual Trail of Tears motorcycle ride.
200 James M Spain Dr, Florence, AL 35630, 256-760-6416
6.Wichahpi Commemorative Stone Wall, Florence, AL
© Wichahpi Commemorative Stone Wall
The Wichahpi Commemorative Stone Wall (also known as the Tom Hendrix Wall) is a stone wall built by Tom Hendrix to memorialize his Native American great-great-grandmother who was part of the American Indian removal to Oklahoma. The wall, which Tom began to build over 30 years ago, represents his great-great grandmother’s journey back to her Yuchi tribe’s native land after she and many others were relocated to Oklahoma following the Indian Removal Act of 1830.
While most of the sandstone and limestone come from a local quarry, visitors have donated stones from all around the world, including New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, and France, and the wall is currently the largest mortarless wall in the country. Part of the wall incorporates a tranquil prayer circle, offering a space for quiet meditation and reflection.
7.River Heritage Park
© River Heritage Park
Boasting beautiful views of the Tennessee River and Wilson Dam from the base of the Renaissance Tower, River Heritage Park is an urban green space that features a variety of family-friendly activities and other exciting things to do. A unique water splash pad and interactive fountains offer cool respite during the summer months while picnic shelters and a children’s playground provide fun for the whole family.
The park hosts an array of events and festivals throughout the year, including fountain and light shows. River Heritage Park is open from sunrise to 11:00 pm and skateboards, bicycles, and scooters are prohibited.
10 Hightower Place, Florence, AL, 256-768-2728
8.Pope's Tavern Museum, Florence, Alabama
© Pope's Tavern Museum
Once a stagecoach stop, tavern, and inn used as a hospital by Confederate and Union forces during the Civil War, Pope's Tavern Museum is one of the area’s oldest buildings and is steeped in history. Located in downtown Florence, the museum preserves and interprets the site of this famous historic inn and stagecoach stop, focusing on the history of Florence and the role it played in the Civil War.
The upper floor of the museum features an extensive collection of Civil War artifacts, including an extremely rare Kennedy Long Rifle, a Confederate Colonel’s uniform, and a vertically strung piano – one of only four ever made. The lower floor of the building is decorated with vintage furniture and antiques, and visitors can explore on their own or book a guided tour with an interpretive guide. Pope's Tavern Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm.
203 Hermitage Drive, Florence, AL, 256-760-6439
© Courtesy of Jorg Hackemann - Fotolia.com
Stretching for 50 miles from the Pickwick Landing Dam in Tennessee to the Wilson Dam in Florence, Pickwick Lake is a reservoir created by the Pickwick Landing Dam, and it is renowned for its excellent sport fishing areas. The 490-mile winding shoreline plays host to two state parks, namely Tennessee's Pickwick Landing State Park, and Mississippi's J P Coleman State Park, while the 47,500 acres of water surface provide outstanding fishing, particularly for smallmouth bass, and other water-based recreational activities.
One of the lake’s most popular areas for smallmouth bass fishing areas is known as the “Shoals” section, which is located directly downstream of Wilson Dam at the end of Seven-Mile Island. The lake is also home to Yellow Creek Cove and the beautiful Yellow Creek waterfall, which has a rope swing off the top of the waterfall that beckons the brave to try.
10.Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts
© Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts
The Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts is an educational facility and arts center dedicated to promoting interest in the arts and encouraging participation in a variety of cultural activities in the area. The center is home to a museum, gallery, and educational facilities such as classrooms and studios for showcasing works, as well as a meeting place for cultural groups to gather and discuss art and culture.
The center features a wealth of annual exhibits by artists from the Southeast, as well as rotating and traveling exhibits by visiting artists, and it offers an array of classes, workshops, lectures, and art-based programs for all ages. The Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts hosts a variety of concerts and events throughout the year, including the annual juried fine arts and crafts festival, Arts Alive!
217 East Tuscaloosa Street, Florence, Alabama 35630, 256-760-6379
11.Odette, Florence, Alabama
Odette is a casual neighborhood eatery and shop that serves authentic American fare with a Southern touch. Located in the heart of historic downtown Florence, the relaxed restaurant boasts contemporary décor and a comfortable ambiance, creating a family-friendly, home-away-from-home appeal. Chef Josh Quick and Owner Celeste Pillow present a farm-influenced, innovative menu of seasonal fare made from locally and sustainably sourced ingredients and served with regional flare.
Signature dishes on the dinner menu include catfish and Gulf shrimp cioppino, charred sourdough, black rice-crusted grouper, and wild rice & sorghum berry risotto, while five-spiced crispy short rib and fried gulf oysters are other incredibly popular dishes. Odette is open Monday through Saturday for brunch, lunch, and dinner and offers exceptional children’s and take-out menus.
120 North Court Street, Florence, Alabama 35630, 256-349-5219
12.The Indian Mound and Museum, Florence, AL
© Courtesy of visitflorenceal.com
Located on the banks of the Tennessee River, the Indian Mound and Museum preserves the site of an ancient earthen mound that was built by Native Americans of the Woodland Period more than 2,000 years ago. Rising 43 feet high, the mound was a vast archeological treasure trove of artifacts and items that date back as far as the Ice Age, including ancient spear points and tools, pipes, jewelry, and clay pottery.
In 1968, the Indian Mound Museum was built next to the site of the famous mound to exhibit the items and artifacts recovered during archeological excavations, some of which date back to the Paleo and Transitional periods. Other items discovered come from the Archaic and Woodland ages through to the Mississippian and Historic Native American ages. The Indian Mound and Museum is currently closed for renovation.
1028 South Court Street, Florence, AL 35630, 256-760-6427
13.The Pie Factory, Florence, Alabama
© The Pie Factory
The Pie Factory brings gourmet New York-style pizza to the heart of Florence. Boasting a laid-back, welcoming atmosphere that is ideal for both business lunches and family gatherings, The Pie Factory is an inviting restaurant that serves an array of handmade, wood-fired pizzas, fresh salads and sides, and a robust selection of craft and small-batch beers both in bottles and on tap. Diners can choose from a variety of pies from the menu or make their own gourmet creation with various toppings.
Accompany your meal with garden fresh salads or tasty appetizers. Signature pies include local music history themed pizzas like the Muscle Shoals Sound (two layers of pepperoni, Frank’s Hot Sauce, mozzarella and parmesan sprinkles) and the Aretha Franklin (spicy buffalo grilled chicken, jalapeños, and gorgonzola and mozzarella cheeses).
The Pie Factory, 106 North Court Street, Florence, AL 35630, 256-275-3248
14.Things to Do in North Alabama: Blackberry Trail Golf Course
© Courtesy of Alex Staroseltsev - Fotolia.com
The Blackberry Trail Golf Course is an 18-hole municipal golf course in Florence that features five sets of tees in a links style setting. Located in the heart of a new residential neighborhood, the Steven Plumer-designed course offers all-level rolling fairways and greenside bunkers, a practice bunker, chipping green, putting green, and driving green.
Pristine, untouched wetlands run throughout the course, offering golfers the chance to admire spectacular views of the natural surrounding landscapes while they play.
Blackberry Trail Golf Course, Clubhouse Dr, Florence, AL 35630, 256-740-8825
15.Yumm Thai Sushi and Beyond, Florence, AL
© Yumm Thai Sushi and Beyond
Yumm Thai Sushi and Beyond is an authentic Thai restaurant that serves a range of Southeast Asian cuisine from sushi to Thai and everything in between. Featuring stylish and sophisticated décor, the restaurant presents itself as an upscale eatery, but it also has a casual sidewalk dining area for diners wanting a more relaxed vibe.
The menu features a wealth of delicious Asian cuisine, ranging from freshly made sushi, sashimi, and rolls to rich curries, tempura seafood. and marinated Thai-style steak. A variety of non-alcoholic beverages is on offer from soft drinks to Japanese hot green tea while desserts are decidedly Western with New York style cheesecake and tiramisu being firm favorites. Yumm is open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Saturday.
117 N Court Street, Florence, AL, 256-349-2074
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15 Best Things to Do in Florence, AL
- University of North Alabama, Photo: University of North Alabama
- Frank Lloyd Wright's Rosenbaum House, Florence, AL, Photo: Frank Lloyd Wright's Rosenbaum House
- Deibert Park, Photo: Deibert Park
- W. C. Handy Birthplace, Museum & Library, Photo: W. C. Handy Birthplace
- McFarland Park, Florence, Alabama, Photo: Courtesy of visitflorenceal.com
- Wichahpi Commemorative Stone Wall, Florence, AL, Photo: Wichahpi Commemorative Stone Wall
- River Heritage Park, Photo: River Heritage Park
- Pope's Tavern Museum, Florence, Alabama, Photo: Pope's Tavern Museum
- Pickwick Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Jorg Hackemann - Fotolia.com
- Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts, Photo: Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts
- Odette, Florence, Alabama, Photo: Odette
- The Indian Mound and Museum, Florence, AL, Photo: Courtesy of visitflorenceal.com
- The Pie Factory, Florence, Alabama, Photo: The Pie Factory
- Things to Do in North Alabama: Blackberry Trail Golf Course, Photo: Courtesy of Alex Staroseltsev - Fotolia.com
- Yumm Thai Sushi and Beyond, Florence, AL, Photo: Yumm Thai Sushi and Beyond
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of University of North Alabama