Imagine savoring a pecan pie martini, a pecan encrusted grouper, or a slice of White Russian pecan pie?
These are some of the pecan specialties you’ll find in Florence, South Carolina.
Originally known as a railroad hub, Florence is gaining fame as the home of the South Carolina Pecan Trail. Exploring the pecan trail is one of the best things to do in Florence SC.
With a wide number of local restaurants, stores, and markets featuring pecan related products, this charming town is a culinary gem.
While exploring the food in South Carolina, we stopped in Florence for a nutty adventure.
Follow in our footsteps to some of the best stops on the South Carolina Pecan Trail.
Why Pecans Are Special to Florence and South Carolina
We were surprised to learn that Florence, was once home to the largest shelling operation in the world. Even though the facility moved, the retail operation remains in Florence, at Young Plantations, a fun stop on the South Carolina Pecan trail.
Pecan trees grow naturally in the Southern part of the U.S., and American growers produce over 80% of the world’s pecan supply.
Currently, pecans are found in 15 Southern U.S. States including South Carolina, with Georgia and Texas being the main pecan producers.
Pecans are the only major tree nut native to America. Originally, they were foraged as a wild nut by Native Americans. When European explorers came, Native Americans began planting pecan trees and trading the harvest.
Today, Florence keeps the pecan tradition alive with the annual South Carolina Pecan Festival and the year-round South Carolina Pecan Trail.
Things to Do in Florence, SC – Join the South Carolina Pecan Trail
To get started, pick up a South Carolina Pecan Trail passport which will serve as your guide to participating stores and restaurants. You can get one at any of the stops we’ve highlighted below or simply go to the Florence Convention & Visitors Bureau.
At each stop, collect a stamp whenever you make any purchase. It only takes four stamps to earn your first swag, a nutcracker. This tool comes in handy when you buy fresh pecans in their shells.
With eight stamps, you’re up for a nutcracker and stylish “pecan colored” drawstring bag. And if you’re determined to fill up the passport with 21+ stamps, you’ll love the grand prize. A fully stamped passport earns you a South Carolina Pecan Trail t-shirt, drawstring bag, nutcracker, and mini pecan pie.
Simply return the stamped passports to the Florence visitor center in person or send it in by mail for your pecan swag.
Fun Day on the South Carolina Pecan Trail
Looking through our passport, we were quite amazed at the number of participating restaurants. There are more than 20 local restaurants and establishments putting pecans in the spotlight.
Even though we didn’t have time to visit all the places featured on the pecan trail, we found new and exciting ways to try pecans at the following stops.
Sample Pecans at Young Plantations
A great place to start on the pecan trail is Young Plantations. Founded in the 1920s, this family-owned business was once the largest pecan sheller (where pecans are removed from their shells) in the world.
Now, Young Plantations operates as a retail space selling pecans, baked goods, and snacks and pecan related products.
One of the best parts of Young Plantations is the free sample bar where you can taste test all the scrumptious flavored pecans your heart desires.
We sampled a range of flavors from chocolate covered pecans, jalapeno, buttered, roasted and just plain natural pecans. Carrying forward the buttery pecan flavors are baked good samples right next to the nuts.
Delicious bread and pie samples made with fresh pecans tempted us further. We loved the jalapeno flavored pecans and the pecan pie muffins. Overall, we were impressed by the incredible selection and flavors.
The store also offers all kinds of beautifully packaged pecan-related gift baskets and boxes. You’ll also find a great selection of South Carolina themed items from coasters, t-shirts, mugs as well as local jams, honey, South Carolina grits and much more.
The friendly staff is available to offer advice and more importantly can ship your gifts or pecan pies back home for you. Plan on spending at least an hour browsing, tasting and shopping.
2005 Babar Lane, Florence, SC
Pee Dee State Farmers Market & White Russian Pecan Pie
While the Pee Dee State Farmers market is not officially on the pecan trail, you don’t want to skip this unusual market.
The Pee Dee State Farmers market is a massive drive-through market set on 55 acres. You can literally drive your car through the market while stopping to shop at the various vendors. This market is open year-round and showcases the freshest and finest produce in the state.
In October when we visited, the market was filled with pumpkins, peanuts, seasonal vegetables like turnips, squash, sweet potatoes, and rutabagas, leafy greens and not surprisingly, fresh pecans.
On the market grounds are two restaurants on the pecan trail. For takeout and delivery only, Lobster Express Co. offers seafood and traditional southern dishes. Julia Belle’s, the second restaurant, is a much sought after lunch spot for Southern cooking and their famous White Russian Pecan Pie dessert.
Julia Belle’s – White Russian Pecan Pie
Stuffed and pacing ourselves for a full day of eating on the pecan trail, we didn’t have a chance to eat at Julia Belle’s.
The highly recommended White Russian pecan pie, adds a unique twist to the classic Southern pecan pie. With the addition of white chocolate chips and Kahlua Liqueur, this dessert is described as “heavenly.”
After shopping at Pee Dee Market, stop by Julia Belle’s restaurant and earn a stamp in your passport as you indulge in this delectable dessert.
Hearty Lunch at Tubb’s Shrimp & Fish
One of the most popular lunch spots in town is Tubb’s Shrimp & Fish. Fortunately, it is also on the pecan trail and a stop we really enjoyed.
The restaurant is known for fish and seafood, prepared in a Southern and Lowcountry style. In this old refurbished gas station, we enjoyed incredibly fresh fish, seafood and shrimp & grits. You may read more about our experience at Tubb’s in our previous article, how to eat your way to the best food in South Carolina.
The one thing you’ll absolutely want to do is leave room for dessert. We are glad we did. Tubb’s sweet potato cheesecake topped with pecans is to die for.
The mild and creamy sweet potato cheesecake filling is loaded with flavors of the season. And the pecans with marshmallows makes it irresistible.
Go hungry and enjoy the rich flavors at this amazing stop on the pecan trail.
1500 2nd Loop Road, Florence, SC
Fun Activity in Florence, SC – Seminar Brewery
Even though I felt like “I ate too much” after the hearty meal at Tubb’s, I was too intrigued not to miss the “Pecans Gone Wild” beer at Seminar. Rosemary was curious, though the taste of beer has never been for her. But could pecan beer taste different?
Seminar Brewery is located on the northern side of town, along one of the major roads leading to downtown Florence. Guided by the simple sign outside the large warehouse, we parked in the large parking lot in front of the entrance.
As we stepped in this local brewery, we were surprised to see children playing in the brewery. There is a playground set up for kids to play while the adults enjoy their beers.
The room is bright and spacious, with a large counter, where beers are served on tap. In the back of the room are large tanks and small round tables where beer drinkers can sample and enjoy their beers of choice.
Tasting “Pecans Gone Wild” Beer
There are more than 15 beers served on tap as well as a limited selection of wine to satisfy non-beer drinkers like Rosemary.
There are many ways to enjoy the beers. From tasting flights consisting of four or six beers all the way to a full 64 oz. Growler. I was thrilled to order a simple 4oz glass, just enough to taste this unique pecan beer and leave room for dinner.
The “Pecans Gone Wild” beer is a smoked brown ale made with pecans. I found it tasty with a strong ale flavor and a nutty hint. Although I enjoyed the beer, the flavors were too strong for Rosemary to even attempt tasting it.
In addition to beers, Seminar also offers a full menu with pizzas, sandwiches, and kid-friendly options.
551 West Lucas Street, Florence, SC
Town Hall Restaurant in Downtown Florence, SC
For our final stop on the pecan trail, we were excited to dine at Town Hall. The restaurant is led by executive chef, Kelly Vogelheim, one of the few female chefs in Florence.
With a menu that changes with the seasons, the restaurant is farm-driven and Southern-inspired. Using locally and responsibly raised meat, pork and seafood, the menu features an amazing selection of starters and entrees with familiar and unexpected ingredients.
One traditional Southern starter we had for the first time were deviled eggs, with a twist. In a creative manner, the chef topped traditional deviled eggs with gulf oysters for a wonderful explosion of fresh flavors and textures.
Modern and airy in design, the restaurant is welcoming and the staff friendly and professional. With guidance from our waitress, we focused on Southern specialties from the starters menu.
Mac & cheese made with gouda and ricotta cheese and bites of pork belly was heavenly. A charcuterie board featuring pimento cheese and Clemson bleu, two Southern delicacies, were a treat. And farm fresh flavors in a seasonal vegetable plate was delightful.
Although we were stuffed, we wanted to earn our last stamp in our pecan trail passport. The chocolate pecan pie with vanilla ice cream for dessert was the perfect finish.
With our favorite flavors, chocolate and vanilla ice cream, the pecan pie was elevated to new heights. Tasty and not too sweet, this was the perfect end to pecan inspired flavors on the South Carolina pecan trail.
Drinks at The Dispensary – First Rooftop Bar in Florence, SC
One of the fun activities to do in Florence, SC is to have a drink at a rooftop bar. Town Hall is the first Florence restaurant with a rooftop bar, conveniently located across from Hotel Florence.
After your meal, head up to The Dispensary for artisanal cocktails, wine and local beer and views overlooking downtown Florence.
Even though rain prevented us from enjoying a drink at The Dispensary, that’s just another reason to come back for the views and pecan inspired drinks.
Later, when recounting our adventures on the pecan trail, we had a hard time choosing our favorite pecan inspired flavor. The sweet and savory range of flavors and unusual combinations only left us wanting more.
As we looked through our passports, we were surprised to see that we only visited five stops on the pecan trail. Who knew Florence had such a dynamic pecan-centric scene.
Click below to get a glimpse into the South Carolina Pecan Trail.
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Other Things to Do in Florence, South Carolina
Beyond the South Carolina Pecan Trail, there are so many more things to do in Florence, SC. Along the way, we enjoyed visiting a botanical garden and the downtown Florence farmers market.
On your travels stay for a couple of days and take in all the fun things to do in Florence. Be charmed by this small historic town and enjoy warm Southern hospitality.
Moore Farms Botanical Garden
Well worth the 40-minute drive from Florence, Moore botanical gardens, nestled among soybean and corn fields is an unforgettable Southern garden.
On a tour, we were in awe of the stunning grounds, a skillful mix of plants and the native lush native pine trees. Moore farms also offers workshops and classes regularly and the staff is always willing to share their expertise.
Book your visit in advance and enjoy the tranquility and creativity of this inspirational space.
100 New Zion Road, Lake City, SC
Florence City Center Farmers Market
On our way out of town, we stopped at the Saturday City Center farmers market. Friendly vendors proudly showcased their artisanal craft products and talked about their locally grown fruits, vegetables, and meats.
This lively open-air market also has tents set up where you can eat breakfast or lunch cooked onsite. Visiting this downtown Florence market is another fun activity to eat and mingle with the locals.
369 W. Cheves Street, Florence, SC
Hotel Florence – Best Hotel in Downtown Florence SC
While on the South Carolina pecan trail in Florence, book your stay at Hotel Florence. Located in downtown Florence, you can walk to many of the restaurants featured on the pecan trail.
This boutique hotel is filled with history and character. Converted from three historical buildings, the hotel offers a look into Florence’s past contrasted by chic modern furnishing and luxury amenities.
With luxurious rooms, fitness center, spa, complimentary wi-fi and daily treats between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm, you’ll enjoy your home away from home.
Pecan Pie Martini at Victors
On the first floor of Hotel Florence is Victors, a popular stop on the pecan trail. The bar is known for offering premium beers and more than 200 wines.
To earn a stamp in your passport, have the bartender also whip you up a Pecan Pie martini. This intriguing cocktail can start your evening in downtown Florence, or help you wind down after a day on the pecan trail.
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Claire, ex-engineer, is a digital nomad and content creator at Authentic Food Quest. Since 2015, with her partner, Rosemary, they travel the world in search of the best local food experiences. Their mission is to help you enjoy the best local specialties on your travels or via recipes in your home kitchen. Favorite country for food: Vietnam. Favorite local dish: Hainanese Chicken Rice. Favorite way to keep fit: Cycling. Claire is responsible for the website and the fun food & travel videos on Youtube. She is also co-author of Authentic Food Quest Argentina and Authentic Food Quest Peru, available on Amazon.