12 Attractions in Florence, Alabama

Florence is a beautiful city located in northwest Alabama along the Tennessee River. With its rich history, architecture, and culture, Florence has plenty to offer visitors. From fascinating museums and performing arts to delicious restaurants and fun outdoor activities, many great attractions make Florence a wonderful vacation destination.

W.C. Handy Home & MuseumMuseum dedicated to the “Father of the Blues,” showcasing his life, music, and personal items.
University of North AlabamaHistoric campus with Gothic-Revival architecture, art gallery, and sports events.
Pope’s TavernAlabama’s oldest restaurant offering Southern cuisine with historic significance.
Rosenbaum HouseFrank Lloyd Wright-designed house showcasing Usonian style architecture.
Kennedy-Douglass Center for the ArtsCultural hub with art galleries, studios, and theaters set in a historic building.
Florence Indian Mound & MuseumFeatures a preserved ancient mound and museum dedicated to local Native American history.
Odette Sculpture ParkOutdoor museum in downtown Florence with over 30 contemporary sculptures.
Alabama Music Hall of FameExhibits celebrating Alabama’s musical heritage with interactive displays and memorabilia.
Guntersville Lake HydrofestAnnual event with professional powerboat racing and other water activities.
McFarland ParkOffers hiking, playgrounds, fishing, and various outdoor activities in a 400-acre park.
Shakespeare in the Park FestivalOpen-air theater festival showcasing Shakespearean plays in a beautiful setting.
Historic Downtown Florence Food TourGuided food tour exploring local eateries and the history of Florence’s downtown area.

This article will highlight 12 of the top attractions you don’t want to miss when visiting Florence.

W.C. Handy Home & Museum

Name and Location: The W.C. Handy Home & Museum is located in Florence, Alabama, at 620 West College Street.

History and Significance: This museum preserves the home of William Christopher “W.C.” Handy, known as the “Father of the Blues”. Handy was an African American composer and musician who influenced blues, jazz and popular music with compositions like “The Memphis Blues” and “St. Louis Blues”. His home was constructed in 1918 and is now a historic landmark.

What to Expect: Visitors can tour Handy’s preserved home containing original furnishings, artifacts, personal belongings and learn about his life through photographs and exhibits. There is also a gift shop.

Visitor Information: The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday 10am to 4pm and Sunday 1pm to 4pm. Guided tours offered. Admission charged.

The W.C. Handy Home & Museum is dedicated to the famous “Father of the Blues,” composer W.C. Handy, who was a long-time resident of Florence. This National Historic Landmark was Handy’s home from 1937 to 1958 and is now a museum filled with exhibits about his life and music.

See original furnishings, personal items, gold records, and more while learning how Handy’s songs like “St. Louis Blues” created blues music. Music lovers of all ages will appreciate this look into Handy’s career and lasting musical legacy.

University of North Alabama

Name and Location: The University of North Alabama (UNA) main campus is located at 1 Harrison Plaza in Florence, Alabama.

History and Significance: Established in 1830, UNA is the state’s oldest four-year public university. It has been vital to Florence’s cultural, social and economic growth and has over 7,000 students. The campus has historic 19th century buildings and has developed extensively since the 1960s.

What to Expect: Visitors can explore the scenic campus with its quads, clock tower and fountain, administrative and academic buildings as well as on-site museum and art galleries. Community events are also held on campus.

Visitor Information: The campus is open to visitors year-round. Free guided walking tours offered on weekdays when school is in session.

The historic campus of the University of North Alabama features stunning Gothic-Revival architecture and green spaces perfect for an afternoon stroll. Twelve buildings at UNA are on the National Register of Historic Places, including Wesleyan Hall which first opened in 1855.

Tour the school’s art gallery, take in a musical performance at Norton Auditorium, or cheer on UNA sports teams to get a taste of student life here. Be sure to pose next to the iconic fountain where couples perform the school’s engagement tradition of “dipping” for a photo-op.

Pope’s Tavern

Name and Location: Pope’s Tavern is a historic stagecoach inn located at 459011 Natchez Trace Parkway in Florence, Alabama.

History and Significance: Originally built in 1816 by shoemaker Gideon Pope, it served as an inn providing rest and refreshments for early 19th century stagecoach passengers traveling the rugged Natchez Trace trail between Nashville and Natchez. It is the oldest extant structure in Lauderdale County.

What to Expect: This National Park Service site allows visitors to see an early 19th century inn almost entirely in its original state. Interpretive exhibits, audio programs and staff provide information about the site’s history and the Natchez Trace.

Visitor Information: Open daily from dawn to dusk with free admission. Ranger-led tours offered weekends Memorial Day to Labor Day. Picnic area on site.

For a meal with history, dine at Pope’s Tavern, Alabama’s oldest restaurant in continuous operation. This landmark eatery, open since 1816, serves up Southern cuisine in a series of rustic dining rooms that once hosted famous visitors like Andrew Jackson.

Pull up a chair to the very same table where Jefferson Davis sat in 1861 when elected President of the Confederacy and soak in the tavern’s past while enjoying their fried chicken, turnip greens, and biscuits. Save room for boiled peanuts or pecan pie, both made from scratch.

Rosenbaum House

Name and Location: The Rosenbaum House at 601 Riverview Drive in Florence was designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

History and Significance: Completed in 1940 for newlyweds Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum, this modest Usonian style house exemplifies Wright’s vision for affordable American homes. It contains many custom and innovative features and is the only Wright design in Alabama open to the public.

What to Expect: Guests can tour the interior of this historic house museum restored to its 1940s appearance. Interpretive displays focus on the architecture, Wright’s principles, and stories of the Rosenbaums who occupied the residence.

Visitor Information: Open Thursday-Monday for guided tours at 10am, 11:30am, 1pm and 2:30pm. Admission charged. Tour reservations recommended.

This architectural wonder designed by famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright is the only Wright-designed structure open to the public in Alabama. Constructed in 1939, the Rosenbaum House exemplifies Wright’s Usonian style with simple materials, flat roofs, and glass walls that seamlessly connect the interior to the outdoors.

Visitors can tour this historic house museum to admire the compact yet ingenious design along with Wright-designed original furniture and fixtures that make this a special place to visit for architecture buffs.

Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts

Name and Location: The Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts is located at 217 East Tuscaloosa Street in downtown Florence, Alabama.

History and Significance: Constructed in 1918, the ornate classical structure functioned as the Kennedy family mansion before becoming an arts center. Through exhibits, classes and events it promotes visual, performing and cultural arts.

What to Expect: The center features a gallery with changing exhibits of regional artists. Visitors can admire the beautiful architecture and grounds. Community music, theater, dance and education programs run year-round.

Visitor Information: Free admission. Open Tuesday through Friday 10am to 5pm and Saturday 10am to 2pm. Facility rentals available.

Discover Florence’s vibrant arts scene with a visit to the Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts. Once the African-American school when segregation was legal, this historic building is now home to galleries, art studios, and theaters hosting exhibits and shows year-round. Browse eye-catching works by local and regional artists in the gift shop, take a pottery workshop, or catch a play or musical performance on one of the center’s two stages. Beautiful gardens outside surrounded by fountains make this a cultural gem for art lovers to experience.

Florence Indian Mound & Museum

Name and Location: The Florence Indian Mound Museum is situated at the base of a 12 foot tall, prehistoric Native American mound at 303 Hermitage Drive in Florence.

History and Significance: This archaeological site dates back over 1,000 years to when early Woodland and Mississippian tribes inhabited the area. Artifacts on display provide insight into the lifestyle and culture of these ancient people.

What to Expect: Guests can walk atop the ceremonial mound, see exhibits of excavated Native American tools and ceramics inside the on-site museum, and stroll trails winding through the woods.

Visitor Information: Open Tuesday through Saturday 10am to 4pm. Free admission but donations appreciated. Guided mound and nature tours available.

For insights into the region’s Native American roots, explore the unique Florence Indian Mound and museum. View a preserved 13th-century ceremonial earthwork mound built by early inhabitants along the Tennessee River Valley. Artifacts found here are displayed in the onsite museum dedicated to local Native American history and culture featuring informative exhibits about how these tribes lived long ago.

Knowledgeable guides provide maps guiding you around the park’s walking trails with markers pointing out archaeological features letting you imagine Native American life centuries ago right on these very grounds.

Odette Sculpture Park

Name and Location: The Odette Sculpture Park is located next to the Kennedy-Douglass Arts Center at 205 East Tuscaloosa Street in downtown Florence.

History and Significance: Established in 2002, these gardens display over 30 abstract stainless steel sculptures donated by artist Odette Sculpture Artists of New Hope, Pennsylvania which glimmer beautifully against the natural landscape.

What to Expect: Visitors can freely walk the park grounds to view and touch the modern sculpture collection amidst flowers, trees and trickling streams during daylight hours.

Visitor Information: Free admission. Open daily from dawn until dusk. Guided group tours available by appointment.

Surprise art finds are in store walking around downtown Florence’s Odette Sculpture Park where over 30 creative contemporary pieces are on public display. This outdoor museum spans six city blocks for pedestrians to stroll and admire imaginative sculptures crafted from metal, glass, polymer resins, and more unique materials.

Not knowing what visually interesting sculpture might be discovered around the next corner makes wandering this urban oasis filled with fountains, gardens, and colorful murals intriguing for art aficionados and families to check out.

Alabama Music Hall of Fame

Name and Location: The Alabama Music Hall of Fame is a museum and educational facility located at 617 Hwy 72 West in Tuscumbia, Alabama, near the birthplace of Helen Keller.

History and Significance: Founded in 1990, this organization honors acclaimed musicians with Alabama roots. The building contains displays recognizing over 100 music achievers spanning many genres from country, gospel, jazz, to rock and soul.

What to Expect: Guests can view memorabilia, bios and recordings of fame inductees. Interactive exhibits let visitors sing karaoke, play instruments, dance and more. A gift shop, cafe and outdoor entertainment space are also available.

Visitor Information: Open daily 9am-5pm except major holidays. Admission charged. Group tours can be arranged.

Pay tribute to Alabama’s rich musical heritage with a memorable visit to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. Immerse yourself in permanent and temporary exhibits highlighting the state’s contributions to jazz, country, gospel, blues and other genres. Learn about inducted musician greats like Hank Williams Sr., Lionel Richie, Hank Aaron and Tammy Wynette through interactive displays.

Don’t miss the two-story recording studio, the Hands on Music center with instruments for kids to enjoy playing, and the statue circle featuring Alabama inductees. Catch star performances year-round in the onsite intimate theater at this one-of-a-kind attraction.

Guntersville Lake Hydrofest & Other Outdoor Activities

Name and Location: Lake Guntersville State Park located in Guntersville, Alabama provides scenic nature access and an annual Guntersville Lake Hydrofest speedboat racing event.

History and Significance: At over 60,000 acres, the lake has hosted competitive powerboat racing since 1978. As Alabama’s biggest lake, it offers excellent fishing, boating, swimming, hiking and camping. Park lands preserve gorgeous mountain scenery and wildlife.

What to Expect: Annual Hydrofest brings days of qualifying runs and final heats with speeds over 200 mph. Public gathers on beaches and docks to watch. The park also has miles of shoreline and trails to explore year-round.

Visitor Information: Hydrofest held mid September. Park open daily with camping fees. Boating, fishing and recreational permits required.

For thrilling waterside adventures, Guntersville Lake’s beautiful 69,000 acres are the setting for the annual Hydrofest professional powerboat racing event held each summer in nearby wild and scenic Lake Guntersville State Park.

Rent a boat, try water skiing, hike forested mountain trails or just picnic lakeside during a day trip to experience the stellar recreational opportunities of this scenic reservoir boasted to have “more bass per acre” than anywhere in America. Other water and nature activities like kayaking along the Tennessee River or biking the 40+ mile Singing River Trail also showcase the area’s rich landscapes and environments that active travelers relish.

McFarland Park

Name and Location: Walter J. McFarland Memorial Park is located at 200 James Spain Drive Northwest in Florence, Alabama.

History and Significance: Donated by Florence pharmaceutical industrialist Walter J. McFarland, this hundred-acre recreational greenspace has served community sporting events and gatherings for over 50 years. Facilities have expanded from ballparks to jogging trails, picnic sites and a botanical garden.

What to Expect: Visitors will find athletic fields, playgrounds, ponds and open areas surrounded by natural woodlands that can be freely explored along walking paths to view native plants and wildlife.

Visitor Information: Park open daily from dawn until dusk. Some sections can be reserved for events. Usage fees may apply.

Nature lovers traveling with kids can enjoy hiking, playgrounds, sports courts, fishing and feeding ducks within Florence’s charming 400-acre McFarland Park. Have a picnic beside Swan Creek, view exhibits in the onsite nature center, or rent a pedal boat for paddling around the park’s peaceful 22-acre Swan Lake.

Special events like outdoor concerts, holiday light displays, or the annual fishing derby make this picture-perfect park with walking trails, woods, and water features a convenient local getaway for families.

Shakespeare in the Park Festival

Name and Location: Florence’s free Shakespeare in the Park event is held annually every June at the Florence/Lauderdale Tourism amphitheater across from the Marriott Shoals Hotel.

History and Significance: Performed since 2012, actors from New York City’s hugely popular Shakespeare in the Park travel down to produce an abridged, family-friendly Shakespearean play over three nights. 2023 will mark its 10th anniversary.

What to Expect: Against the outdoor Alabama backdrop, audiences view an engaging 75 minute adapted version of a Shakespeare play like Romeo & Juliet or A Midsummer Night’s Dream with food trucks onsite.

Visitor Information: Completely free but should reserve ticket in advance due to popularity. Held mid June in the evenings.

For nearly 50 years, Florence’s summer tradition, the Shakespeare in the Park Festival, has attracted visitors to experience professional theatre at its best surrounded by the gorgeous backdrop of an open-air amphitheater set close to the river.

Running for over 2 months, this acclaimed festival stages up to 10 productions of works by the Bard and his contemporaries to audiences on a large, covered stage amid gorgeous gardens and grounds. From comedies like Taming of the Shrew to tragedies like Romeo and Juliet, theatre fans flock here for the high-quality shows, charming setting and lively season celebrating classical theatre.

Historic Downtown Florence Food Tour

Name and Location: North Alabama Food Tours offers 2-3 hour walking culinary tours exploring restaurants and food shops in Florence’s scenic old town district.

History and Significance: These excursions let guests discover the most delicious local eateries while learning about the history and architecture of Florence, Alabama which dates back over 200 years.

What to Expect: Groups walk to 5-6 restaurants, bakeries and stores to sample signature southern-inspired dishes and specialty products as an experienced guide shares stories and facts. Stops vary but include regionally known names.

Visitor Information: Tours run Saturdays year-round at 11am when enough tickets sold. Reservations required. Admission charged. Private group tours available.

A tasty way to explore Florence’s heritage is embarking on a memorable walking food tour of the city’s historical downtown district. Expert local guides lead the way to several restaurants and food shops providing Signature bites and histories of each eatery between tastings.

Featured culinary stops have included 116-year old Greeniron Diner, Factory Doughnuts bakery, landmark Italian restaurant La Zamora and Billy Reid flagship clothing store featuring recipe books and kitchenware. Hear fun area anecdotes while savoring southern comfort foods, specialty pastries and gourmet fare on this beloved downtown tasting tour.


With its wealth of history, culture, art, architecture, music, food and recreation, Florence clearly offers many wonderful things for visitors to see and do. From museums that preserve important legacies to outdoor experiences surrounded by gorgeous landscapes, the attractions highlighted here provide a sampling of what makes Florence such an appealing destination.

Whether you admire iconic architecture like the renowned Rosenbaum House, or tap your feet to live music along the riverfront, the variety of interesting sites around Florence deliver memorable ways for you to connect with this city’s vibrant spirit.

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