12 Things To Do With Family In Florence, Alabama

Last Updated on March 1, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Florence is a beautiful city located in northwest Alabama along the Tennessee River. Known for its rich history and southern hospitality, Florence has plenty to see and do for families. From exploring various museums that chronicle important aspects of Florence’s past to fun outdoor adventures along the river, some activities will engage both children and adults.

#ActivityDescription
1Kennedy-Douglass Center for ArtsA museum showcasing African-American art and history.
2Sweetwater MansionHistoric home offering a glimpse into 19th-century plantation life.
3McFarland ParkA park with trails, wildlife, and a variety of family-friendly activities.
4Rosenbaum HouseA Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house showcasing Usonian architecture.
5Florence Symphony OrchestraLive performances of classical compositions and popular hits.
6Tennessee Valley Repertory TheatreVenue for musicals, comedies, and dramas.
7Paddle Tour on the Tennessee RiverGuided kayak or paddleboard tours on the river.
8Turtle Point Golf CourseA premier golf destination with an 18-hole course.
9Pope’s Tavern Historic ParkA complex of 19th-century buildings with historical exhibits.
10W.C. Handy Music FestivalA festival celebrating the “Father of the Blues” with various musical performances.
11Florence RedWolves Baseball GameEnjoy a baseball game with the local team.

The historic downtown district features quaint shops, restaurants and other attractions that provide a glimpse into what life was like in Florence’s early days. But the city entertains modern-day tastes too, including a popular minor league baseball team during spring and summer. Florence’s variety of family-friendly attractions makes it an ideal destination for those looking for culture, adventure and good old-fashioned family bonding.

Explore the Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts

Name and Location: Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts in Florence, AL

History and Significance: Historic center originally built as a high school for African Americans in 1916 now serving as a vibrant home for arts, cultural and community programming named after two principals that served the school. Beautiful Beaux-Arts style building.

What to Expect: See local theatre, concerts and art exhibitions in the grand art deco style theater. Sign up for classes in visual, performing, and literary arts taught onsite. Venue also available for event rentals and meetings.

Visitor Information: Center open weekdays, performance times vary. Guided tours possible by appointment. Ticket sales on website.


The Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts is a museum and historic site located in a renovated school building constructed in 1913 for African-American students during the era of segregation. Exhibits focus on the history of African Americans and their many accomplishments and contributions. Displays include African and African-American art, sculptures, paintings, photos, quilts, artifacts, documents and more.

The center also has a 125-seat theater that hosts various performing arts events throughout the year. This is a great place for families to learn about Florence’s integral yet often overlooked black history. Various programs and exhibits rotate through, so there is always something new to experience.

Tour Sweetwater Mansion

Name and Location: Sweetwater Mansion in Florence, AL

History and Significance: Extraordinary 19th century Italianate mansion featuring ornate architecture with soaring columns, hand painted design details and ornamental parterres garden. Home opened for tours providing a glimpse into the antebellum South lifestyle of wealthy owner General John Brahan.

What to Expect: Tour guides share stories highlighting the rare European motifs and decor along with tales of lavish parties once held here. View formal parlors, intricate libraries, grand ballroom and sprawling grounds which provide a scenic popular event space.

Visitor Information: Open for tours: Monday through Saturday 10am – 4pm and Sundays 1pm-4pm. Check website for special seasonal extended hours.

For an intimate look at 19th century plantation life just outside Florence, tour the elegant Sweetwater Mansion. Built in 1828 in the Federal architectural style, the stately historic home allows visitors to view the mansion as it was decorated in 1845. Costumed docents provide guided tours showcasing the mansion’s period furniture, artwork and decor along with tales about the former owners and those who lived there.

Guests can explore the expansive grounds, stroll through fragrant rose gardens and also visit the historic kitchen where cooking demonstrations take place. Sweetwater Mansion offers families the opportunity to experience a privileged lifestyle from the antebellum South era.

Spend an Afternoon at McFarland Park

Name and Location: McFarland Park in Florence, AL

History and Significance: Scenic 200 acre public park established in 1985 featuring several sports fields, 2 playgrounds, walking trails, disc golf course set on the tree lined banks of the Tennessee River. Site of popular Florence Barbecue & Blues Festival.

What to Expect: Outdoor recreation activities and amenities like little league baseball, sand volleyball, fishing, nature trail walks. New fully accessible playground opened in 2021. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the tranquil surrounding. Kids can play while adults relax trackside.

Visitor Information: Park open daily 7am – 10pm. Several facilities available for private rental including indoor event center.

McFarland Park is one of the most popular parks in Florence, thanks to its miles of hiking trails that wind through forests, meadows and wetlands. Outdoor enthusiasts can spot local wildlife like white-tailed deer, red foxes, river otters and over 100 species of birds that call the park home. There is also a butterfly garden filled with native plants that attracts beautiful winged insects during warmer months.

In addition, the park has picnic areas, playgrounds, fishing at Mallard Pond and sand volleyball courts that give families plenty of options for enjoying an afternoon outside. Cool off afterward with a treat from the old-fashioned ice cream shop located in the park. With lush scenery and many activities, McFarland Park makes for an affordable and refreshing family outing.

Tour the Rosenbaum House

Name and Location: Rosenbaum House in Florence, AL

History and Significance: 1938 Frank Lloyd Wright designed Usonian home available to tour that demonstrates his vision of simple modern living with strong connection to nature. Features many Wright trademarks like open floor plan, passive solar orientation and uniquely angled bedrooms.

What to Expect: Only Wright designed residence in Alabama provides an up close look into features like the signature Cherokee red concrete floor and cypress board and batten ceiling treatment. Hear stories of the Rosenbaum family that commissioned this quintessential example of organic architecture.

Visitor Information: Guided house tours available Thurs through Monday – Hours vary seasonally. Check site for tour schedules and ticket pricing.


Architecture buffs of all ages will marvel at the Rosenbaum House, the only residence in Alabama designed by acclaimed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Built in 1939, this modest home features Wright’s signature open floor plan, flat roof and natural stonework that epitomized his Usonian style, emphasizing simplicity and form following function.

Docent-led tours provide details about the innovative construction techniques and built-in furnishings that were ultramodern for the era. See the home’s original fixtures, fabrics, photographs, paintings and possessions owned by Elizabeth and Stanley Rosenbaum, the young couple who commissioned Wright to build it. Families can admire up close Wright’s creative genius that pioneered modern architecture in this rare historic house.

Listen to a Florence Symphony Orchestra Performance

Name and Location: Florence Symphony Orchestra at the Norton Auditorium in Florence, AL

History and Significance: Local symphony orchestra founded in 1993 that has grown to over 70 members that promotes music education and provides quality classical music productions within the Shoals community inside the exquisite Norton Auditorium venue performing four concert sets annually.

What to Expect: The Florence Symphony Orchestra performs Masterworks pieces from legendary composers like Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss and more in the state-of-the-art acoustics of the Norton Auditorium concert hall. International guest musicians also highlighted certain shows.

Visitor Information: Season runs September thru April. Get tickets online in advance as performances frequently sell out, especially holiday content.


Embark on an auditory adventure with the family by attending one the Florence Symphony Orchestra’s concerts held throughout the year. Now in its sixth decade, this 60-member symphony treats audiences to live classical compositions and popular hits at the Norton Auditorium on the University of North Alabama campus.

Annual events like Holiday Spectacular around Christmas or Salute to Our Heroes honoring veterans and first responders incorporate multimedia elements and audience participation for interactive shows suitable for all ages. Doors open an hour before showtime allowing families to talk with musicians as they tune instruments or grab a snack at the concession stand. With affordable tickets, the Florence Symphony provides a mesmerizing introduction to orchestral music in an intimate venue.

See a Production at the Tennessee Valley Repertory Theatre

Name and Location: Tennessee Valley Repertory Theatre in Florence, AL

History and Significance: Established troupe formed in 1990 dedicated to producing quality musicals, dramas and comedies while providing theatrical education opportunities utilizing local playwrights, sets, costumes and actors. Perform at the Mars Hill Bible School auditorium.

What to Expect: Enjoy spirited community theater productions of popular Broadway musicals like Hello Dolly, Driving Miss Daisy along with thought provoking dramas and comedic satire with minimal sets amidst intimate theater setting. Talent impressive for small town company.

Visitor Information: 5-6 shows per seasons running Sept thru May. Ticket sales online or at the door.


Tennessee Valley Repertory Theatre stages professional-quality musicals, comedies and dramas from its state-of-the-art black box theater in downtown Florence. Families can enjoy lively performances from local talent that rival larger touring productions. Annual family-friendly plays have included “The Velveteen Rabbit” around Easter or the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” during the holidays that literally bring these stories to life before your eyes.

TVRT also hosts acting camps and theater education programs for aspiring young performers throughout the year. Attending a show here supports local arts while giving families a memorable night out at the theater.

Take a Paddle Tour on the Tennessee River

Name and Location: Tennessee River Guided Paddle Tours

History and Significance: See the Tennessee River Shoals natural beauty and wildlife by guided kayak as knowledgeable locals lead the way providing facts on area history, river ecology and points of interest along the winding water trails suitable for beginner to advanced paddlers wanting to experience these scenic North Alabama waterways.

What to Expect: Choose from leisurely floats passing lily pad fields to invigorating paddles through class I and II rapids. Instruction provided for those new to the sport. Gear and equipment included – just bring water, sun protection and camera to capture abundant birds and river vistas.

Visitor Information: Several tour operators in area offer trips ranging from 2 hours to full day adventures. Rates start around $50 per person. Reservations required.


For family adventures on the water, take a guided paddle tour along a stretch of the gorgeous Tennessee River that flows through Florence. Companies like Shoals Creek Tours provide kayaks or stand-up paddleboards along with equipment and basic instruction for beginners. Then float peacefully downstream for incredible views of the rolling landscape dotted with lavish antebellum homes and rocky bluffs along the shore.

Certified guides identify points of interests and share fascinating tidbits about Florence’s history interwoven with the Tennessee River. Paddle tours operate daily from April through October, giving families the opportunity to bond while approaching Florence from a truly unique waterfront perspective.

Play a Round at Turtle Point Golf Course

Name and Location: Turtle Point Golf Course in Florence, AL

History and Significance: Highly regarded public 18 hole course opened in 1976 sprawling acrossothschild State Park terrain following the Tennessee River featuring challenging play, scenic views and superb course conditions perfect for low handicappers but enjoyable by all skill levels. Consistently ranked among Alabama’s top public courses.

**What to Expect:**Stretching 6100 yards amidst abundant wildlife, spring fed lakes and meadows, Turtle Point brings shot variety from forced carries over ravines to precision club selection on undulating greens protected by bunkers and water hazards. Afternoon rounds bathed in golden hour glow magical.

Visitor Information: Open daily year round. Nominal greens fees start around $45 including cart. Pro shop, driving range, rental clubs and restaurant available onsite. Tee time strongly recommended.

Families looking to play a round of golf need look no further than Turtle Point Golf Course, widely considered the region’s premier public golf destination. This immaculately maintained 18-hole championship course set along the Tennessee River features contoured fairways, elevated greens and scenic wetlands punctuated by turtle-filled ponds.

Amenities catering to families include a well-stocked pro shop, a full-service restaurant with outdoor patio seating, and experienced PGA professionals who can provide lessons. Turtle Point also has a driving range and large practice putting green where adults can refine their swing while kids work on their short game. Affordable daily rates make Turtle Point an ideal place to introduce youngsters to the game in a gorgeous setting.

Explore Pope’s Tavern Historic Park

Name and Location: Pope’s Tavern Historic Park in Florence, AL

History and Significance: Former stage coach inn built in 1816 that served as Florence’s first hotel providing lodging and meals for early travelers now operated by Lauderdale Historical Society as window into early 19th century life in the region. Moved and restored to original single pen log design.

What to Expect: Tour guides dressed in period clothing walk you through the rustic log building describing frontier living conditions and use of rooms to house guests and horses while providing food/drink. Interpretive exhibits describe early Alabama settlements and sample historic cooking in the stone fireplace.

Visitor Information: Open Saturday 10am-4pm or schedule group tours by appointment on weekdays. Small admission fee supports historical society.


Journey back in time to Florence’s early frontier era at Pope’s Tavern Historic Park located downtown. This complex of four 19th century log buildings, including one of Alabama’s oldest taverns, underwent meticulous restoration to recreate life from 200 years ago. Costumed interpreters demonstrate blacksmithing, quilting, cooking and other trades practiced when the tavern served stagecoach passengers transiting the famous Andrew Jackson Military Road.

The family-friendly North Alabama Pioneer Village features exhibits like an 1800s doctor’s office, tin shop, schoolhouse and barnyard complete with heritage breed farm animals that delight children. Special events occur throughout the year as well, like Anvil Shoot Fireworks on July 4th or candlelit ghost tours in October. Pope’s Tavern provides an authentic glimpse into Alabama’s formative years.

Attend the W.C. Handy Music Festival

Name and Location: W.C. Handy Music Festival in Florence, AL

History and Significance: Annual music festival held since 1982 celebrating Florence native W.C. Handy known as the Father of Blues Music. The week-long event features blues, jazz, gospel and R&B performances in venues throughout downtown Florence’s charming theatre and entertainment district.

What to Expect: Open air and intimate club shows allow you to see renowned headlining blues musicians along with the next generation of artists keeping the genre’s heritage alive. Vendor booths, good eats and music history exhibits further the immersive experience.

Visitor Information: Takes place every July. Multi-day and VIP passes available online. Free and ticketed shows, venues vary.


Music fans of any age will enjoy attending the W.C. Handy Music Festival held every summer in Florence. This 10-day event celebrates native son William Christopher Handy, known globally as the “Father of the Blues” for songs like “St. Louis Blues” that propelled the genre into mainstream music. Outdoor stages downtown host jazz, funk, soul, gospel choirs and blues artists from around the world, along with food vendors and arts & crafts booths.

Families can check out groundbreaking musicians during youth band performances or hands-on music workshops teaching kids to play instruments like harmonica and washboard. The festival culminates in a vibrant parade with marching bands and colorful floats. Jamming to eclectic musical styles makes the W.C. Handy Festival an exciting tradition for families.

Catch a Florence RedWolves Baseball Game

Name and Location: Florence RedWolves Baseball at Dr. John Beech Park

History and Significance: Minor league baseball team that joined the Prospect League in 2022 bringing athletics and affordable family fun back to Florence playing at the renovated 1939 Works Progress stadium now called Dr. John Beech Park after a local physician. Past stadium tenants include various historical teams dating back to 1950.

What to Expect: Summertime fun as these collegiate level ballplayers strive towards the majors while fans enjoy a spirited atmosphere cheering thehome team RedWolves with traditional ballpark snacks like hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts and cold drinks. Themed game nights keep things lively.

Visitor Information: Season runs May through August. Tickets affordably priced. Promotions and schedule available on team website. Lawn seating available on grassy berm areas.


Cheer for the hometown team as a family at a Florence RedWolves baseball game held during spring and summer at Colonial Field downtown. Part of college baseball’s summer Prospect League, the RedWolves feature supremely talented players on collegiate rosters. Watch future major league stars compete only a stone’s throw from the stands while munching ballpark snacks like hot dogs, popcorn and peanuts.

Children will love between-innings entertainment like racing mascots, catch on the field contests or fireworks shows themed for holidays like the 4th of July. With affordable ticket prices and a packed schedule, Florence RedWolves games provide families with fast-paced baseball action in an unbeatable atmosphere.


Conclusion

From museums and historic sites to outdoor adventures and cultural attractions, Florence offers an array of activities perfect for families. Learn about important aspects of local history hands-on before heading out into the sunshine to play at a park or take a river paddle tour.

Catch a play, concert or baseball game in the evenings rounded out by tasty southern meals from one of many family-friendly restaurants downtown. With so many options across the spectrum of interests and ages, families will never run out of things to experience during a trip to Florence, Alabama that educate, inspire and entertain.

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