An important industrial and shipping city since the time of the Civil War, Florence (80 mi/130 km east of Columbia) also sits in a rich farming area in the northeastern part of the state known as the Pee Dee Country. Museums in the city include the War Between the States Museum (Civil War relics) and the Florence Museum of Art, Science & History. If you're in Florence in the spring, don't miss the gorgeous display of blooms along the 12-mi/20-km Beauty Trail and in many of the city's parks. The Southern Plant and Flower Festival takes place in April.

The surrounding Pee Dee Country takes its name from the river of the same name. A rich cotton- and tobacco-growing area, it is dotted with small towns. Among them is Darlington, the site of stock-car races each year. Next to the raceway is the Joe Weatherly NMPA Stock Car Hall of Fame, said to be one of the world's largest collections of stock cars. Open year-round, the museum contains cars driven by such legends as Richard Petty, Buddy Baker and Fireball Roberts.

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