Parks and Recreation: Florence, Alabama

As the weather warms up and people start slowly emerging from their winter hibernation, the parks and lakes begin buzzing with energy. For a smaller size area, Florence really has a lot going on—there’s a great mix of activities around town, and for those who love getting out and about there are endless possibilities in the Shoals: hiking, biking, fishing, boating, camping, playgrounds, and that doesn't include First Friday’s and the numerous festivals. I list all that to say I could literally write a book on the Shoal’s outdoor recreation, but today we are just focusing on three parks in Florence, Alabama that you should check out in the coming summer months!

McFarland is possibly Florence’s most well-known park because it greets people as they make their way over the bridge from Sheffield. Immediately the tall pine trees and inviting harbor create a beautiful landscape and the perfect backdrop for numerous recreational activities. Whether you want to take a leisurely stroll on the beach or a run around the harbor, it’s an excellent place to quickly get outside, exercise, and enjoy the Tennessee River. McFarland is good for a quick workout, and it also has ample opportunities to make a day out of it. Saturday afternoons can be spent playing disc golf on the sweeping course that covers much of the park or take the whole weekend for a family camping trip. The grounds are beautiful, full of lush vegetation with plenty of spots to set up a picnic under a shaded area. The brand new Florence/Lauderdale Tourism Visitor Center also sits near the entrance of McFarland; and while it provides plenty of information on what to do in the Shoals, it also pays tribute to the musical history in the area. Next, River Bottom Grille rests in the middle of the harbor and boasts yummy food that can easily be a fun date night or a quick lunch after an afternoon of fishing or boating. When it gets warm there is frequent live music that floats out of the windows and over the sparkling Singing River. The park also includes playgrounds, soccer fields, baseball fields, and boat ramps. McFarland will keep you busy all summer long!

Located off Darby Drive, just a short distance from the mall, Diebert Park is the perfect place for a long walk or run. With three ponds on the property the walking path winds over and around the ponds, creating a scenic place to get exercise or for a leisurely stroll. The kids will love seeing the turtles that climb up on shore to warm in the sun and they will really enjoy the large playground which includes swings, slides, and a fun climbing fort. Deibert is the ideal spot for parents to take a picnic lunch and make the afternoon of it with the whole family. It even has the Children’s Museum of the Shoals near the entrance, which has numerous ways to explore. It’s truly a beautiful, inviting place with blooming trees and shaded pavilions to read and relax; it’s a wonderful escape into nature.
 
Finally, if you want to get into the wilderness fast, look no further than Wildwood Park, only a short distance from UNA’s campus. It’s amazing how one minute you can be downtown and just a few moments later be in the middle of the woods biking the snaking paths of Wildwood’s mountain biking trail. With private, picturesque views of Cypress Creek, this is a nature oasis in central Florence. If you’re looking for a bit of adventure, bring your mountain bike and tackle the trails, which range from beginner to advance. While the trail views can be stunning, be careful, you might find yourself biking along cliffs overlooking the babbling Cypress Creek. However, if you want to get closer to the water there are places to fish and put in a kayak or canoe. Go to Wildwood to get away from it all in the middle of town.

One thing that I love about Florence is that you can have the culture and arts of downtown and still be able to find nature in a moment. It’s the perfect mix of town and country. There are so many parks to choose from and this is just scratching the surface for the outdoor options in the area. I’m excited this is just the beginning and I look forward to talking more about our parks and recreation in future blogs!


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