The South Carolina Pecan Trail shines the culinary spotlight on rich, buttery pecans, so put on your stretchy pants, save up your appetites and head to Florence, South Carolina! Exploring the SC Pecan Trail is one of the best things to do in Florence, SC.
With a bounty of local eateries and retail stores each serving up their own pecan-based specialties, including pecan pie martinis, butter pecan gelato, and White Russian pecan pie to tempt you on the trail, you’ll want to pace yourself so you can try all the things.
Fun Facts About Pecans
- No one seems to agree on the correct pronunciation: PEA-cans or puh-KAHNS.
- The word “pecan” comes from an Algonquin word meaning “a nut that requires a stone to crack.”
- Pecans aren’t technically nuts—they’re fruits!
- Pecan trees only produce nuts every two years.
- It takes 12 years for a pecan tree to reach maturity and start producing nuts.
- Pecan trees can live up to 300 years.
- The United States grows 90% of all pecans.
Getting Started – Pecan Trail Passport
Pick up your Pecan Trail Passport at the Florence Convention and Visitors Bureau or any of the participating locations. The booklet has a list of all the trail stop locations, and if you get your passport stamped when you purchase your eats, you can earn pecan-inspired prizes: a nutcracker, drawstring bag, t-shirt, and pie plate.
It can be challenging to decide where to go when you have limited time (and only so much room in the belly). I was in the area for a couple of days, so I planned my meals at Pecan Trail stops and spent the hours between meals exploring other things to do in Florence. (Hint: Don’t miss the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden.)
If you only have one day, plan a progressive dinner. You can stop at different locations for happy hour, appetizers, main course, dessert, and after-dinner drinks.
Here are a few pecan trail stop options to whet your appetite!
Young’s Premium Foods
Florence’s connection to pecans is mainly due to Young’s Premium Foods, which operated the largest pecan shelling factory in the world right in Florence.
Although the operation relocated, the pecan gifting company remains and has become a destination in and of itself. (Exit 164 off I-95 South)
Young’s Premium Foods sells gourmet pecans in many flavors, and visitors can discover their favorites at the popular pecan sampling bar.
The bakery has premium goodies you can eat in-store or take home. For example, the chocolate pecan pie is incredible; the fudgy flavor with the pecan filling is to die for.
Good luck leaving without making a purchase. I left with multiple bags of pecans!
A trip to Julia Belle’s for the homespun, Southern cooking is like a trip to grandma’s house. Why? The recipes are time-tested and have been loved for generations. Julia Belle was great-grandmother to owner Fran Thompson Snell, and her recipes are now bringing happy smiles to customers.
The restaurant serves southern faves like fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, pot roast, and the ever-popular blue plate special (meat and two sides).
Why is Julia Belle’s on the SC Pecan Trail? The White Russian Pecan Pie! This delicious twist on pecan pie includes white chocolate chips and a hint of Kahlua, and the result is unforgettable. Well worth a stop!
Located inside Hotel Florence, this casual but upscale restaurant has more than one pecan-inspired treat on the menu, but it was the Pecan Pie Martini that brought me into Vic’s.
I sat at the bar for my happy hour cocktail with crushed pecans, chocolate drizzle, and the warm cozy flavors of butterscotch, hazelnut, and vanilla. What’s not to love?
Too early for a drink but not for lunch? Try Anne’s Salad – a fresh spinach salad with your choice of protein, bleu cheese, cranberries, apples, candied pecans, and apple poppyseed dressing.
Top-Hat Special Teas
Stop in for lunch or afternoon tea Monday through Friday at this utterly charming downtown Florence tea room filled with dainty teacups, fanciful teapots, and a grand assortment of antiques to delight the eye.
A superb selection of hot and iced teas are available to accompany your sandwiches, salads, and scones.
Order a cream scone or a pecan scone; both are made to order and served with Devonshire cream and lemon curd.
With an emphasis on farm-fresh Southern cuisine, Town Hall is a must-eat restaurant in Florence. The menu changes seasonally, so there’s always something new to try.
Dishes are prepared on an open wood-fire grill, and my roasted cauliflower with coconut rice and blistered tomatoes was beyond delicious.
Order a slice of chocolate pecan pie for dessert to satisfy your pecan cravings. It’s loaded with pecans and topped with a decadent, fudgy drizzle of chocolate sauce.
Venus Restaurant & Catering was formerly known as Venus Pancake House, so you can rest assured breakfast is more than a safe bet.
Try the Pecan Waffle or Southern Pecan Pancakes for the perfect start to your morning!
Baker’s Sweets Bistro & Bakery
Nothing makes me happier than a “junk salad” loaded with bits of this and that, and the Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad is a “junk salad” extraordinaire.
Baked chicken marinated with a housemade praline sauce and placed on a bed of salad greens, sugared pecans, dried cranberries, mandarin oranges, and rice noodles, served with poppy seed dressing and a fresh-baked croissant. So, so good!
More on the SC Pecan Trail
I highlighted a small sampling of what the South Carolina Pecan Trail offers, and locations change from time to time. There are quite a few new additions since I visited. A list of participants is printed inside the Pecan Trail Passport or for a sneak peek, click here.
Remember, if you want to earn pecan prizes, be sure to have your passport stamped at each location when you make your purchase. Contact the Florence Convention and Visitors Bureau for more information on the trail and the area.