I grew up in Florence, Colorado. My parents used to own the town’s old video store when I was young, and if people knew me or my siblings, they could often find us running around the town barefoot, leaving our wet footprints on hot sidewalks after visiting the pool. Recollecting my childhood memories, Florence was a town full of junktique stores where people would find their treasures in trash, there were very few good restaurants, and there wasn’t much to do unless you solely enjoyed antiquing.
In the last several years, there has been massive change to the look and energy of Florence. What once felt like a stale and hollow town, now feels like a lively and thriving place. Indeed small, and nowhere near as busy as larger cities, Florence is a place you can go to slow down, settle in, and cozy up.
You can walk into nearly any business in town and feel at home. It’s the business owners’ collective mission to create a welcoming and homey vibe throughout the town within their own establishments. Today, there are more than enough restaurants for dining, shopping galore, and relaxing, serene places to spend overnight or for the weekend.
For lodging, there is not much in the way of luxury. However, a Super 8 Motel and many hotels in Canon City, Colorado are not far from the city limits.
Florence has so much to offer, it’s hard to write it down in one article. My advice is to get out and see this sweet little destination with your own two eyes. Here are a few recommendations to serve as your guiding lights.
FOOD & DRINK
Florence Brewing Company
200 S Pike Peak Avenue
Florence Brewing Company has become the town’s hometown staple, arriving nearly five years ago. If you ask owner, Hans Prahl, why he chose such a small community to open a brewery he’ll say, “It was an untapped resource,” no pun intended.
Prahl has been spending his last couple of years with the brewery staking his claim as the “third home” in people’s lives; home being your first, and work being your second. He’s set up the brewery with a German Pub style feel by pushing multiple heavy wooden picnic tables together. “I want people to sit next to each other and get to know their neighbor. They should be uncomfortably comfortable,” says Prahl.
Florence Brewing began with eight beers on tap and has since upgraded to 13 beers, ranging from IPAs, stouts, porters, kolsches, and hefeweizens. Emphasizing one of their missions, “no crap on tap,” all beers are made with quality ingredients and many of their brews are made with local ingredients. It makes everything feel right at home.
Although young to the community, the brewery is making a huge impact to the area via donations, community involvement, and through creating a positive atmosphere for both locals and visitors.
The Pour House / All Good Things Coffee Roasters
115 W Main Street
The Pour House has been a part of Florence, originally starting out in what is now known as the Blue Spruce Art Gallery. I recall going in there as a child for cool italian sodas on a hot summer day.
While many in the community know this cafe as The Pour House, it now goes by a different name, All Good Things Coffee. The name was derived from the biblical phrase, “All Good Things come from God,” which was inspired by the current owners’ past missionary work.
Originally owned by Tammy Stone and Barb Fox, this inviting coffee shop landed into the loving arms of Kenny Paul in 2011. Paul has since expanded the business to create a more welcoming and community-oriented experience within Florence. The new location, centered in the middle of Main Street, offers a professional coffee bar, open outdoor seating, a mercantile store, and a full kitchen serving delicious goodies.
And just because they have a new face, that doesn’t mean they’ve lost their old favorites. Paul continues to honor his customers most enjoyed delights, including their signature scone and chicken salad recipes. As you would expect, all of their baked goods are made from scratch and their coffee beans are roasted in house.
If you plan on grabbing a quick coffee to go, by all means please do. But, be prepared. Paul encourages visitors to stay a while, slow down, relax and just enjoy the present moment.
Quincys Steak and Spirits
121 W Main Street
Quincys Steak and Spirits is part of a small chain of steakhouses in Colorado and has been a central part of the community for meat eaters in Florence.
This location is one of five in Colorado — the other locations are in Salida, Leadville, Buena Vista, and Monte Vista. The original owner founded the restaurant chain in 1997 with its flagship location in the historic heart of Leadville, Colorado. The name ‘Quincys’ was inspired by the block it was built on in 1879.
“My family’s tradition in the food business reaches back to my grandfather selling hamburgers for a nickel in the 1920s,” says owner, Tina James. James grew up in her grandparents’ restaurant and since then knew exactly where her career path would lead.
Quincys menu makes them unique. There are no choices, no pages of menus to look over, no appetizers, and no choice of sides. They only serve one item at a time Filet Mignon Sunday through Thursday and Prime Rib on Friday and Saturday. They also offer reasonably priced well drinks and margaritas and handmade desserts.
THINGS TO DO
Florence has been regarded as the antique capital of Colorado, and rightly so! Visitors can enjoy a leisurely walk down Main Street’s tree-lined sidewalk and meander into one of many antique shops nestled in town. Each antique shop has its own unique flair, so you’re sure to find something new, different, and completely original.
One of the longest standing antique shops is the Mezzanine. You could get easily lost for hours in this vast building filled with many antique items. You are sure to find more than a treasure or two in this store.
Other notable antique shops include Loralie Antique Mall, Willie’s Antiques and Collectibles, Blue Spruce Arts and Antiques, and Heartland Antiques and Gifts.
209 W Main Street
A building that once sat in decay is now showing brilliant life in Florence.
The Historical Rialto Theater was built in 1923 by Richard and Sultanna (Annie) El Hage, owners of a dry goods store on West Main Street in Florence. The roughly 10,000 square foot heater originally served as an opera house with almost 900 seats, a wraparound balcony, box seats down both sides, and an orchestra pit.
Many of the renovations happening at the theater have gone unseen, including extensive structural issues and renovations below the stage. Thanks to a group effort to restore the theater, Michelle Hyatt, president of the Rialto Players says they are able to produce about 4-5 shows every year which helps raise funds for both the theater, and future productions as well.
The Rialto is an example of how a community can come together to make a difference. When you walk through their doors you can feel the history and determination. There’s a great buzz of excitement as people discover this piece of small-town renewal.
Additional Recommendations to List:
114 W Main Street
Turmeric Indian & Nepalese
106 W Main Street
Papa’s Italian Restaurant
132 W Main Street
El Alazan II
401 E Main Street
Aspen Leaf Bakery
113 W Main Street
Kopper Kettle Restaurant
115 E Main Street
THINGS TO DO
Pathfinder Park & Riverwalk
121 Co Rd 119
Florence Pioneer Museum
100 E Front Street
Desert Reef Hot Springs
1194 Co Rd 110
Blue Spruce Arts & Antiques
205 W Main Street
Salvage, Antiques, Vintage, Etc.
208 W Main Street
127 W Main St
(Editor’s note: While many of these establishments are open, there may be certain restrictions due to current health conditions. Please call ahead or visit their website when making plans to visit.)