Discover Fun and History in Small-Town South Carolina's Museums

By:Nicole Newsome

Date:2/2/2016

From remarkable authors to crafty artisans, and historic trades to fast cars, South Carolina's museums and art scene has much to offer.

Upstate

The Upstate is paradise for pottery enthusiasts. Gaffney is a destination for potters all over the Southeast during Potters on Gaffney’s Old Field, a pottery show on the grounds of Cherokee County History and Arts Museum. Be sure to check out the Piedmont Pottery Festival in Historic Brattonsville too, and if you like folk art, you won’t want to miss the Festival of Quilts in Seneca, where more than 200 handcrafted, traditional quilts will be on show.

For something a little less artsy, you’ll find the BMW Zentrum Museum in Greer, the only BMW exhibit or factory in the U.S. Or take your kids to the Bob Campbell Geology Museum in Clemson—this interactive discovery center began as a small collection by Clemson University but grew so large they had to build a museum to put it in.

Midlands

Aiken has a little bit to suit all tastes. In the heart of Thoroughbred country you’ll find the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum, which honors racing and Aiken’s role in it with photos, trophies and other memorabilia. On the arts side, don’t miss the Aiken Makin’ Festival, a crafts show bringing together glass works, wood, ceramics and more.

The small town of Ridgeway is home to the World’s Smallest Police Station, and ironically also hosts the very big festival Arts on the Ridge, which celebrates the arts in every form from visual, performing to literary.

Another artsy festival in North Augusta takes you back in time to commemorate the art of the traditional craftsman. The Colonial Times: Under the Crown and Colonial Trades Fair is an annual spring weekend filled with living history, complete with Revolutionary War reenactors, a blacksmith shop and artisans showcasing their talents.

Pee Dee

If you like cars old and new alike, head down to the Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum, where you will find a car show like no other.

In Bishopville, take a moment to peruse the artistry of Pearl Fryar's Topiary Garden. Also in the area, the South Carolina Cotton Museum will take you on a historic journey of the crop and its influence on Southern life.

Lowcountry

In Ridgeland, the September Oaks Vineyard hosts the Novel Wine Tasting and Literary Festival. Hear from dozens of Southern authors while you enjoy a glass of locally-produced wine. The S.C. Artisans Center in Walterboro is another great place to explore art, as it is South Carolina's official center for local folk art and crafts.

On Edisto Island, the natural landscape provides a home for the Edisto Island Serpenterium. The indoor and outdoor facilities here host reptiles of all kinds. And if you are looking for something less wild, try J's Tea-rific Teapot Museum in Elloree.

Or, if you're an art fan, head up the coast to Murrells Inlet and add the Atalaya Arts & Crafts Festival at Huntington Beach State Park to your bucket list. This high end, three-day festival of live music, gourmet food court and master artisans takes place at a real life castle on the water.

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Thoroughbred Racing Hall Of Fame & Museum
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Aiken

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The museum celebrates the great tradition of Thoroughbred racing and Aiken’s vital role in it. The famed Aiken Training Track has been the training ground for 40 champio ...
BMW Zentrum
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Greer

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The BMW Zentrum is a 28,000-square-foot visitor’s center which showcases the company’s heritage of engineering, innovation and commitment to social responsibility. Fascin ...
Historic Brattonsville
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Historic Brattonsville features over thirty colonial and antebellum structures, including two house museums. The plantation spreads over 800-acres and includes farmed lan ...
Pearl Fryar's Topiary Garden
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Two acres of meticulously sculpted plants include graceful arches, spirals, geometrics, abstract shapes and fantasies, all the work of Mr. Pearl Fryar. The garden has bee ...
South Carolina Cotton Museum
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Bishopville

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The South Carolina Cotton Museum is a "Blue Star Museum." The South Carolina Cotton Museum is a major interpretive site preserving the legacy of cotton and rural life. E ...
Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum & NMPA Hall of Fame
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The Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum and NMPA Hall of Fame houses a large collection of stock cars, including those driven to victory by Richard Petty, Bill Elliott, T ...

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