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

By:Nicole Newsome


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


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.


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.


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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