Not all museums are serious. Explore these five kooky, whimsical museums on your next South Carolina vacation. Behind each are charming stories of people who loved something unusual, and spent their lives pursuing their love.
J’s Tea-rific Teapot Museum
It’s unlikely you’ll mistake J’s Tea-rific Teapot Museum in Elloree for any other museum or business—it’s housed in a big 20-foot long blue teapot. The museum is the labor of love of Dr. Julian Boland and his wife, Sybil. Their collection of thousands of teapots is lovingly displayed by theme, and their museum is free to the public. Dr. Boland died a few years ago, but Sybil continues to offer charming and witty tours of the museum. By appointment only. (803) 829-2944
A salute and testament to chronic insomnia, Button King Dalton Stevens began his quirky collection when he couldn’t sleep at night more than 30 years ago. He began sewing and gluing buttons onto clothing to pass the time. Decades later, his Bishopville museum showcases dozens and dozens of button-embellished items, including the button-covered suit that started it all, a piano, a Chevy Chevette, a coffin and a hearse. Stevens's family still welcomes visitors to his museum daily in Bishopville.
The kazoo is a distinctly American instrument, invented in Macon, Ga., but the only kazoos still manufactured in the US today are made in gorgeous Beaufort by Kazoobie Kazoos. You can take a tour of the kazoo factory and make your own, custom kazoo there, and also learn everything you could want about this quirky instrument at the Kazoo Museum.
For most of his adult life, Robert Ripley traveled the world looking for the strange, the odd, the amazing and the breathtaking. He collected it all and sent it back the US. Some of his remarkable collection can be seen right on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach. From a two-headed goat to paintings on spider webs and a shrunken head Ripley himself collected on a trip to South America, the Odditorium is a museum like no other.
A museum at a nuclear power plant? Why, yes! World of Energy, a free museum dedicated to electricity and nuclear power is located right at the Oconee Nuclear Station in Seneca. You can even step right outside to the viewing platforms to watch the three nuclear reactors.