Located in the Lowcountry just minutes from I-95, the state's official folk art and craft center is a one-stop showcase for fine handmade crafts of every imaginable variety and media, from Gullah sweetgrass baskets to Southern face jugs, a craft tradition started in Edgefield by African slaves who worked on plantations as potters.
Along with the indigenous folk art created using centuries-old craft techniques, the collection also includes contemporary crafts and two-dimensional art.
Fittingly, the nonprofit gallery is housed in a restored eight-room Victorian cottage built in the late 1800s in Walterboro's historic district. Inside you'll find pottery, paintings, jewelry, quilts, mobiles, vases and furnishings, along with "agricultural art" - an assortment of homegrown food products from South Carolina's own farms and fields.
The handcrafted art collection features the work of more than 300 South Carolina master artisans selected in a two-stage juried process that includes an evaluation by out-of-state professional artists.
Despite the high quality of the wares, the average sales price is a modest $23.
To be sure, there are plenty of pricier items among the collection, including a $3,500 sweetgrass basket made by a well-known Gullah artist using a unique coiling technique handed down from her West African ancestors.
One of the most impressive and expensive items in the center is a $53,000 one-of-a-kind wooden canoe handcrafted by Philip Greene, a local artist who lives just outside town. As much works of art as functional boats, Greene's canoes are made from exotic and indigenous woods, fetching as much as $160,000 for a commissioned tandem
As part of its mission to preserve and nurture art inspired by tradition, the Artisans Center also offers educational events throughout the year, including craft demonstrations and art classes.
After you've browsed through the gallery, be sure to walk down the block to the antique district in Walterboro's historic downtown. The flagship store among the lot is Antiques & Collectibles of Walterboro, an antiques mall with 21 vendors selling everything from beautiful Oriental screens to vintage holiday linens.
Most of the shops are on East Washington Street where you'll also a fun throwback lunch spot - Hiott's Pharmacy. Opened in 1951, it features an old-fashioned soda fountain serving ice cream, fountain drinks and sandwiches.