It’s no secret that South Carolina is home to a very rich history, with plenty of museums to prove it. But did you know our state is home to some bizarre tales of the past like kazoos, buttons, submarines + beans? Check out 25 museums in the Palmetto State to add to your road trip bucket list that’ll teach you a thing or two about the unique history of our state + nation.
Unique + fun
Button King Museum, 53 Joe Dority Rd., Bishopville
This museum was the result of many sleepless nights… literally. The “Button King”, Dalton Stevens, began covering items with buttons to distract himself while dealing with insomnia. His first creation – a suit containing 16,000+ buttons – sparked the idea for the collection now containing over 1 million buttons.
The Kazoobie Kazoo Factory, Museum, and Gift Shop, 12 John Galt Rd., Beaufort
Who knew the kazoo had such an interesting history? Check out one of the largest collections of these unique musical instruments + its impact in America.
Myrtle Beach Pinball Museum, 607 27th Ave. N, Myrtle Beach
Alexa, play “Pinball Wizard.” Break out your skills + take on these classic arcade machines that date back to the 70s.
Postal Museum, 77 Meeting St., Charleston
This functioning post office built in 1896 doubles as a small museum containing stamps, memorabilia + newspaper clippings that “tell the post office’s role in many of the city’s historic moments.”
Sigal Music Museum, 516 Buncombe St., Greenville
Originally the Carolina Music Museum, the Sigal Music Museum boasts the preservation of hundreds of instruments that date back to the 1500s. The space is also used for performances + concerts.
BMW Zentrum Museum, 1400 SC-101, Greer
This museum, connected to the plant, is the only of its kind in North America. Here you can find BMW’s history in aviation + famous classic automobiles, and even take a closer look at the production process.
Hollywood Wax Museum, 1808 21st Ave. N Unit A, Myrtle Beach
Take photos with some of your favorite stars including Michael Jackson, King Kong + Ellen.
Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum, 1301 Harry Byrd Hwy., Darlington
Even if you’re not a NASCAR fan, this is a spot to check out. Not only can you look at classic race cars – you can also dive deeper into the history of racing.
Macaulay Museum of Dental History, 177 Ashley Ave., Charleston
How did people maintain their pearly whites over a hundred years ago? With none other than machines like this 1921 dental X-ray, of course. This collection, which is the only of its kind in South Carolina, includes “historic dental tools + instruments, a 19th Century dental-office display, collection of dental chairs and a traveling dentist’s chest from the Civil War era.”
Wheels of Yesteryear, 413 Hospitality Ln., Myrtle Beach
Check out a rotating collection of 50+ classic cars and trucks.
Historic + educational
Rice Museum, 633 Front St., Georgetown
This Lowcountry museum gives visitors an in-depth look at the history of South Carolina’s first agricultural staple. The building includes a Maritime Museum Gallery, which contains the 1700s Browns Ferry Vessel – the oldest vessel of colonial manufacturer on exhibit in the U.S.
South Carolina Cotton Museum, 121 W Cedar Ln., Bishopville
This museum highlighting the importance of cotton + mills in South Carolina also includes exhibits like a Heisman Trophy recipient statue, a shop full of locally grown/made products + the Lee County Veterans Museum.
Columbia Fire Department Museum, 1800 Laurel St., Columbia
This one-room exhibit contains vintage fire engines, antique ladders, a Fallen Firefighters’ Memorial + more that tells the history of the department’s ongoing impact.
EdVenture Children’s Museum, 211 Gervais St., Columbia
If you need to entertain your kids for hours, look no further than the capital city’s unique children’s museum. The museum features various educational exhibits – including a bio lab, a fire station + flight school – and skill-building activities like grocery shopping, a news room + creative lab. The most notable exhibit is Eddie – a 10 ft. tall boy that children can go inside to explore.
McKissick Museum, 1501 Pendleton St., Columbia
The University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum is located on the historic Horseshoe and offers visitors a glimpse of 140,000+ items that tell the story of S.C., from natural science to home economics.
Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum, 356 Field St., Greenville
This museum honors late S.C. native + professional baseball player, Joe Jackson. The exhibits, including photos, gear + memorabilia, are on display in the Upstate home he + his wife bought in 1941.
Patriots Point Maritime and Naval Museum, 40 Patriots Point Rd., Mt. Pleasant
The entire museum is located on + within the historic USS Yorktown, which is permanently docked in the Charleston Harbor. Here you can find historic aircraft carriers and a submarine, Naval artifacts, educational programs + more. There are even options for ghost tours and overnight stays.
Warren Lasch Conservation Center + Friends of the Hunley Museum, 1250 Supply St., North Charleston
The Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley found its permanent home in North Charleston following the sunken vessel’s recovery in 1995. Here, the sub is preserved, and visitors can learn all about its impact as the first successful combat submarine.
Mace Brown Museum of Natural History, 202 Calhoun St., Charleston
The College of Charleston’s natural history museum is free to the public + displays nearly 1,000 fossils.
Best Friends of Charleston Museum, 23 Ann St., Charleston
This one-room exhibit features the history of Best Friends of Charleston – the first steam engine built entirely in the U.S. that paved the way for national transportation + industrialization.
South Carolina Tobacco Museum, 104 NE Front St., Mullins
The city of Mullins stemmed from S.C.’s booming tobacco industry, and this museum tells the story of the crop’s impact in the Palmetto State. Exhibits include models of tobacco plants, a blacksmith shop, vintage equipment + more.
Bart Garrison Agricultural Museum of South Carolina, 120 History Ln., Pendleton
This museum showcasing various outdoor exhibits + educational programs is “committed to the interpretation and preservation of South Carolina’s agricultural heritage, and the impact and importance of agriculture to current and future culture and economies.”
Gone but not forgotten
Tearificteapot Museum, 2732 W Cleveland St., Elloree
This spot may be the most unique on the list. Shaped like a giant teapot, this museum boasted the world’s largest teapot collection. Guests could even enjoy high tea while visiting.
The Bean Market Museum of South Carolina, 111 Henry St. Lake City
The Bean Market is still around and is used as an event space + multipurpose cultural and community center, but was previously known as the The Bean Market Museum of South Carolina. The museum tells the story of Lake City’s economic growth following the Great Depression by utilizing a space where farmers could sell produce at the market.
Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, 68 Spring St., Charleston
The Karpeles Manuscript Museum is made of 14 buildings across the U.S. + contains over 1 million original historic documents and manuscripts, making it the largest private collection.