The 10 Best Museums in South Carolina!

From museums illustrating the history of local railways, to contemporary art spaces, to museums designed for giving children hands-on opportunities, South Carolina has something to please everyone. Museums offer more than lessons on life way back when, they offer experiences you won’t forget. Here are the 10 best museums in South Carolina offering unique insight on the state’s history, and so much more. 

1. Children’s Museum of the Upstate, Greenville, SC

While plenty of bold “Do Not Touch” signs litter every exhibit in other museums, the Children’s Museum of the Upstate in downtown Greenville insists interaction at every turn. Fun and education collide in three levels of learning. From toddler-friendly play areas to Grandma Betty’s Farm to the one-of-a-kind climbing structure, kids of all ages will thrive on hands-on opportunities and unique experiences… and beg you to let them stay.

2. SC Railroad Museum, Winnsboro, SC

All aboard! This museum is on the move! Chugging along five miles of track, the visitors can take a ride through history on the real Rockton and Rion Railway from the 1880s. Formerly used to haul blue granite from quarries in South Carolina, the multicar train is now known as the Rockton, Rion and Western Railway. Hop aboard for a Saturday excursion June through August, or take a tour on one of their special events. There are also several stationary cars lining the museum headquarters for train enthusiasts to explore, such as a mail car, sleeper car, and steam locomotive. All cars featured at the museum were once productive vehicles, working hard to further American civilization.

3. Coastal Discovery Museum, Hilton Head Island, SC

South Carolina’s low country offers some of the greatest sights of the south, and you can experience them up close at Coastal Discovery Museum. Numerous trails and gardens wind through 68 acres of natural history and local culture. You’ll also find a butterfly enclosure, wildlife, costume play, scavenger hunts, and excursions for both land and water. 

4. BMW Zentrum Museum, Greenville, SC

Aside from the architecturally amazing building, the BMW Zentrum Museum displays all the fine details of the ultimate driving machine. From BMW’s rich history, to the successes of their innovations, to real versions of retired designs lining the floor, you can quench your thirst for all things speedy.

5. Anderson County Museum, Anderson, SC

Detailed exhibits that delight the eyes of young and old line the numerous walls within Anderson County Museum. Decadent in local history and heritage, Anderson has carved its own place in history, and the museum tells its tales like no other. A miniature model of the Anderson County fair, the South Carolina Heritage Corridor, and the importance of electricity and textiles to the local economy are only some of the many adventures that visitors will journey through.

6. North Charleston Fire Museum, North Charleston, SC

If you’ve ever wondered how they handled hot disasters way back when, the North Charleston Fire Museum can quench your queries. Guests get a glimpse of what it’s like to be a real firefighting hero: you’ll get hands on with hoses and gears, and learn how much firefighting has changed through the decades. With interactive exhibits and theatrical presentations, you can get as close to firefighting as possible without compromising your safety.

7. The Museum & Railroad Historical Center, Greenwood, SC

Formerly two separate entities until the Adams family donated the railroad collection to the museum, both attractions serve as Greenwood’s epicenter of arts, culture and history. Take a stroll through Greenwood’s history, explore the wonders of caves, mining, and minerals, and follow the epic journeys of North American and African wildlife. Special events include family nights at the museum (bring a flashlight!), dinner on the authentic Erie-Lackawanna dining car, Museum Book Club, National Train Day, and more. 

8. The South Carolina Civil War Museum, Myrtle Beach, SC

No matter if your ancestors fought for the Yanks or the heart of Dixieland, civil war buffs from both sides can appreciate the history lessons this museum brings to life. The large range of well-preserved weaponry, attire, and other recovered artifacts serves as a good reminder to be thankful for the modern conveniences and freedoms we enjoy today. Not so surprisingly, this museum also doubles as a shooting range, but don’t plan on shooting any of the civil war artillery that’s behind the glass (no “blasts from the past” here).

9. South Carolina Hall of Fame, Myrtle Beach, SC

There’s nothing like acknowledging your hometown heroes, and South Carolina has taken strides to make sure those heroes get the solid recognition they deserve. That’s why they’ve created an entire museum to those who have made extraordinary contributions to the state. From slaves to artists to past political figures and more, this museum displays the strong culture locals know as South Carolina pride.

10. Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, Charleston, SC

Calling all art lovers! It’s certainly not the Louvre, but the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art boasts some innovative collections from artists near and far. Located at the College of Charleston School of the Arts, you may never see the same exhibit twice since they are continually updating their displays for your enjoyment.

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133 East Main Street, Rock Hill, SC
Make-believe in the pumpkin house, climb to the tip-top of the tree house and sail on the magic ship. Enjoy memory-making family experiences and en... Read More
1515 Main Street, Columbia, SC
Mission:The Columbia Museum of Art seeks to inspire, educate and enrich the lives of the community, South Carolinians, tourists and visitors by col... Read More
301 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC
Mission:Through innovative partnerships, comprehensive collections, and stimulating exhibits and programs, The South Carolina State Museum provides... Read More
122 North Washington Street, Sumter, SC
Mission:Mission is to promote the history of Old Sumter District through the preservation and exhibition of objects, manuscripts, and documents, wh... Read More
211 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC
Mission: In Mission Imagination, children will learn through hands-on experiences. What’s more, they’ll develop communication skills t... Read More
1800 12th Street, Cayce, SC
ABOUT THE MUSUEM The City of Cayce is rich in history and the Cayce Historical Museum was established to share this history with you. The museum s... Read More
200 Knights Hill Road, Camden, SC
Mission: The mission of the Museum is to foster public interest in the sport of American Steeplechasing and reaching the broadest audience throug... Read More
110 Industrial Park Road, Winnsboro, SC
Mission: Preservation and promotion of railroad history and artifacts in South Carolina. Our volunteer members restore and operate antique locomot... Read More
360 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC
Mission Statement:To document and explain the natural and cultural history of Charleston and the South Carolina coastal region through the maintena... Read More
633 Front Street, Georgetown, SC
The Rice Museum, known locally as The Town Clock, is located in the Old Market Building and is a prominent symbol of Georgetown County. Through dio... Read More
135 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC
Mission Statement: The Gibbes Museum of Art exists to link the art of our past with the art of our future through innovative exhibitions, acquisit... Read More
950 Stony Landing Road, Moncks Corner, SC
About Us: The Berkeley Museum is a 5600 state-of-the- art exhibit building and one of the most valuable historic assets as well as a fascinating f... Read More
420 College Street, Greenville, SC
Welcome to the Greenville County Museum of Art. Considered the premier American art museum in the South, the GCMA is home to the world’s larg... Read More
816 Bull Street, Columbia, SC
McKissick Museum is located at the heart of the historic Horseshoe on the Columbia campus of the University of South Carolina. It was established i... Read More
202 East Greenville Street, Anderson, SC
Mission Statement:The Anderson County Museum collects, preserves, and interprets artifacts that document the history of Anderson County and educate... Read More
1700 Wade Hampton Boulevard, Greenville, SC
Mission : Through its collection of sacred art, the Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery exists to promote the appreciation, understanding, a... Read More
Exit 60 on Interstate 85, Hartsville, SC
3100 South Ocean Boulevard, Myrtle Beach, SC
Our Mission: The Art Museum is dedicated to being one of the finest visual arts museums in the Carolinas. We strive to engage our community and ou... Read More
200 East Saint John Street, Spartanburg, SC
Mission: The Spartanburg Art Museum is a regional museum promoting contemporary visual arts by inspiring and engaging people of all ages through e... Read More
805 Main Street, Conway, SC
Mission:To collect and preserve material related to the prehistory, natural history, history and culture of Horry County; to interpret and to creat... Read More
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