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Unique Museums to Visit in the Southeastern US

The Institute of Museum and Library Services estimated that there were 35,000 operating museums in the U.S. as of 2014, a figure that’s unlikely to have changed much since then.


If you think all of these institutions are similar, with historic artifacts and documents behind sheets of glass or walls lined with paintings, think again. Some are rather unusual, offering something that’s entirely different from the typical textbook kind of experience.

That includes quite a few unique museums in the southeastern U.S.

Waffle House Museum, Avondale Estates, Georgia

You can’t visit this region of the country without going to a Waffle House for breakfast, or a late-night binge after indulging in a little too much to drink. Headquartered in the Atlanta suburb of Norcross, most of its locations are in the South where it’s a regional cultural icon.

The very first Waffle House was opened by Joe Rogers, Sr., and Tom Forkner on Labor Day in 1955 in Avondale Estates, Georgia. Today the site it was built on serves as the Waffle House Museum, with a re-creation of the first restaurant and its 1950s-style decor jam-packed with over six decades of Waffle House memorabilia. Tours are available by appointment, providing insight into the items and the chain’s history along with fun trivia facts.

Edgar Allen Poe Museum, Richmond, Virginia

If you like history and museums, you might consider moving into one of the apartments for rent in Richmond, Virginia, where there are so many great offerings. The Edgar Allan Poe Museum, celebrating the author’s life and work is housed in the city’s oldest building and displays the usual kind of items, including the most extensive collection of Poe’s letters, manuscripts, and artifacts, along with some oddities.

The founders who established the museum in 1922 collected everything they could related to his life, including furnishing and clothing. There’s even a pair of his socks and a lock of his hair that was taken following his death.

St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum, St. Augustine, Florida

Fascinated with pirates? The St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum boasts the largest collection of authentic pirate artifacts in the world. Discover how they lived, sailed, and died throughout fascinating tales and a close-up look and treasures dating back some 300 years.

Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum, Gatlinburg, Tennessee

While most of us just think about salt and pepper as something to flavor up our meals, there are some who are truly passionate about salt and pepper shakers. The founder of the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum, Andrea Ludden, is one of them.

She was inspired by her mom’s own collection, and using her background as an archaeologist she managed to collect over 20,000 of them for her museum. They’re arranged by category and color, with everything from lobster claws to Amish farmers.

Mobile Carnival Museum, Mobile, Alabama

Mobile, Alabama isn’t usually associated with Mardi Gras, that’s New Orleans. But the very first organized celebration of “Fat Tuesday” was actually held in Mobile back in 1703. The Carnival Museum focuses on that with elaborate, glittering costumes worn by various carnival kings and queens, masks, hats, and photos of the events throughout the event’s history.