North Carolina’s Unique And Unusual
Inside our diverse collection of museums you'll find the unique, the unusual and the truly odd ranging from fossils to fleas dressed in wedding attire. Come along for a brief visit to some of North Carolina’s most interesting museums, the perfect place to spend some time during colder weather.
Fifteen million years ago, much of North Carolina’s coastal plain was underwater. The Aurora Fossil Museum has hundreds of whale and shark fossils, mostly from the waters off North Carolina. You may even find your own fossil by sifting through local fossil bed diggings.
Belhaven means "beautiful harbor" in French, and this little town houses possibly the most bizarre collection of items anywhere. What started as the private collection of Eva Blount Way is now the Belhaven Memorial Museum. You can find everything here from a flea couple dressed in a wedding gown and tuxedo to old farm tools.
Treacherous shoals off our coast have sent hundreds of ships to their doom. In Pine Knoll Shores, the North Carolina Aquarium features an exhibit called the Living Shipwreck, as well as a touch tank, salt marsh explorations and workshops on surf fishing.
Topsail Island was the site of Operation Bumblebee, a loosely guarded secret 1940s US missile project. Topsail Island Museum tells the story.
Not as unusual as dressed fleas, there are some interesting museums in our heartland nonetheless.
If you love motorcycles, the American Classic Motorcycle Museum in Asheboro is for you. Harley-Davidson motorcycles from 1936 to the present are on display here. And, not too far away, is Asheboro’s Peddycord F.A.C. Flying Museum. The Foundation for Aircraft Conservation displays a number of operational warplanes in this museum dedicated to preserving aviation history.
The Country Doctor Museum in Bailey is the only museum devoted to the family doctors of yesteryear. Two 19th century doctors’ offices have been recreated complete with an Apothecary.
Not far from Charlotte Motor Speedway is Concord’s Backing Up Classics Motor Car Museum. This 18,000-square-foot treasury features nearly 50 classic and race cars. A NASCAR and auto-related gift shop is on site.
If you’re feeling patriotic, visit Fort Bragg where you’ll find both the 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial and the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare museums.
In the mountains, you’ll want to visit the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. A holographic "conjure man" takes you on a trip through 10,000 years of Cherokee history.
Precious gems and kilts are all the rage in Franklin. The "Old Jail" Museum of Gems and Minerals features displays of precious and semi-precious stones, as well as a fine exhibit of Indian artifacts.
North Carolina has more residents of Scottish extraction than any other state, so the Scottish Tartans Museum in Edinburgh authorized the opening of an extension museum in Franklin. There is an official registry of all known Tartans here.
The historic Shelton House in Waynesville is home to the Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts. Wood carving, furniture, quilts, pottery and Cherokee artifacts are all on display here.
There is substantial evidence that Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, was born not in Kentucky, but on Puzzle Creek near Bostic, North Carolina, in Rutherford County. The Bostic Lincoln Center tells this story by providing audio/visual histories, exhibits and programs telling the story of Abe Lincoln's questionable birthplace.
added: January 3, 2009
updated: March 2, 2010