As we travel around the country we never give up the opportunity to visit an odd roadside attraction when we see one. . You can learn about some of the more unique attractions we have visited on our Roadside Attractions blog post.
Living on the East Coast we have traveled I-95 extensively. If you have ever traveled along I-95 anywhere near the North Carolina – South Carolina border you have undoubtedly seen South of the Border one of the east coast’s most odd roadside attractions.
You can not miss this rest stop because of the numerous signs seen for many miles around the area.
There are around 175 billboards north and south from the Virginia/North Carolina state lines to the South Carolina/Georgia state lines. Most of the South of the Border signs are on I-95. You may also see them north and south on Highway 301/501, and east and west on Highway 9 & 17.
South of the Border Facts
Located off I-95 Exit 1A in Dillon South Carolina along US 501
1949 founded by Alan Schafer as South of the Border Beer Depot.
1954 20 Hotel rooms were added and the name shortened to South of the Border
1962 South of the Border expanded into fireworks sales
1964 Interstate 95 built next to South of the Border
Mid-1960s expanded to include a barbershop, drug store, a variety store, a post office, an outdoor go-kart track complete with other outdoor recreational facilities, and the 104 feet tall mascot, Pedro.
Five Things to Do at South of the Border
Sombrero Restaurant – Named for the design of the building, a sombrero. A cozy family-style restaurant found on the north side of the complex that serves breakfast lunch and dinner.
Pedros Hot Tamale – Fast food South of the Border Style. Here you will find quick food items such as chicken tenders, burgers, tacos, and of course Pedro’s famous tamales.
Peddler Steak House – A traditional steakhouse that serves steaks, prime rib, chicken breasts, savory seafood & salads. This is South of the Borders take on the classic American restaurant, and is only open for dinner.
Pedro’s Ice Cream Fiesta – offers a variety of treats for the entire family looking to cool down after a long ride.
The Mexico Shop – There are two different locations to grab your South of the Border souvenirs. Mexico Shop East is the oldest store on the grounds, and home of the famous 97-foot tall statue of Pedro. Mexico Shop West is the largest shop located here. You will be able to find just about anything with either Perdo on it, the South of the Border logo, or both.
Fort Pedro – This is reported to be the largest fireworks stock on the east coast. You will be certain to find whatever fireworks you need here at the fort.
Reptile Lagoon – This is the newest addition to South of the Border. Reptile lagoon is the largest indoor reptile exhibit in the U.S. It includes a collection of snakes, alligators, crocodiles, and turtles.
Pedro Land Park – Is a small amusement park for kids. It includes small rides such as a carousel, a Ferris wheel, and bumper cars. It also the home of two 18-hole mini-golf courses. This is a great spot to let the kids run around and stretch after a long car ride.
Sombrero Tower – A 200-foot tower with a large sombrero topping it off. During the daytime, its observation deck is open to visitors. The low cost is only $2 to take the elevator to the top. Once you have reached the top you can walk around the brim of the sombrero for an unobstructed 360-degree view of the Border. At night, its bright neon lights can be seen for many miles along I-95, beckoning travelers to stop for a much-needed break.
4. STAY OVER, REST, AND EXPLORE
South of the Border Motor Inn – This hotel offers travelers a number of recently renovated rooms to choose from. From a standard economy room to 2 room King suites there are rooms to meet all needs. The hotel also offers outdoor and indoor pools. A great option for a nighttime stop-over while traveling I-95.
Camp Pedro – Like many modern Rv parks Camp Pedro offers back-in sites, 30 amp pull through, and 50 amp pull-through sites. The park is working to expand to add more sites with patio areas for Class A and Class C RVs. All sites are paved. Campers will have access to laundry rooms and bathhouses located inside the campground plus stores within walking distance.
5. FUEL UP, AND GET BACK ON THE ROAD
Sunoco Gas Stations – There are two self-serve Sunoco gas stations available for drivers. They are both open 24 hrs and offer gas and small convenience stores for snacks, coffee, and other needs.
Pedro’s Truck Stop – This is a diesel truck stop for over-the-road truckers travel north and south on I-95. This truck stop offers DEF, supplies for big rig truckers, and showers.
Our Stop and Impression | A Corny & Certainly Odd Roadside Attraction
During our travel around the U.S., we have seen a lot of interesting sights. South of the Border is one roadside attraction that we will not forget for sure.
We finally decided to stop and look around because in today’s climate it doesn’t seem like a roadside attraction based on a Mexican stereotype can survive much longer. It was something we have driven by many times, something we have read about and were genuinely curious about what South of the Border really was all about.
We were driving south to Myrtle Beach in our Rv, and this would be our last fuel stop before reaching Ocean Lakes Family Campground, Myrtle Beach.
We choose option #5 in the above list of things to do, and our stop was not very long. However, the people we encountered were extremely polite and very helpful.
Well, it was everything we expected. It looked its age and reminded us of an old carnival, or county fair. We could certainly understand how it could be considered un-PC in today’s climate.
The Mexico shop was huge and we could literally find just about any type of souvenir with the logo on it. We ended up picking up a coffee mug to add to our collection, and a magnet to add to the Rv.
For travelers, this is a great place to stop, stretch, and take a look around. It is far different than the typical rest area or welcome center found up and down Interstate 95.