One of my favorite memories was when I was 10 years old and drove with my family from my home in Long Island, New York to our family reunion in Charleston, South Carolina. It was the first time we took an 11 hour road trip of any kind—it was the first time I discovered the cheesy, but awesomeness that is South of The Border.
No, I’m not referring to the real South of the Border that leads to Mexico. I am talking about the cheesy retro roadside attraction located just off of I-95 and Hwy 301 in South Carolina. You can’t miss it because there are signs for miles letting you know that you are getting close to this nostalgic post-apocalyptic Mexican themed once bustling campground/resort. You’ll also meet Pedro who’ll greet you with his huge sombrero and a smile from the distance.
So What’s So Special About This Place?
If you’re a nostalgia fan then you’ll be excited to visit this symbol of what family road trips up I-95 were all about 50+ years ago. South of The Border was built in the 50’s and is filled with retro fluorescent colors all throughout their decor. You’ll find statues of dinosaurs, apes, elephants and other weird things all around the parking lot and grounds. The star though is the 200+ ft sombrero hat observation tower in which you ride up an old elevator filled with (insert name) was here graffiti. You’ll also find a truck stop-esque restaurant that looks questionable but the tacos are really good, a 300 room motel, an old arcade and souvenir shops. Additionally, you’ll find your typical bathrooms and convenience store. Pretty much it looks like someone threw up the 50’s and the 70’s.
There is something very Flintstone-ish, very Grizwoldish, very tacky, and very intriguing about this place. All this combined makes it the perfect place to take odd Instagram photos. You literally feel like you’ve been transported in time. In person, you may be wondering what the hype is about, but snap a few photos near one of the bizarre statues and you’ll have people wondering what cool place you’re at.
If you’re ever on your way to Disney World or headed South, consider torturing your children by telling them that instead of Disney they’re actually going to Pedro’s Amusement Park (see pics below). Watch the look of sheer horror on their faces! No, I’m kidding! On a serious note, family memories are really important to me and this is one of those places that you will look back on and be able to happily laugh at your pictures. Be sure to stop there and stretch your legs on your next trip down 95.
Until then happy travels!