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South of the Border in South Carolina is a hidden gem many travelers don’t know about.
This eclectic roadside attraction has everything you need and more.
You might try making it a quick stop for snacks, but you’d miss out. There is something for everyone, from amusement rides and games to shopping and dining.
Read on to learn about this popular spot at the North and South Carolina border!
What Is South of the Border?
South of the Border is a roadside attraction in South Carolina that’s south of the North Carolina border.
It’s a giant complex with many things to do: a motel, an RV park and campground, an amusement park, a go-kart track, a miniature golf course, and more.
If you’re looking for a fun place to break during a long road trip, South of the Border is the perfect spot.
The best part is that it’s open year-round, so you can enjoy it no matter when you’re traveling.
How Did South of the Border Get Started?
South of the Border began in South Carolina as a beer stand. Alan Schafer built the South of the Border Beer Depot in 1949 in a South Carolina county that butted up against several “dry” North Carolina counties, where they could not legally sell alcoholic beverages.
Business boomed, so Schafer added a grill and a motel.
Next, he added Mexican trinkets and numerous kitsch items he imported from Mexico.
Then came a cocktail lounge, gas station, and souvenir shop.
With the 1964 announcement that Interstate 95 would run past South of the Border, Schafer continued expanding, adding a barber shop, drug store, a variety store, a post office, an outdoor go-kart track, and the 104-foot tall image of the South of the Border mascot, Pedro.
Why Is It Called South of the Border?
South of the Border got its name from being south of the North Carolina border in South Carolina.
While several North Carolina counties on the border could not legally sell alcohol, Schafer built his South of the Border Beer Depot to lure drinkers from those dry North Carolina counties.
Though it was initially the South of the Border Beer Depot, as Schafer expanded with other offerings, he shortened the name to South of the Border.
Things to Do At South of the Border
As South of the Border has grown immensely since its 1949 founding as a simple beer stand, so have the various things to do there.
It has become a destination including everything from shopping and a barber shop to amusement rides and a campground.
Pro Tip: Looking to find more unique attractions while on the road? The Roadside America App can help!
Sombrero Tower & Arcade
The Sombrero Tower & Arcade at South of the Border in South Carolina has entertained travelers for decades.
The tower, which looks like a giant sombrero, is visible for miles and is one of the first things visitors see when they arrive at South of the Border. It is over 200 feet tall and has a glass elevator for visitors to look out as they ascend.
Inside the tower is an arcade with classic games like pinball and skeeball. It also has a souvenir shop where visitors can purchase themed merchandise.
Pedroland Park is an amusement park at South of the Border. The park is home to numerous rides, including a Ferris wheel, carousel, bumper cars, airplanes, and roller coaster.
There are also two miniature golf courses and bouncy houses.
In addition, the park also features several restaurants and shops. Visitors can purchase souvenirs at the Pedroland Park gift shop. The park is open year-round.
The Reptile Lagoon is the largest indoor reptile display in the United States. It is home to a wide variety of reptiles, including alligators, crocodiles, snakes, and turtles.
The lagoon is open to the public for self-guided tours and offers group educational programs. Visitors can learn about reptile species, their habitats, and how to protect them.
South of the Border is home to several restaurants, an ice cream parlor, and a full bar.
The Sombrero Room Restaurant provides a range of American cuisine dishes for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The Peddler Steakhouse includes steak, seafood, chicken, salads, and more.
Pedro’s Hot Tamale is fast-food, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with items like chicken tenders, burgers, tacos, and tamales.
Pro Tip: Looking for more things to do while in South Carolina? Here are our Top 10 Things to add to your itinerary.
Like its dining options, South of the Border also has many shops to peruse. There are two Mexico Shops with a wide assortment of Mexican-themed and imported items.
Pedro’s Pura Vida offers items like t-shirts, hats, and sunglasses but also has motorcycle accessories, jewelry, and other souvenirs.
Pedro’s Myrtle Beach Shop has beach-related items, souvenirs, Mexican pottery, knickknacks, plush stuffed animals, wall hangings, and more.
In the summer, beginning in early June, South of the Border opens Fort Pedro Fireworks. Fort Pedro carries a wide assortment of fireworks to help enhance any 4th of July celebration.
South of the Border Has Their Own RV Park
If South of the Border sounds like too much for a quick South Carolina stop, you’re correct. There is so much to see and do at South of the Border that it’s impossible to experience in one day.
That’s why the owner created Camp Pedro RV Park and Campground.
However, Camp Pedro is no ordinary RV park. It has everything you could want and is within walking distance of what South of the Border offers.
All sites in the campground are paved, ranging from back-ins, 30-amp and 50-amp pull-throughs, and 110-foot extra large pull-through sites with patio areas.
Campers can access laundry rooms, bathhouses, and grills throughout the property. They also receive pool passes for the indoor and outdoor pools and the motel sauna.
Is South of the Border Worth Visiting?
South of the Border is a roadside attraction you should visit at least once. There’s something for everyone to enjoy with an amusement park, reptile zoo, restaurants, and shops.
It’s easy to see why South of the Border has drawn visitors to South Carolina for over 70 years. With its motel and campground, staying overnight is easier than ever. So pack your bags and head down to South of the Border!
Have you passed South of the Border on your travels?