South Of The Border is one of those tourist traps that's so delightfully kitschy and campy (and dare I say, tacky?) that it's actually iconic. What started out in 1949 as a beer stand opened by Alan Schafer, conveniently located south of the border between North Carolina's Robeson County, a dry county at the time, and South Carolina, a veritable Promised Land of booze, where the liquor flowed like rivers. Anyways, it proved to be so popular that he was able to open a small motel and start selling cheesy little trinkets-- all Mexican-themed, going along with the "South of the Border" theme.
From there, Schafer was able to expand his little beer stand and shop to include restaurants, gas stations, a motel, bars, a small amusement park, an adult entertainment establishment, and more. At its peak, the tourist attraction took up over more than a full square mile and had its own own infrastructure, and had its own fire department and police force.
The centerpiece of the town is, of course, the 165 ft. tall Sombrero Tower. South of the Border was fortunate in that it's on the main routes to Myrtle Beach and parts of Florida-- the money earned from tourists on their way to a fun beach vacation allowed them to grow into the massive tourist trap it became at the height of its popularity. -Roadtrippers
South of the Border is a rest stop and roadside attraction on Interstate 95 and US Highway 301/501 between Dillon, South Carolina, and Rowland, North Carolina. It is so named because it is just south of the border between North Carolina and South Carolina. The rest area contains restaurants, gas stations, and a motel, as well as a small amusement park, shopping and fireworks. Its mascot is Pedro, an arguably racist caricature of a Mexican bandido. South of the Border has long served as a rest stop for vacationers and tourists traveling from the Northeast United States to Florida.Historic backgroundSouth of the Border was developed by Alan Schafer in 1950. He had founded a beer stand at the location in 1949 and had chosen because of its location adjacent to Robeson County which was at one time, one of many dry North Carolina counties. Business was steadily expanded with Mexican trinkets and numerous kitsch items imported from Mexico. He had a great deal of success turning South of the Border into a tourist mecca. South of the Border grew to over a square mile, required its own infrastructure, and had its own fire and police departments. Assisting in this growth was the fact that the new Interstate 95 and the existing US 301 intersect at the site of the South of the Border complex.
“the epitome of kitsch”
If you're on I-95, you're going to start seeing some peculiar and kitschy billboards advertising a place called "South Of The Border" in South Carolina. This place is every bit as quirky and cheesy as the billboards suggest. But, kids seem to enjoy it, and it's right off the highway so it's pretty easy to hop off and check it out.
Awesome. Such a great one of a kind experience that has no parallel, and the billboards are laugh-out-loud hysterical - they start 180 miles south, and are placed every few miles on 95 till u get there - after I saw one I literally couldn't wait to see the next one.
Speechless... Don't understand why we even stopped! Not worth going at all, waste of time!
If you need to get out to stretch & stay entertained w/ plenty of things to see this is the place. Lots of great photo ops
Super kitschy and tacky but a great break for the kids!
Great time. Stopped here in the early evening and booked a campsite for $31. Walked down the road to get food and margaritas. It was a simple and nice stop.
Great place, very convenient to stop at if you are on I-95
I'm sorry that the article's author had to interject some of the PC attitude, ""Its mascot is Pedro, an arguably racist caricature of a Mexican bandido."" But,,, on the other hand, it is someplace everyone should stop at, at least once just for the experience of it all!
Horrible place. Stopped there for a few minutes and I was ready to leave. It's dirty, nothing works, it was just gross.
Fun and cute looking but in major need of remodelingm
Tacky at its finest! You have to stop at least once.
Fun little place to stop and stretch your legs. Very tacky but so fun! There are plenty of fun photo ops if you're not looking to spend money. If you don't mind spending a couple dollars I suggest buying tickets to go to the top of the sombrero. When you get to the top you can see views from 360 degrees around, depending on where you're standing you can see some beautiful views.
It certainly is exactly what I remembered as a child. Tacky, colorful and expensive, but certainly hard to pass. Great place to stretch your legs out and walk around for a bit. Kind of gives you that Las Vegas feel, if Las Vegas was a ghost town. Cheesy? Sure. Nostalgic? Absolutely.
This was a good stop for the kids to get out and stretch their legs. Lots of funny statues to take pictures with and quirky shops. Will stop again on my southbound trip.
This place is a must see for anybody taking a road trip down the East Coast. However, it's the type of thing that you really only need to do once. There are some great photo opportunities around thanks to all of the random statues and signs. Other than that, there really isn't too much to do besides fill up your gas tank. The whole place does have a fairly grimy and unsafe feel to it and I definitely wouldn't want to stay in a hotel or have a meal there. My husband and I did have fun during the 15 minutes we spent at SOB though- we took some pictures and bought a keychain from the gift shop. I'm definitely glad that we went but I probably wouldn't go back.
Disgusting! Yuck with a moldy cherry on top. My shoe stuck to the bathroom floor and it was disgusting. They had the nerve to have a tip jar in the bathroom. I have tip. DON'T STOP HERE! I am shocked they passed the health inspection.
Worth a stop, but bar none worst Mexican food I have ever had--seriously, it makes stadium nachos look like authentic cuisine--but the road signs and kitschy shops more than make up for it. It's true--You Have Never Sausage A Place!
The kids loved it! Great place to stop and stretch your legs. There's an attendant in the bathroom (????) which seemed cheesy considering the type of place it was. Fun spots for taking pictures
A Staple for years in SC ( Just South of the NC Border ). Worth cheeking out at least once to say you have been there and seen the place.
Use to stop there when I was a kid.....40 now. I plan on taking my daughter on a road trip. We will be sure to stop by this iconic place.
Everyone should stop here once. This place is the epitome of kitsch and makes for a great Instagram Moment but that's about it. If you're on a long road trip up the East coast then stop in for a round of miniature golf to stretch your legs, take a photo of yourself wearing a sombrero, and move on. You might want to ear in nearby Fayetteville instead.
Goodness this place is a tourist trap. WORTH IT, but don't expect to be overwhelmed :P
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