Bordering North Carolina and South Carolina is a wonderful landmark that has been a source of intrigue since my (Gerry) childhood. The campy billboards that lead you to this destination and the 97-foot tall Pedro looming over I-95 should be a source of intrigue for most. All these years later, I have had several opportunities traveling with my lovely wife to stop and tour the grounds. Shannon had visited frequently with her family as a child and was somewhat familiar with the place.
South of the Border’s charm is undeniable and the story of it’s creation and evolution-very interesting! This roadside attraction was created by a Jewish businessman who delighted in expanding the confined racial and cultural boundaries of the tiny Southern Baptist town of Dillon, South Carolina where “Pedro’s” home is located. If you want to know more about the history, check out this really great article.
The park opened its doors in 1950 and through many transformations has evolved into the thriving destination it is today. We were traveling on I-95 North, excited for a little stop at this cheesy, yet lovable location. Our priority was to go to the top of the lookout tower, aka Pedro’s sombrero, that stands over the 350 acre compound. However, the tower was closed and we diverted our attention towards some of the other fun attractions.
We delighted ourselves in walking the grounds between the restaurants and gift shops that dot the landscape, eventually, settling in for some goofy photo ops. We perched ourselves upon giant and colorful statues of rabbits, dogs, and dinosaurs, proving to be as much fun as we could handle.
Having satisfied our desires and taking in as much of the kitschy David Lynch-like atmosphere as two people can, we decided to go our way. We were left with a feeling that there are still some truly authentic places out there in the midst of the mundane strip mall and suburban-type landscapes that we are so often surrounded by. We hit the road feeling complete with our sense of wonder, nostalgia, and optimism set firmly intact.