South of the Border: A Carolina Attraction

As you travel along the Interstate-95 (I-95) corridor, you might be wondering about the giant billboard signs referencing “Pedro” as well as the attractions and services available for roadtrippers at South of the Border. Curious minds might be scratching their heads; after all I-95 has no direct path to Mexico. So what exactly is South of the Border; and for all intents and purposes, who is Pedro? The answer will come clear soon enough, as you get closer and closer to the state line border between North and South Carolina.

South of the Border SC Attractions

What’s the Backstory?

Entrance to South of the Border

South of the Border started simply as a roadside beer stand called South of the Border Beer Depot way back in 1949. Then owner Alan Schafer found an opportunity to attract clients from nearby Robeson County; just north of the South Carolina border, where alcohol sales were prohibited. Soon enough, the attraction expanded to include a lunch counter, a gasoline station and a motel.

When Alan returned from a business trip to Mexico, he brought with him two new employees. The men acquired nicknames, “Pedro” and “Pancho,” when the white clientele began calling them as such. The theme ramped up, especially since nobody at that time care much about political correctness. Soon enough, everyone started calling both men “Pedro”, solidifying the Mexican stereotype that remains to this day.

Pedro, the Proverbial Mascot

Pedro the Mascot

Your first introduction to Pedro will take place approximately five miles from the state line border. The likeness of a typical Mexican rural man stands 97-feet tall and wears a colorful sombrero that’s not hard to miss, especially at night when it’s lit with neon lights. Once you’re there, you’ll see more of Pedro everywhere. He’s a cook, offering hot tamales to eager tourists, an innkeeper offering campground hookups for rental motorhomes and a proprietor operating an amusement park with carousels and bumper cars.

What’s There to See?

South of the Border
Inside one of the souvenir shops

Most tourists who decide to make a pit stop at South of the Border are generally looking for just a couple of things: gasoline and rest areas. Located right on the border of North and South Carolina, it serves as an ideal stopping point for travelers who’ve driven their rental cars or motorhomes from the big cities up north. As you would expect, there are two gasoline stations: Shell and an Exxon Mobil, and a variety of kitschy shops that you can walk around and explore to stretch your legs. If you’re traveling with younger children, there’s also an amusement park and a reptile lagoon.

Have you visited South of the Border? Share your experiences in the comments below.

About Iris A


Born in the Philippines, but grew up in Texas, Iris has been traveling and writing about her experiences for well over a decade. Her work has been published on well-known travel sites like Hipmunk (#hipmunkcitylove) and D Magazine Online Travel Club. She has been all over Europe, the US, and has recently started exploring Latin America. She loves trying local cuisine and visiting UNESCO deemed World Heritage sites. Her favourite city is New York, with London, following a close 2nd. You can follow her on Twitter @sundeeiris or through her travel blog, Traveling With Iris.

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