Your first stop on the trip heading south on 95 should be South of Border. For over 50 years South of the Border has been a landmark of the southeast. Pedro the lovable grinning mustachioed caricature mascot stands 97 feet tall making him the largest freestanding sign east of the Mississippi, you can even drive through his legs! When driving on I95 you see Pedro talking to you from the signs for miles telling you you’re almost to South of the Border. Mexico Shop East and West have tons of souvenirs, everything you can think of. A summertime favorite, fireworks start at the South Carolina state line, Pedro’s Rocket City has a huge selection with all the favorites! Don’t forget about the best Mexican food in northern South Carolina at Sombrero Room Restaurant. There are other food choices if you do not want Mexican or a sit-down restaurant. Pedro’s Casateria offers food in short order making it quick and easy to get back on the road. There’s also Pedro’s Southern Fried Chicken which looks like an antebellum mansion with rocking chairs and a giant chick on the roof. Then there is Peddlers Steakhouse shaped like a Mexican hat very hard to miss. Before getting back in the car be sure to ride to the top of Sombrero Tower in the glass elevator. If you decide to stay at South of the Border there is RV campgrounds and 300 motel rooms spread of 135 acres which allows access to Pedro’s Pleasure Dome with indoor pool, steam room, jacuzzi, bar and wedding chapel.
Head to “The Track Too Tough to Tame” at Darlington Raceway. Even if there’s not a race going on when you visit you can still take a walk through the Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum. Not only will you see the history of Darlington Raceway but also the entire sport. Whether you’re a long time race fan or new to the sport the Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum and NMPA Hall of Fame offers a unique stroll through the history of NASCAR. Darlington Raceway gift shop, NMPA Hall of Fame and Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Be sure to stop by, who knows you may even spot some Jeff Gordon history!
Next on the stop is the Wood Bay State Park, get out and stretch your legs while enjoying some time in nature! Wood Bay offers one of the last remaining large Carolina Bay on the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain. The 1,590-acre park features a wide range of habitats such as marsh, sandhills. Oak-hickory forest and shrub bog. There is much wildlife to see and great for bird watching especially during migration seasons. The park can be explored by taking the nature trail which circles the mill pond or walks the length of the 1,150-foot boardwalk, where you can see the alligators in the cypress-tupelo swamp. If you want to make it a longer adventure the best way to see the park is by following the canoe trail which will take paddlers pas the Carolina Bays to the elliptical depressions.
Just a short drive down the road from Wood Bay State Park is the Congaree National Park. The Congaree National Park offers a wide range of biodiversity with the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forever remaining in the southeastern United States. There is so much to do at Congaree, with canoeing through the beautiful rivers, camping, fishing, hiking, nature watching, you’re sure to enjoy time with the family while taking a break.
Another great State Park is the Santee State Park sits along Lake Marion, and is known for its abundant population of large catfish. Other activities include hiking, biking, pontoon boat tours, kayaking, boating and a whole lot more! If you want to camp on the lake there is lakeside camping, if you prefer indoors there’s also 10 cabins that sit on the piers overlooking the lake.
In the small town of Bowman, SC with less than 1,000 residents is the UFO Welcome Center. Bowman resident Jody Pendarvis has been building the UFO Welcome Center for the past 25 years. Pendarvis graduated from Bowman High School in 1970 then he went on to serve in the Air Force from 1973 to 1984, where he gaining a military education working on computers. Following his service in the military, Pendarvis attended South Carolina State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 1990. Four years later he began working on the welcome center. The UFO Welcome Center consists of a 42-foot-wide flying saucer built out of wood, fiberglass, and plastic, in 2003 a smaller saucer about 20 feet in width was added on top of the original structure. There is everything that an alien might need if they are to visit, Pendarvis envisions himself as an ambassador for aliens. During the summers the top saucer is cooler than Pendarvis’ mobile home so he stays in the top saucer. There is a wooden container near the sentence that is painted blue saying “Tips” as the admission fee. There is a sign near the entrance that reads “Space People Only. Enter at Own Risk, Danger” then you walk in there is a book which asks you to write down your name and the planet that you come from. Bowman Mayor Marion Glenn would like to make the UFO Welcome Center more a true town welcome center, however, Pendarvis is indifferent about it, for now, it will remain Jody’s Welcome Center. When visiting the UFO Welcome Center like all places be sure to watch your step, stay safe, and take a lot of photos. Who knows you might be there to welcome the aliens.
The Carolina Heritage Outfitters just outside of Walterboro, SC is the perfect night getaway especially after being on the road. At the Carolina Heritage Outfitters, you can enjoy canoeing and if you plan to stay you will be able to stay in beautiful tree houses. The tree houses offer the perfect relaxation with the privacy which is only accessible by canoe, it is a beauty to take in the longest free-flowing blackwater river with sandy banks and a shallow sandy bottom perfect for swimming and picnicking. When the water is higher during the winter months you can paddle right into the forest of cypress trees.
Now we continue south to Georgia where our first stop is Savannah, a city with a lot of history and so much today is a coastal city separated from South Carolina by the Savannah River. Take a trip to Savannah Historic District with tours of the downtown and water tours you can see the history and beauty of Savannah. Or head over to City Market for fine dining, shopping, and fun entertainment while taking in the historic town.
Just 20 minutes outside of Savannah is Tybee Island is the perfect sandy getaway. Tybee Island is home to Georgia’s oldest and tallest lighthouse which you can take a tour of, you can also visit Fort Pulaski where the Union Army successfully tested a rifle canon in 1862 during the Civil War. If you want to get into nature and enjoy the water Tybee has boat rides where you can see the dolphins, kayaking, paddle boarding and all of the beach favorites!
Another stop along the Georgia coast is Cumberland Island. Cumberland Island is much different than Tybee Island. While Tybee Island is beautiful and there’s a lot to do it is made for the tourist. Whereas Cumberland Island is the largest and southernmost barrier island in Georgia. It offers over 17 miles of secluded white sandy beaches, wild horses and other island wildlife freely roaming throughout the ruins and along the beach. A beautiful scenic escape Cumberland Island has a lot to offer from history to nature. If you’re interested in riding the ferry it is recommended to book a reservation prior to arriving.
Now we have made it to Florida, there are a lot of stops to make in Florida along the coast, so get ready for a fun-filled journey as we venture down the beautiful coast of Florida!
Our first stop in Florida is Jacksonville, a large city that shows it all. No matter what type of adventure you are looking for Jacksonville has it! In addition to Jacksonville Beach, there are several others. See some animals at the Jacksonville Zoo & Garden or head over to the Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary to see big cats. Downtown Jacksonville has a lot to offer, you could spend all day in Jacksonville or keep heading down the beautiful coast Florida, really just depends on your time.
St. Augustine lays the claim to being the oldest city in the U.S., being known for the Spanish colonial architecture and Atlantic Ocean beaches. The history is a must see when visiting St. Augustine. First, we will head to Castillo de San Marcos which symbolizes the clash between cultures. The St. Augustine Light Station is a site to see as it is still an active working lighthouse. Who doesn’t love treasure and pirates, right? Check out the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum to be transported back to the Golden Age of Piracy over 300 years to Port Royal, Jamaica. Cannot miss the beautiful white sandy beaches of St. Augustine to get to the beach cross over the Bridge of Lions. Bridge of Lions spans the Intracoastal Waterway, it connects downtown St. August to Anastasia Island across Matanzas Bay, it is a site to see for sure! Visit any of the beaches in St. Augustine you won’t be disappointed!
Now we have made it to the “World Center of Racing” Daytona International Speedway! Go to the place where Jeff Gordon 4 time NASCAR Cup Series Champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer won not one but three Daytona 500s! There are 3 types of tours that you can do of Daytona International Speedway. In addition to tours, fans can also access the new Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, which now house the DIS Ticket and Tours Building, as well as take part in NASCAR Racing Experience. The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America showcases and honors all fours of motorsports: Stock Cars, Sports Cars, Open-Wheel, Motorcycles, Drag Racing, Land Speed Records, Powerboating, and Aviation. In addition to Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach has much to offer! If you’re looking to get away from the crows check out Tomoka State Park. Tomoka State Park is a 2,000-acre State Park located along the Tomoka River, where your visitors can camp, hike, and boat. Of course, when visiting Daytona visitors must enjoy the World’s Most Famous Beach. There is so much to enjoy in Daytona.
Ponce Inlet is a beautiful beachy town in Volusia County, Florida, located on the southern tip of a beach peninsula just south of Daytona Beach. The Ponce de Leon Inlet Light is the tallest lighthouse in the state, beautiful stop for sure! Smyrna Dunes Park is a vast public park where pets are allowed on the leash and fun for the whole family! Go-Kart City is a fun-filled day for the whole family with a lengthy go-kart track, 7-stall batting cages, and a colorful, fun 18-hole putt-putt course because who doesn’t love putt-putt, right? Ponce Inlet has much to offer and is just a short drive from Daytona!
Along the coast, there are many stops in Florida that visitors can stop and not be disappointed in. Now we continue south because our trip must come to an end to Homestead Florida.
Just south of Miami Homestead has much to offer. Of course, a Jeff Gordon or NASCAR fan must stop by Homestead-Miami Speedway. Another stop is Coral Castle created and structured by Latvian-American eccentric Edward Leedskalnin, who single-handedly and secretly carver over 1,100 tons of coral rock. Everglades Alligator Farm the farm features snakes, alligators, caimans, and crocodiles plus airboat tours. Another fun place to see wildlife is the Monkey Jungle it is a 30-acre wildlife park in 1933 for the exhibition and study of endangered monkeys in their semi-natural habitats.
There you have it you have made it! You have seen I-95-South in its entirety!
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