Is there any place in the world that is quite so quirky and kooky as South Carolina while at the same time so warm and welcoming to tourists? No, there isn’t. And this makes South Carolina the perfect place to take a road trip.
Don’t believe us? Take a little drive with our Quintessential SC Road Trip Guide and report back to us.
South of the Border
Chances are you’ll know about South of the Border in Dillon well before you arrive, if you’ve been traveling on Interstate 95 where the roadside attraction’s billboards have been encouraging you to pull over for miles. Founded in 1949, South of the Border was originally a beer stand just south of the border of three dry North Carolina counties. Now, it’s an all-out extravaganza, with not just a hotel, restaurant and shopping, but the Reptile Lagoon, Sombrero Tower and the Pedroland amusement park, too.
UFO Welcome Center in Bowman is just what the name implies: a roadside rest stop for aliens. No aliens have yet made use of the UFO Welcome Center, but luckily, humans are welcome, too. It’s a little rickety and run down, that’s true. But Jody Pendarvis, who built and runs the UFO Welcome Center, is as charming and hospitable as they come. To all species, earthly and otherwise.
The Button King
Dalton Stevens of Bishopville didn’t set out to create what’s called “outsider art.” No, he had insomnia. Terrible insomnia. So bad that he was up all night, looking for something to do. He started sewing, and then gluing buttons onto his stuff: his suit, his shoes, his car, piano, guitar and even his coffin. Stevens himself once proudly and joyfully welcomed visitors to come and view his late-night obsessions. The Button King sadly passed away in 2016, but his masterpieces live on at a small museum next the home where he began and perfected his art.
Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden
Your next stop is another man’s labor of love: the Doctor Suess-like wonderland that is the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden. Amazingly, it’s less than 10 miles down the road from the Button King. That two such wildly creative artists would live at the same time in the same small town seems amazing, but it’s true. Pearl Fryar began carving the trees and shrubs around his home into swirling shapes and whimsical sculptures in 1988. His garden now has more than 400 plants sculpted into a fantastic garden like no other.
The Gay Dolphin
You’re not the only person to chuckle at the name—the Gay Dolphin Gift Cove of Myrtle Beach proudly proclaims that they have been listed as having one of the most photographed signs in America. But please, don’t just stop with a selfie of the signage. You must go into the Gay Dolphin to experience it. Inside, you’ll find 7 (yes—seven!) stories of trinkets, treasures, baubles and beach supplies, stacked from floor to ceiling along zigzagging and meandering aisles. There is no rhyme or reason, and it’s basically impossible not to get lost. But whatever you do, however lost you may get, make sure you find the Elvis section, where you can buy the life-size Elvis statue to remember you time lost in the Gay Dolphin. Or at least a selfie with him.
There really is enough quirky fun in just Myrtle Beach alone to fill a weekend. Check out more adventures here:
This is a place that has to be seen to be believed, tucked away on a sleepy road overgrown with live oaks and Spanish moss. Did you know that some snakes can climb trees and like to hang out in the branches? As in, literally hanging and dangling from the branches? Well, seeing is believing and after a visit to the Edisto Serpentarium you will be a believer. It’s staffed by scientists and keepers who truly love snakes and the other reptiles who call the place home, and who are truly delighted to have you visit.
Made (in)famous in the TV show "House of Cards," Gaffney’s Peachoid is real. Yes, there is a water tower that is painted to look like a peach, but some people think that in the right light and at the right angle looks like… other than a peach. Built in 1981 and now a beloved local landmark towering over I-85, the Peachoid celebrates the area’s peach orchards. And nothing else.