9 Towns Relying On Your Summer Road Trip
Dillon, S.C., and Rowland, N.C.
Those towns don't ring any bells on their own, but they set off a whole carillon for travelers who've ever taken Interstate 95 down the coast to Myrtle Beach, Orlando, Miami or any other warm-weather hot spot. The line between these two towns is home to South of the Border, the heavily advertised tourist trap built by Alan Schafer in 1950 as a means of selling beer to the dry North Carolina county to the north. It's since expanded to a bazaar of shops selling fireworks, "Mexican" trinkets and bumper stickers once ubiquitous on family cars along the eastern seaboard. Are the Sombrero Tower, "Mexican" neon sign giant and other blatantly stereotypical attractions worth stopping for? That may depend on how long you've been driving and how many margaritas it will take for your co-pilot to drown the "Are we there yets" from his or her memory.
Rapid City, S.D.
Tucked amid the Black Hills, Rapid City is just close enough to everything to be the nexus of area tourism. Being squarely in the shadow of Mount Rushmore 25 miles away earned it the City of Presidents moniker and inspired a local philanthropist to commission life-sized sculptures of every president from George Washington through George W. Bush to mark downtown Rapid City's streetcorners and draw visitors into area shops, restaurants, brewpubs and the alley of city-sanctioned graffiti artwork created by local kids.
The Depression-era dinosaur park sitting above the city is a great feature, but having the August motorcycle rally in Sturgis, the casinos and debauchery of Deadwood, the Wile E. Coyote-approved landscape of the Badlands National Park and the partially completed Crazy Horse Memorial mountain sculpture, all within 100 miles makes Rapid City the home base for much of South Dakota's roadside experience. Don't feel bad if you succumb to the several hundred signs for doughnuts and free ice water at renowned oddities shop/tourist trap Wall Drug in Wall, S.D., that line the roads into town. Even the best travelers have been subliminally suckered into a 5-cent cup of coffee and a snapshot of the green brontosaurus overlooking Interstate 90.